Friday, September 10, 2010

Pet Peeves

I'm on a list binge all of a sudden. I'm not sure exactly what put me on such a tilt, but since I've already listed my NFL predictions for the new season, I've been inspired to also list my biggest pet peeves in the world. These are far from being limited to the world of sports (though a couple are sports-related), but I wonder how many of them are shared by other people out there.

1. Passenger seat drivers. This is, by far, my biggest pet peeve. My father is a classic textbook example of a passenger seat driver. I loathe driving with him in the car next to me. I'm driving too slowly. I'm driving too fast. I'm tailgating too much. I'm changing lanes too often. I've actually entertained the idea of actually pulling over to the side of the road (even if we're on a busy highway) and offering him the chance to take over driving responsibilities if he wants. I can barely concentrate on driving if someone is sitting next to me and telling me how to drive.

2. People who wear baseball jerseys and/or hats to football games and vice versa. I was at Opening Day at Camden Yards in April - APRIL! - and had to use the men's room at one point. I saw another man standing in line in the men's room wearing Ravens gear head to toe. Okay, you're a Baltimore fan. You want to show your support for Baltimore. You obviously love sports since you're clearly a die hard Ravens fan, covered in a Ravens hat, jersey, and sweatpants. But this is APRIL. It's baseball season! Do you think in New York you'll find people wearing Giants stuff to Yankees games? I didn't really care that he was a fellow Baltimore fan. I wanted to knock some sense in the guy even though we were mutual Baltimore guys.

3. Celebrities who feel the need to stick their noses into politics and other social causes. I'm all for volunteering one's time for a cause to support change or offer assistance. When the earthquake struck Haiti earlier this year, I thought it was great that so many people donated whatever money or resources they had in order to send relief to the battered country. But I really detest celebrities who involve themselves in matters like politics or social issues. Maybe it's my own cynicism, but celebrities just don't come off to me as genuine when they campaign hard for these causes. I see them as getting involved in order to serve their own agendas instead of actually caring about whatever cause they are working on. I'm particularly annoyed with actors who discuss possibly running for political office, as if they somehow possess the necessary qualifications (and yes, I am fully aware of Schwarzeneggar and Ronald Reagan having had careers as actors prior to their political careers). Personally, I believe that actors and other celebrities should not get involved in politics at all, regardless of their political affilliation.

4. Reality television. All of it. I despite reality and unscripted television. There's no creativity behind it. There's no drama to it. There's no intelligence to it. I have to admit, though, I understand why networks love it so much: it's insanely cheap to produce. And reality shows almost always get huge ratings. People like watching regular folks compete since these programs show that anyone can make it. My beef with it, like I said, is that there's no creativity to it. Reality television really boils down to one of a couple different categories: an elimination competition; a dating show; or throwing a bunch of random people and have them live together, a la The Real World or Jersey Shore. It's the cheapest form of entertainment, and any time I've ever watched even a couple minutes of reality television (the most recent example of which was the godawful show Jerseylicious), I can literally feel myself getting dumber. I could only bear a few minutes of Jerseylicious before nearly wanting to throw my television out the window, so I chose to change the channel instead.

5. tHOse pEOplE wHO coMBiNe tYPinG LOwEr cAse leTTeRs wITH capITaL lEttERS. 'nuFF sAId.

6. The misuse of words such as ignorant, irregardless, and your. I'm not sure at what point most people thought the word "ignorant" meant "rude" or "cruel," but that's not even close to what "ignorant" really means. And since when did people even think "irregardless" was even a word to begin with??? "Irregardless" and "regardless" aren't interchangeable the way "inflammable" and "flammable" are. And it really pains me when I see "your" used in place of "you're," or "it's" instead of "its." I realize I'm being more than a little anal about the proper use of grammar, but when I see work emails where VPs are misusing words like these, I shake my head in embarrassment.

7. Noticing my number of friends on Facebook drops and I'm left to figure out who had deleted me. I wrote a blog post about this subject several months ago, and it continues to be a pet peeve of mine. I just would like to know who has deleted me when I notice my number of friends drops by a number or two. I'd be perfectly happy with getting an email notice that says something like, "Frankie Bobby thinks you're a tool and has deleted you as a friend on Facebook." Okay, fine. I have no problem with Frankie thinking I'm a tool. I'd just like to know that it was Frankie who thought that and not being left in the dark.

8. The ever-continuing process of the dating game. The concept of the dating game defies all sense of logic and order to me. I'm never fully certain of when to call a woman I meet for the first time, or when to call her after a first date, when to move in for a kiss, how to suggest a date idea, etc. I'm also too accommodating as a person, and I know enough about women to know that most women want a guy who will take charge (within reason, of course) and make decisions. I, on the other hand, am much more concerned with making sure a woman is happy, even with something as relatively menial as where we go out for dinner. To call it frustrating would be making a colossal understatement.

9. Nicknames like A-Rod, K-Rod, S-Jax, B-Rob, J-Lo, CarGo, etc. I've come to believe the fine art of the nickname for professional athletes is dead. The days of players such as Air Jordan, The Unit, The Rocket, or even King James seem far behind us. Now it's all using a players initials (e.g. T.O.), or some blending of the first and last name together. What kind of stupid nickname is that? Should I declare my nickname now to be R-Tch?

10. Eating while talking on the phone. I'm really particular when talking on the phone with friends or family members while I'm cooking dinner. I've had to end phone conversations abruptly sometimes because my dinner is almost done cooking, and I could tell sometimes that the person I was talking to at the time was caught off guard that I had to get off the phone to eat my dinner. The thing is, I think it's horribly rude to eat while talking on the phone. I don't ever talk on the phone while I'm eating lunch or dinner, and I've been on the other end of phone conversations where the person I was talking to was eating while talking to me. In fact, back in my days of working in customer service I once had a conversation with a customer while he was sitting in the drive-thru at a McDonald's. He put me on hold so he could order his breakfast. It's difficult to hold a conversation with someone while they're chomping on their food, and I honestly try to think of ways to get off the phone if I am talking to someone while they're eating.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

2010 NFL Season Predictions

I'm changing my seasonal predictions a bit this time around. Normally I pick divisional winners and eventually a single champion, but this time I'm making random (and sometimes rather absurd) predictions of things that will happen with the NFL season about to start tonight. I make no guarantees that any of these predictions will happen, but if any of them do, I take full credit for prognosticating them.

1. The Miami Dolphins will win the AFC East. The Jets soaked up every last bit of limelight they could get their hands on this offseason and then some. Rex Ryan loved to talk as much trash and bring as much focus on the team as he could. The Patriots are still the Patriots, as well, and I see no reason why they won't compete this year. However, the Dolphins were relatively quiet in their moves, but they still put together a very strong team. They traded for Brandon Marshall. They signed Karlos Dansby. Chad Henne is entering his second year as starting quarterback, and will continue to improve. I really see the Dolphins stealing the division away on the last weekend of the season, especially since their final regular season game is at New England.

2. Brandon Marshall will have a better statistical year than Larry Fitzgerald. I wouldn't necessarily count this prediction as bold since I know many football insiders share the same feelings I have for Fitzgerald this year. Fitz is going to have a down year by his standards. I made sure to stay away from him while drafting for my fantasy teams. He doesn't have Kurt Warner throwing the ball to him anymore, and he doesn't have Anquan Boldin drawing coverage away from him. Oh sure, he'll get his share of yards and touchdowns, but they won't be as good as Marshall's stats. The Dolphins will throw to Marshall all year long, and his size and speed will help them win their division.

3. The Kansas City Chiefs will be better than you think. I'm not going so far to say they'll win their division or even make the playoffs, but they will finish somewhere around 7-9 or 8-8. They've been flat out awful for the last several years, but Matt Cassel is reunited with Charlie Weis, and Romeo Crennel is better suited as a defensive coordinator than a head coach. Eric Berry will be as good a safety as Ed Reed in his prime in a few years, and Scott Pioli is already turning the franchise into a new Patriots. The Chargers' dominance of the AFC West is coming to a close.

4. The Cleveland Browns have a shot at going 0-16 this year. My God, this team is terrible. I was watching the NFL Network last night and Steve Mariucci made an off-hand comment that the Browns "seemed to be improved." I can only assume that was his way of being polite to this team. They might be improved in a few years with Mike Holmgren calling the shots, but they look flat out awful this year. Jake Delhomme's best days are far behind him at quarterback. They have no backup quarterback to speak of. They have no receivers. They have no tight end. They have no defense. (I suppose other than all that, they're an okay team.) But have you seen their schedule? They open Sunday in Tampa Bay. Tampa will be a lousy team as well, but if the Browns don't win that game, they don't have another winable game on their schedule until December. In addition to their divisional opponents, they face Atlanta, New Orleans, New England, the Jets, Miami - the list goes on and on. Their first winable game after Week 1 is Week 14 against the Bills, and that game is in Buffalo. Their final three games are all against divisional opponents again, and there's no reason to think they stand to beat any of the AFC North teams this year. The Detroit Lions may have some company at a winless season sooner than most people think.

4. Eric Mangini will be the first head coach fired this season. This is almost like a 3(a) prediction. Mangini was suspected at facing the chopping block this past off-season when Mike Holmgren took over the Browns organization, but Holmgren kept him as coach. If the Browns are 1-7 or 0-8 by their bye week in Week 9, I don't see how Mangini keeps his job.

5. Brett Favre's consecutive games started streak will end this season. Have you watched any of Favre's press interviews the last few weeks? I try to avoid them like the plague, but what I've seen of them make Favre look like he's in his 70s. He sounds old, he looks old, and he doesn't seem to have the type of fire burning in him that he's had in the past. That may change when it's time to actually take the field, but his ankle is still an injury issue. He's going to take a hit at some point this season that will reaggravate that injury, and he won't be able to play the following week. He might be his typical Favre self and do his best to play, but there will come a point where Sage Rosenfels will have to start for the Vikings this season.

6. Drew Brees will break the "Madden curse." That is to say, Drew Brees will have another typical Drew Brees year where he throws for 48,000 yards, 850 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. Ho hum.

7. Jerry Jones will have a conniption when the Cowboys lose to the Packers in the playoffs. Well, maybe not literally a conniption, but Ol' Jerry will go ballistic when the Cowboys are ousted from the playoffs yet again. He sure would love to have his 'Boys be the literal home team in the Super Bowl in February, but it's not going to happen. The Cowboys don't show signs of the drama they've had in the past, but where there's a will, there's a way. I'm not quite certain what will lead to the Cowboys' implosion this year, but my first thought would be Tony Romo choking yet again in a big game. Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, will be his normal cool self and lead the Packers onward.

8. The Houston Texans will make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. I was originally going to go so far and say the Texans will win the AFC South outright, but the more I see of the Colts, the more it pains me to say they will still win the division this year. The Texans will still win one of the two wild card spots this year, though (the other being the Jets). Arian Foster will become a household name by the end of the season, Andre Johnson will have yet another amazing year, and Matt Schaub will become a hero in Houston (if he isn't already).

9. Aaron Rodgers will be the NFL MVP. I'm somewhat bummed that Drew Brees will be shafted yet again only because he's deserved the MVP award each of the last two years and lost out on it both times. (I doubt Brees is shedding any tears on missing out though since he only won the Super Bowl last season) Brees will miss out on the MVP yet again this year to Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has more than filled Brett Favre's shoes as the Packers' quarterback, and if he can avoid being sacked he will have an even bigger year than he did last year. One of the things I admire most about Rodgers is his ability to stay cool under fire, which is precisely why I predict the Packers will be the Cowboys in the postseason.

10. The Baltimore Ravens will beat the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV. I know, I sound like such a complete homer saying that. And isn't it odd that for what's probably the first time in the Ravens' franchise history, there are more questions about their defense than their offense? It's a justifiable issue, but I believe in Ray Lewis. I believe in Ed Reed. I believe that Terrence Cody will wreck havoc inside the line. I believe Haloti Ngata will give opposing quarterbacks nightmares. I believe Sergio Kindle will find playing time this season and will show what he's capable of. The Ravens clearly loaded up to make a serious run this season, and I really do believe it will pay off come February. I'd have a hard time rooting against Aaron Rodgers because I admire his skills so much, but he will eventually win a Super Bowl as well. It just won't be this year.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bet You Thought I Forgot About Working on My List, Didn't You?

I'm sort of cheating (again) with listing another of my tasks being completed. One of my tasks was to frame and hang my MBA diploma in my place. The reason I had chosen to do this was because I've never framed any diploma I've ever had, and I was especially proud and excited when I had finished my MBA in 2007.

When I had graduated, I was working for the University of Phoenix, which was where I had been working on my MBA in the first place. As a surprise graduation present, my co-workers pooled their money together and bought me a really awesome frame for my diploma. The funny thing was that I had been shopping for a frame for a couple weeks prior to graduation, and when my manager found out he came up with a story in order to stop me from ruining my own present. I didn't think twice about his made up story about people passing out discount coupons for frames at graduation, and since I'm so gullable like that I even was looking around for such a display after the ceremony.

The following week we had a team meeting, and that was when I got my frame. The really funny thing was that the frame they had chosen was virtually identical to the frame I had in mind for myself. It was an awesome gift, and I couldn't wait to mount my frame on my wall.

However, instead of doing so, it sat in my parents' basement storage room. For months. And months. And months. I had wanted to mount it as soon as I had moved to Virginia, but it was nowhere to be found. I started panicking and worried it was lost somewhere during my move, but - go figure - one Saturday my mom was bored and decided she wouldn't rest until she found out. And she did find it buried in her storage room. I finally have it mounted on my wall and have it proudly displayed.

As a semi-related rant, going back to get my Master's Degree was always a plan I had since my final year of undergrad. I had originally planned on taking one year off and start the fall of 2004, but life got in the way as always (in other words, I was lazy) and didn't start until the fall of 2005. Even then, it was by complete accident that I ended up enrolling with UOP (that's another story in and of itself).

My point is that going back to finish my education was probably the smartest decision I've ever made. It's opened doors for me that never would have otherwise been available, and walking across the stage was easily the proudest moment of my life so far. I'm a firm believer in the power of education, and I highly encourage anyone who hasn't finished their college education to do so. Saying you'll do it in the spring or next fall may make you believe you'll follow through on your plans, but it's just another way of procrastinating. And when the next semester rolls around, you'll find a new excuse to prevent you from going back. I can honestly say that finishing my education has changed my life for the better, and I know it would do the same for anyone else who's ever contemplated it.

End rant. And strike off another from the list.