Friday, January 29, 2010

Drunken History

A historian drinks a bottle and a half of wine and tells the story of Oney Judge, one of George Washington's servants.

Warning: There is foul language.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Haiti and the Media

It seems pretty silly for me to ramble on about all the stuff we see and do and not mention the tragedy in Haiti. By now we've all had media coverage of the earthquake up to our eyeballs. And in this instance, that's how it should be. This is real news. These are real people with real problems (huge problems since last Monday).

This isn't Tiger Woods or John Edwards and their inability to control their penises. This isn't Mark McGwire and his use of steroids. This doesn't even compare to a presidential election where a guy promises to be a liberal and then later doesn't have the nuts to come through. This media coverage is real, it's raw and everyone should take major note of it. It's reality for millions.

For once, the general media has succeeded in my eyes. The amount of money raised for the victims of this horrific tragedy is astounding. If we didn't have the constant coverage from the devastated Port-au-Prince, would we be as inclined to donate?

Sadly, things are becoming worse. The death and previously horrendous conditions are bringing about disease and discourse. Watch the news. Empathize with these people and donate to help them.

Here's a link to Habitat for Humanity's donation website: Haiti Earthquake Relief

Oh, and by the way, thanks for finally making a difference, media.

Sports, Pizza, Sports and More Sports

I know. I know. I haven't written much over the last couple weeks, and these pictures pretty much illustrate why. Last Saturday evening we attended the Harlem Globetrotters' annual beat-down of the Washington Generals at the Charleston Civic Center. I've seen their performances a number of times, so it wasn't a surprise that they were so funny. They get pretty silly and it's a great show for the young and old. I couldn't help but to root a little for the Generals, though. I love the underdogs.

Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Fortunately both the wife and I had the day off. We took advantage of the time and headed east to Fayetteville, WV for some Pies and Pints. We split a pizza. My wife ordered the Mozzarella Caprese Pie. It had fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and balsamic reduction sauce. It was pretty solid, but it didn't come close to the solidarity of my choice... the Thai Pie. That bad boy included shrimp, toasted coconut, thai curry sauce with cilantro and basil... perhaps the best 1/2 pizza of all time. And, of course, I washed my Thai Pie down with a Rogue Dead Guy Ale draught. Can it get any better?

Pies and Pints is outstanding. I know I've mentioned it before, but our second visit was far superior to our first. I credit most of that to the best pizza of all time: The Thai Pie. Now, only if we could get our Nutrisystem meals to taste like pad Thai or yellow curry with rice, we'd be set.

Tuesday evening we attended the "Backyard Brawl on Ice." WVU defeated Pitt 2-0 at the South Charleston Memorial Ice Arena. I was slightly amazed by the turnout at the rink. I had no idea the people of Charleston knew what a hockey puck was. You certainly couldn't tell last year when the Penguins were winning the Stanley Cup. But hey, at least they showed up and gave their support.
Wednesday evening brought us the Capital Classic. This is the annual game between WVU and Marshall held at the Charleston Civic Center. I support this game because the WVU basketball team plays over 30 games a year. Unlike in football, it doesn't hurt to throw our little brother to the south a bone. I'd almost consider it a rivalry. Sure, sure, WVU plays not to lose while Marshall plays for respect, but once the ball tips, it gets a little crazy. Credit goes to the fans. It's a playoff like atmosphere that can't be matched in either Morgantown or Huntington. Sorry WVU fans, the Coliseum is nice, but it doesn't get crazy very often.

Anyway, WVU defeated Marshall for the fourth year in a row on Wednesday. Marshall put up a valiant fight in their 67-60 loss. They've improved and I'm certain next year's Capital Classic will be even more interesting.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

One Word Wednesday


Pat White and What He Means to WV

Before Patrick White became the Miami Dolphins second string quarterback in 2009, he lead the West Virginia Mountaineers to 41 wins between 2005 and 2008. Included in those 41 wins were BCS bowl wins against the University of Oklahoma and the University of Georgia. His herculean like efforts on the gridiron made him seem nearly invincible at times. He was a football icon in West Virginia and it was well deserved.

Two Sundays ago the Miami Dolphins faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in both team's final game of the 2009 season. Both needed this game to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Steelers were up 17-10 at the beginning of the second half. As television coverage resumed, it was announced that the Dolphins starting quarterback, Chad Henne, was being removed from the game due to an eye injury... enter Patrick White.

I thought to myself, "Who do I cheer for, Pat or the Steelers?" It became clear the first time Pat ran for a first down. I jumped up and threw my hands in the air without even thinking about it. I was rooting for the Dolphins over my very own Pittsburgh Steelers. I couldn't help it. Pat White meant that much to my sports world.

Then it happened... third and nine from the Dolphins own 25 or so yard-line. Pat grabs the snap and takes the ball around the left side and towards the sideline. Pat gets tripped and dives toward the first down marker. As he falls forward, Ike Taylor, a Steeler defensive back also dives head first to prevent Pat from picking up the first down. Their helmets crack as the two collide. Pat White didn't move and it was brutally apparent that he was seriously hurt.

I was stunned. I remember saying to my wife, "No! No! No!" Her phone immediately started ringing. My phone received numerous texts from friends. Pat laid on the ground for fifteen minutes. During that time I checked Facebook and Twitter and they were blowing up, all messages about the injured Pat White. That's when I realized just how much this guy meant to me and the rest of West Virginia. As he's been quoted as saying, "Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer." At that moment no truer words could be spoken.

Pat eventually came to and he was taken off the field on a stretcher, a sight that was extremely difficult to see. As I watched this closely, I noticed Pat was smiling. I don't know if he was delirious, or if the dude's always that whacky, but it certainly made me feel a lot better about his condition. I even heard the next day that while he was laying on the ground being examined by doctors and trainers, he told someone to tell his replacement about a quirk he noticed in the Steeler defense.

Pat pulled Mountaineer Nation together that Sunday. It wasn't the way we'd all hoped, but he did it anyway. He's always had a knack for that kind of thing. Whether it's against Pitt, Syracuse, South Florida or the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pat White will always be a Mountaineer.

Yeah, Pat White makes me that corny.

And for good measure, here's a couple of Pat White highlights:

Winners, Losers and Mark McGwire

Did Roger Maris roll over in his grave yesterday afternoon when Mark McGwire, the man who broke his single season home run record by hitting 70 home runs during the 1998 season, announced that he indeed used steroids during the time he rewrote the record books? Probably not, and here's why...

Roger Maris was belittled and abused by fans, reporters and the general public in 1961. You see, 1961 is the year Roger bested Babe Ruth's Major League Baseball single season home run record. Maris tackled this feat as a New York Yankee and teammate of future hall of famer, Mickey Mantle... the same team for which the Babe played.

Maris was never a superstar. He wasn't flashy. He didn't put up huge numbers but a few times during his career. He was good, but he wasn't Mickey Mantle good. Mickey Mantle was New York's darling, however. Yankee fans loved Mickey despite his numerous personal shortcomings. Mickey performed year in and year out on the diamond. At year end, Mickey was always at the top of his sport's statistical categories. EVERYBODY wanted Mickey to break the Babe's record, not Roger. Many didn't feel that the farm boy from Fargo, North Dakota deserved to own the most prestegious record in baseball. He simply wasn't Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle.

Nevertheless Roger and Mickey battled back and forth for the single season home run record in 1961. Mickey had off the field issues and injuries late in the season and finished with 54 home runs. That was six less than the Babe's old record of 60 set in 1927 and seven less than Roger Maris that season. Roger hit 61 in 61. He hit number 61 in the final game of the season... a game in which only half of Yankee Stadium was full. Nobody cared to witness Roger's shot at history.

Roger never really got the chance to celebrate his achievement. The abuse from fans and the media took its toll on Roger. Roger slowly became less of a player due to injury and old age. He eventually retired and purchased a Budweiser brewery in Gainesville, Florida. He died there at the age of 51 in 1983 due to hodgkins lymphoma. Roger Maris is not in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

That brings me to my point. When Mark McGwire hit his sixty-second home run in 1998, the one that broke Roger's old record of 61, he celebrated with Roger's family. As illustrated above, he pointed to the sky in reference to Roger as if to thank him. The Maris family surrounded Mark and congratulated him on his accomplishment. That's a pretty special moment, a moment that is now compromised.

I don't really think Roger would have given a damn, but I'm pretty sure his family cared greatly that Mark cheated to obtain their father's record. They're the losers in this situation. It's not me (I actually saw McGwire hit number 54 in person and considered it one of the coolest sports moments I'd even been a part of), it's not baseball fans (they lost a long time ago, however they don't seem to care) and it's not even Mark McGwire or his family(they're still rich and Mark isn't in jail).

Even though Roger Maris might not think so, it's almost a proven fact that he is the only winner in what is to be the Major League Baseball single season home run record fiasco. It's only "almost a proven fact" because Barry Bonds, the man who hit 73 home runs in 2001 and the current single season home run king, is yet to admit his steroid use.

When Barry finally admits it, perhaps Roger Maris will finally make his way into the Hall of Fame and all will be right within the baseball world.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Coal Exchange

Here's a recent exchange between Tom Burger and Don Blankenship in the West Virginia Gazette. Both submitted letters to the editor concerning West Virginia's controversial production of coal.

Background info...

Tom Burger is a retired West Virginia resident.

Don Blankenship is the Chairman and CEO of Massey Energy (the United State's 4th largest coal company).

First, here's Tom's October 29, 2009 letter to the editor:

Blankenship acts in self-interest


Don Blankenship loves to downplay the seriousness of global climate change. Why not? It's in his financial interest to do so. In his latest diatribe, he quotes what seem to be facts from reputable sources. One set of which was from Geophysical Research Letters, published by the American Geophysical Union. I couldn't find his reference that Antarctic ice is increasing, but I did find the AGU position statement on global climate: "The Earth's climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming. Many components of the climate system - including the temperatures of the atmosphere, land and ocean, the extent of sea ice and mountain glaciers, the sea level, the distribution of precipitation, and the length of seasons - are now changing at rates and in patterns that are not natural and are best explained by the increased atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activity during the 20th century." Beware when those with money to be made quote "facts."

Tom Burger


And here's Don Blankenship's January 10, 2010 reply:


Tom Burger says the public should beware of my comments regarding global warming because I stand to make money based on my positions.

Let's look at who will make money if cap-and-trade climate legislation passes: Al Gore, most multi-national corporations (that claim to be American and aren't), government-funded scientists and university researchers studying global warming and most countries of the world (except the U.S).

This does not appear to concern Mr. Burger. He is concerned only about my motivation. Well, I can assure Mr. Burger that my views on climate change are not driven by personal concerns. I'll be OK if climate change legislation passes, but I am worried about who gets hurt: coal miners, all West Virginians, all Americans and our children and grandchildren. There is no doubt about that.

The debate should be driven by facts. For instance, the world is cooling and has been for 10 years. If you eliminate all U.S. coal production and use, the Chinese will replace it 100 percent and take the related jobs in just a few years. That cap-and-trade bill will force American industries out of America and the jobs will go along with them. Home power bills will go up. In fact, Mike Morris, President of American Electric Power, said on Fox recently that power bills would double if the climate-change bill being considered is passed into law. Cap-and-trade, which we are told will decrease CO2 "and save the planet," will greatly increase, not decrease CO2 emissions. You see, more carbon is emitted per job added in China than is reduced per job lost in the United States.

I'm for Americans and coal miners. They need more help than Al Gore or I do. As for Tom Burger, I don't know him.

Don Blankenship

Chairman and CEO

Massey Energy


Props to the retired dude. Your voice was heard by precisely the right person.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Kiss Bobby Bowden's Ass Bowl

AKA: This year's Gator Bowl

Sickening, just sickening. This game made me cringe the first time I heard of its possibility. As soon as WVU wrapped up its 2009 season, rumors of a West Virginia - Florida State Gator Bowl were swirling. I hated the thought of it. The Mountaineers would be forced to play a Seminole team whose beloved head coach was bowing out immediately afterward. This was Bobby Bowden's last game.

WVU finished 2nd in the Big East with a 9-3 record. Florida State finished sixth in the ACC with a 6-6 record. The Gator Bowl is allowed to choose the second team taken from the Big East after the BCS chose Cincinnati. They chose second place WVU. That all works out. The Gator Bowl is then allowed the third choice of teams from the ACC after the BCS selected Georgia Tech and the Chik-Fil-A Bowl selected Virginia Tech. They chose sixth place Florida State. Why would they do this you ask? Here's an explanation...


This being Bobby Bowden's last game made the match-up matter to the rest of the country. People would tune in to see Bobby finish up his career in grand style. They'd tune in to the tribute before the game. They'd watch as he wandered the sideline trying to figure out the score. They'd watch Bobby search endlessly for WVU Head Coach Bill Stewart after the game to receive his congratulatory handshake. They'd watch him get carried off the field. And finally, nobody would turn the channel as Bobby accepted the Gator Bowl trophy. Everyone wanted to see Bobby!

It doesn't matter that FSU finished sixth in the ACC. It doesn't matter that three teams, Clemson, Boston College and Miami all had better records. The Gator Bowl was allowed to "choose the third team from the conference." the rules don't say they had to choose the third best team from the conference, just the third team. It's sad, but true. Merit and worthiness had nothing to do with this Gator Bowl, or any other bowl for that matter.

It works both ways, however... WVU probably would have gone to the Gator Bowl had they finished 5th in the Big East... which they would have if they'd lost their final game of the regular season and Pitt had won theirs. You see, WVU brings fans to their bowl games. The city of Jacksonville loves that and so does the Gator Bowl. Basically this was a dream match-up of economical proportions!

All that being said, I hated having to play FSU in the Kiss Bobby Bowden's Ass bowl. College football is an emotional game. Remember what happened when WVU sent Don Nehlen on his way? We creamed a heavily favored Ole Miss team. Remember what happened when Rich Rodriguez left WVU for the University of Michigan? We creamed a heavily favored Oklahoma team. Don't mess with college kids and their head coaches. I'd rather have played any of the aforementioned teams. Hell, I'd rather have played the Pittsburgh Steelers! Run the other way if your team is playing against a team with a coaching change. Run as fast as you can. Bad things are on the horizon.

And indeed that's how it turned out for WVU.... bad things happened.

Final score: FSU 33 - WVU 21

We got creamed in the Money Grubbing No Merit Kiss Bobby Bowden's Ass Bowl.