Week 7 Picks: Going Christmas Shopping, Y’all!

It’s almost Halloween. And in today’s world, that means one thing. It’s Christmas season. Since most people I know (by people, I mean Twitter followers and bloggers) are itching to bring out the holiday joy, they’ve inspired me to start planning my gift shopping. It’s never too late, right? In this case, my gift receivers are not too tech-savvy or choosy. One particular person has hinted toward something to read on or something to tell him/her where to go. So in true holiday-before-we-are-even-ready spirit, I present to you some out-loud thoughts of a Christmas pre-shopper.

E-READERS
The benefit: As our surroundings change, some things stay the same. Curling up to enjoy a good book has never gone out of style. Only the method has changed. The nifty e-reader replaces the vacation book bag along with the hassle of carrying several books around. With more public venues offering wi-fi and the access to networks, e-readers are able to store thousands of books, newspapers and magazines for your reading pleasure.
The brands:
• Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

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The biggest complaint for e-readers is the glare from sunlight that makes reading the screen challenging. The Paperwhite fixes that with a bright, white screen to keep the words in focus. It’s considered by experts as the best overall e-reader in the market. Older versions are available at an affordable price.
• Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight
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The lightweight competitor to the Paperwhite, the GlowLight also provides plenty of light for reading as well as an rubber edge in case of any clumsy mishaps. It also holds up to 4 GBs of internal memory and eliminates page flashing (what happens to the screen when it refreshes: Think sudden bright light).
• Kobo Glo
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A lightweight alternative to the main brands of Barnes & Noble and Amazon, the Kobo Glo has a touch screen interface, an expansion slot for additional memory and compatibility with EPub files. With the Adobe DRM format available, users are able to read most e-book store-supported formats.

GPS
The benefit: It’s not your father’s road map located in the glove box. The GPS on your car’s dashboard might just be your best friend when you’re lost. Although the technology allows GPS to operate on your smartphone, these standalone devices provide audible driving directions as well as a large easy-to-read screen.
The brands:
• Garmin Nuvi 3597LMTHD
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Considered one of the best in market, the Nuvi comes in a thin metal frame with a five-inch screen. The voice command makes it easy to use and keeps your hands rightfully on the wheel. Even the directions speak in a real-world, conversational tone like “In a quarter-mile, turn left. Keep straight past the hotel and turn left at the light.”
Magellan SmartGPS
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This beefed-up GPS is in tune with all the latest networking such as wifi and Bluetooth connection. Applications like Yelp and Foursquare work hand-in-hand to provide downloaded, real-time traffic reports with fuel price data. If you have an iPhone, the SmartGPS app works for seamless integration.
• TomTom GO Live 1535M
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Labeled under “keep-it-simple,” The TomTom GO Live 1535M blends together web applications like Trip Advisor and Google to provide pinpoint destination searches. In addition to its voice command and HD Traffic service, the Twitter app allows drivers to tweet the ETA without texting.

Those are just my initial thoughts, but who knows. Things could change before Thanksgiving.

WEEK 7

Last Week: 12-2
Season: 53-37
DAMN, I’M GOOD. LET’S KEEP IT GOING!

PICKS ARE IN BOLD

(BYES: PHILADELPHIA, TAMPA BAY)

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16
N.Y. JETS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS — 8:25 p.m.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 19
ATLANTA FALCONS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS — 1:00 p.m.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT BUFFALO BILLS — 1:00 p.m.
MIAMI DOLPHINS AT CHICAGO BEARS — 1:00 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT DETROIT LIONS — 1:00 p.m.
CAROLINA PANTHERS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS — 1:00 p.m.
CINCINNATI BENGALS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — 1:00 p.m.
CLEVELAND BROWNS AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — 1:00 p.m.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT ST. LOUIS RAMS — 1:00 p.m.
TENNESSEE TITANS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS — 1:00 p.m.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — 4:05 p.m.
N.Y. GIANTS AT DALLAS COWBOYS — 4:25 p.m.
ARIZONA CARDINALS AT OAKLAND RAIDERS — 4:25 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT DENVER BRONCOS * — 8:30 p.m.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 20
HOUSTON TEXANS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS — 8:30 p.m.

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Week Four Picks: Come to Tristan da Cunha, the most remote island in the world

NASA image of Tristan da Cunha

NASA image of Tristan da Cunha

I’m a sucker for strange, out-of-this world stories. In this age of social media and limitless sources of information, you’d think there isn’t a tale that hasn’t been told already. But there’s always a nugget that surprisingly blows my mind.

For instance, the profile of the most remote island in the world, Tristan da Cunha piqued my interest since returning home from my vacation with beach sand still in my shoes. I thought St. Pete was secluded. This South Atlantic island, 1,750 miles from Cape Town, South Africa, isn’t sand and palm trees. It enjoys an obscene amount of rainfall (up to 26 days’ worth), has no hotels, no safe swimming locales while sitting on an active volcano.

If you’re feeling to get your über-travel on, you have to be prepared, for real. The island’s visitors web page keeps it 100 from the jump:

“You can’t just turn up in Cape Town and jump on a ship to Tristan da Cunha.”

Hikers at the 1961 eruption ruins.

Hikers at the 1961 eruption ruins.

First of all, you’d need to ask your employer for some time off, approximately 20-30 days at least, since it takes nearly a week to get there by boat (Oh yeah, did I mention there’s no airport on the island?). Plus, there are only a handful of sailings per year. You have to be serious about visiting. Some travelers stay for months at a time and become part of the community of nearly 300 people; time enough to explore all the trails and wildlife.

Second, you’ll need permission. The Island Council is Tristan da Cunha’s elected body. You want to visit? You literally have to ask them. They give the “yay” or “nay”.

Most who visit the island are of the medical, teaching or religious profession as well as avid hikers, writers and filmmakers. Suffice to say, if your “Why” answer is “To chill with my homies in a far away land,” you’re probably not making the cut.

You want on the island? You have to get through these folks: The Island Council. Source: Tristan da Cunha Government and the Tristan da Cunha Association

You want on the island? You have to get through these folks: The Island Council.
Source: Tristan da Cunha Government and the Tristan da Cunha Association

Stretching 7.5 miles in diameter, the island hosts many tours such as to the four neighboring islands, the Tristan Settlement and the island’s top, Queen Mary’s Peak.
Its most noteworthy event was its near demise when a volcanic eruption destroyed the island in 1961. All of the residents escaped then returned two years later to rebuild their homes. The event is even commemorated in Tristan de Cunha’s postal stamp.

The stamp in remembrance of the 1961 volcano eruption.

The stamp in remembrance of the 1961 volcano eruption.

Interestingly enough, Tristan is considered a lover’s paradise (it is nicknamed “The Love Island”). In the summertime at Queen Mary’s Peak, the summit crater thaws into a heart-shaped lake.

It is said that the islanders often return there to be married. The residents of Tristan were known to be shy. So, the way they’d show affection was toward the pastime of knitting “Love Socks”. If a man was interested in a woman, he would bring a gift and sit with her family. In return, she would knit him a pair of socks. The stripes on the socks would gauge how much she’d like the guy. Two large stripes were akin to “Yeah, you’re cute,” and two large stripes plus six small stripes were “I sooo want to get with you!” Love Socks and other interesting items are sold in the island’s souvenir shop.

The Summit Crater Tristan da Cunha Government and the Tristan da Cunha Association

The Summit Crater
Tristan da Cunha Government and the Tristan da Cunha Association

Want to find out more about this out-of-world place? Visit Trinstandc.com. If that’s not your cup of tea, well… it’s better than this remote island.

P.S. My good friend Chris Miller shares many tidbits of the interesting on his blog, The Lonely Typewriter. Check it out!

WEEK 4
Last Week: 8-8
Season: 26-22
“Same as before… stinking up the joint!”
PICKS ARE IN BOLD.
(BYES: ARIZONA, CINCINNATI, CLEVELAND, DENVER, SEATTLE, ST. LOUIS)

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
N.Y. GIANTS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS — 8:25 p.m.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
CAROLINA PANTHERS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS — 1:00 p.m.
GREEN BAY PACKERS AT CHICAGO BEARS — 1:00 p.m.
BUFFALO BILLS AT HOUSTON TEXANS — 1:00 p.m.
TENNESSEE TITANS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — 1:00 p.m.
ATLANTA FALCONS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS — 1:00 p.m.
DETROIT LIONS AT N.Y. JETS — 1:00 p.m.
MIAMI DOLPHINS AT OAKLAND RAIDERS (LONDON) — 1:00 p.m.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS — 1:00 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — 4:05 p.m.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS — 4:25 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT DALLAS COWBOYS — 8:30 p.m.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS — 8:30 p.m.


Week Two Picks: My first Uber morning drive

The names and locations are fictional, the directions are in bold but the car is mine and stories are true, sort of.

AudreyHepburn

“And I say… What about? Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

Thursday morning…
There are old houses and trendy eateries with gluten-free selections littered across this storied neighborhood with the original bricks paved onto the roads. It’s bumpy every time I’m here.
My first ride, Michelle cascaded toward the car. I wanted to take a picture to pique any paparazzi interest she might have while in her driveway. Sliding inside, she raised her finger to adjust her sunglasses then proceeded to do her best Audrey Hepburn.

“I want to pick up my friend. She is right around the corner when you get to Literary.” You look much different with a mustache, Michael.

I remembered then by doing this line of work, they’ll know what I look like as well as my car. I almost felt like a celebrity, too.
This is what I got it in for, other than the extra cash: Serving people. Driving is exciting. Communicating with others is what I do for a salary. Combining the two is a dream job, I guess.
Everybody is thankful for my presence. The drunker, the more grateful they become. But today, I figured I could help a damsel in distress who needs to get to work.
Coming off the left turn from Literary Street, Michelle and I discussed the remaining time of summer and cookouts that were rained out. She had an impromptu party to plan and needed a cleaner for her home.
She was in luck. Her friend, Rachel, a petite flower with a charming nose ring and calming voice, had a cousin who was a housekeeper. Her prices were cheap too.

Anne Hathaway. As cute as she wants to be.

Anne Hathaway. As cute as she wants to be.

We stopped outside Rachel’s home as she flowed off her front porch as Michelle did minus the pageant wave. She nestled into my front seat and lean into a solid Anne Hathaway pose.

“It’s best to get on Harmony, it’s a one-way, then left on Morrison Ave.”

Accountants at a boutique store on the far West side, the ladies described their work through the wrath of their manager who doesn’t listen effectively enough for Rachel’s tastes.

I told her when I was hired, I’m going to China for a month, then a weeding in Chicago. So, I needed September and some of October off. She just looked at me and said, “Okay”. She is just there because someone owed her a favor. Uggghh. She is so difficult.

Using her iPhone as a mirror to review her brushstrokes, Michelle nodded in agreement and explained to Rachel that life was easier during their days as baristas. The nose ring slightly tilted as Rachel chuckled then turned to me to drop some knowledge.

You know… you can tell a lot about a person when they order coffee.

With a few blocks from our destination, she grabbed my attention.

Black women always want extra caramel. No matter what, never fails! Old school people like black coffee and are to the point with you. But if there’s a guy who wants anything and everything with decaf, they’re either gay or an asshole.

After I called her out on her generalizations, she offered proof of her findings.

Oh! I tested my theory. There was this guy who went crazy with demands for decaf. He asked for my number and we went out on a date. He was a big time prick.

“You’ll want to make a left here…”
I thought I’d give him another shot. That time, I was drunk when he picked me up. We went to a bowling alley, drank some more and he still was an asshole.
“Pull into this driveway…”

Valid, I said. An asshole is an asshole. The ladies granted me sincere salutations and were on their way. Maybe the next time I enter a Starbucks, I’ll order black coffee with extra caramel.

caramel-coffee-ctr

What does coffee say about you? Leave a comment!

WEEK 2
Last Week: 11-5
Season: 11-5

Best start ever. In history. Yay me!

Picks are in bold

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11

PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS — 8:25 p.m.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 14

MIAMI DOLPHINS AT BUFFALO BILLS — 1:00 p.m.

DETROIT LIONS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS — 1:00 p.m.

ATLANTA FALCONS AT CINCINNATI BENGALS — 1:00 p.m.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS — 1:00 p.m.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS — 1:00 p.m.

ARIZONA CARDINALS AT N.Y. GIANTS — 1:00 p.m.

DALLAS COWBOYS AT TENNESSEE TITANS — 1:00 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS — 1:00 p.m.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — 4:05 p.m

ST. LOUIS RAMS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS — 4:05 p.m.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT DENVER BRONCOS — 4:25 p.m.

N.Y. JETS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS — 4:25 p.m.

HOUSTON TEXANS AT OAKLAND RAIDERS — 4:25 p.m.

CHICAGO BEARS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS — 8:30 p.m.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — 8:30 p.m.

 


I will not turn off my iPhone! I will not use Airplane Mode! Let’s have some pasta!

At this time, we request that all mobile phones, pagers, radios and remote controlled toys be turned off for the full duration of the flight, as these items might interfere with the navigational and communication equipment on this aircraft.

You-Lie-Joe-Wilson

What he said!

We request that all other electronic devices be turned off until we fly above 10,000 feet. We will notify you when it is safe to use such devices.

Cheap-Airline-Safety-Instructions--62282

Today is a victory for all air travelers. The BS lie we’ve been giving about our mobile devices and tablets has been destroyed. It’s no more.  The Federal Aviation Administration has finally listened to the ample amounts of studies stating that logging on to Facebook isn’t going scramble the plane’s communication and cause everyone to die in a fiery crash.

But don’t grab your iPad just yet (but we will anyway). The rule doesn’t go into effect until the end of the year which isn’t a long wait. Since the rule has been around for more than 20 years, the many among us have been scratching our heads. Although, the airline had their reasons to protect us. You wouldn’t want to catch a laptop upside your head in a crash.

•••

Turkey, Noodle, Pasta
Enough Ground Turkey to fix up 12 little meatballs
Two cups of diced tomatoes with sauce
1/2 crushed clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried bail
Four ounces of whole-wheat spaghetti/noodles
Two tablespoons of shredded mozzarella cheese

Roll up the ground turkey to the meatball size of your choosing. You can mix the garlic and some tomatoes for a twist. Heat in the oven at 350 degrees for less than 10 minutes.
DSCN2623
While that’s going on, heat up your noodles in a pot (medium-high), drain your noodles (Tip: If you shake your noodle more than three times, you’re technically playing with yourself).
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Stir your noodles with the sauce and/or tomatoes if you like. Make yourself a bowl and add a tablespoon of cheese (for each bowl). Enjoy the meal and thank you for flying MichaelFreeze.com.

LAST WEEK: 9-4
SEASON: 73-46

THU, OCT 31 TIME (ET)      
Cincinnati at Miami 8:25 PM CINCINNATI    
SUN, NOV 3 TIME (ET)      
Kansas City at Buffalo 1:00 PM KANSAS CITY    
Minnesota at Dallas 1:00 PM DALLAS    
Tennessee at St. Louis 1:00 PM TENNESSEE    
New Orleans at NY Jets 1:00 PM NEW ORLEANS    
San Diego at Washington 1:00 PM WASHINGTON    
Atlanta at Carolina 1:00 PM ATLANTA    
Philadelphia at Oakland 4:05 PM OAKLAND    
Tampa Bay at Seattle 4:05 PM SEATTLE    
Baltimore at Cleveland 4:25 PM BALTIMORE    
Pittsburgh at New England 4:25 PM NEW ENGLAND    
Indianapolis at Houston 8:30 PM INDIANAPOLIS    
MON, NOV 4 TIME (ET)      
Chicago at Green Bay 8:30 PM GREEN BAY    
·Bye: Denver, Detroit, NY Giants, Arizona, San Francisco, Jacksonville

151 is a good number, but fish is good.

On the way home today, the recent construction was taking its toll on my street. What would usually take five minutes took nearly two hours. The slow crawl of traffic led me to the woman with the “Slow/Stop” sign.  The saving grace was the day that was as warm as her smile.

You must be loving this day, right?

Once she heard my voice, her face turned to stone. The sign in her hand transformed into a weapon.

Love is too young to know what conscience is, Yet who know not conscience is born of love?

Ahhh… okay.

My first thought was “Holy virtuous resolutions. She must be having a bad day with her man.” But ultimately, I understood her situation. Love is so complicated, especially in the beginning. And definitely, if you’re doing someone you’re not supposed to be doing, ya dig?

The construction lady was on the wrong side of it, I guess. Like the child Cupid, love is too immature to know what the conscience is. But everybody realizes it’s born of love, right? That’s how I see it.

Are you going to move, buddy?

Honking horns and slight obscenities later, I realized it was time to move on. Goodbye, my new friend. Triumph in love. Until we meet again tomorrow.

Tilapia Talk Back for Two
Two tilapia filets
Two tablespoons mustard
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Honey to taste

Use a tablespoon of mustard on each filet.
Dump in the egg in a baggie. Shake it.
Take your pecans. Smash them. Roll the egg-soaked filet in it.
Preheat the oven for 350 degrees.
12 minutes in the oven. Then, drizzle it in honey.

DSCN2611
Rice not included

I love seafood. It’s brain food. My wife hates seafood. But I still love her. Boo! Enjoy.

LAST WEEK: 9-6
SEASON: 64-42

Carolina at Tampa Bay 8:25 PM CAROLINA
SUN, OCT 27 TIME (ET)
Dallas at Detroit 1:00 PM  DALLAS
Cleveland at Kansas City 1:00 PM KANSAS CITY
Miami at New England 1:00 PM NEW ENGLAND
Buffalo at New Orleans 1:00 PM NEW ORLEANS
NY Giants at Philadelphia 1:00 PM PHILADELPHIA
San Francisco at Jacksonville 1:00 PM SAN FRANCISCO
NY Jets at Cincinnati 4:05 PM CINCINNATI
Pittsburgh at Oakland 4:05 PM PITTSBURGH
Washington at Denver 4:25 PM  DENVER
Atlanta at Arizona 4:25 PM  ATLANTA
Green Bay at Minnesota 8:30 PM  GREEN BAY
MON, OCT 28 TIME (ET)
Seattle at St. Louis 8:30 PM  SEATTLE
·Bye: Chicago, Tennessee, Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, Houston

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOTHER!!!

October 18 is my mother’s birthday.

More than my mother, she’s my friend. She’s one of my wife’s best friends and talks to her more than I do.

For her last birthday, we took her to Disney as part of her bucket list. It was also the first time she rode a plane. Moving about with two new knees, Mom wasn’t too keen on being active at the airport until she learned of wheelchair assistance. I think she didn’t lay one foot on the ground while at Orlando or Akron-Canton.  It makes me long for the day that I’m elderly. But movement was not a problem that week. She was ridin’ dirty in her scooter.

Back to the plane… As we were boarding from Akron-Canton, I had to tell the closest attendant that this was my mother’s maiden voyage via sky. He then gave my mother a slight sigh.

Honey, you get to go First Class!
WHAT!!!
Yes honey, that’s how we do it around here!

Mom thought she won the lottery. Leather seat in a row all to herself; she felt like a queen… until takeoff.  As the plane marched unto the runway, my mother’s face was covered not wanting to take a peek out the window or anywhere near the cabin. She noticed a slight tilt that steadily increased. Looking at the window, she saw I-77 get smaller until her focus was on the horizon. I didn’t hear any screams, so I assumed she was still intact.  One hour in, I asked how she was doing.

How fast are we going?
Very fast.
Like 55 mph?

Once she had gotten over the shock of our speed, she had one more question.

What are those white things outside?
What things?
The white puffy things.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

MOMMA’S MORNING MOUTHFUL
An egg
A cup of milk
3/4 cup of oatmeal
1/2 cup of strawberries/blueberries or any berries
A tablespoon of pecans or almonds
A teaspoon of whey protein or isolate
”       ”               ”  ground flaxseed
A teaspoon of yogurt
1/2  sliced banana

Mix the first six ingredients in a bowl and nuke it for about two minutes. After it’s not so hot anymore, slap on the banana slices and dap the yogurt on it.
BOOM!
Momma's Morning Mouthful

Who needs coffee? You got energy for the day, right there.  Let’s run some laps around Magic Kingdom!

MY PICKS
LAST WEEK: 11-4
SEASON: 55-37

THU, OCT 17 TIME (ET)
Seattle at Arizona 8:25 PM SEATTLE
SUN, OCT 20 TIME (ET)
Tampa Bay at Atlanta 1:00 PM ATLANTA
Cincinnati at Detroit 1:00 PM CINCINNATI
Buffalo at Miami 1:00 PM MIAMI
New England at NY Jets 1:00 PM NEW ENGLAND
Dallas at Philadelphia 1:00 PM PHILADELPHIA
Chicago at Washington 1:00 PM CHICAGO
St. Louis at Carolina 1:00 PM ST. LOUIS
San Diego at Jacksonville 1:00 PM SAN DIEGO
San Francisco at Tennessee 4:05 PM SAN FRANCISCO
Cleveland at Green Bay 4:25 PM GREEN BAY
Houston at Kansas City 4:25 PM KANSAS CITY
Baltimore at Pittsburgh 4:25 PM PITTSBURGH
Denver at Indianapolis 8:30 PM DENVER
MON, OCT 21 TIME (ET)
Minnesota at NY Giants 8:30 PM NEW YORK
·Bye: Oakland, New Orleans