Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Did you really expect me to blog on my birthday? Sheesh!

Feel free to wish me a happy birthday in the comments section of this post (or to send me a present).

Monday, September 29, 2008

Need Help Registering, Voting Absentee or Finding Your Polling Place?

Here's a quick extra edition blog post to remind you of the urgency of being able to vote in the upcoming election. Election Day is Nov. 4, so plan now to vote, or at least figure out if you need to vote absentee.

Don't know if you're registered to vote? Need help getting registered? Think you'll need to vote absentee? Don't know where your polling place is located? No worries, we've got you covered!

The status of our economy is somewhat perilous right now, and it's obvious that the last eight years of the party in power hasn't been able to get things done right concerning the economy, war, or even balancing the national deficit. It's time to vote for change!

So, go to Vote for Change, and get all of your voting questions answered quickly with a few clicks, and you can even register or request to vote absentee at the site! Your vote is critical at this time in America's history. Be part of it.

Don't wait! Registration deadlines are right around the corner for most states! Find your state's registration deadline here. Hurry, most states' deadlines are by the end of this week or early next week!

Hokies Husk Huskers

In Friday's game preview, I said QBs, crowd and special teams would be the deciding factors in Saturday's game between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Virginia Tech Hokies. Here's why I was right:
  • Tyrod Taylor put up 171 passing yards, only 28 yards shy of his total combined passing yards from the previous four games. The QB also rushed for 87 yards. It was VT's best game offensively of the season. That's been the problem all year — offense. If they keep this up, they're on a roll.
  • The crowd was silenced early on by the Hokies. This helped the offense keep rolling.
  • What kept the crowd scratching their heads and little quieter than they might have otherwise been? Special teams. The Hokies blocked a kick for an early safety that fired up the team's momentum for the night.
Kenny Lewis, Jr., fizzled out quick for the Hokies, but Darren Evans, Stephan Virgil, Tyrod Taylor, Macho Harris and Greg Boone had all had a great game. Brent Bowden remained mediocre, but Dustin Keys rocked his kicks like nobody's business.

The 35-30 score wasn't representative of how well the Hokies played. The score could have easily surpassed 50 for the Hokies had they been able to find the end zone instead of settling for the field goal more often. They'll have next week's homecoming game against pushover Western Kentucky (1:30 p.m.) to work on that before facing more ACC opponents.

None of the stories I've seen so far mention the 15-yard penalty assessed against Nebraska for unsportsmanlike conduct, though. Quit taking it easy on Cornhusker head coach Bo Pellini! He made a complete ass of himself and cost his team a tough penalty in front of the largest home stadium crowd Nebraska has ever seen. I hope they booed him off the field. What an embarrassment. How can you expect discipline from your team when you have none? But let's face it, my friends and I loved the moment, and it just proves that the Hokies can go on the road and remain poised and classy against anyone.

Note: Bryan Stinespring refrained from calling idiotic screen plays, but he still called a lot of useless running plays right up the middle on third-and-long. Fire him, and the Hokies could be championship contenders as a result someday.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Don't Invest Until You Visit Inner8

It's no question that the recent collapse of some big names like AIG, Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mac and Freddie Mac is scary. The state of the U.S. economy, including recent fuel shortages in the South and high gas prices, is shaky. Investing can be a scary — but often necessary — thing in a global marketplace. Luckily, there's a new company that's here to help with investment analytics to get you on the right track — Inner8.

Here's what the company says about its services:

"Sophisticated analytics and correlation technology translate your market views and our community’s top investors into smarter investments and better money management results, customized to your unique needs. Say goodbye to hefty fees for advisors, brokers or newsletters and say hello to the next revolution in personal investing."
The name, Inner8, refers to eight friends who formed the organization, many of whom were pioneers for E*Trade, the same name that strikes fear in brokers and happiness in the hearts of investors. Inner8 execs have decided to created this group to allow you, the independent investor, to receive personalized analytics that will help you make smart investments that fit your lifestyle.

Here's what those execs have told me about Inner8:

"The very institutions that position themselves as the gold standard of advice are themselves going bankrupt. The technology, communities and analytics available today are the next generation of advice. Your readers need alternatives for high quality investing tools and advice, and we think Inner8 is a compelling choice."
I've checked out their Web site, and if you're looking to get into making some smart investments, I'd say you should give Inner8 a shot. What's not to love about good advice backed up by top-notch data and personal service?

Inner8 actually just launched, and they are accepting clients on an invitation-only basis for their BETA services. Luckily, the audience of Relatively Journalizing was selected as being a bunch of self-directed, sophisticated people deemed worthy to receive a free access code for the Web site.

So visit Inner8 and enter your code: 3bsdz

Thanks for cluing us in, Inner 8!

Post?slot_id=21458&url=http%3a%2f%2fsocialspark

Introducing "Billy, the War Eagle"

Soon, our affiliate, "Life as a Hyperbole," will start an epic series about "Billy, the War Eagle." You can read about how the series originated here. Yes, it was partially my idea.

Be sure to tune in for Monday's football recap post and other great content this week! Also, I'd love to get some more guest bloggers involved, so get in touch with me if you can donate an article.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Internship Update: It's Over... Sort Of

So the original reason I started this blog was to update about my internship.

Since the blog began, I've written about many topics related to my public relations internship, and I've written about a whole lot more that wasn't. I became pretty addicted to blogging. Writing is my passion, and it keeps me relaxed. So, my internship has come to an end, and now I've scheduled my theoretically based paper and presentation regarding it for Nov. 19, 2008 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in Shanks Hall 043 on the Virginia Tech campus. Come on by if you're in town and interested.

Now, I wrote a lot about tech topics, sports, graduate school and other various topics, but I did focus quite a bit on my internship, and I really think these handful of blog posts don't even come close to scratching the surface of all I learned. Once I get more into the paper, I'll be sure to update you, seeing how you've followed me through this journey. But what did the blog help me keep track of and reflect on?

Well, I met everyone, and started right off learning a little about surveying for market research. I did some promotions along the way, and even wrote an album review. A lot of my time was spent on doing an annual report, which taught me a lot about what they are really about. I even did some writing for the report, including a story about blueberries. I learned that real public relations gives the public a voice. I talked about using social networking in marketing and all the uncertainties involved therein, and even tried my hand at another review. I learned a lot too about the differences between journalism and public relations, and even found out some things about both that really annoy me.

All in all, I had a great experience. Probably a lot better experience than I'll have writing this paper and trying to wrap my practical mind around what I did in relation to communication theory. At least I have some time. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hokie Matchup: vs. Nebraska

The Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1) will face off against their toughest nonconference opponent of the season (let's face it, ECU shouldn't have been that tough) this Saturday in Nebraska.

Do the Hokies have a chance at the win with all the struggles they've faced in squeaker wins thus far? Well, Nebraska, though undefeated, is largely untested against any decent teams, but they definitely look to be on top of their game.

The deciding factors in tomorrow's matchup will be:

  • Quarterbacks — Nebraska's QB has touchdowns rushing, passing and receiving this season already. VT's Tyrod Taylor is still said to be its starting QB, though he may still have a sensitive ankle, and he threw two INTs against North Carolina. Glennon was able to lead the Hokies down the field in Chapel Hill when Taylor went down with his ankle, but he only tried one pass and relied on an otherwise uneventful run game. VT must get Taylor (hopefully healthy) passing the ball, making big rushing plays and thinking twice before throwing into coverage if they want to energize what has been a terrible attempt at offense.
  • Crowd — The Hokies did well in a pretty hostile Chapel Hill crowd. The same wasn't true in a "neutral" Charlotte field against East Carolina. Nebraska will be the loudest, most hostile environment the Hokies have seen yet. They have to stay positive and stay focused, and again, the QB leadership element comes into play here.
  • Special Teams — I doubt it's a question as to whether the Hokies defense will perform well, and maybe the defense will even score more points that the offense (with some help from the kicker). I think VT's offense will still be moving pretty slowly, leaving the momentum up to special teams. UNC was the first opponent against which the Hokies' did not block a kick, and that game was too close for comfort. Block that kick (and don't let them play Beamerball on you)!
This game is not in the bag for either team. It's a good measurement tool for Nebraska, and it's a must-win for the Hokies if they plan to see themselves back in the rankings and getting strong enough to keep winning in the ACC. We'll see what happens.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Virginia Tech: Stuck in the Past

Sometimes something shocks and annoys you so much, you just have to blog about it. That's why I'm going against Virginia Tech's "Invent the Future" motto to tell about one way the school is "Stuck in the Past."

Yesterday, I was doing my graduate teaching assistant duty by going to my hours at the CommLab, over in the Newman Library on the Virginia Tech campus. Students never come to get help with their speaking abilities, but I have to be here anyway. Heck, they pay me for it (sort of).

Anyway, when I arrived to the CommLab, I was parched. A fruit-filled, ice-cold smoothie came to mind first, but I would've settled for a crisp, clean bottle of water or even a room-temperature Diet Coke (hey, I was desperate). However, after searching every nook and cranny of the first floor, all I could find were water fountains with some strange green mold growing around the water-dispensing hole. Besides, I don't know what nasty undergraduate drooled there before I came along, so I just make it a rule not to drink out of public water fountains.

I was completely appalled when I looked at the library map in the CommLab and couldn't find a single vendor or vending machine located there. I figured, heck, they probably just didn't list them on the map. So I call the circulation desk.

Me: Hi, I'm on the first floor, and I can't find anywhere to get a drink. Are there any vending machines or anything elsewhere?

Circulation Guy: Uh, no, sorry, there aren't actually.

Me: Seriously?

Circulation Guy: Yeah, sorry.

Me: Interesting... well, uh, thanks... I guess.

Now I rarely knock Virginia Tech in favor of my undergraduate alma mater, Marshall. They are both wonderful institutions in their own right, but I have to just come right out and say it in the plainest way possible regarding Virginia Tech's library — It sucks. Newman Library completely blows.

At Marshall, the John Deaver Drinko Library was amazing. Let's compare:

Here is Drinko Library in all its glory. Yeah, that's a Starbucks attached to it on your bottom-left side. And a 24-hour, computered-out (including Macs), study center. Plus, an awesome glass tower right in the middle that leads up to an impressive theater (and computing services for the university) on the top floor. The library is stocked with lots of good resources, a law library (even though there's no law school), and even a great lounge surrounded by hundreds of current periodicals. Oh, yeah, and they have individual study and meeting rooms all over the place that you can use and/or reserve.

Now, here we have the Newman Library at Virginia Tech. It's a boring, though Hokie-stone, building with no Starbucks, or anything cool at all, attached to it. Now, I'm sure there's a Mac in here somewhere, but I've yet to find it. In fact, I have yet to find anything useful in this library. It just seems stuffy, unorganized and dingy compared to the contemporary, clean, quick-access-to-everything feel Drinko has. And books? Oh yeah, they have books, and they have lots of them. If you're an engineer or an architect. Good luck finding more than two or three books written in this century about public relations, journalism or art, for example. I hear there are plans to put a coffee shop down here on the first floor of Newman soon, but until they figure it out, they have the exits blocked off. Yeah, that's right. You can't even exit the freaking building. You have to go to the second floor to leave because there's a barricade preventing you from leaving out the main entrance that we all used just last semester. I kept hoping there would be a fire so I could smash out the windows and go out the front of the first floor anyway. So, I suppose they are at least realizing how badly this library sucks and trying to make some changes of some sort — I'm not sure exactly what, but as I sat in CommLab trying to get something productive done, there was constant drilling. Don't construction workers go home before 6 p.m.? HEY! YOU! THIS IS A LIBRARY! SHHH!

I can't seem to find library rankings of any kind online, so if you know of a site or an organization that does that sort of thing, let me know. I have been told anecdotally, though, that VT's library is the worst in the ACC. Ouch. That's pretty bad for a university that's consistently in the top 30 public universities in America and is known as a research institution.

All in all, VT is a great place, and it's even better I think for graduate students with all of the focus on research that is done here. However, the library really leaves a lot to be desired, and I miss Drinko (and many other things about Marshall) every time I come here.

I have to end now, I couldn't charge my laptop's battery in Newman because my plug wouldn't fit... some douchebag painted over the outlet.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Writing?!?! Like with Pen and Paper?

Monday, I had to take an exam in my Campaign Communication class. The exam itself was not too difficult. In fact, I found it to be just right for the graduate level — complex, in-depth application questions that incorporate the literature in the field with contemporary examples. I studied for the exam a decent amount of time beforehand, and even though I didn't seem to take as long on it as many of my colleagues, I think (read: hope) that was just because the journalist in me led me to be more concise in my answers.

However, the exam was difficult in a different way — it was physically demanding. Yeah, you read that correctly. For the first time since a Global Terrorism class I took in the summer of 2006, I actually had to use a Blue Book and write my answers to the exam on paper, with a pen! While my professors since that summer have allowed us to type up our answers to exams and submit them electronically, write papers instead of exams, take OpScan exams or write only short-answer exams, this professor said to heck with that, let's kill some trees and use some good, old-fashioned ink.

At first, I thought, OK, piece of cake, I've done this before. I though, heck, this will be fun. What the heck was I thinking? About three paragraphs in to answering the first question, my right hand started cramping up. I stopped, took a sip of my soda, stretching my hands, cracked a knuckle or two, and then I pressed on. Before I finished that question, my pinky was completely numb. As I began the second question, my ring finger went numb as well. So, half my hand is numb, meaning I can barely hold up the pen. So, with a pen that is nearly parallel to the table, I try to finish the exam, my writing getting more and more illegible as I progress. No matter of shaking or stretching my hand seemed to help. The only solution was to finish chicken-scratching the answers and get the heck out of there. So that's what I did.

The lesson learned here is that technology is convenient, and it helps out the environment in many cases. It has, however, made us lazy, weak-handed people. I hope I never have to take another Blue Book exam in my life. If so, I might just write in a URL to a blog post with my answers. And you'll probably see me wearing a sling.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tasty Web Site at FCI

Have you seen the French Culinary Institute's Web site? If not, you should really give it a look. I was amazed. This is Web design at its best. No annoying Flash intro here! Rather, we have an interactive, highly visual, very impressive, narrated intro that still blows me away every time I watch it. It changes as the events change, but it really brings you into the kitchen. I've dodged flying carrots, salivated over creamy chocolate, smelled fine wine and even got a few drops of olive oil on me while watching the intro for this site. Seriously, you'll understand what I mean once you've seen it for yourself.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Football Recap

You'll probably notice from most of my football coverage that my favorite teams are Marshall University, Virginia Tech and the Carolina Panthers. From time to time, I talk about other teams, but you can find in-depth coverage about teams such as USC and Ohio State just about anywhere. So, with today's post, I'd like to continue my coverage of my favorite three teams' performances this past weekend.
  • The Good — The Marshall University Thundering Herd advanced to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in Conference USA play this weekend with a win over Southern Mississippi. Do you know who the #1 team in standings for C-USA is? No, it's not East Carolina. That's right, East Carolina is only 1-0 in C-USA play (and got knocked off their winning streak by the ACC's NC State this weekend), meaning Marshall has actually played more C-USA games and is undefeated in them. In fact, the Herd's only loss came at the hands of a then-#11 Wisconsin, now the #9 team in the country. Not bad for a team that's rebuilding and has a freshman quarterback. Go Herd! This is Marshall's first 2-0 start since leaving the MAC for C-USA. Sophomore running back Darius Marshall rushed for 128 yards and one touchdown Saturday, while freshman QB Mark Cann was 16 of 25 with no interceptions.
  • The Bad — All that talk about the Cardiac Cats of 2003 making a return. Well, you can forget it — probably. Jake Delhomme's sack for a fumbled TD return by the Minnesota Vikings was just the beginning of the Carolina Panthers' problems Sunday. The Panthers are now 2-1. The Vikings had a lot resting on this game, that's true. They are now 1-2, but would've been 0-3 had they lost to Carolina, and that's just not something any team is going to take lying down in the NFL. The Viking defense brought up a stellar performance, jamming Panthers' wide receiver Steve Smith at the line, preventing him from getting deep enough for anyone to notice his return after two weeks of suspension. There's no way around it, the Panthers played poorly and Minnesota pulled it out for a much-needed win. It's way too early in the season to say the Panthers are done for, and they'll likely at least be a wild-card contender in the playoffs — they just aren't that breakthrough team many fans were hoping they had become.
  • The Ugly — "We never claim to be pretty," said head coach Frank Beamer after the Hokies' 20-17 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels Saturday. It's a good thing because that win was ugly. But it was a win. Period. When I saw the score at the end of the game, it was surreal. I couldn't believe the Hokies won after such an ugly game. Tyrod Taylor, the quarterback even I have been guilty of glorifying (as well as many other VT fans), threw two interceptions and zero touchdowns. After his injury, I was scared to death when fifth-year senior QB Sean Glennon came off the bench. I figured he'd throw two more INTs. However, Glennon proved his worth as a calm, collected senior QB who can lead a team down the field. He had a nice completion, but it was really the VT running game that kicked it in when it was needed most after being asleep most of the rest of the game. Two factors won that game — VT's defense holding out to keep the score close when the offense wasn't getting it done and UNC's 14 penalties for 121 yards. Had UNC learned the rules of football before taking the field, it could've been a very different game. The Hokies face Nebraska Saturday at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

2 Joshes, 1 Frisbee



Here's a random video my buddy and I (who share the same first name) pieced together from some leftover footage we had after making our "Water Ad" out on the Drillfield at Virginia Tech.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hokie Matchup: vs. North Carolina

Virginia Tech may be coming off a close win versus Georgia Tech, but the North Carolina Tar Heels are coming off a blowout victory over nonconference opponent Rutgers. UNC is definitely the better-looking team right now, but the Hokies seem to grow with each game. What's in store for tomorrow's matchup?

UNC has a stellar offense right now, but VT has a great defense. However, VT didn't defend the run very well against the Yellow Jackets last weekend. Lucky for them, you can expect UNC to try to score early and often through the air. I think VT's strong defense and weak offense will balance out with UNC having basically the opposite setup.

If both teams play mostly like they have been, the battle will be decided by two factors: (A) which team has the most turnovers and (B) whose special teams make a big play or plays. This means we're likely in for a tight one.

Now, if VT's coaches, namely OC Bryan Stinespring, call the same idiotic third-and-long screen pass plays over and over again like they have been, UNC will stomp the Hokies. I think head coach Frank Beamer will have locked that down a little more though — if he's smart. If the Hokies have better play calling on offense and the defensive players have worked hard this week to better themselves against the run, then VT will show the country why it is the defending ACC champion. If not, the Tar Heels might embarrass them with UNC's first win versus the Hokies since VT joined the ACC.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Life as a Hyperbole

I have yet to formally introduce the newest blog to come out of the Virginia Tech Department of Communication graduate class.

Stephen Daniel, my colleague who is an alumnus of Appalachian State University, recently started his own blog, known as Life as a Hyperbole.

Stephen's blog follows a six-day-a-week cycle where he delivers life lessons (Mondays), talks seriously (Tuesdays), makes fun of people (Wednesdays), blogs about his favorite movies of all time (Thursdays), makes football predictions (Fridays) and recaps college football (Sundays).

This now extends the VT COMM grad students blog number to five, all of us guys (or at least, as far as I know, none of my other colleagues have shared their blog with me). I think it's time for some of the women in the group to step up. In fact, all of the guys here blog except Drew and Daron, who are both relatively elderly (yeah, they're pushing 30). Daron is excused because he (A) is married with a kid and (B) guest blogs here on Relatively Journalizing from time to time. Drew, on the other hand, is not excused (even though he also is married with a kid) because (A) he is a first-year graduate student and not a second-year awesome graduate student and (B) he has yet to guest blog here. Get on it, Drew!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

9 Tips for Aspiring Student Bloggers

Today's post is a guest post by Elizabeth Kudner, written exclusively for Relatively Journalizing. Kudner is the co-founder of myUsearch, described below in the opening of her post. I'd like to take this opportunity to personally thank Kudner for guest blogging here, and I'm sure after reading her helpful advice, you'll hope she appears here again as much as I do.

BY ELIZABETH KUDNER
myUsearch


As the co-founder of myUsearch, an online service that matches students to colleges, I hire and manage student bloggers to tell the truth about their college experience for the myUsearchblog. After reading dozens of their posts, I’ve come up with a few tips to help them improve their writing and SEO (search engine optimization), and I thought these tips might help you as well:
  1. Have fun — Chances are if you have fun, your readers will too.
  2. Write about something interesting — Try to teach your audience something they don't know already. Although writing from your personal experience can be valuable, you should do a little research before you write or write about something very unique in your life that most people don't already know about.
  3. Keep it short — Let’s face it. Attention spans are getting shorter by the minute. Read through your post and try to take out any unneeded words. Use as few words as possible, and use images and videos whenever you can.
  4. Open with a bang — Grab your readers’ attention by giving a brief preview of the exciting things you’ll talk about. You can start with an open loop or check out Copyblogger for some other tips.
  5. It better make sense out of context —Remember, not everyone will go directly to your blog to read your post. Make sure the title and the first paragraph will make sense if the post is bookmarked on sites like Digg or StumbleUpon.
  6. Learn to love lists — Your SEO will improve if you format your blog post as a list instead of a series of paragraphs. Important: In order for your post to be recognized as a list, you should use the list function within your blog interface instead of just typing in the number.
  7. Deep link — Deep linking, or linking to previous posts within your own blog, will keep your readers engaged and will improve your SEO.
  8. Choose your words carefully — Think about searchability when you choose your words. For instance, if you want to write about choosing the right school, you might want to use the words "college" or "university" instead of "school." This is especially important for titles.
  9. Get specific — The more specific your topic and verbage are, the better. For example, one of the most popular posts on our blogs is about how to write an Ivy League essay. I don’t think this post would have done nearly as well if it was just about college essays in general.
So, in an effort to be brief, I’ll stop there. If you have any other questions or if you’re an aspiring student blogger looking for work, contact me, Elizabeth Kudner, at blog [at] myusearch [dot] com.

Have a 10th tip to round out Elizabeth's? Leave it in the comments, and thanks again to Elizabeth!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sarah Palin — Will It Ever End? It Must!


It isn't likely that the buzz around Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, will go away before election day. I personally can see through John McCain's political pandering with this decision, but it seems like so many Americans are just falling for the tough-talking (without actions to match) sex kitten. I guess every party needs a Nancy Pelosi...

So while I hope to limit my coverage from now on of Palin and McCain and really political talk altogether (as I've been watching and writing about it ad nauseam lately, plus I'm in a campaigns and a political communications class right now), I feel I really have to point out some things along the way. I just can't believe the advertisements the McCain campaign has ran on TV lately. While the Barack Obama campaign's ads have not been so negative (they do relate McCain to Bush and criticize his policies, but those are legitimate arguments in an election), the McCain campaign has ran not only negative ads, but also some blatantly false ads about both Obama and the virtues of the McCain tickets' two candidates. I hope other newspapers in the country are pointing this out as well as the Roanoke Times did last Thursday.

Face it, the McCain campaign lies, and they do it a whole lot. Need proof? Just check here to get the facts about every campaign ad. So why would anyone vote for such a candidate and veep choice? It's beyond me because the choice is so clear in this election — clearer than it's ever been in history — and yet the polls keep getting closer and closer. How does this happen? It's because the general public, the Bubbas and Bubbettes out there, aren't like you and me. They aren't reading blogs, news sites, fact-checking sites and watching/reading a varied array of news sources each day and night. Nope, they sit back with Fox News for hours on end, and they talk about how Jesus would never vote for a black man and surely not one who is Muslim. (In case you've been living in a cave reading only spam e-mails and you don't feel like clicking the link, no, Obama is not a Muslim, he's a Christian.)

Even if you aren't convinced of Obama's rhetoric of change and hope, then you at least can still notice the Obama ticket is the best choice on the ballot this year. It's not difficult to see.

On the McCain side, you have an old war veteran who has voted with a lame-duck president 90 percent of the time (who has recently tried stealing Obama's change mantra, but it just doesn't sound the same when you have some perspective of how little change McCain can bring — I guess he can bring 10 percent of a change, but that's not enough to save America). You have also a phony beauty queen who has governed the 47th state in terms of population for fewer than two years.

On the Obama side, however, you have an extremely intelligent man who could have gone to Wall Street or been a big-time lawyer. Instead, he worked in Chicago, helping people in the community who suffered from the effects of a dwindling economy. Then, he went to Congress, where he had the wisdom to vote against the war in Iraq, which we would find out later was completely based on lies and has gotten us no closer to finding Osama bin Laden and bringing him to justice — but Bush has put our economy trillions of dollars in debt. With Joe Biden as the vice-presidential nominee, we have a man with years of experience in Congress. We have someone who is a real family man, who rode the train into D.C. every day so he could be with his children when his first wife was tragically killed in a car accident. We have a man of character and experience who is ready to take over should something happen to the president, much unlike Palin who claimed she had no idea what the vice president does only a few months ago (and all she would have to do is read the Constitution, but I guess going to six colleges in six years doesn't allow one time to focus on her studies).

If you look at how McCain has lied, been on the wrong side of history and supported a failing Bush Administration... If you look at how Palin has so many shaded areas in her life (lack of good parenting, not being able to finish what she starts, being for the Bridge to Nowhere and pork spending, etc.) and how inexperienced she is... If you look at how much Obama genuinely wants to fix what is wrong with America today because of Bush... If you look at how experienced Joe Biden is and how much fight he has in him to bring needed foreign policy decisions to the forefront... the choice in this election is clear. But I'm just so afraid that too many are blind. Too many are not checking the facts. Too many are swayed by the false ads from McCain and Palin. At least the ladies in Alaska are rising up to say their piece.

It's probably going to be another close election — but it really shouldn't be.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hokies Endure the Sting, PLUS: Are the Cardiac Cats Returning?

The Virginia Tech Hokies just barely pulled off a win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Saturday, vaulting VT to 2-1 for the season and 1-0 in the ACC.

So, how did the Hokies win? Well, they did two important things: the coaches kept Sean Glennon on the bench, and the defense played pretty well against the pass, forcing GT to keep the ball on the ground and play a slow run game.

However, GT's run game was a lot more effective than it should have been. That's why this 20-17 game was so darn close. That, and terrible play calling from Virginia Tech's offensive coordinator, Bryan Stinespring. As the OC, this guy to me is responsible for what happens on the field during offensive drives. Stinespring has taken a lot of heat from blogs, fans and sports news sources locally and nationwide, but for good reason. Perhaps head coach Frank Beamer is just getting too old and senile to see what's right in front of him (OK, many of you will think that's blasphemy, but Beamer is not infallible).

There were so many bad offensive play calls Saturday versus the Jackets that I doubt there was one fan in the stands or watching at home on ESPN who was satisfied with what happened. On third-and-long plays, the play call would be a screen pass from QB Tyrod Taylor that would be lucky to make it back to the line of scrimmage before the receiver was down and the punt team was on the field. It also seems as if the coaches have Taylor persuaded that he can't do anything but run. Plenty of times, Taylor had open receivers downfield, but he would instead run for only a couple of yards. That's not to say Taylor isn't one talented QB, and his run game is indeed superb (read: unfathomable, magical, amazing to watch). However, if VT is going to be competitive, the offense needs a pass-game boost once in a while. Taylor has a good arm on him, so he just needs some proper coaching to back him up.

On defense, VT was great on secondary, but the D-Line was pretty weak. I had a lot more faith in defensive coordinator Bud Foster before Saturday's game. The defense fell for the same series of plays every time GT was on offense, and they fell for the same exact option play so many times I lost count. GT was able to gain positive yards on pretty much every rushing play, and that almost sealed the Hokies' fate. Let's face it — if not for the athleticism of Taylor and his ability to get into the end zone by himself quite often, then VT might face some big problems. Luckily, good defense (except against the option) and special teams (VT had another extra point block credited to its special teams Saturday) are getting better and better.

Overall, Beamer made the right decision to bench the ever-disappointing Glennon. Hopefully, he'll listen to the Hokie Nation and either make sure Stinespring doesn't get to make any more calls for the Hokies, or at least pressure him to get the offense making some bigger plays. The Hokies didn't look terrible against GT, but they definitely need to be more agressive and step up the little things at all levels if VT is going to ride this success into the postseason. There needs to be better play calling on offense. And QB Tyrod Taylor needs to stay healthy — because he is the new face of Virginia Tech.

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In NFL news, the Carolina Panthers pulled off another comeback win Sunday against the Chicago Bears, 20-17. To many, this season is starting off reminiscent of the 2003 season that saw the "Cardiac Cats" endure many hard-fought battles on the gridiron on their way to the Super Bowl. Are the Cardiac Cats back? Will things look even better when Steve Smith returns next week?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Synchroblogging: This Really Bugs Me

Kelvin Oliver, an English major at the University of Memphis, decided to try a synchroblogging project out of his Moments in Time blog. For more information on what exactly synchroblogging is, check out this post about it.

This round's topic is "This Really Bugs Me," and luckily for myself, a busy graduate student, I already have a post that fits the bill.

So, take a moment to visit Moments in Time throughout this week and see all of the URLs of what other bloggers have blogged about on their blogs, and check out my post about one of my very own pet peeves.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

McRib: Farewell Tour 5,000

I saw an ad for the McRib on TV tonight. I remember the third farewell tour that started back in Oct. 2007. That ended, right? So are they bringing it back to try and get people to save it again and do a fourth tour or did it finally get saved last time?

Does anyone actually eat that... thing? I'd love to hear your comments about the strangest viral/stealth marketing campaign of all time.

Yeah, McDonald's seems to be poking fun at their own food, at us, or perhaps at... boneless pigs?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Southwestern Virginia Gas Crisis (An Extra Edition Report)

I'm sure it's happening elsewhere, but if you don't know about the unbelievable gasoline prices and shortages (because of people buying en masse and in panic, not because of actual stock shortages originally in the area) in southwestern Virginia right now, check out this article first from the Roanoke Times:

"Region's gas prices surge"

I personally saw a Valero station (on U.S. 460 Business between Blacksburg and Christiansburg) that had gas for $4.58. Yes, for regular unleaded. I pulled into a BP to get some $3.78 gas, but the pump had a sign that read "out of stock" attached to it. Before getting on U.S. 460, I had attempted to get fuel from either the Marathon or 7-Eleven on Tom's Creek Road near my apartment, but the lines were backed out into the main road.

I decided to wait until after seeing a movie to get gas this evening.

After the film, every station was either closed or only selling premium. Finally, after driving station to station, I found that the Citgo on Main Street in downtown Blacksburg had regular gas for $3.69. Still higher than it was earlier today, yesterday or earlier this week (and a heck of a lot higher than it should ever be, but that's a story for another day).

I just want everyone out there to be sure to write President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain a thank you note today, thanking them for leading our government in efforts to find alternative energy sources. Perhaps also ask them to thank their big-business, oil-tycoon buddies for the outrageous gas prices and blatant price gouging going on in America. If the oil tycoons and lobbyists run McCain's campaign (and they do, check out his staff's backgrounds), do you really think gas prices and the economy as a whole will get better for the average, everyday American if McCain is elected?

Hokie Matchup: vs. Georgia Tech

This weekend's Hokie matchup finds Virginia Tech meeting Georgia Tech at VT's home in Lane Stadium. Last year was an emotional ride for the Hokies, as the VT QBs had their jerseys stolen before the game and were forced to wear old GT jerseys donated by the opposing team. VT dominated in that game, but this year will likely be a different story.

VT only has a one-game lead in this series, 3-2, that dates back to 1990. While GT is the better team right now, 2-0 overall, 1-0 ACC, (VT is 1-1 overall, 0-0, ACC), VT isn't likely to make this easy for them. Historically, VT has the advantage — the Hokies are 16-1 in conference openers under head coach Frank Beamer, going 12-1 in the Big East and 4-0 since moving to the ACC in 2004. Also historically, VT should be OK, because the last two times the team lost its season opener (as it did against ECU this year), the Hokies ended up still winning the ACC and going to a bowl game (the previous two times were in 1995 and 2004, losing to BC and USC, respectively).

While the Hokies have history on their side, the stats back the Yellow Jackets right now. Check it out:

TEAM AVERAGES & NCAA RANKS
OFFENSETMPER GAME AVERAGE / NCAA RANK
Total YardsGT
370.0 / 72nd
VT
305.0 / 98th
Passing YardsGT
114.5 / 113th
VT
122.5 / 110th
Rushing YardsGT
255.5 / 15th
VT
182.5 / 40th
Points ScoredGT
30.0 / 56th
VT
23.0 / 86th
Source: ESPN.com

So, who will win tomorrow's game?

I think both teams will put up quite a fight, but ultimately it will come down to the coaching decisions made by Frank Beamer and his staff and also on how well the young Hokies are mentally and physically prepared for an ACC battle.

If Beamer leaves fifth-year QB dud Sean Glennon on the bench for the majority of the game, allowing Tyrod Taylor to get the ball to receivers with his approximately 80-percent passing completion rate (so far this season) and to run the ball downfield for 60-yard QB scampers, that'll help a lot. If the VT coaching staff actually learns their lesson the third time around and just kicks the field goal instead of going for it on fourth down in the first quarter of the game, that'll help a lot too. If the Hokies' special teams perform as well as they have been and block some kicks, that'll help even more. However, I would like to see the special teams get a little more aggressive, block a few more kicks (or force some rushed, poor kicks) and get some better returns than they have been (man, I really wish we still had Eddie Royal doing for us what he's doing for Denver now).

Georgia Tech will not be able to beat the Hokies in the air. The VT secondary, even though there are some younger players on the defensive lineup, is just too good for a team like GT to beat. But, we saw that VT's defense against the running game wasn't very good against ECU. And, GT has a decent running game. If the Yellow Jackets keep the ball on the ground, don't have any turnovers, and remain free of too many penalties, they have a really good chance of shocking the Hokies early on.

So it'll take a combination of a lot of things to really determine tomorrow's outcome. It all just depends on whether there's smart coaching going on and whether or not special teams and turnovers are a factor. I wouldn't even dare try to call this one, but I hope the Hokies can pull it off and show us that the ECU loss and the slow start against Furman were just examples of the old cliché "working the bugs out."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sept. 11 — We Still Remember


Today is Sept. 11, 2008. Seven years ago, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and attempted to direct another plane into Washington, D.C, that was eventually crashed in Pennsylvania because of the efforts of brave American men and women.

The responsible bastard, Osama bin Laden, is still on the loose. The Bush Administration has failed to bring the mastermind behind the dreadful attacks to justice.

Take time today to be thankful for the terrorists the U.S. military and its allies have been able to take out thus far, though, and also for the fact that we will soon have a new, hopefully more responsible and focused leader in office. Also, let us remember those precious Americans who we lost on that dreadful day that became known as 9/11. It is still so vivid in my memory where I was when the attacks happened. That event changed the world forever, and it is for my generation what the Kennedy assassination and Pearl Harbor were for the ones before it.

Here is the list of those we lost.

Leave your own comment about where you were and what you were doing when the attacks happened and/or how it has affected your life.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Celebrating Three Months of Daily Blogging

Today marks three months of daily posting for Relatively Journalizing. Normally, I review the most popular posts since the blog started and of the month, but this time I decided to just link to the most popular post in the last month alone.

Upcoming for the blog are new affiliates, guest posts, layout/design changes and more!

Keep coming back for more, and subscribe to the blog using the big orange button on the sidebar if you have yet to do so. It's quick, free and you can get instant updates if you add an RSS feed subscription to your browser's toolbar.

Please, refer one person to Relatively Journalizing today!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hail to the Emperor

OK, so perhaps Joe Lieberman looks like Palpatine as a senator in Star Wars, but I think Republican presidential candidate John McCain looks more like Palpatine once he makes the full transition to emperor... what do you think? (Note: I'm not the first person to say this, but I haven't seen any good comparisons on the Web, either!)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Tyrod Carries Hokies, Rankings Suck and Cardiac Carolina

Tyrod Taylor heard the familiar chant of his name from the crowd this past Saturday when the Hokies squared off against the Furman Paladins. The chant started last year when Sean Glennon was booed off the field by the hometeam.

Saturday, it was indeed Taylor (and the defense) who carried Virginia Tech to a 24-7 win over Furman. The first half, where Taylor shared quarterback duties, rotating snap after snap with Glennon, was atrocious. In a game where any FBS, BCS conference school should dominate an FCS school, the Hokies were held to a 3-0 lead at the half. However, once Coach Frank Beamer realized what the crowd had realized from the beginning, Taylor seemed to have more time on the field in the second half, but the stats won't show how crucial his performance was. That's because after Taylor ran it down to the 10-yard line, Beamer put Glennon in the game. It would take Glennon until the third down on 3rd-and-6 to finally lob the pass into the end zone for a TD that would of course go on Glennon's stats, not Taylor's, who did all of the work getting the ball there.

The game ball, though should go to Stephan Virgil, who intercepted a Furman pass that set VT up for its game-sealing TD drive. Glennon would complete only 38 percent of his passes, compared to Taylor's 80 percent. (Yet they are still sharing quarterback duties?) Taylor also led the team in rushing, with 112 yards, compared to Glennon's negative one yard. (Yeah, Beamer is letting them share the QB spot.)

The overall thing to take away from the Furman game is that it's going to be a rollercoaster ride of emotions for VT fans this season. The Hokies started slow against a team they should have demolished, and the coaches are still making questionable decisions on going on fourth down when they should kick field goals (score would've been padded a little more had they not taken the same risk they did against ECU without learning their lesson, obviously) and letting Glennon play way too much time at QB. The Georgia Tech game at home this weekend will be the true test of what the season holds for VT because a loss to GT could strongly jeopardize any shot at the ACC title and the Orange Bowl.

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The AP poll is highly ridiculous. When the BCS rankings (the ones that determine who plays for the national championship and the major bowls) come out later in the season, it will be even more ridiculous. The rankings for college football do absolutely nothing for the sport, nor are they good indicators of how to pick the best teams.

Just think about how Ohio State has been embarrassed year after year in the national championship game — that should be enough proof in itself. But, if you need anymore, just look at East Carolina University. This school started the season unranked (probably because of the voters' obvious bias against any non-BCS conference school). However, they beat #17, Virginia Tech, in the first week of the season. Now, VT held its own until the very end and lost by a small margin in the last few seconds of the game. Yet, West Virginia University was ranked #8 going into this past weekend's matchup with ECU. The Mountaineers got trounced, battered and skewered by the Pirates of ECU and couldn't even find the end zone. So, the team ranked nine spots ahead of VT doesn't play as well as VT against the same opponent. Yeah, something is wrong there. Finally, this week, ECU moved up to a #14 ranking (now proving that their VT win wasn't a fluke to the voters I guess). WVU fell to #25. Ouch.

The point of all this is, to bring up the most clichéd topic in college football debates, is that the BCS rankings need done away with (and every other ranking for that matter), and that we absolutely, positively must institute a playoff system in college football. I realize all the money issues and such associated with these issues, but I think the bowl barons will cooperate in a heartbeat if they think they're going to lose some dough. All it will take is for the BCS conferences' coaches and other leaders to simply say, "No, we won't go (with a BCS-ranking system, that is)."

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The final football roundup from this past weekend needs to mention the Carolina Panthers and their mighty quarterback Jake Delhomme. When the Panthers got behind after leading for most of the game, Delhomme led an 11-play, 68-yard drive to the red zone. With two seconds left on the clock for one final play, Delhomme's leadership was heroic, to say the least. He called a sandlot-type play, five vertical routes, and he just looked find someone open in the end zone. After narrowly escaping the sack, pump-faking and then releasing the football, ol' Jake found Dante Rosario in the end zone for a 26-24 Panthers victory over the San Diego Chargers. Well done, boys.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Surfing Sunday: TMNT and Web 2.0 directory

Here's a new feature I'd like to introduce. Depending on the news of the day and such, it's hard to tell whether this will occur every Sunday, but once in a while, I have some cool links for you to check out. Often, I try to expand upon the links and focus a blog post on them, shying away from just listing tons of cool links in a post that are unrelated to the topic I blog about primarily in that post. I did this a lot when I first started blogging, and I think one's blog is always a living organism, constantly developing and improving, but I think the current format of focusing on certain topics and making narrower blog posts is best.

All that being said, sometimes I think I'll just provide a couple cool links for you anyway, and make that the focus of the post. Seeing how many people like to relax on Sundays, why not have a "Surfing Sunday" link post?

Well, if you do have some extra time, see if you can actually get through this complete (?) directory of the Web 2.0 sites. Pretty neat, but very overwhelming.

Also, TMNT fans should be very excited! I loved the first three films (especially the first two), and the CGI film actually wasn't that bad, though I yearned for another live-action adventure that had grown up as much as I had since the cartoon launched. Maybe now, us fans from the late '80s/early '90s will get what we wanted all along!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hokie Matchup: vs. Furman

The Hokies took on a team from Greenville, N.C., last week, and this week they face Furman, from Greenville, S.C. (Yeah, I had never heard of them either.)

Coach Frank Beamer announced around noon Tuesday that the red shirt was being ripped from Tyrod Taylor to give the Hokies the extra boost needed on offense. This move was described as a move back to the two-quarterback system that failed in last year's Orange Bowl. Beamer also said the decision wasn't a reflection of Sean Glennon's performance against ECU. And if you believe that load of crap, I've got some beach front property back home in West Virginia to sell you. It's being billed as a duo-QB deal, but expect Taylor to be on the field more because he knows much better how to get the job done.

Will the Hokies prevail over Furman today at Lane Stadium? They'd better, or everyone will be left scratching their heads. The real test, though, will come next week against Georgia Tech in the Hokies' first ACC matchup.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Major Time Station, Research Center Closes

As reported Monday by CNN here, and the Associated Press (ran by LA Times) here, the Las Vegas time station used to transport researchers and equipment between the 21st and 24th centuries is now closed. The final visitors have experienced life in the 24th century and have boldly gone where no man has gone before (well, the Trekkies have all been there already).

No, this station was not a real time-travel research center, but it was real enough to those die-hard Star Trek fans out there who made the journey to see the props-turned-artifacts and the costumed aliens who populated the museum.

This is a sad day. You may not be a Trekkie, but I think anyone who has witnessed some of the awe-inspiring storytelling of the Star Trek sagas will agree that this is one cool place. Note: the link worked as of the time of writing this post; I don't know what plans are for the Web site.

Perhaps someone will open this attraction again someday, but I hope it is on the East Coast!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palin Possible Secessionist, Definite Bad Parent, PLUS Noonan's Slip-up

I've already written:

About Sarah Palin's being out of touch and a polar bear killer
About Bristol Palin's pregnancy and conservative hypocrisy
About the Palin family's interesting, elf-like names

So it's only appropriate I should point out that Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, still needs to come forward and answer questions about her possible affiliation with a group that wants to secede from the United States. I, being a moderate and not a complete liberal (though, Dr. Bob would say the only thing in the middle of the road is a dead raccoon...), enjoy shooting guns as much as the next hillbilly, but starting another Civil War because of seceding states isn't the best way to go about getting to do so. Palin has since responded, saying that she only attended the AIP's meeting because it was in the town where she was mayor. However, the Guardian made sure to point out that the McCain campaign's weak response means nothing.

To help out the McCain campaign even more (I bet he wishes the Palin's would quit helping), it's been leaked that Bristol is likely breaking the law by drinking underage (hopefully not since she's been pregnant). Her boyfriend is hopefully more responsible, but it's doubtful. I suppose Bristol just takes after her irresponsible father, Todd, who received a DUI when he was a little older than she is now.

To make matters even worse for the Republicans, two Republican pundits were caught on tape yesterday evening bashing McCain and the Palin choice for veep. Wall Street Journal columnist and former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, along with MSNBC contributor Mike Murphy, thought they were off-the-air on MSNBC yesterday after an interview with Chuck Todd. The pair called McCain's choice "gimmicky" and "political bullshit." While I can't help but agree, you can check it out and make the decision on your own at the Huffington Post or Editor & Publisher. The YouTube video alone is here.

Relatively Journalizing, along with the rest of the blogosphere, would like to thank the McCain campaign for providing such great blog fodder by selecting Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Palin kids to star in next George Lucas film

Note: Tomorrow's post will review Relatively Journalizing's Sarah Palin coverage and talk about what will not be breaking news by the time it runs, but I will include some links to address three more issues affecting the Palin family's image.
I must apologize to Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, and her daughter Bristol, for my comments in an earlier blog post where I related her daughter, Bristol, to NASCAR.

It turns out Bristol, in this case, has nothing to do with NASCAR at all. Here's apparently what her kids' names mean.

Well, I guess Bristol, Trig, Track, Willow and Piper are elves, who obviously will have many adventures to Narnia and Middle-earth. Or, perhaps, this is just common for how people name their children in Canada, where Palin is governor. Huh? Alaska? Oh, right, of course, I knew that.

Here's my own analysis:

Bristol — She will be the next Danica Patrick.
Trig — If he's not good at math, he'll get made fun of. Period.
Track — I wonder if he's going to be on a tank in Iraq? If so, they'll probably make him change its tracks and just laugh.
Willow — A dwarf, actually, not an elf. Here's proof.
Piper — Well, at least the Palin kids are talented. I sure would love to hear Piper's musical abilities at work.

And just to add to everything, pregnant daughter Bristol's husband-to-be is named Levi, so at least they know the baby will never go without jeans to wear.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

El Prezidino: Me or Nothing


Take a little South Philly, a little Virginia Beach and a little Marshall University football, and what do you get?

The answer is: El Prezidino (but you can call him Dino), an inspirational rapper born as Demetrius Doss in Philadelphia (though he now calls Virginia home), who once played as a wide receiver with Thundering Herd stars Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich. Dino was also a record-setting arena football player.

Dino's album Me or Nothing (released March 2008) is an inspirational ride into fresh, out-of-the-mainstream lyrics and what sounds like familiar, Billboard-topping beats. The 17-track CD really surprises with its songs that sound like something you'd hear on the radio from a more popular rap or hip-hop artist. Once you've heard Dino, you'll wonder why you've never heard of Dino — yet, anyway.

Dino now has fans as far west as California, but he is marketing himself primarily in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia region, also known as the DMV. The former WMUL hip-hop disc jockey describes himself as more mainstream than Christian rapper, but his songs definitely have a Christian-rap theme to them, especially as Dino says in one of his songs, "I'm God's voice to the people."

"I Just Died In Your Arms" is the fourth track on the album, which samples the 1986 single of the same name by the band Cutting Crew. This is about the point in the album when you think Dino may be a little like Will Smith. Like Smith, Dino's songs are not about doing drugs, drinking liquor, having sex with whores and other vulgar topics. And get this — Dino actually has the intellect most rappers lack, as he can produce a song with words that actually rhyme without the need for integrating useless expletives that have little or no meaning in the first place. Smith often raps about how he can sell albums with rap songs that have positive messages and deeper meanings, and Dino's songs talk about many of the same things, especially focusing on how he may look the part of a rapper with baggy pants and sunglasses — but he says that doesn't mean he can't be a Christian.

Probably the artist most comparable to Dino would be Kanye West, who also has a lot of socially geared messages and religious themes in his music (with the exception perhaps of songs like "Gold Digger"). So take some Will Smith, some Kanye West, throw in a touch of East Coast culture and contemporary Christianity, and you have a gritty, less-playful, more-soulful, super-honest rap artist on your hands in El Prezidino.

"Dino, Dino...Pt. 2" has a compelling intro that demands attention. The lead-in is menacing almost, and Sharon Roshell's guest background chant is catchy, and the beat keeps you noddin' throughout. The lyrical stylings and quality beats continue in "Haterz," with pop culturally fueled lines such as, "Now they put my name in blogs, 'won't play the victim, I'll Michael Vick 'dem dogs."

In "A-Million Questions," Dino addresses all the questions he receives from people about the appropriateness of tying God's messages to rap, especially because Dino dresses "kinda hood," so "does God approve of that?" His response: "...I got Jesus' blood in my veins."

After answering that question, the album transitions into "Good Morning America," where Dino's message potentially becomes more controversial, but also more real as the artist lends the listener a chance to see things from his perspective — from within his heart. Some lines: "America, the beautiful, you don't straighten up, it's your funeral...9/11 did wake you up, but since then I see you dosed off, the only time you cry out with your hands raised up is when something really goes wrong...and last time I checked, I didn't change what marriage was, so I see you haven't had enough."

Whether you agree with his message or not, you'll likely be impressed by Dino's sick rhymes and killer flow. The serious tunes and beats, especially in songs such as "Don't Play With Me," just stay consistent throughout the album, sounding a lot like Eminem's early tracks (minus the sex, drugs and derogatory remarks about women Em is known for).

Perhaps the most telling song on the album is "One Big Apology," where Dino is repentant about his bad temper, cussing out people in his past, breaking girls' hearts and going against what his mother taught him. He even raps about how he was not on speaking terms with his brother when his sibling was murdered and asks himself why he "put the devil's juice down my throat, wakin' up next to chicks I don't know," and Dino ultimately concludes in the track that he has a higher purpose to his life.

The thing about Dino is if you want inspirational messages in a hip-hop format void of the vulgarity normally associated with rap music, then you've found your man. You leave Dino's music feeling like you've gained some insight into who he is and what his life is about, but he doesn't sacrifice the bass, beats and rhymes.

Dino is becoming quite popular in his niche among Christian rap fans, but he's also getting play in the mainstream, so perhaps inspirational messages in a rap format will be the next trend in hip-hop music. If it is, El Prezidino will lead the way.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Extra Edition: Palin Pregnancy

Sarah Palin, the Canadian — uh, Alaskan — Republican vice-presidential candidate announced today that her daughter is pregnant.

The news comes as no surprise, apparently, to the McCain campaign, which says it knew of this issue before selecting Palin as Sen. John McCain's running mate. Strangely enough, the Palin family broke party lines by saying they were glad their daughter decided to keep the baby and marry its father. Now that the Palin's have changed their position and are pro-choice, will the Republican ticket lose even more of its conservative base?

I realize this type of thing can happen to anyone, and I wish Palin's daughter congratulations and a healthy pregnancy. Of course, the Palin's had to come out with the truth about this scandal because they lied to their daughter's school about her having mono when she stayed home from school, which led to rumors that Palin's baby with Down's syndrome might have actually been her daughter's.

This latest punch to the gut for the McCain ticket puts the hypocrisy of many conservatives and the Republican party in the spotlight now that we all know Palin's daughter is knocked up. You might think that's harsh terminology, but with a name like Bristol, I'm sure Palin's daughter has heard such references at the NASCAR track.

Well, now that Juno has happened for real in Juneau, and Hurricane Gustav has taken the country's focus off of the Republican National Convention, it'll be even more interesting to see how this election plays out. And while the McCain campaign is busy defending itself for the few supporters it has left, I just received this link from Barack Obama's campaign in my e-mail, asking for help for those who are feeling the impact of the hurricane right now. The Right Wing preaches family values and compassion, but it is Barack Obama and Joe Biden who will lead the U.S. into an era where the middle class, where family values are forged, can thrive and where the government isn't afraid to help Americans first instead of throwing billions away into a desert.

Hokies' Special Teams, Defensive Help Still Not Enough to Carry Offense

The Virginia Tech Hokies lost to the East Carolina Pirates this past Saturday, 22-27, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

So what happened to make the Hokies, ranked #17 in college football at the time, lose to an unranked Conference USA team? The lack of Victor "Macho" Harris? A young team? A so-called neutral field that really didn't seem all that neutral? All of those things probably didn't help, but such adversity hasn't kept the Hokies down in the past, especially against such a beatable opponent.

It was a number of things, including good special teams on ECU's part, that hindered the Hokies Saturday. But most of all, it was the performances by quarterback Sean Glennon, the defense, and punter Brent Bowden. Bowden, who had never had a punt blocked at any level of football, took the time to ponder life and lovingly stare into the pigskin before kicking it square into ECU's T. J. Lee. Planet Blacksburg reports that Beamer called the kick "slow," but that is putting it mildly — I was there, and it seemed like everything was moving in slow motion during that play.

But it wasn't Bowden who lost the game for the Hokies, even though the defense may have held out to keep the two-point Hokie lead alive if the punt had made it down the field. It was poor defense, uncharacteristic of Virginia Tech, that really hurt them, coupled with a lackluster performance by Glennon. The defense just shifted left and right with ECU's running backs, allowing small, but meaningful gains on virtually every down instead of actually tackling them. Getting some backfield tackles, and some sacks for that matter, needs to be defensive coordinator Bud Foster's primary focus in the coming weeks (not his crappy restaurant). Also a problem for the defense, from what I personally saw right in front of me at the game, was #33 Brett Warren, who danced around on more than one play in the middle of the field, looking left and right, but never really hustling to do anything but stand in one spot. Warren, a senior linebacker, has a good history with 43 tackles and 3.5 sacks last year, so I hope his lack of motivation in going for a sack Saturday was just related to first-game-of-the-season jitters.

But, oh, here is the part you've been waiting for — Sean Glennon, a fifth-year senior who still has not developed into much of a quarterback. Beamer's decision to redshirt Tyrod Taylor may turn out to be as bad as his decision to go for it on fourth down when the Hokies could have generated momentum early with a field goal score Saturday — instead, they turned it over on downs, and Glennon would go on to throw two interceptions in the game. Oh, and guess what — not one single VT point was scored off a Glennon pass to a receiver, as the Hokies had to rely on special teams, defense and a mediocre running game in the absence of accurate, catchable passes.

Perhaps putting Taylor back in the QB slot wouldn't be the best thing for Virginia Tech at this point, but it should seriously be under consideration. And I still don't see any reason why Beamer did not at least give Cory Holt, also a senior, at least one drive to come out onto the field and see what he could do to help out his team, especially after Glennon demonstrated he hasn't learned much since being booed by the home team at home last season. Interceptions happen, and even a QB getting sacked with such a young offensive line is not unheard of. However, when it counted most, Glennon threw the ball where? To an empty patch of grass. I, and everyone around me, was silent with frustration. This is what started the Tyrod Taylor chants from the crowd last year.

So what will happen to VT this year? Will the team that went to the national championship just a few years back, the team that made it to the Orange Bowl last season, just fizzle out and go under the radar? Or, will the coaches get together, make some tough decisions, and get the Hokies back on track to at least win the ACC?

This weekend, Furman probably won't put up much of a fight (or so everyone in the Hokie Nation is praying), so we won't really get to see what the coaches have done to fix the team's current problems until Georgia Tech comes to Blacksburg in two weeks. That game will define VT for the rest of the season. You can brush this one off (though no one will forget it, especially with a reversed Beamer Ball play to win the game for ECU), but you absolutely have to shine from here on out and make a good showing in the conference — because, let's face it, no other ACC team seems to be able to do so if the opening weekend is any indication.

Note: Kudos to Kenny Lewis for an outstanding performance. Some better blocking on special teams, and Lewis could be the next Eddie Royal.

This blog post is just my opinion as a fan who absolutely loves the Hokies and just wants to see them obliterate every other football team (and I do realize that's not possible all of the time, but I can dream), but here are what some others in the Hokie Nation are saying:

Blog! on Sean Glennon

Tiger Droppings on Sean Glennon

The Hokie Nation (MySpace page) with comments about the game, Glennon, Stinespring

Hokie Sports game article


ESPN game article

Roanoke Times game article

An expletive-filled College Gameballs article with mean fan comments about Sean Glennon

SportsLine Glennon comments


Yahoo! Answers comments on Sean Glennon

Some blog logs about the game, quarterback decision

ESPN blog with comments about Glennon, Stinespring, Beamer and ECU's domination


Hokie Haven game article

Washington Times game article

TechSideline game article