Sunday, November 30, 2008

Apple Setting Standard for Green Computers

Here's the brief breakdown from Apple's "Environmental Status Report" on its environment Web page. The new MacBooks are greener than ever.

The new 13-inch MacBook embodies Apple’s continuing environmental commitment. It is designed with the following features to reduce its environmental impact:

  • Arsenic-free glass
  • Brominated flame retardant-free
  • Mercury-free
  • PVC-free
  • 41% smaller packaging
  • Highly recyclable aluminum and glass enclosures

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Rivalry Week

It's college football rivalry week. What's your favorite sports rivalry?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hokie Matchup: vs. Virginia

The Virginia Tech Hokies face the University of Virginia Cavaliers (or Wahoos, if you will) tomorrow in Lane Stadium. If the Hokies win, they advance to the ACC title game in Tampa Bay. If the Hoos win, well, they advance back to Charlottesville. However, this is a huge rivalry game (fitting, because it's rivalry week in college football), and the Cavs will look to knock off any hopes of a title game their rivals may have. Expect an emotionally-charged, high-powered, hard-hitting game. If the Hokies lose, Georgia Tech, regardless of what they do or don't do against the Georgia Bulldogs (it's an out-of-conference game) will advance to the title game against the Atlantic Division opponent, who I'm referring to here as "Florida State" (we'll see if I'm right).

The real battle for the Hokies Saturday will be against themselves. Virginia is a very weak team this year. The Hoos sputtered early and often, and they got some positive press mid-season, but they have been stale since. However, the Hokies aren't the strongest team out there with their mediocre to all-out terrible offense. Defense? Yeah, the Hokies have that, though.

When I say the battle against Virginia will be a battle against themselves for the Hokies, what I mean is they have all the tools they need to win. Virginia is very beatable, and it's likely the Hokies will face the real head-to-head battle against Florida State or Boston College should the team advance to the title game — both of those teams have already beaten the Hokies once. (Though, the Hokies are good at revenge games. See: 2007 ACC title game vs. BC.)

Here are the current problems the Hokies have to address. If they can fix some of this, Virginia will be demolished:

1) Bryan Stinespring continues to call predictable, dumb plays on offense. Everyone in the stands was accurately predicting the plays against Duke, and Duke was doing a pretty good job of it themselves.

2) Tyrod Taylor is selfish and shaky. Beamer is probably regretting taking off that red shirt now. Or maybe he's glad he did so he knows now he needs to find a real quarterback before next season. Taylor runs when he has the opportunity to throw for big yards. Sometimes he's talented enough to pick up good yardage, but more often than not as of late, he's not. Not to mention he's been picked off a lot lately and he pitched the ball right into Blue Devil hands last week.

3) Sean Glennon, though I thought I would be the last admit it, has done pretty well with the playing time he's seen lately. I personally don't understand why Cory Holt and Greg Boone aren't getting more of a chance at playing, though, considering Glennon is mediocre on his best day. The good part is that Glennon is completing some big passes right now. You thought this was a list of needed improvements? It is. Glennon must learn (though he probably will not considering he's already been at this five years) not to hang on to the football so long. With a young offensive line, the Hokies can't afford the time it takes for Glennon to stare down a receiver — which has led to a lot of turnovers and sacks this season.

4) Beamer Ball is dead. The coaches aren't even trying to block punts this year for whatever reason. Most of the players stand back, and there are just enough up front in case there's a fake. Kick returns rarely make it past the 30-yard line. VT's even had punts and field-goal attempts of its own blocked this year. The signature element of Frank Beamer's teams is gone, causing embarrassment all around the sports blogosphere. Time to get aggressive on that special teams coaching!

We'll see what, if anything, the Hokies improve on tomorrow at noon!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!

Today is Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for? Leave it in the comments, and I'll compile the comments for a future blog post. Have a neat Thanksgiving memory you'd like to share? Feel free.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Win More PC Crap

A while back I exposed the truth behind the HP Freshman 15 Giveaway over at StudentBloggers.Org.

Well, now the folks at HP have partnered with those crooks at Microsoft to host yet another giveaway. They just keep giving away free stuff! For those of you out there who really actually somehow use PCs, head on over to StudentBloggers.Org and check out the HP Magic Giveaway.

Before, you all rallied and prevented Alex from keeping the crap himself with your great submissions. Let's see you do it again!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

1-800-VATECH4

Students, parents, friends, fans, alumni and other various businesspersons and such. Call 1-800-VATECH4 today and tell them you will not be donating another penny until Bryan Stinespring is fired as Virginia Tech's offensive coordinator. The movement of people doing this is already underway.

Update: Or better yet, tell them you'll DOUBLE your contributions if he's canned. Thanks to the good folks over at Fire Byran Stinespring for bringing up these strategies.

Books-A-Million vs. Barnes & Noble (and Borders, Of Course)

Recently, a Books-A-Million (Bookland in smaller malls) opened where I live in Blacksburg, Va., at the new First & Main development. Many stores and restaurants are still being finished at the development and have yet to open at the South Main Street location. No, it's not located at the intersection with First Street, as reported by the ever-ridiculous joke for a newspaper known as the Collegiate Times. (How difficult is it to use Google Maps?) There's no First Street in Blacksburg.

Now, I've been used to Borders (Waldenbooks in smaller malls) for the last five years, as that's the book retailer I became accustomed to while studying at Marshall University. The closest Borders to where I am now is in Bluefield, W.Va., and that's a Borders Express. When I came to Virginia Tech for graduate school, I began shopping for books at Barnes & Noble (B. Dalton in smaller malls) in Christiansburg. So, now that the Virginia-Tech area has Books-A-Million right near campus and the Barnes & Noble just a short distance down the road, which one will come out ahead?

I have been inside the Books-A-Million in Blacksburg twice since it opened. However, I find the store to be disorganized, and it's tough to find books. Some books are completely removed from areas where they should be to be featured elsewhere in the store. While I'm OK with setting up separate displays, some copies of the book should remain in its original location. Also, this location has very few books overall. I have searched the store over for books to which I knew the title and the author's name, and I ended up concluding that the title was not available. Of course, no one ever came over to ask if I needed help finding anything.

On the other hand, just a little farther down the road in Christiansburg is the Barnes & Noble. Every time I go inside, the staff is friendly, and it only takes a few minutes before someone comes over to ask me if I need help finding a product. And, I've never had difficulty finding what I went there for. The store just seems more open and inviting, and there definitely seems to be a larger, more well-organized variety of books. And, of course, Barnes & Noble stores have a Starbucks inside, or at the very least, a Seattle's Best Coffee, which is a subsidiary of Starbucks. As for Books-A-Million, who the heck is Joe Muggs?

Now, let's face it, we can all just order our books on the Internet. But if you don't want to pay for shipping, and if you like the convenience of stopping by your local store (and being able to flip through the book before buying), your choice of bookstore will likely come down to one thing — numbers (if you can find what you're looking for at both, that is).

Barnes & Noble is the top bookstore in the country, followed by Borders. Books-A-Million takes the third-place spot. Aside from sales, though, what about the money that's going to come out of your own pocket? I'll compare the same products from all three (though only two are relevant to customers in the Blacksburg area) here (prices from each store's Web site as of 11/24/08).

Just After Sunset (Collector's Set) by Stephen King
Books-A-Million: $24.16 (members pay $21.74)
Barnes & Noble: $26.25 (members pay $23.62)
Borders: $37.50 (this is the original retail price, Borders does not list a discount for this new release)
Winner: Books-A-Million

Cross Country by James Patterson
Books-A-Million: $18.65 (members pay $16.78)
Barnes & Noble: $19.59 (members pay $16.79)
Borders: $16.79 (here, Borders does offer a discount from the $27.99 original retail price)
Winner: Borders

The Once and Future King (Paperback published by Ace Books) by T. H. White
Books-A-Million: $15.11 (members pay $13.59)
Barnes & Noble: $20 (members pay $18)
Borders: $20
Winner: Books-A-Million

Hamlet (Paperback published by Washington Square Press) by William Shakespeare
Books-A-Million: $9.95 (members pay $8.95)
Barnes & Noble: $5.99 (members pay $5.39)
Borders: $5.99
Winner: Barnes & Noble

The Associated Press Stylebook (2007)
Books-A-Million: $14.31 (members pay $12.87)
Barnes & Noble: $15.16 (members pay $13.64)
Borders: $18.95
Winner: Books-A-Million

So, even though I found Books-A-Million to have a limited selection and worse customer service, they win the overall battle of having cheaper products. Now, I hate these membership programs where you have to pay money to save (which isn't very smart unless you buy a lot of books), but even without including membership benefits, Books-A-Million has the best prices. If you do read enough to buy a membership card, you'll save a ton of cash by shopping with Books-A-Million. If you want to get some rewards without a membership, Borders does offer a rewards program that is free to join and provides some return every $150 you spend. This only a 3 percent return, though, and Books-A-Million's one-year membership ($20) saves you at least 10 percent on your purchases. This means you need to spend more than $200 a year at Books-A-Million to start earning return on your membership. Barnes & Noble's membership is $25 a year with similar savings, meaning even when factoring in rewards programs, Books-A-Million is the best bookstore chain for your buck.

My hopes are that the limited selection and lack of customer service at the Books-A-Million in Blacksburg are a result of the store still being very new because 1) it's closer to my apartment and campus and 2) it's cheaper than Barnes & Noble. However, if aesthetics matter to you, Barnes & Noble has the coolest stores and the best-designed Web site. (And Starbucks!)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Relatively Wordling


Click the thumbnail to see my Wordle. It was made from prominent words here on the blog last Friday evening. Pretty neat little tool.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

YouTube Channel

Taking a little break from heavy blogging today to travel to West Virginia for my mom's birthday. While I'm gone, why don't you check out my YouTube channel and make some comments or rate some of the videos. Let me know what you like best, and I'll try to make another fun video or two during my Christmas break.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Black Coaches' Media Coverage Blown Out of Proportion?

You probably expected to see me write about today's matchup between my Virginia Tech Hokies and the Duke Blue Devils. If VT wins, all they have to do is beat UVA next week to clinch a spot in the ACC's title game in Tampa Bay. But just as I'm pretty confident in the Hokies, I'm less confident in some of the reporting I hear coming out of the sports world lately. It seems as though every single year, the Black Coaches and Administrators (BCA) releases the same report highlighting the lack of minorities in college football head coaching spots. And every time they do, we see irresponsible journalism that blows everything way out of proportion.

So is the lack of minorities in coaching really a big deal? Now, I realize that racism still exists in the United States of America, regardless of who we recently elected president. But do the BCA and most of the media outlets really think we'll buy that everyone out there who has gone through the hiring process for college football coaches is a racist? Let's look at some numbers and try to figure this whole thing out.

With the recent firings of Ty Willingham at Washington and Ron Prince at Kansas State, the number of black head coaches in the 119-school NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision now stands at four, down from eight in 1997 (the highest in history). Since 1996, 12 black coaches have been hired for 199 jobs. So, as it stands, only about 3 percent of head coaches are black, which is much less than the 12-percent number of blacks in the U.S. as a whole. No, the number of black head coaches is not representative of U.S. population.

But,
the number of assistant coaches in college football comes out to about 25 percent, well over-represented. And you don't hear anyone complaining that 55 percent of all student athletes are minorities, about 50 percent of which in college football are black, a good 38-percent over-representation. Where is the White Players Association calling for more white players on the rosters (74 percent of America is white)? And oh, by the way, black players make up 77 percent of the rosters in college basketball. WPA? Well, that'd be "racist" to even have such an organization, now wouldn't it?

As for some of the black coaches who have been dismissed lately, FOX Sports correspondent Jason Whitlock (a black man) writes that black coaches just are not doing a good job at picking the right jobs that they are ready for.

Now, I hope you don't consider me racist just for bringing up this whole issue, but I think it warrants more discussion outside the realm of the traditional media and the spin of organizations such as the BCA. Why is it not possible that schools are simply interviewing candidates and hiring the people they feel are most-qualified for the job? I'm more than willing to admit that the large number of black athletes in college sports are there because they have worked hard to become better in their respective sports than the white athlete who might have been given the scholarship instead. And, with all of the black assistant coaches out there, I think it's only a matter of time before we see many more black coaches rising up through the ranks for head-coaching positions. There are plenty of blacks and other minorities out there who deserve coaching jobs and who will get them when they are a better candidate than someone else who interviews for the job. Do athletic programs really see color, or do they see recruiting and wins?

I guess the thing that really set me off the most about this was ESPN's very own John Saunders. During an athletic event I watched on ESPN, they had a poll that asked, "Should colleges be forced to interview/hire a minority coach?"

When the response was a resounding 78 percent "no," Saunders seemed puzzled and said he couldn't understand that vote because "we just elected a black president."

That's where I just didn't get it. How do the two things really even relate? I don't think many Americans, myself included, voted for Barack Obama because he is black. But, I do think the fact that we as a country were willing to elect Obama shows that there really (while I think some does still exist in narrow-minded areas of the country) is not a sense of racism in America overall. The results of this poll don't show a racist America. They show an America that still believes in a level playing field, but not one that thinks opportunity should be a mandate for everyone, regardless of actual performance.

My belief is that the people doing the hiring at college football programs are not racists, and that they are giving anyone who interviews an equal shot at the job. But I think our country has much bigger things to worry about than how many minorities are in head-coaching positions. I think the media has blown this whole thing way too far out of proportion in comparison to some other big things that are happening right now with war and the economy.

And, I think the coverage is also irresponsible because it has failed to address the numbers on the opposite sides of head coaching for assistant coaches and athletes, and no one really ever mentions representation as a whole out of the total population of the U.S. or of individual schools. Take my school, Virginia Tech, where less than 5 percent of students are black in the first place. About two percent of the football coaching staff is black (two out of 10). These numbers seem a little easier to swallow, so perhaps the issue should be looked at on a school-by-school basis? I also dislike that there is so much focus on "black" coaches, but you rarely hear mention of other minorities. Where are the Asians, Hispanics, homosexuals and women in head coaching positions?

I'd be interested in hearing what everyone else out there thinks about this issue and the coverage it has received. I think we can all agree that minorities are under-represented in head-coaching spots. But, they are well-represented in almost every other aspect of athletics, and I truly feel that minorities are not being hired as head coaches simply based on their resumé, not the color of their skin.

Note: Numbers/statistics for this blog post were compiled from multiple sources, including FOX Sports, ESPN, Virginia Tech Athletics, The Roanoke Times, Rivals and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Friday, November 21, 2008

We're Back In It!

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets blew Miami out last night, meaning the Virginia Tech Hokies are back in it — to win it! All the Hokies have to do is beat the Duke Blue Devils tomorrow and the Virginia Cavalierwahoos next Saturday. Both of these games are at home in Lane Stadium for the Hokies, so they should be very winnable games, especially if the Hokies that played Maryland or the Hokies that held both UNC and GT to 17 points show up. Personally, I'd like to see the Hokies from last year finish the season out, but that's not realistic, I know.

VT wins any possible tie breakers now as long as it wins out. But, can the Hokies win the ACC title game to make it to the Orange Bowl? The top of Atlantic division is Maryland right now, a team the Hokies already beat, but VT lost to both Florida State and Boston College — the Seminoles, and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, are on the Terps' heels. Predictions, anyone? I feel a Virginia Tech vs. Florida State rematch in Tampa. The last time those two teams played, Florida State barely won against a VT team that had an injury list longer than Darren Evans ran against Maryland. Next time around, if that's the scenario, will the Hokies be healthy and come out ahead?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Bubba Files: Mobile Losing Campaign Headquarters

Welcome to a new feature on Relatively Journalizing, simply called "The Bubba Files." Whenever I see something that is obviously Bubba-like (i.e., hillbilly, redneck, etc.), then I'll post it here. I should preface this with the disclaimer that I don't think rednecks are bad people, just that there is indeed a separate culture in America with a very different outlook on life than the rest of us. And for those people, I have created this wonderful opportunity for them to be profiled once in a while to give the elusive redneck his day of fame on the Web.

I saw this guy's car from a distance at first (top photo), and then when I saw him get out, I just knew I had to get a closer look (bottom photo, where you can see he already got back into the driver's seat). This guy just had a swagger to him. Maybe it was the shaggy hair or the shirt tucked into jeans that jingled when he took his side-to-side cowboy steps. Then again, it could have been something about the way he spits.

When I got up closer to his car, I could see that this guy was actually an important member of the community. In fact, he is the representative for all the losers in the political realm. Then I realized, this was not just any Ford — this was a mobile losing campaign headquarters.

We've got Jim Gilmore for Senate, who lost to Mark Warner, the Democrat. Erica Williams beat Burke for the clerk job last year (get over it already). In 2007, the only candidate running against Brad Finch for the Commonwealth's attorney job was "write-in candidate." Must have been that bumper sticker that got him enough votes to win. See the McDonnell for governor one in the top-right corner? That election takes place next year, and — mark my words — the Republican candidate Bob McDonnell doesn't have a chance. I think the McCain-Palin sticker is obvious enough to forego explanation.

You can't see the sticker on the bottom-right part of the actual bumper that read: "Osama — Obama: SAME." Someone must not get away from his e-mail chain letters much. Then again, the confederate flag (the only part of the license plate not blurred) probably should give away how stuck in the past this guy is (if the stickers for candidates who have already lost didn't already).

The strangest part of all this to me is the two "NO BAMA" stickers. Look, I'm a Virginia Tech fan too, buddy, but how can you hate on the #1 team in the country? 'Bama is a great SEC team that has proven itself time and time again this season, and the Crimson Tide deserves its number-one spot in the college football rankings. Alabama fans, you should be upset. Just hide your elephant mascot, Big Al, because as this Bubba proudly proclaims, he's a member of the NRA and he votes (see top middle sticker) — it just happens his voting record isn't as good as well, the worst college football team's. Don't start gambling, Bubba.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Internship Presentation

I present the results of my internship from the summer today in front of my graduate committee and whoever else shows up to watch. If you've been following the blog for a bit, you'll remember that the blog was originally created to chronicle my internship experiences. It did serve in that function somewhat, and I plan to post the results from my internship paper/presentation soon. Wish me luck today!

Here are some upcoming topics coming soon to Relatively Journalizing:

  • Internship report summary
  • Crisis communication term paper results discussion/summary
  • What Pokémon have to do with education
  • Why recent reports coming out of the college football world are full of crap
  • A guest vlogger who shall go unnamed
  • Any suggestions?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Students, Professionals, It's Time to Refocus

It's almost Thanksgiving break for many students and probably some of you professionals out there too who plan on taking off some time for the holiday. But for many, that probably means you have term papers and final exams coming up, about which you may be quite stressed. We all know, being on "break" doesn't make focusing on these things any easier, but sometimes you really need to get some work done and get caught up.

So, how can you refocus your mind when your thoughts run astray? Here's an except from REALSIMPLE:

"This mental exercise improves focus by challenging your brainpower. Take a piece of paper and two pens and sit at a table. Draw a circle with one hand and, at the same time, draw two squares with the other while tracing a circle on the floor with one foot. Not so easy, but are you feeling more focused?"

If that doesn't work for you, there are more recommendations in the REALSIMPLE article, which was featured here on CNN this week.

What strategies do you use to help you get focused when those big semester projects are coming up? Leave your comments, and I might just feature them all in an upcoming blog post!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Marshall Fumbles Homecoming, But Nostalgia Never Dies

I'm not sure what I expected when I returned to Huntington, W.Va., for only the third time since my May 2007 graduation. The first time had been to watch a basketball game last winter, and the second time I visited friends during the Easter weekend last spring. This time around, it was homecoming, an event I missed my first year after graduating because I was still in the Army National Guard at the time. As anyone who has ever been in the Guard will tell you, drill weekends are always on the worst possible weekend of the month. At any rate, after missing the first homecoming after my graduation from the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Marshall University, I was excited to attend the second one.

The weather forecast was dreadful. Cold and wet, and the wet threatened to turn to freezing rain and snow on and off. When I came into town, I couldn't help but notice the lack of tailgaters in the parking lots and think to myself that Virginia Tech fans, at my graduate school, would never let a little rain and cold weather stop them from invading the lots early on game day. It'll fill in, I thought.

I saw some old friends before checking into the hotel. My buddy Matt — he was an editor with me at the student-run newspaper, the Parthenon. Great guy, and a heck of a graphic designer. JB and his wife Suzy were there, too. JB and I started off a little rough back in the day, but we ended up forging a great friendship, and he and his long-time girlfriend, Suzy, were married this past spring. I had to miss the wedding, again, National Guard stuff is always scheduled for the worst times, but I heard it was beautiful, and I'm glad to see two people happy together.

Brian was there this weekend, too. I lived beside Brian in the residence hall my freshman year, and we actually met by talking in the showers. I thought he was gay the first month I knew him because he always talked to me in the shower (and always happened to be in there the same time as me). As it turned out, it was all purely coincidental, and Brian and I became very close. We skipped some classes here and there to play video games or sports instead, and I wouldn't trade a minute of it. Pranks on other residents, morning Tae-Bo sessions and late nights of philosophical discussion only touch the surface of the fun Brian and I had.

And of course, Clark, my best friend since kindergarten, was there. Clark and I went through school together, and we shared battalion commander responsibilities our senior year of high school in JROTC. We joined the Guard together, and we even shipped out to basic training together. Then, we spent four years of college driving around for hours at night, eating Taco Bell, playing video games, doing anything nerdy you can possibly think of, and reminiscing about it all along the way.

It was great for my girlfriend Shari and I (did I mention I met her at Marshall too?) to see the old gang again, and though some members have filtered in and out and here and yonder over the years, just hanging out with the people who filled your extended adolescence with so many memories brings out a lot of joy.

So I went to check into the hotel before going to the homecoming football game between the Thundering Herd and the Golden Knights of the University of Central Florida, and I was hit with a wave of nostalgia instantly. You see, campus has changed a lot in the last two years — two new residence halls, a recreation center, some renovations, an engineering building, the frames of new buildings — but overall, Huntington remains the same. From my window I could see Pullman Square, Love Hardware, Mack and Dave's, the Ohio River, and, well, Ohio. It was a good feeling — if only that feeling had lasted through the football game.

We made it to the game, where it was rumored that with wind chill the temperature was just below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The rain drizzled down on the crowd. I was sort of stunned when I first got into the stadium and looked around. I only went to one football game when I attended Marshall, and I forgot what the stadium really looked like from the inside. Well, it's nothing like Lane Stadium at Virginia Tech, that's for sure. It's like this, I could stand at the top of Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, yell down at the players, and they would probably be able to hear me just fine. The view was much, much better than from my seat atop Lane.

For a homecoming game, the turnout was very disappointing. The stadium probably was not even halfway full, and there probably was not more than one or two tents in the parking lot outside the stadium. When I walked over to my seat in the Joan, the people behind me seemed annoyed that I blocked their view by standing in front of them. What were they doing sitting down anyway?!?! The crowd was too loud on offense, and they barely made any noise on defense. And then I remembered why I hadn't been a football fan at Marshall. I love my alma mater, and I think I got a better education there than I could have ever received anywhere else. But when it comes to supporting the home team, well, c'mon... Lane Stadium would be sold out any game of the year, rain or shine, and Marshall couldn't even get the stadium full on homecoming? As the first quarter progressed, I remembered another reason I hadn't taken to football as an undergraduate — Marshall fumbled opportunities left and right, including a return, which UCF recovered on the one-yard line. Rather than following fundamentals and falling on loose balls, the Herd players would run around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to scoop up the ball.


It was like a team full of Sean Glennons coached by a staff full of Bryan Stinesprings. 'Nuff said.



But there were some positive parts about the football game. First, the new Marco mascot suit was revealed (see mugshot above or story from the Herald-Dispatch here). I must say, I like the meaner version as opposed to the goofy buffalo of yesteryear. Also, I saw my old friend Willy "Crazy Hawk" Sutherland. Talk about a genius with videography. And lastly, well, we left before halftime (heck, we were the only ones left in our section, why not...), so we didn't have to see all of the 30-14 beating the Herd took from the worst team in the conference.

So we ended up grabbing some food and just playing video games and watching movies indoors the rest of the evening. Before long, it was time to bed down at the hotel, wake up, and head back to Blacksburg. On the way out, I couldn't help thinking when I saw the old railroad tracks running over the boulevard, the run-down houses and apartment complexes and the graffiti-covered alleyways that it'd be nice to get back to Blacksburg. It's strange to me how a town I loved so much as an undergraduate has become a place that I could never see myself living in now. I'm not sure if I'll end up staying in the Roanoke area either, but I definitely find it classier, cleaner, safer and full of many more opportunities than the place I lived those four years.

And that's what I learned from homecoming. Coming home is never really what you expect. You always think it will be relaxing and that things will be just like they were back then. But places change, and you and I change. Things that once seemed so great just seem like another lifetime ago, as if another person had lived that life. I don't regret ever attending Marshall University, and I had the time of my life those four years in Huntington, W.Va. (well three and a half years, yeah, you guessed it — National Guard stuff again), but going back there made me realize something. I realized that our lives and our friendships are always changing, but nostalgia never dies. We'll always love and appreciate the places and the people that shaped our lives and made us who we are. And every now and then we need a reminder of where we came from — and of where we hope to go.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fire Bryan Stinespring (No, Really, Do It Now)

Does anyone at VT athletics realize that there are about 18 Facebook groups dedicated to getting Offensive Coordinator Bryan Stinespring fired (ranging from five to hundreds of members)? I know even Stiney himself is cognizant of the Fire Bryan Stinespring blog. What will it take? Shouldn't sports involve some level of democracy? Shouldn't the student body and alumni have some say in who coaches the team that represents their school on national television? Perhaps after this dismal season, someone will see the light. Unfortunately, as clueless as everyone seems over there in Merryman, it might be Bud Foster who sees the light — at Clemson, Washington or anywhere else his genius might be appreciated.

And you should probably check out this thread from TechSideline.com. It's only one of many from frustrated fans on the sports forums, VT fan sites and the blogosphere.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Marshall University's Homecoming

I'm at Marshall University's homecoming this weekend! I'll visit some of my favorite old sights from my undergraduate alma mater's town, watch the Thundering Herd take on the University of Central Florida and see some old friends. Supposedly, our mascot, Marco (see photo), is being unveiled with a new makeover at the game. Should be interesting.

I'm sure I'll have plenty of post-homecoming tales when I return next week, so be sure to drop by again!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Beamer Ball is Dead

Stinespring's up-the-middle plays every time the Hokies have the ball. Foster's defense missing tackles left and right. Special teams trying to return from the end zone and punting out of bounds (no blocks, either). The receiving corps' dropped passes every time they touch the ball. Glennon's utter lack of cognition. Taylor's selfishness (but willingness to run every time he should throw). The entire team's missed opportunities on Victor "Macho" Harris' forced fumbles. Beamer Ball is dead. It was a great, exciting, unpredictable season. Not.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hokie Matchup: vs. Miami

So what can you expect in tonight's matchup between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Miami Hurricanes? An emotional game, that's what. But who has the advantage in tonight's game? No one.

Miami doesn't look like a division winner this season, but they can end the Hokies' hopes of making it to the ACC championship game in Tampa Bay in December. What must the Hokies look out for tonight? Miami's defense. Now, VT is known as being a heck of a defensive team, but Miami's defense isn't bad. The 'Canes secondary can easily stop VT's young receiving corps, and Miami will be able to stop VT pretty easily at the line as well. Don't expect another record-setting night for Darren Evans. Miami is known for rotating players to keep the line fresh, but on the positive side for the Hokies, if the run game can pick up a key block or two and get past the line, they'll see a lot of success and pick up the first down likely every run. Remember, VT is rarely beaten when outrushing its opponent and has only lost one game in November since joining the conference in 2004. Also, Miami's quarterback is struggling, so if the defense can force a few sacks and bad throws, time could be on VT's side. By the way, VT has held Miami to 10 points in both road games against the team since joining the ACC.

What's the best-case scenario for the Hokies tonight? What should be their game plan?

  1. Tyrod Taylor is healthy and plays. His run-game would help add up yards without the fear of picks or dropped passes.
  2. Darren Evans is energized and can get help from his teammates in getting past the line of scrimmage to break free for first downs.
  3. Stinespring continues to use Greg Boone in the "Wild Turkey" formation, and he keeps the ball on the ground (never thought I'd say that) except for plays requiring longer yardage.
  4. Special teams gets back to Beamer Ball.
  5. Victor "Macho" Harris comes up with at least one good pick.

But what's the likely scenario for the Hokies?

  1. Tyrod Taylor will not play, and Glennon and Boone will rotate again. Glennon gets sacked at least once to increase his negative-yardage stat.
  2. Darren Evans does pick up good yardage on runs, but nothing spectacular enough to not require the receiving corps to start catching passes.
  3. Stinespring does drink some "Wild Turkey," but he calls Stinescreens and up-the-middle rushing plays on third-and-long, forcing punt situations.
  4. Punter Bowden continues to contemplate life before getting the ball off.
  5. Harris, coming off an illness this week, plays a good (but still sluggish) game.

I think Miami's run game is too weak to gain much on the Hokies, and their QB will throw picks against the VT secondary. If the Hokies play conservative, but smart enough to pick up big yardage when its needed instead of wasting downs, they will come away with the win.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Office: Not Quite Boston Legal (This Season Anyway)

Anyone else out there in the blogosphere thinking that the last few episodes of "The Office" just haven't been that strong? I miss the office antics, and I'm not sure the side-story dramas really fit into the show. What are your thoughts? Perhaps tomorrow night's show will be better. I sure hope so, as this is one of my favorite shows (along with "Boston Legal" and "Scrubs"). Speaking of my favorite shows, I have to share with you this scene from the "Boston Legal" that aired the night before Election Day. This is one show that has yet to disappoint this season. Catch up on episodes at Hulu.com!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Change We Can Believe In, Or At Least Get From a Machine

Ah, if only it were this easy...

I snapped this photo on my cell phone at the laundromat this past weekend. When I bent down to get my quarters out of the machine, I looked up and immediately saw in bold, all-caps lettering, the word that had defined a presidential election — change.

Many people, especially Obama supporters, can't wait to see George W. Bush's last Uhaul leave the White House. But change can't come in hours, days, months or even years. Sure, a new administration can bring with it new ideas and promises, but without the cooperation of Congress and the American people, change can't happen. Even the best intentions to effect change in Washington will not happen over night, and it certainly will not happen without unity among Americans.

You'd be hard-pressed to find many people left in America who think our country is headed in the right direction. That's not to say you are not patriotic and that you don't think America still offers the best opportunities in the world — otherwise, so many people wouldn't come here seeking education, jobs and that metaphor of the American dream. So regardless of who you voted for just one week ago, it's time to end the division and the remnants of hatred left in the U.S. We must unite as one people and show the world that our economy will lead the way into the rest of the 21st century and that our people are fearless, resilient and tolerant.

We have just witnessed the closing of a dark chapter in American history. The stories of slavery and the battles for civil rights have been fully realized and have proved to have a happy ending with the U.S.' first black president. But the story of a black man in the White House should not be what we remember about the next four years. We should remember a country that sees no race, that respects all God's people, and that put aside its political, religious and cultural differences to rise up and restore America's image to the rest of the Earth, showcasing what we know to be our country's best qualities to the rest of the world.

Change can come, but it won't be because of one man. It won't be because of one political party. And it won't come because of division and bickering. It will come because Americans do not settle for anything less than the best. History tells us this, and history should tell our grandchildren the same.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Extra Edition: Microsoft Still Sucks

So I just saw the latest in Microsoft's terrible new "Life Without Walls" campaign that started with the Gates-Seinfeld "What's Next?" ads that showcased Microsoft's inability to ever really connect with regular people. But I digress. So the newest set of ads uses video uploaded by PC users, basically reiterating the message from the "I'm a PC" ads we've seen during the last month or so. I just saw this ad, and at the end, it tells you to go to microsoft.com and "upload yourself."

Yeah, so I was going to be a smart ass and upload a message about how I was using my Mac's built-in iSight and talk about Microsoft's poor business model and its terrible relational history with its publics. But I digress again. Anyway, I click the button to upload a video using a Web cam, and what do I get? A message saying "What can you do? Servers are down." I'm not even joking. It brought back memories of blue screens of death and viruses. Microsoft strikes again. On TIME Magazine's scale of shocking, predictable and shockingly predictable, this ranks in the latter category.

Hokie Recap: Evans Energizes Offense, Sets School Rushing Record

Well, I wrote in Thursday's pregame post that the Hokies needed three things to happen, and none of them really did. Strangely enough, Virginia Tech still upset Maryland, 23-13.

Victor "Macho" Harris, did not make a big play on defense. The playcalling from Bryan Stinespring was still predictable and terrible. You know those pattern questions on standardized tests? Square, square, triangle, square, square, __________ what comes next? Yeah, that's VT's offense. My buddies and I were calling every play correctly because Stinespring is that predictable. The crowd was definitely a factor, but the officiating was so bad (seriously, before you think I'm being completely biased, go watch a replay of the game) and our special teams' play was so mediocre, the outcome of this game likely would have been very different if not for one player — Darren Evans.

With starting QB Tyrod Taylor out of the lineup, and the ever-sacked Sean Glennon taking his place (and even tight end Greg Boone taking a few snaps, which he did very well considering), the Hokies' offense was set to look worse than ever. Not Thursday night. The redshirt freshman running back Evans ran for a school record of 253 yards by himself, compared to Maryland's -12 rushing yards. This kid was the playmaker, but the the offensive line deserves a lot of credit for picking up key blocks along the way. The defense overall was outstanding and had some great third-down stops. Maryland's only touchdown came off a questionable unsportsmanlike conduct call against the Hokies that put the Terps in the endzone on the next play.

Overall, the Hokies played a solid game, but hopefully the injured Taylor can get back on the field to give VT more of an air game soon. It's likely that Miami, Duke and Virginia will catch on and make the extra effort to contain Evans in VT's remaining matchups. The question that remains, however, is can Evans be stopped? Virginia Tech controls its own destiny now, as a win-out over the remaining three teams would mean an ACC title game bid. Winning two out of three with Georgia Tech losing one more along the way (which they did Saturday to North Carolina) would also put the Hokies in Tampa Bay in December. Florida State now looks to be the opposite division champion if all shapes up as expected (though it usually doesn't in the ACC this year), meaning VT might get a rematch to the team it lost to in Florida after being forced to play the game with multiple first- and second-string injuries. Wake Forest also looks strong and could edge FSU out when it's said and done.

VT faces Miami Thursday night!

PHOTOS: Top, fireworks exploded over the stadium throughout the Thursday night crowd packed into Lane Stadium; Bottom, kid wearing a ridiculous neon green shirt under his Maroon Effect shirt almost loses his balance, likely as a result of a combination of his intoxication and utter annoyingness during the game.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Penny For Your Thoughts

Hi there, readers of Relatively Journalizing! It's Sunday, and Josh is busy catching up on homework and recovering from game day and the Dino concert and Saturday's homework. So, guess what? I've taken over blogging responsibilities today!

Let me introduce myself — my name is Penny. I'm an orange cat. That's really all you need to know (see photo). I spend most of my time sleeping on the side table in the living room, sleeping on a cooler by the front door or sleeping anywhere else I can find. Basically, I just sleep a whole lot. I hate playing with toys, and I might watch a laser-pointer beam, but forget chasing anything. Oh, and I also like to eat Meow Mix. That's pretty much my life. When Josh comes home in the evenings, I meow and chatter a lot and make him pet me for a couple of hours, and I always make sure he gives me a Whisker Lickins treat before bed. But enough about me!

So what do I intend to write about today? Well, not much, really. I just wanted to let you get to know me this time around, but I promise to come back and write some cat-related musings in the future. Leave comments regarding what you'd like to hear about!

Josh will return tomorrow to begin another great week of blog posts, including postgame discussion about VT vs. Maryland, and of course PR/journalism and graduate school posts. Also, Josh will attend Marshall University's homecoming next weekend, so there should be some stuff about that as well! Have a purrrrrfect rest of your weekend!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

El Prezidino Rocks Roanoke

It was obvious when the opening act, Roanoke's own Kuntry, had the crowds' hands up early that last night's performance at Mill Mountain Theatre would be a great one. When El Prezidino took the stage, the crowd was pumped — and so was Dino.

Before Dino's second song was finished, the crowd was out of its seats and dancing down in front of the stage, and everyone sang along when Dino performed "Good Morning America." As hip-hop's righteous superhero continued the show, all while wearing his signature sunglasses, he even gave the audience a preview of some new tracks that others might not hear for months until the next album releases.

One such song was "Monster," where Dino declares, "I'm a lyrical monster." He does indeed have talent with lyrics that mean a lot to the primary age group in attendance. In "Monster," for example, there are cultural references relevant to the 20-somethings of today who remember "Saved by the Bell." Dino gets big points for the line, "...call Egon, someone call Ghostbusters." This is connecting with an audience in the best way, and the beats and rhymes just make Dino's music so fun to listen to. In his own words, "Hip-hop ain't dead, hip-hop is Lazarus."

Perhaps the coolest thing about Dino is his conversational, extemporaneous style with the audience. Consider Dino the most down-home celebrity you've ever met. He actually asked the audience for feedback about his songs and was very humble, thanking the audience multiple times for their attendance. With Dino, it's the complete package — an edgy rapper with a heart of gold.

Dino finished up the night with a performance of "I Just Died in Your Arms," which made for a strong ending, getting the crowd clapping (over-the-head style), singing along and bouncing to the beat. The perfect ending to an energetic, genuine performance.

So if you have the chance to catch Dino in concert anytime soon, I recommend you do so. Leaving the opportunity to see Dino would be something like, to quote from a Dino song, "...like leavin' a Lexus for a Big Wheel."

El Prezidino's next performance will take place at 10 p.m. at Roanoke College, Nov. 14, 2008. Don't miss it! Check him out on MySpace, at his own Web site, on CD Baby, and don't forget to read his album review here on Relatively Journalizing.

Friday, November 7, 2008

El Prezidino Concert Today

If you haven't done so already, please make plans to get out to Roanoke tonight at Mill Mountain Theatre to see El Prezidino in concert!

  • Click here to see the flier.
  • Click here for more details.
  • Click here for an album review.
  • Click here for Dino's Q&A with The Roanoke Times' "Cut 'n' Scratch."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hokie Matchup: vs. Maryland

I've never had a more difficult time trying to analyze a matchup for some pregrame coverage. The ACC is difficult enough without all of the uncertainties tonight's 7:30 p.m. Thursday-night game between the Hokies and the Terrapins bring into the equation. Both teams have some youth starting, and both teams have suffered injuries. However, the most devastating injuries of them all — Virginia Tech has lost both its first- and second-string quarterbacks to injuries, mounting more problems on top of an already struggling offense.

The Hokies are coming off a bye week too, and the last time that happened things did not go so well. In fact, VT has lost its last two games (vs. BC and FSU) after leading by 10-point margins to start off. This shows one thing — the defense will show up and play its heart out for the Hokies. And neither Tyrod Taylor nor Sean Glennon are definitely out of this battle — they've both been listed as questionable, and that's all Frank Beamer will say. Maybe this is his way of throwing off the other team? What does Maryland plan for? Taylor's running? Glennon's throwing (read: getting sacked)? Or do the Terrapins expect (and perhaps righfully so) to face third-stringer Cory Holt or tight end Greg Boone as QB?

There are a lot of variables going into this game, and let's face it, what happens regarding the quarterback status for VT is likely the key to the game. But even with Tyrod, that wasn't enough against Boston College. The defense stepped up, and so did special teams, but the offense couldn't find the end zone. So maybe a change-up wouldn't even be so devastating.

What VT needs is better playcalling on offense, and Victor "Macho" Harris, the amazing athlete that he is, absolutely must quit getting beat downfield. Harris has allowed long passes to get by him and to the receiver he was supposed to be covering in the last two games. I'm not hating on Macho, he has to be exhausted playing so many positions, but those were key plays that could have changed the outcome of the game. Macho is a playmaker, and if the Hokies win, it'll be because Macho steps up, the playcalling isn't half bad, and the fans in Lane Stadium cause so many false starts and offsides penalties against Maryland that VT gets a "safety" net.

In other news, professors who did not cancel class today are being regarded as "out of touch" and so far have seen a significant decrease in attendance.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

El Prezidino's Concert is Friday

Hey, everbody, don't forget that the El Prezidino concert in Roanoke, Va., takes place Friday! It's only two days away! There's more information available here, and by reading the flier in the post.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

DON'T VOTE

Today is Nov. 4, meaning in the U.S., it's Election Day. Whatever you do, please don't vote. Perhaps this video will persuade you not to vote by highlighting the importance of not voting.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Giveaway Stuff

Are you a company looking to promote your brand or product? Then you've come to the right place! Relatively Journalizing would love to have something cool to give away to its readers. So, here's what we'll do:

  • Contact me at joshuadelung [at] gmail [dot] com.
  • Tell me about your blog, business, brand, etc.
  • Tell me what cool item you can offer as a giveaway to our readers (coffee mug, T-shirt, gift card, book, etc.)
  • I'll blog about you, and I'll host the contest here once we decide what the criteria for entering should be.
  • Our readers will enter.
  • I'll pick a winner.
  • We'll give away the prize, meaning we've created content and offered something to our readers. This means we win, they win, and of course, you win too by getting your name and products out there!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Generation We

An interesting Web site based on the book of the same name about the millennial generation. Soon to be a sort of campaign-creation site in early 2009. For a preview of what's coming, check out the video:



Generation WE: The Movement Begins... from Generation We on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Wise Professor Once Said...

...there are three things that are important at Virginia Tech, in order of importance:

1) Football

2) Parking

3) Research


Trudat, yo. Today, there's no game for the Hokies, as they take a much-needed bye week before Thursday night's game against Maryland at 7:30 p.m. Professors, don't expect anyone in your classes Nov. 6 — they'll all be tailgating.