Independence Day!

Independence Day is just a few days away.  Our Nation’s Independence was declared on July 4th, 1776. Lately there has been some rumblings that the date should be in question.  Maybe the date should be July 2, maybe even a month later.  Regardless of those rumblings, I do not see the date being changed.  It is too etched into American Society to just change it.  Independence Day has meaning because it was clearly the birth of our great nation.  It is celebrated in many ways like parades, family cook-outs, fireworks displays, and many more.  How do you celebrate?

Independence Day should be a great for all.  In the purest form it is a day to celebrate the birth of our great nation.  On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of Independence but July 4th is when the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted.  Throughout the years the day has been celebrated in many ways all across the country.  The National celebration is held in Washington DC, our capital.  It is considered the greatest fireworks show in the country.

I have celebrated in many ways over the years.  However, the celebration always includes family and friends.  You can start the day with a local parade and then I always end up at a cook-out enjoying food and drink.  The night would not be complete without a firework display of some sort.  Usually, you have the staples for food.  Someone has a grill and you get plenty of hamburgers, chicken, hot dogs, etc.  All of the sides are pretty standard as well like potato salads, macaroni salads, corn on the cob, etc.  The meal would not be complete without a patriotic beverage like this! As always, drink responsibly, for more reasons than one!  You can be certain that plenty of desserts will show up, hopefully some that look like this!

In my opinion, the night is not complete without some sort of firework display.  Whether that be a professional show that you attend or something you and your crazy buddies set-up(remember the drinking point from earlier).  I have always loved fireworks, I became hooked as a kid and still love them to this day as an adult.  I spent many years putting on a show for family and friends.  I always figured it was a nice gesture and that if anyone took pleasure like I did, it was a win-win.  There was always a “close call” though and in recent years I have decided to stop with the display.  Maybe I am getting soft in my old age?  I just do not want to be responsible for myself or someone else to get hurt because of a firework show gone bad.

Not having a personal show has taken some of the fun out of the day for me, but all I have to do is realize that my love of fireworks is not what the day is all about.  You should celebrate the freedom that you have and realize what a great nation we do live in even though there are problems.  No nation is perfect and I would like to think ours is clearly the best!  Ultimately, the day is a success because as always you spend quality time with family and friends!

 

—Victor Mandalawi

What a Wild Night!

The NBA Draft was held last night, if you did not already know.  If you are not a fan of the NBA I would argue that their draft is still very entertaining.  Even more so than the NFL draft.  I think that is for a few reasons.  One of the reasons is because the teams seem to make a flurry of trades leading up to and during the draft.  Another reason is because you most likely know the players more than football players.  I also think that the players chosen can have more of an impact for their teams in most instances than other sports.

Let’s talk about the trades leading up to the draft and during the draft. You can view this trade tracker from the NBA.  I am not sure why, but the NBA seems to have more dramatic trades than any other sport.  Most of the time these trades happen on draft day or leading up to draft day.  The Celtics held the #1 pick in the draft and they traded that pick to the Sixers for a pick 2 spots lower and a future first round pick.  The Celtics may have gotten the guy they wanted all along?  If so, they got their guy and another pick.  Seems smart?  I think so, especially given that the number one pick they help was from a trade a few years ago with Brooklyn.  What if this new future pick turns out to be a number 1?  The Hawks traded away Dwight Howard and a pick for little in return.  On paper the Hornets are the winner of the trade, but I am sure the Hawks have their reasons.  There was also another really major trade.  The Bulls traded one of the better players in the league, Jimmy Butler, for 2 young and promising players and they also swapped first round picks.  Jimmy Butler is a great player, so what they received for him might not have been enough.

There was a record number of Freshman taken in the first round last night, with a total of 16.  You read that right, 16!  Only 2 seniors were taken in the draft last night, the last 2 picks of the first round by the way.  That seems to be the trend that teams are getting younger and younger. It is harder to scout a player that only plays one year vs. a player that plays 3-4 years.  So many times teams might be drafting on potential upside.  I would think that will cause more “busts” and more “gems” after these kids develop more in the future.  Some of these kids will step onto the court and help their teams right away.  However, some will take a few years to develop and they may not even be on the same team when they are done developing.

The NBA draft is only 2 rounds and is done in one night, but it sure packs a punch.  The sheer number of trades is hard to even follow, unless they are big trades that really seem to make a difference. I also think that since the draft is only 60 picks, there will be decent players that are not even drafted.  They can go on to the D-League or play overseas and make a nice living.  Really what the NBA draft can do is offer hope to fans, or maybe even something different if you believe in these grades.  However, I think grading teenagers is pointless because the amount of develop left is still very large.

 

—Victor Mandalawi

 

Champs are Crowned!!

In the past I have written a couple of articles, here and here, they detailed the start of the NBA and NHL playoffs and about the halfway mark of the respective playoffs.  In a span of less than 24 hours both of the leagues had their champion. The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup on Sunday evening and the Golden State Warriors won the NBA Finals on Monday.  Both series ended before a decisive game 7, but they did not lack for drama.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are Stanley Cup Champions for the second year in a row.  They are the first hockey team to repeat in 20 years.  The last would have been the Detroit Red Wings in the 97 and 98 seasons.  Clearly, it is not an easy thing to do in this day and age.  The Blackhawks had won 3 out of the last 7 seasons and they were bounced in the first round by the Penguins opponents, the Nashville Predators.  The Predators had a nice season and made a really nice run in the playoffs, their farthest to date.  They did not win the title, but they had a pretty good showing.  Their fans also really made a name for themselves with their hearty support.  It should be noted that game 6 had a controversial call go against the Predators.  It could have changed the outcome of that game and possibly the series. One thing about sports is that we will never know and the Stanley Cup will not have an asterisk on it noting the call.

In the NBA, the Golden State Warriors won the NBA Finals in 5 games.  Their opponent was the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third straight season.  Golden State won the first series and Cleveland won last year.  The Warriors took the rubber match this year.  Normally, a series that ends in 5 games and started with 2 blowouts would not be entertaining.  I would argue that this series actually was entertaining even with the blowouts.  Both of these teams have an enormous amount of talent. Starting with Cleveland, they have one of the all-time great players in Lebron James.  They also have a young and very dynamic Kyrie Irving that is pretty much unstoppable with the ball in his hands.  They fill in with a talented cast of players including plenty of three point shooters like Korver, Smith, and Love.  Golden State also has an all-time great player in the somewhat controversial Kevin Durant.  Some would consider it controversial that Durant left his team to sign with one of the best in the league giving Golden State a “super team”.  I would argue that as a free agent, it is his right to sign wherever he wants and as long as the team follows the same rules as the others.  Adding Durant to players like Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Klay Thompson made Golden State a very scary team.  With the end regular season and combined with the playoffs, they finished on a 31-2 streak.  That is some kind of domination!  While watching, it seemed that Cleveland did not play very good defense, might actually be the case, but Golden State is just so prolific offensivelythat they make teams look sub-par.

I would normally say that anything can happen in hockey, but really only 4 teams have won titles in the last nine years, only Boston has been able to break through and get one from the BlackHawks, Penguins, and Kings.  Maybe next year will bring a new champ, or maybe one of these teams will hang on for one more run at the cup?  The NBA is a different story, Golden State is already heavy favorites to repeat with the next closest team being Cleveland.  Based on that information and the “eye” test, it seems we will be in for a fourth straight Finals featuring the Warriors and Cavs. That would not bother me at all!

 

—-Victor Mandalawi

Father’s Day

Father’s Day is just around the corner.  This year it will fall on June 18th.  It is always the third Sunday in June.  Father’s Day has roots that date back centuries in Europe and around the globe.  In the U.S. it dates to the early 1900’s.  I had always wanted to know how a holiday like this would even start and what it might mean to fathers.  Is it a special day for many?  How do father’s like to spend their day? Do they really enjoy getting gifts from their children?

Father’s Day was attempted quite a few times over the years starting in the early 1900’s.  One of the gatherings was to take place in West Virginia, after a coal mine collapse killed many fathers.  Another was by Sonora Smart Dodd, her father raised her and her siblings alone and she wanted to recognize him.  It took many, many years and she started to receive backing from people that would profit from a recognized Father’s Day.  Those people would include pipe makers, tie makers, and anyone involved in the traditional gifts that are given on Father’s Day.  There was actually quite a bit of push back from people because they did not want the day to be “commercialized” like Mother’s Day.  However, people kept fighting for the day and in 1966 President Johnson proclaimed the day to be Father’s Day and finally 6 years later President Nixon signed it into law.

What type of activities do fathers like on their special day?  The list is long and of course depends totally on the father.  Most of the time they would want to spend time with their children.  You can go hiking, camping, and fishing.  You can also go to a ballgame, play a round of golf, or just sit around and relax.  As long as you are together, the day can end up being special. You would also want to take into account that Father’s Day can include 3-4 generations of men.  So make time for all!  This may sound weird, but I have even heard of fathers wanting to have a few hours alone on their special day.  It is their day, might as well grant their wish!

Fathers also love to have a great meal on the special day.  The weather is usually plenty warm to get out and cook on the grill.  How about grilling a great piece of beef, pork, or chicken?  You can also get a little more creative and make a beer can chicken or chicken wings on the grill.

What about presents for Father’s Day?  I would imagine plenty of fathers have been given ties, shirts, cologne, tools and other timeless gifts.  How about something unique? You can get a bacon of the month club, a great book about fathers, or even some kind of new “toy” even though that is not really unique.  You could always get your father an item that you know he wants but would never buy it for himself!  I also think that the monetary amount does not matter, it really is the thought that counts!

I think Father’s Day is very special and it should be treated that way.  You can have any type of meal, get any type of gift, but as long as you spend quality time with family the day should be successful. Afterall, family is really what it is all about in the long run!

 

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

What is Pastafarianism?

Have you ever heard of Pastafarianism? Either have I, until very recently.  While browsing article at CNN today I came across an article that mentions it.  I will be touching on it later, but it just seems concerning how that is news.  This topic was sandwiched around the following topics: a Secret Service article, a travel ban article, an article about the spelling bee, an article about a donation from a former racist, and an article about the divorce of a former teacher/student relationship.  You can argue that all of those are legitimate newsworthy stories, except for the Pastafarian article.  However, maybe at times slipping in a somewhat humorous story is good for people reading the news.  Let’s take a deeper look into Pastafarianism.

Pastafarianism would be the study, practice, and teaching of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  That’s right, one more time, Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster!  Clearly this has to be a joke, right?  According to the website, the organization has been secret for hundreds of years and has just now come into the mainstream.  They claim to be widely recognized as a legitimate religion, mostly by Christians because of the realization that “our God has larger balls than theirs”.  Yep, you read that right!  Check out the website for plenty more to read and you can also browse some of their photos and the ministry work.  It may even give you a laugh.

What has made this newsworthy? Back to the story on CNN about an Arizona man wearing a strainer for his identification photo. Normally you are not able to wear anything on your head for identification photos.  Sometimes, exceptions are allowed for religious purposes.  The man spent a couple of years trying at various locations and finally he was allowed to take his photo with a strainer on his head.  The photo is pretty funny to say the least.  Some would argue that is against the safety of of our citizens, or that this will open the floodgates for others to try these type of gimmicks.  Others could argue that as weird and goofy as it seems, what makes anyone’s religion more believable or realistic than this?  Who are we to say what a person can and can’t worship?  It was noted that Sean Corbett might have his ID voided for wearing his head gear.  If that happens, Corbett vows to wage a legal battle.

I am not in any place to say that The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a real, fake, or ridiculous.  I would imagine that it will go to the court system just like everything else in our society.  The religion is recognized in New Zealand and the Netherlands.  Who knows, maybe the U.S. is next?  As for this being news, I am not sure if it really is, but it certainly can maybe put a smile on a face leading into a weekend!

–Victor Mandalawi