Monday, December 31

My New Year's Resolutions

I hate New Year's Resolutions. I've never made them. I think it's stupid that you need a date on the calendar to make a positive change in your life, but that's just me. As Tyler the Creator aptly stated, "WHY WEREN'T  YOU TRYNA BE SOMETHING IN AUGUST?" But since the world ended and nothing matters anymore, I decided to indulge myself in a few resolutions.


A mousepad from a different era of GVSU football.
  1. Watch more soccer. I hate soccer, but I think I love soccer. So I am going to watch more soccer. I'll give some more details in an upcoming three part (tl;dr) blog. Like The Hobbit!
  2. Build something out of wood. If Chris Treagor can do it on Parks and Rec, I can do it in real life. I am going to use wood, hammers, nails and Google to construct something more substantial than a birdhouse, but less complex than a sawhorse. 
  3. Eat a gallon of ice cream. Meijer sells those giant tubs of ice cream, and I have always said I can eat one whole. So I will. Get on my level, Man who verses food.
  4. Sell "The Basics of Communication Research" for a sum of money. I hate this book, hated the class and hate the fact that Brian's Books offered me $0 to sell it back. And no bites on Ebay. Thanks, communications professor, who struggled with the English language. http://shops.half.ebay.com/aaronbrandt4_W0QQmZbooks
  5.  Buy a new cologne. Time for a new scent, but I'm not over the fact that the lady at Macy's convinced me to buy a 30 year supply of Clinque for Men instead of the normal size. It's my nose's version of the A-Rod contract; occasional moments of greatness, but an inescapable commitment of length and money. 
  6. Get a new mousepad. I'm tired of my GVSU Brad Iciek mousepad from 2009 (remember when GVSU was in the playoffs?), but I don't think a person should ever pay for a mousepad. What a pickle I am in to start 2013.
  7. Survive the Fiscal Cliff. Wish me luck. And buy my book. On Ebay. The one I talked about in bullet number four.
By Aaron Brandt, and please buy his book on Ebay.

Monday, November 26

In response to the new Facebook guidelines...

I am going to post some legal mumbo-jumbo and pretend to have legal protection from Facebook.

Not really. As many people are pointing out, copy/pasting a long paragraph that invokes the Berner Convention, Rome Statute and UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 does absolutely nothing to give yourself any type of control over the content you upload to Facebook.

The actual terms of the new Facebook policy state that you do "own" all content you upload to Facebook, but your privacy settings determine who can view such content. When you sign up for Facebook, you lose certain amounts of control over your personal data. Facebook reserves the right to share and sell your information to advertisers, so they can cater ads to your interests (which still doesn't explain all the gluten free ads). Facebook is also not responsible for your lack of understanding when it comes to their privacy settings. If you don't want something online, maybe don't have a public profile (or don't even upload it)?

I don't understand why people think they have control over what they put on Facebook. I know that no one ever reads the terms of service before signing up for something, but they clearly tell you what Facebook can and cannot do.

Why is it surprising that you don't have full control over the content that you upload to Facebook's servers for free? If you don't want to lose this control, don't use this free service. No one has a gun to your head. No one forces you to tag yourself at the bar or next to your "medicinal" gardens.

You can, however  protect yourself from some of the security issues that arise with use of a social media service. Here are a few. (Thanks to Alexandra Roy for writing them)

1. Click the down arrow in the upper right corner of Facebook
2. Click Privacy settings 
3. Change your settings to "friends only" 

Also, remember that every photo you upload (even if your settings are private) automatically becomes public, so you must change each individual photo's settings as you upload them. Giving yourself a nickname on Facebook does not hide your profile. 

If you don't want to be found: Privacy settings -> How you connect -> Who can look up your timeline by name (change to friends only)

The most important rule should be most obvious. Never post anything that you would not want your boss, family, future employers, school or anyone else in public to see. In the end, you are in control of what you post. Having the sense to know what is acceptable in a world where a Google search sifts through prospective employees in nano-seconds is crucial.

By Aaron Brandt, who apparently falls in the demographic for gluten-free turkey.

Tuesday, November 20

SVSU embarasses GVSU at Battle of the Valleys

Not pictured: the spare change GVSU managed to raise...
Last Saturday, was a bad day to be a Laker. I am not talking about the football team losing to Saginaw Valley in a nail-biter, but also the outcome of the 2012 Battle of the Valleys.

Each year, GVSU and SVSU compete to see who can raise the most money for a charity. GVSU raised money for the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan and SVSU raised money for the Great Lakes Bay Miracle League. The results? SVSU raised over $30,000, while GVSU raised just $1,100. Absolutely pathetic.

GVSU is one of the fastest growing schools in the state recently, with a huge student population, great proximity to the very charitable city of Grand Rapids and a strong marketing presence. How does this happen? Yes, GVSU does not allow corporate donations and community fundraising (why?) and SVSU does, but to only raise $1,100? Get out of town.

The GVSU Student Senate is in charge of the fundraising, and wow, do they seem inept at it. A few years back, BOTV was generating over $20,000 a year, no problem. Now we are left with barely enough money to cover the cost of a class at GVSU.  A simple Google search turned up only one related page online (the rest were news articles highlighting the shortcomings). This simplistic info sheet is a drop of water in an ocean of GVSU-related information students are hit with on a daily basis.

Why not let an advertising, marketing or public relations classes and organizations handle the promotion of this event? Entire classes could pick this up as a graded project, various student organizations like AdClub, PRSSA and GrandPR could help promote this or students could even use this as a credited internship. Anything would be better then the current leadership, which is clearly in over their heads.

For the past three years, I was barely exposed to BOTV. Other than seeing a t-shirt once or twice, I had no  idea Battle of the Valleys even existed. And it's not like I am hiding in my apartment playing Call of Duty all day. There are so many great ways to raise awareness and money

 Here's a few ideas I thought of in 15 minutes.
  • Partner with off campus apartments to host fundraising events (they don't have to donate money), and put up posters in offices.
  • Work to change the fact that community fundraising is banned and corporations can't donate. Grand Rapids is an incredibly charitable area, why limit the amount of money that goes to a good cause?
  • Set up a separate Twitter to post information, set up a special hash-tag, such as #BOTV or #BeatSVSU that can be used to tag relevant posts. You can even put the hashtag on the shirts.
  • Create a separate Facebook page with events, photos of merch, updates and information.
  • Set up an official website with PayPal integration for easy donation.
  • Pair up with the athletic department to have donations at athletic events.
  • Work with Campus Housing to raise awareness in dorms.
  • Set up an easy way to donate using debit dollars at all locations that accept them.
  • Host more events, like a dance, concert of GVSU acts, student talent show, pep rally, tug of war, viral video, dunk tank, ping pong tournament, Madden Tournament, etc. Create entry fees that cover expenses and generate donations. This gives students an incentive to donate, rather than simply saying "give us money" from a table in Kirkhof. 
  • Have an online auction of merchandise and perks like getting to sit at T.Haas' desk, a custom Facebook update from Louie the Laker, designated parking space or a tour of the new library.
  • Advertise the T-shirt better. Have GVSU "celebrities" (T.Haas, athletes, famous grads) model the shirts and post pics to social media. Make it cool to wear the shirt.
  • Have donation cans at local businesses.
  • Put flyers in local businesses.
  • Get BOTV info printed on receipts from local businesses.
  • Have contests like pumpkin decorating, dorm decorating, chili cook-off and a bake-off. They would have entry fees and a small prize. 
  • Have a bake sale with the food from the bake-off.
  • Partner with GVSU Greeks. I read that over 50% of Student Senate is made up of GVSU Greeks, which would be a valuable asset when promoting any campus-wide event. 
  • Have a BOTV poster design contest and the winner gets a prize and their poster put up ALL over campus.
  • Have Campus Dining make a special BOTV dish or meal to raise awareness.
  • Study what SVSU does so well, and implement some of their ideas.
  • Put up signage on campus.
I could go on. Clearly whatever Student Senate is doing isn't working and something needs to change. Other campus organizations are able to raise a ton of money for other events; why are the results so dismal for BOTV? Every year, the total goes down more and more. Simply asking to donate money is a tough sell for college students in this economy, which seems to be the strategy from Student Senate.

Student Senate, please make some changes for next year. It is a black mark on the terrific reputation of the school and reflects very poorly on your leadership, no matter how you slice it. We can do better, and the charities we support deserve better.

By Aaron Brandt, who is more than welcome to expand on any suggestions offered above. 

Tuesday, November 13

Is DISH Network using spam tactics?

While perusing the Internet for Saturday Night live clips from the most recent episode, I came across an article about Rihanna's performance. I always read the comments of articles, and I found this one to be particularly interesting. Read it below. http://www.fashionnstyle.com/articles/4005/20121111/rihanna-emotionally-debuts-stay-snl-chris-brown-video.htm

"I was really surprised by both the style and content of “Stay”, but whatever it’s meaning I do know it sounded beautiful.  The green screen performance of Diamonds was really unique and incredibly psychedelic.  I was talking to a coworker at DISH about the show, and she said that her performance last night was the best singing that she has ever seen live from Rihanna.  I am definitely saving those performances, and I love being able to save everything I want without worrying about storage space on my DISH Hopper’s giant hard drive.  I am really glad that I caught it because I am sure there is going to be quite a bit of talk around what those performances mean." -Sam Brown
Seriously Sam Brown? You had to talk about your Dish Hopper's "giant hard drive" and storage space?  Now this could of course be someone who just really loves their Dish Hopper, but I have my doubts. This seems far too specific to be a random person just evoking conversation about SNL. Most people would  not capitalize "DISH" (the official spelling) when typing it, brag about the space that their cable company-provided hardware includes and say they worry about the space on their DVR in a comment section. And perfect grammar? I can barely manage that on my own blog; forget about a post about Rihanna.

I then Googled the comment, and curiously found the exact same quote from a different person named Alex Cross on a Mashable article about the performance. He also posted a pro-Hopper comment in the same vein a week earlier. Come on. Next, I Googled smaller phrases from the comment and found a plethora of extremely specific, pro-Hopper related comments on all kinds of articles about SNL. They all talk about "my co-workers at DISH," inferring that this is a company-wide objective to insert specific buzzwords and phrases into articles. So sure, they are identifying themselves as employees and avoiding legal action from anti-spam laws, but this is still downright annoying that a major company has to resort to this cheap tactic. 

In the age of the web, there are so many ways for companies to insert themselves into the conversations occurring online. This is not one of them. People are not stupid, which is what Dish assumes. They think we won't recognize fancy corporate jargon amongst normal comments. Posts like these can be sniffed out a mile away by people who are used to spam, fake websites, fake emails and fake Twitter accounts. This is called astroturfing, where companies set up fake activism and awareness with the hope that it looks like a natural reaction from the public. A company as big as DISH Network should be far above this sort of stuff.

And what does that say about your product, Dish? That you have to tell employees to login and pretend to make natural comments to hype up your goods and services? Of course, there has been a lot of negative PR recently with the Big 10 and AMC disputes. But to combat this beatable problem and build some awareness for The Hopper, you make semi-fake comments on websites? Yikes.

The public has become very aware of advertising and marketing tactics lately,which makes goofy ideas like this stand out like a color TV in 1952. Using employees to post this information is easy to spot, annoying and seemingly desperate. There is so much creativity being used by companies on the world wide web, but this falls into the same realm as Romney and Obama robo-calls. Take me to your leader.

By Aaron Brandt, who is not employed by any cable company. On this planet, at least.

Thursday, November 8

Enough with the parody accounts

One serious issue that the presidential candidates did not discuss continues to plague my existence.  I am talking about parody accounts on Twitter. Worst part of the Internet.

In no way associated with Will Ferrell! (Besides his name and picture.)
For one, I do not understand why anyone would follow a parody account. Maybe people don't realize that Will Ferrell's actual, verified Twitter doesn't exist. Or they didn't read close enough to see clever misspellings in the account name. Or they just follow a stupid account. People, Alan from the Hangover does not have a Twitter. Zach Galifinakisisisk does not operate that account. Stop re-tweeting it!

Which brings me to my next issue. Who are these sad people creating such accounts? Are you that desperate for online interaction, that you have to trick people into thinking you are a real celebrity, with something interesting to say? Why not say funny stuff with your name behind it? Of course some of the racist, sexist and arachnophobic things they tweet are not acceptable in society, so a fake name is necessary.

Enough with the fake accounts, parody accounts and various anonymous Twitters. I'm looking at you, LHNProbs. Don't be a coward, say that stuff without hiding behind a fake name. And stop piggybacking off of real people's fame, piggybackers.

UPDATE: An impostor has appeared! https://twitter.com/BaronArandt

By Aaron Brandt, an officially unofficial parody account of a parody of Aaron Brandt's alleged left shoe (allegedly). 

Monday, November 5

Lutheran North runner wins state meet

Over the weekend, Lutheran North Mustang Gina Patterson took first place at the State Meet in Brooklyn, Michigan. She ran a 17:43, and hasn't lost a race all season. Check out her post-race interview below.



It is so refreshing in a world of self-promotion, bragging and general lack of humility to see someone so humble. Gina is without question the best athlete in her sport. In cross country, there is nothing to blame but yourself for poor performances. No coaching decisions, referees, teammates, Spartan Bobs, bad bounces, flukes or faulty gymnasium lighting are there to make an excuse for you. It is just you, your training and the trail. That's it. No excuses.

And to perform at this level, with this amount of pressure is spectacular. Not to compare myself to a state champion (I will), but my sophomore year, I finished fifth from last in the entire state meet. Fifth from last. Worst performance of my entire running career. So I give huge props to Gina for her incredible season, clutch performance at the state meet and unbridled humility in the face of an accomplishment that is 100% worth bragging about from the mountaintops (or Twitter).

Also, congrats to both boys and girls teams on qualifying for the state meet and to the coaches who helped get them there. I loved cross-country, and I am glad to see such a positive story come from my former high school.

By Aaron Brandt, expected finisher of the 2012 Turkey Trot. But not promising anything.

P.S. What a dumb question by that reporter at the end of the video. Really, you want to compare a kid on a football team that didn't even make the playoffs to a state champion? That's a clown question, bro. I would have Terrell Owens'd that pointless comparison in a second. Playoffs? Playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs?

Tuesday, October 30

Star Wars: Episode 7 in the works

Actual footage from Episode 7
Today, Disney announced that it was going to acquire Lucasfilm in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm was founded by George Lucas, and is responsible for the Star Wars franchise. In the press release, Disney announced the partnership would lead to new toy lines, theme park additions, television spin-offs and yes, three brand new Star Wars movies.

The release reports that Star Wars: Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015. No other details about the movie were made public. Because of that, I am forced to fill in the blanks.

Possible Episode 7 scenarios/characters (please note that I am aware of the hundreds of Star Wars books that occur after the original 6 episodes, and the following is probably some kind of nerdy, mom's basement blasphemy against that canon of literature. Deal. With. It.)

  • Space Pirates of the Corellian becomes the unofficial title, stars Johnny Depp as a quirky space pirate obsessed with "Black Helmet's" treasure. 
  • Now that Vader is dead, the Evil Emperor Zurg takes over as the #1 bad guy.
  • The movie will be shown in theaters as two versions; "regular" and "karaoke sing-a-ling with that white ball that bounces on the lyrics"
  • The Death Star will be remodeled into a giant, gaudy castle. That's no moon...
  • The plot will also follow Luke Skywalker's kid, Ben Skywalker as he sings his way through high school. Spinoffs "Endor Musical I, II, and III" to follow.
  • Episode Seven stars Taylor Kitsch, and just like every other one of his movies, it totally bombs.
  • A Pixar short film is shown before the movie titled: "Star Wars: Revenge of the little lamp thing that got crushed in Toy Story"
  • Space Mountain is re-branded as Star Wars Mountain; no changes are made to that archaic ride.
  • Jar-Jar Binks plays a very prominent role in all three ensuing movies. 
By Aaron Brandt, Star Wars Episode I Racer expert.

Monday, October 29

Ryan Lochte's thoughts on Hurricane Sandy


Probably one of the most out of touch, misinformed tweets I have seen in a while. Nothing says national crisis like promoting your guest appearance on a show that no one watches. Dude, Lochte, you talked a ton of smack to Michael Phelps at the Olympics, couldn't back it up and now you are Tweeting about 90210 and a hurricane at the same time? Jeah?

I bet Phelps is swimming around Long Island right now, training for 2016, while Lochte tweets about his guest appearance. Phelps puts in the work, laughs at the haters and doesn't go on drowning (pun) shows on the CW. Phelps is probably towing tugboats to safety and rescuing dogs from the East River. Step it up, Lochte.

And Lochte's probably in Florida, so the geography makes a little sense, but I think this is the first time I have heard that this hurricane is "up north." But I'm no geographer. Jeah.

By Aaron Brandt, who is no geographer, jeah.

Introducing Mich.com

Today is the official re-launch of Mich.com. Founded and designed by Lutheran North grad Chuck Irvin, Mich.com is a Michigan-centered news/opinion site. I will be the editor and also a regular writer. Former LHN-er Brandon Brodowski and Michigan student Emily Fortin will also be regular contributors.

You can expect topics from news, politics, sports, entertainment, reviews and op-eds. I will keep writing about shoes, occasionally Lutheran high schools and salad reviews on this blog, but most Michigan-related topics will be posted at Mich.com.

Please take a second to check out the site; you might just find a nugget of knowledge or an epoch of entertainment.

Today, you can find some urban legends at the University of Michigan, some updates on the Crisler Center renovations, World Series coverage and the scoop on Proposal 6, which deals with the Detroit bridge to Canada.

 If you are interested in writing for Mich.com, please send me an email at aaronbbrandt@gmail.com. It doesn't pay great, but hey, that's what Mark Zuckerberg told his friends at one point. Yes, I just compared Mich.com to Facebook. Deal with it.

Thanks for reading!

http://www.mich.com/

Like Mich.com on Facebook.
Follow Mich.com on Twitter.

Sunday, October 28

Hurricane Sandy Evacuations

I just saw the evacuation map for New York City. Pretty scary stuff. Stay safe out there, America.

Thursday, October 25

New Michigan Basketball uniforms

A few weeks ago, Michigan unveiled it's new basketball uniforms, made by Adidas. The major changes are structural, as the jersey is much lighter, stronger and more breathable. However, they did tweak the design a little bit, adding some striping and different angles. The shorts also have a fade effect, and up close, they reveal that the fade is done using tiny block M's. Nice touch.
Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Overall, I think the uniforms are an improvement. They look sharper and more modern. This is so much better than the old Nike's with the horrendous trim that looked like something a high school JV team from 1998 Elk Rapids would wear. However, I hope that they don't go with the neon green shoes (Nike calls it "volt"). I know it is the hot color in footwear right now, but it really clashes with the maize. Anyway, it is going to be a great year, and the Wolverines will be looking good. 

Tuesday, October 16

Michael Jordan Barbecue Sauce sells for $10,000

Just your average gallon of $10,000 BBQ sauce from McDonald's.

Yes, on Ebay, one gallon of McJordan Sauce has sold for 10 grand. Back in the 90s, McDonald's had a special MJ burger with a super secret MJ sauce. It obviously didn't last, which would make an intact gallon of the stuff very rare. But $10,000 rare? Let's see what else I can get for that kind of money, including a few MJ-endorsed products.

  • At Meijer, a 40 oz. bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's sells for $3.84. That's about $12.29 a gallon. So for the price of one MJ gallon, I could get about 814 gallons of Sweet Baby Ray's. 
  • I could also fill my gas tank about 200 times, giving me about four year's worth of gas, pending major price increases. 
  • I could get about 67 pairs of the Air Jordan 2012 Lite, which retail for $150.
  • I could buy 2,865 gallons of milk.
  • I could purchase 2,380 gallons of Gatorade.
  • I could snag 24,390 Rayovac AA Batteries from Walmart
  • I could own 18,519 pairs of Haynes Briefs (white) from Meijer
  • And I could also buy half of Al Jefferson's bed.
I get it. This is a collectible item and very rare. But this doesn't look good in a case, on the mantle or even in the man cave. And what happens if you accidentally spill this? Then again, knowing McDonald's  there are probably enough preservatives in that MJ Sauce to last until at least 2328. Sawuce.

By Aaron Brandt, KC Masterpiece fan. Free samples are appreciated.


Monday, October 15

"42" Movie Trailer

This clip came out a little bit ago, but still looks pretty good. It's a trailer for the movie "42" about Brooklyn Dodger Jackie Robinson, who was the first African American to play in the MLB. The movie comes out April 12, 2003.

I thought the computer-generated Ebbets Field was pretty cool. That stadium sure beats wherever Oakland plays baseball...

Saturday, October 13

Ban field goals in football

You heard right. Get rid of 'em.
Never again.
Field goals are as un-American as driving on the left side of the road and the metric system. Get rid of them and restore America's game to where it should be. Do you think Abe Lincoln would have kicked a field goal when he was 4th and 2 on the Confederate football team's 26 yard line? No. Abraham Lincoln goes for it, and he converts. Touchdown, North! (Insert alma mater joke here.)

Field goals could be the worst play in sports. Yes, you get a few points, but then again, it is a sign that your team failed. You can almost hear the collective "meh." in the stadium once a field goal is kicked. Enjoy your cheap three points, knowing that you could have had seven, maybe eight.

Also available in orange.
And the fact that kickers need a different ball than the normal ball is a clear reason kicking should be banned. What, you can't use the same ball the rest of the team uses? Are you better than the team? Yes. Why not give Tom Brady a Nerf Vortex and see what he can do? "Brady, back to pass. He sees Gronkowski on the sideline! The throw! (whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiistleeeeee sound) Touchdown Patriots!!!!!!!" No.

Where is all of this anti-field goal rhetoric coming from, you ask? Well for one, I accidentally dropped Janikowski from my lineup last week, and two, my strategy in Madden 13 involves immediately cutting all kickers and punters in favor of a few extra Gatorade bottles.

Seriously, I never kick. Kicking is nothing but an admission of defeat. Kickers should be called "defeat specialists" because they do nothing but lead you to wishful, seven point thinking. Kicking is for weak teams who don't trust the abilities of the athletic people on their team. Kicking was the reason for replacement refs (research pending).

Apologies to Jason Hanson, the greatest Lion of all time (that hurts my fingers to type), but let's leave the kicking to soccer.

By Aaron Brandt, former owner of three Nerf Vortexes. 

Friday, October 12

Al Jefferson's Bed

After watching that Tigers game, I saw this and realized it is too good to pass up.

Al Jefferson, a basketball player for the Utah Jazz just bought a 10 by 12 bed for $23,000. You heard right.

Via @mowilliams
This raises a few points. One, I just watched an ESPN 30 for 30 titled "Broke" which was about, you guessed it, broke athletes. It detailed the excessive spending by professional athletes that eventually let them to financial ruin. This here bed seems to fall sharply into that category. If someone is willing to shell out 23 grand on a bed, what else are they willing to purchase? A $40,000 refrigerator? A white Tiger? A video game company?

Second, anyone who pays this much for a bed is a moron. Everyone knows you can haggle with these bed salespeople until they are throwing in pillows, head massages and aloe plants like it's their job (it actually is their job). That's just bed buying 101. Entry level stuff. I bet Al just strolled in to Art Van and said "I'll take the biggest bed you have, here's my card." I would have at least gotten $8,000 knocked off that price. And my Grandma would have gotten $13,000 off that price. Plus delivery. No sales tax. Nailed it.
Art Van's most expensive bed.

And lets do some math. The average king size bed is about seven feet by nine feet. So Al's bed was about double that. The most expensive bed on Art Van's website is a King canopy bed for $1,599.99. Those numbers just don't add up. Was doubling the size really worth paying 13 times more? For Al it was. For me, it was not.

I cannot believe I just spend 10 minutes analyzing a millionaire's bed purchasing logic but hey, this is the world we live in. And blogging about beds at 1:00 AM sure makes a person tired. Zzzzzzzzz.

By Aaron Brandt, who was invited to Art Van's exclusive customer service event featuring a door prize. Expert level bed blogger right here. 

Thursday, October 11

If _____ doesn't win the Presidential Election, I'm moving to_____

We've heard it before. Around election time, it seems that people feel the need to dramatically declare that if their candidate loses the election, they are moving out of the country forever. Here's a short list! (Source: Starpulse.com)
  1. Cher
  2. Alec Baldwin
  3. Barbara Streisand
  4. Akon
  5. Seal
  6. M.I.A
Well, JetBlue is offering a free flight to several international locations for people who decide to take the international plunge. They will be giving away 1,006 tickets total. This is a terrific idea that's not only topical, but also free. There is a 0.0% chance I would have given JetBlue any thought without this campaign. Now I am booking a flight to the political utopia of Mexico (using the massive profits from this blog). 

In all seriousness, what incentive would entertainers have to forever leave the entertainment center of the world (and possibly the universe, depending on the cable networks from The Sombrero Galaxy)? Threatening to leave the country because a president loses the election is about as dumb as booking a flight with Northwest Airlines. 

Not that any of the listed celebrities are relevant anymore; Cher is in some dark corner of Vegas, 30 Rock is in its dying days, I think Barbara Streisand is a type of shampoo for the elderly, Akon got locked up and they won't let him out, Seal has a lower Q rating than an actual seal and M.I.A. has been M.I.A since she flipped off the entire Super Bowl audience. 

Enough with the threats to leave this country. There are still a lot of great aspects of American life that you cannot find anywhere else (such as the infield fly rule, Lance Armstrong with a good reputation, the Red Wings, Gander Mountain, Columbus Day, Penn State Football, Tebow, Tebowing, and camo mudflaps). America!

By Aaron Brandt, American.

Tuesday, October 9

#FirstWorldProblems

New ad from DDB New York for the "Water is Life" charity in Haiti. It has Haitians reading first world problem tweets from Twitter. Fascinating stuff when read in the perfect context. Really great perspective.


Read some more #FirstWorldProblems here. https://twitter.com/i/#!/search/%23firstworldproblems

http://waterislife.com/

Register to Vote, ok?

Today is the last day to register to vote. All registration forms must be postmarked with today's date, or they do not count. For an easy to use form, go to http://www.rockthevote.com/rtv_voter_registration.html, and sign up. You can complain about politics all you want, but if you don't vote, I don't want to hear it. The post office closes at 5 in most locations, so get moving.

Monday, October 8

Hands-free luggage to take over earth

A company called Cargo Collective has unveiled "The Hop," a suitcase that follows you around using a Bluetooth connection. It is connected to your cellphone, and uses a caterpillar track system to shuttle your sweaters and pants from Gate 143 to Starbucks.

On the surface, this invention seems pretty neat. No longer do you have to struggle to hold onto your bulky rolling suitcase as you frantically try to navigate the passageways of LAX. You are free to text, Skype, YouTube, Facebook, and many other nouns that are used as verbs in our vocabulary as we ignore the world around us.

However, I would rather lug a briefcase full of my undies than use this robotic monster. Right from the get go, I have my qualms. What is the biggest problem with air travel? Lost luggage. And nothing says "I want to lose my luggage" like trusting your iPhone, cell phone reception, Bluetooth connection and mechanical suitcase to get from point A to point B. If I can get lost in the airport, so can The Hop.

Also, this product reminds me of the MSE-6-series repair droid, otherwise known as the "mouse droid" from Star Wars. And do you know where the mouse droid worked? The Death Star. Due to guilt by association (which I'm told is a legal term that often holds up in court), The Hop has evil ancestors, and its sole purpose is the destruction of the Rebel Alliance. It's a trap!

I have to imagine The Hop would also be a target for thieves. If I was Joey McStealalot, I would be scouring the airport, looking for those little rouges, and snatching them. By the time you notice, I (Joey McStealalot), would have taken your heirloom candelabras out of the bag and hopped (pun) on the next plane to Flint (the most remote place I know).

Finally, the day is fast approaching where robots and machines become self aware, and when that day does come, I do not want my luggage to be a part of some Matrix-like plot in the battle for planet earth. Nothing would be worse than having to fight off your own rouge set of luggage, knowing all the while that even if you defeat said luggage, you will lose your heirloom candelabras.

I will pass on this idea, until all the above issues are solved. After that point, I am open to testing this luggage.  Cargo Collective, you can find my email in the banner above. I would also need round trip airfare and lodging to Italy or Spain. Thanks!

By Aaron Brandt, inexperienced experimental luggage critic.

Sunday, August 12

Nike LeBron X

LeBron wore his new shoe as the USA beat Spain for the gold medal in basketball. Check em out.



By Aaron Brandt, third place finisher in the mile at the 2004 track regional.

Wednesday, August 8

My 9th grade gymnastics routine

My freshman year in high school, we had a P.E. unit on gymnastics. We learned various techniques and tricks each day, and the unit culminated in a floor routine. Our hard-nosed teacher allowed us to set the routines to music, which meant the inevitable Linkin Park/G-Unit soundtracks that perpetuated the mid-2000s. Except mine.

Let me walk you through the greatest routine in Lutheran North P.E. history.

Note: please click this link to begin soundtrack for dramatic effect.

Picture a 14 year old, 111 lb. version of myself dressed in grey cotton shorts and a yellow t-shirt which is frayed and torn from Joel Booth's excessive roughness in our disc golf unit. The floor is covered in blue mats and the air smells of competition. The music is cued. "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" by John Williams surges through the axillary gym. A young boy steps to the mats. He would leave them as a man.

Turn and face the floor.
Hands in the air.
Somersault.
Somersault.
Another somersault.
Yet another somersault.
Eggroll.
Reverse eggroll to somersault.
Eggroll.
Valiantly attempted cartwheel.
Somersault.
Eggroll
Backwards somersault to standing position.
Arms in the air.
Turn and face the judges.
Crowd goes wild.
Roll credits.

Actually, I got a D on my routine for failing to properly execute or even attempt about half of the techniques. None the less, I made up for it in the mile run, as I somehow managed to jog a sub-8 minute mile for an A+. What did I learn? Not much. Maybe that two weeks of pretending to do gymnastics cannot prepare you for a cartwheel? Or that the gym mats probably haven't been washed since the brown and gold LHN era? Yes and yes. Eggroll.

By Aaron Brandt, writer of three GVSU rowing articles for the school paper. Instant Olympic writing cred. Eggrolls for days.

Tuesday, August 7

The 2012 Olympics (so far)

Well we are right in the thick of the 2012 London Olympics, and boy oh boy have they been terrific. Here is my spin on the games.

1. Tape-delay controversy. Some people are angry at Britain for being five hours ahead, therefore ruining Twitter. NBC isn't broadcasting live, which is a good thing, as I would not be inclined to watch velodrome-ing at 7AM (It actually held my interest). Twitter is a live social media tool. If you don't want results, well, then don't look at Twitter.

2. Phelps-Lochte. This whole rivalry was so overblown that the Philadelphia Eagles dream team sued for copyright infringement. This was the biggest non-story of the games. There appears to be no feud, and Phelps is still the best swimmer on earth and Lochte couldn't back up all of his talk. However, Lochte did swim to London, and he's probably the owner of lots of razors, so that's something.

3. Ridiculous events. So baseball and softball were taken away from the games, but I have to sit through equestrian and table tennis? These are the Olympic games, not the Olympic hobbies. Why not make croquet a sport? Bocce ball? Basket weaving? Any of those would be more exciting than watching horses slowly plod around a little obstacle course. Yes, I'm sure it takes skills, but so does knitting. Case closed.

4. Olympic color scheme. Lots of pink. Too much pink. Was there a sale on pink paint?

5. Missy Franklin. The 17-year old USA swimmer won a bunch of gold medals. When I was 17, I held my breath and swam from one end of my 25 foot pool to the other. It feels good to be in such a great company of winners.

6. USA Basketball. Who cares if they could beat the Dream Team or not. The rules and entire game of basketball is different, the rest of the world is better at basketball, and the current team has way cooler shoes. Lets just focus on the fact that LeBron isn't the ultimate villain any more. That goes to the man below.

7. Alexander Alexandrov. The Russian gymnastics coach has literally the most bad-guy communist name of all time. You can't make this stuff up, even for a 1980s Bond movie, because it would be too unrealistic. My firstborn son might be named Alexander Alexandrov Brandt. Or Jason Bourne Brandt. America.

8. Where do the Olympics take place? Britain, England, or the U.K.? My 2009 copy of the AP Stylebook probably addresses this, but I lost it while using Twitter to get my news. #journalism

9. Divers and their towels. What's up with the tiny towels that divers always have? So they throw these things on the floor covered in stagnant water, then wipe their faces with them? Hmm. I'm no ringworm expert, but...

10. Usain Blot. Are people really complaining about Usain Bolt's cockiness? I don't think he is cocky enough. Literally no human being has ever run as fast as this man. Ever. In the ultimate test of athleticism, he is the ultimate champion. He can extinguish the Olympic torch for all I care, the guy has earned it.

By Aaron Brandt, gold medalist in the Entertainment Promotions Nerf target shooting competition.

Monday, August 6

Uniforms, shoes, movies and happiness.

I haven't blogged very much lately, you can blame my preparations for The Bourne Legacy movie coming out soon. My bad. So in order to get back into top blogging shape, here's some cool stuff that I find mildly interesting.

 
Zero Dark Thirty is a movie from the guy who directed The Hurt Locker about the hunt for Bin Laden. Probably 96% fiction, but who cares? America.


Maryland's new uniforms by Under Armour. A little toned down from last year's monstrosities. Good look. Go turtles!



The new Jordan commercial, where two kids in America and China are inspired by the 2012 Olympics and then become rivals in a future where the Bobcats win an NBA title...Good one, MJ. Just about as funny as your fashion sense.


Nike Lunar Bandon all-weather golf shoes. These are the most persuasive argument I have seen for myself to take up golf. But I feel like golf is too stodgy to allow something like these shoes. Maybe I'll just play Tiger Woods 13 and pretend I am a golf expert because I can read a digitized green. That's how video games work, right?


Adidas' new uniform for Wisconsin. Looks exactly like the new one they made for Nebraska...for the same game. If you want to beat Nike, at least get more creative than this...Even Penn State uniform junkies find this design boring. Maybe they are looking to lull their opponents to sleep. Then again, Wisconsin has a literal cakewalk to the Big Ten championship, so the rational is anyone's guess.


So there you have it. Some stuff that I found cool. I'll write some more here, maybe about the Olympics. Like what's the deal with equestrian? Why is that American gymnast so grumpy? Should Twitter be tape delayed? Stay tuned.

By Aaron Brandt, outspoken televised equestrian critic. 

Wednesday, May 30

Why is my laptop on fire?

Umm, as I stay on the line with a Sony employee forever, my laptop is smoking. No joking. And then it turned off.

I have a Sony Vaio F-Series, that has always been loud (it gets too hot). Anyone know how to fix this? Anyone want to ship me a MacBook Pro? Anyone want to give me a hug?

By Aaron Brandt, who will literally pepper spray you if you use a key (which is all too easy to acquire) to get into my apartment. 

Thursday, May 24

Panic in Tigertown! Should Prince Fielder be traded?

The Tigers just got swept by the mighty Indians of Cleveland. The streets of the Motor City are in chaos. Productivity has ceased. The Faygo factory has quit producing Rock & Rye. The Detroit Zoo just let all the animals free. Kid Rock is selling Nice Guy Beer. Urban gardens are being looted of their cabbages. And the 2012 Detroit Tigers are in a free fall.

I don't even want to listen to the radio. No doubt it will be full of overreactions, hyperbole and dramatic rants regarding Bobby Higginson Todd Jones Curtis Joseph Brandon Inge Ryan Raburn.Welcome to May, where Tiger fans panic, no matter what the record on the field is. 35-5 in 2006? Panic. The bottom will fall out and we will be first in line to draft Greg Oden or JaMarcus Russell. 22-18 in 2011? Panic. Fire Leyland, fire Dombrowski, trade Miggy for Cameron Maybin.

The season is early. Trades will be made. Pitching will improve. Hitters will hit. Slaters gonna Slate. But I am tired of seeing people call for the head of Jose Valverde, who cannot possibly come close to what he did last season. It is annoying to hear wild solutions like hitting Prince leadoff or putting Gene Lamont on a diet. Let the season play out and stop treating Sparky Anderson's theory that a team's record at 40 games determines it's fate as the law. Tell that to the 1987 Tigers. Tell it to last year's Pittsburgh Pirates. The quips of a Detroit legend do not qualify as fact.

Yes, there are various warning signs that point to a possible disaster. But the MLB season is long, and bats can get hot for no apparent reason, just as the pitching of anyone not named Fister and Verlander can improve. I refuse to panic (ie, tweet) about the team at this point. I'll panic the day the Tigers are mathematically eliminated. Then I'll just watch the Pistons become mathematically eliminated by drafting anyone not named Zack Novack. Shout out to Mitch McGary. Un-shout out to Gary Harris.

By Aaron Brandt, who not only missed the draft of his fantasy baseball league, he hasn't even signed into Yahoo since March (After winning both NCAA brackets). What he doesn't know cannot kill him. 

Thursday, April 19

Should I bedazzle my graduation cap?

So I just received my cap and gown from GVSU, so I can walk across the stage at Van Andel Arena on April 28 at the graduation ceremony. Which brings up the important question. Do I bedazzle my cap? Everyone is doing it, apparently (according to the girls in my COM 495 class). And if so, what should it say? Here are a few mock ups I threw together. Let me know what you think.


The #1 version. Emphasizes the fact that I am, indeed, #1. 

The classic GV logo, for Grand Valley.

Just a little throwback shout-out to my high school. After all, I was vice president of NHS...

The unabashed Twitter plug. Seriously, follow me @AaronBrandt

I am also willing to sell the space on my cap. Pepsi, are you reading this?


By Aaron Brandt, who will never set foot in a lecture again. 

Thursday, April 12

Michigan Football field's new hashtag

Michigan just painted a hashtag onto their football field. Obviously the old blue fans are going to hate it, just like they hated the forward pass and mobile quarterback, but I think it's a terrific idea. It really shows how far Twitter has come since its inception in 2006. I remember it was just over a year ago that Twitter was the butt of a lot of jokes and ridicule. Now it is a social network and advertising powerhouse. Businesses who ignore it might as well use carbon copy paper for receipts. Good for Michigan, and their innovation. #goblue
photo via @umichfootball

By Aaron Brandt, who was on Twitter before you were.

Wednesday, March 7

Chicago Cubs win the World Series*

I started writing about Invisible Children, but I lost focus and gave up on that shady organization. Google it if you care (you should).

On a lighter note, I saw this MLB 12 ad by Deutsch/LA, and I can't stop watching it.

The ad has a very cool atmosphere that reminded me of the Dark Night, only the bad guy in this commercial was probably Justin Verlander. There is a terrific emotional appeal that goes beyond the traditional "look at what you can do with the right trigger this year!" selling point.

I can't imagine what Chicago would be like if they did actually win the October Classic. Too bad it's never going to happen. Ever. The closest Cubs fans will ever get is this commercial, filmed with permission from the Cubs on a cold February night.

By Aaron Brandt, Detroit Tigers fan since the Briggs Stadium era. 

Friday, March 2

Leave animals alone!

Check out this video.



How stupid are people these days? This chimp clearly is upset by the baby, yet everyone else thinks its just hilarious. "LOL so cute, look at that wild animal go into fits of rage at my child! HAHAHAHA!" You know what isn't hilarious? Planet of the Apes. Those apes were probably hanging out in the zoo, and some clueless parent was flashing her child, and before you know it, the Statue of Liberty is half buried in sand. Boom, roll credits.

But honestly, I don't care how much glass is between me and an animal with super strength, I am not messing with it. Because one, that chimp could break through the glass and kill everyone. And two, even if the glass doesn't break, that chimp will never forget, and he'll tell his other chimp friends and he'll tell his chimp kids and those chimp kids will tell their chimp kids, and the legend will continue to grow until one day, the absolute perfect storm of opportunity strikes, and I find myself looking for my face, arms and legs in some shrubs. No thanks.

Get that baby away from the glass, because the chimp has absolutely nothing else to do but plot baby's demise. Literally years of sitting around thinking about all the ways it can get its chimpy hands on that baby and exact revenge, Tarzan style. Animals are not people. Just ask James Franco.

By Aaron Brandt, former zoo employee (that did not touch poop once in his tenure)


Thursday, March 1

New Minnesota Vikings' stadium

Well, some politicians approved it, and bam, nearly $1 billion will be spent on the new Minnesota Viking's football stadium. Details here. It sits on the same land as the Metrodome, which means the NFL team will probably be playing home games at the University of Minnesota. Or maybe they will come to Ford Field, like when the Metrodome roof caved in due to snow. Insert dated joke about having a winning football team in Detroit for the first time here.

By Aaron Brandt, member of the Fran Tarkenton fan club.

Friday, February 17

Bon Iver at AIR Studios

Good musicians still exist, despite Nicki Minaj. Check out Bon Iver in the studio, showing why they deserved a Grammy. 

1. Hinnom, TX
2. Wash.
3. I Can't Make You Love Me
4. Babys
5. Beth/Rest

Thursday, February 16

New Detroit Tigers' scoreboard. Hit or miss?

The Tigers revealed plans for the Comerica Park scoreboard redesign. Check it out below. Details from the Detroit News here.


I think it looks pretty good. The addition of the large HD video board in the middle sure beats that black and white one that used to be on the left. I guess 1994 called and wanted it back. However, I do miss the old clock. Maybe people today can't tell time on a non-digital. Or maybe Price Fielder demanded it in contract negotiations. Who knows. I also notice the fact that the left field grand stand no longer blocks part of the board. Classic engineering mix-up.Good for the Tigers to not only improve the team on the field, but also the ballpark. If only they could improve Victor's health. 

By Aaron Brandt, amateur scoreboard critic. 

Wednesday, February 15

Why the Red Wings' streak is actually impressive

Joey Mac 
So the Detroit Red Wings have the longest home win streak in NHL history, but some people are quick to rain on the parade. They cite the fact that the 1929-30 Bruins and the 75-76 Flyers had their streaks without shoot-out wins. Had the Red Wings been playing those eras, the shootouts would have been ties.

Boo hoo. Let's see the Flyers or Bruins endure the brutal schedule the Wings are subject to as members of the Western Conference. The Wings have to go on road trips just to play teams in their own conference. How could this not take a toll on the team once they return home from the tundras of Canada, or the deserts of Arizona?

And the Flyers and Bruins teams wouldn't have even existed in today's post-lockout salary cap era. The salary cap has created incredible parody within the league, which is something that was non-existent back before the lockout. The Wings have managed to put together a deadly team, all the while paying about the same amount of money to its players as the rest of the league. This is something that the Bruins and Flyers did not do in the years of their own streaks.

And let's not forget that the Bruins only played five other teams in 1929-30. Seriously? Five teams? Who needs to watch film on anyone, when you see the same teams once a week? The current Red Wings have to deal with  a full league of teams and players, all with different styles. And the players themselves are way better too, as each team has more depth than ever.

Of course this doesn't mean much in the long run. The Wings will make the playoffs, which is where the real work begins. But it is nice to be a part of something historic ever once in a while. Welcome to the bandwagon. #LGRW

By Aaron Brandt, Social Media Manager of the 1930 Boston Bruins. 

Tuesday, February 14

A Eulogy for the Big Toy

A tragedy recently occurred. A part of my childhood was condemned to some desolate junkyard, and replaced with...well, that thing on the left.

This past summer, St. Peter Macomb took down the fabled Big Toy, to replace it with a play structure that can only be described as the product of a generation of over-protective parents and million dollar lawsuits. 

If you were a Minuteman or Patriot, you know exactly how much of a devastating loss this is. (Actually, if you were never a Minuteman, you have no idea.)

You grew up on that solid wooden structure. You felt the timber that had been worn smooth by years of kids. You got caught in that abrasive blue net. You ducked through the blue circle door to command pirate ships with the metal wheel. You threw pebbles down the slide, which was polished to a mirror after thousands of butts slid to the ground. You ran across those three beams with the railing on one side, daring gravity to pull you towards a pebbled demise. You spun one too many times on the tire swing, only to wind up barfing in Mrs. Grawberg's office on the little cot. You hid in the belly of the Big Toy like you were hunted by the SS. You climbed up the back of the rope net like you were a ninja turtle. You picked away at the yellow foam that filled all the gaps when the hornets started stinging kids. You lived for recess with the Big Toy.

The Big Toy was an X-Wing, a fort, an amusement park, a skyscraper, a field goal post, a play house, a provider of shade, the Titanic (for a brief period in 1997), an obstacle course (Field Day!) and most of all, a friend. While it might not have the flashy paint job or multiple slides of the new version, the Big Toy had heart. It never let you down.

It was so much more than the current childproof lawsuit-preventer that sits on the hallowed ground that so many of us spent hours utilizing. We created entire worlds from nothing more than some wooden posts, rope and a few metal bolts. Today's kids can't even play Legos without turning on the computer or XBox. As Big Toy veterans, we used our imaginations.. With the Big Toy, the possibilities were endless.

So here's to you, Big Toy. Thanks for your service. May you find rest wherever you are.

Feel free to leave a memory of the Big Toy, or just St. Peter in general. #therapeutic 

By Aaron Brandt, 1999's "King of the Swings"

Sunday, February 5

Swimmers Itch Super Bowl Predictions

Bud Light will come up with a safe, generic, sort-of-funny ad that everyone will almost like for two days before it goes into extreme repeat mode. (Hello, 3D TV commercial that is still on).

Chris Collinsworth will talk about "nerves" a lot.

There will be too many animal commercials.

Some car company will think it's a good idea to just show cool videos of their car. Millions will yawn.

Tebow will get dragged under someone's bus.

GoDaddy.com will put out another completely stupid commercial that sells nothing but Danica Patrick's lack of a win in an Indy car. #neverwonarace

Bob Costas will talk about how great it is to be Bob Costas. With special comments by Bob Costas.

The Komen Foundation will sponsor the kickoff. Then they won't. Then they will decide to sponsor the kickoff again, even after people have donated money based on the results of said kickoff. Then everyone will be mad.

People will talk during the commercials and I will have to watch them tomorrow.

Facebook will legitimatly be the most annoying place on the Internet, even worse than Reddit. Michigan-Michigan State game, then the Super Bowl? Log me out.

98% of Reddit uses will say, "What is sports?" Then create overly cynical memes and drink diet pop.

I will eat two DiGiorno pizzas, a bag of sour gummi worms, a box of Chips Ahoy, chips, nachos and nacho dip stuff and drink two liters of blue Faygo.

I might get my stomach pumped.

Jim Carey or Adam Sandler will have some awful movie coming out soon.

Millions of people will utter, "what?" after Madonna performs.

Oh yeah, and the Patriots will win. Because the starting center went to GVSU at the same time I did. How many Spartans are starting?


By Aaron Brandt, Advertising and Public Relations major looking for employment. That's a hint. aaronbbrandt@gmail.com.

Monday, January 30

New Honda Ferris Bueller Commercial

After a teaser that had everyone thinking Ferris Bueller 2 was coming out soon, Honda released the full version of an ad featuring Matthew Broderick essentially reprising his role as Ferris Bueller, only with the help of a Honda CR-V. Check it out below.

Honda did a great job creating some buzz with the teaser, making everyone think there was a new movie coming out. The actual short stayed true to the movie and reenacted key scenes, all the while showing off the features of the CR-V in a very non-intrusive, natural way. It wasn't like Honda went out of the way to show off specific aspects; each feature played a role in the overall plot of the short. This is a great commercial that plays to our nostalgic side, and sells a specific product very well.

9/10.

By Aaron Brandt, who is looking for a  job in Public Relations or Advertising upon graduation in the spring.

Sunday, January 29

Shaun White reads my blog!

A few days ago, I blogged about how I thought snowboarders should lose the baggy clothing in exchange for a lighter, more aerodynamic look. Well, 2012 Winter X-Games half-pipe gold medalist Shaun White must have read my blog and heeded my advice.

My man goes out in tight pants and a smaller coat and wins the X-Games. Clockwork. Let the tight clothes revolution begin. You're welcome, Shaun White.

By Aaron Brandt, who by default must be some sort of snowboarding guru. 

Saturday, January 28

I would win the Winter X-Games.


So it's another exciting Friday night, sitting in my living room, watching the Winter X-Games. The snowboard big air is on right now, and while pondering the feasibility of me joining this sport and taking home the gold, I came to a revelation.

What is the deal with the clothing that the participants wear?

I mean, I get it, the baggy look is what's cool, it's what Burton pays those bros and bro-etts to rock during the events, but why? If I was in the X-Games, my only concern would be winning. And if I am going to win, I am going to wear the best possible gear to accomplish such a feat. This means I would be wearing skin tight, ultra thin materials made by scientists, not some snowboard company.

Look at skaters for example. In speed skating, Shani Davis isn't out there for looks; he wants to win. You don't see figure skater Johnny Weir in over sized wearing pants with fifteen cargo pockets, he wants to win too...and look fabulous. But none the less, he still wants to win.

You would think that baggy pants and a baggy coat would just get in the way, limit flexibility, reduce speed and make me sweat too much. I would be out there on the halfpipe or big air in a blue skin tight number, throwing down perfect ten after perfect ten. Why? Because I am faster, lighter more flexible and generally more talented than anyone out there. I might not look like the typical snowboarder, hanging out at Journey's, but at the end of the night, I'd have the hardware around my neck.

Leave the baggy clothing to the kids building snow forts. Time to step up your gear game, extreme winter sports.

By Aaron Brandt, former Mt. Clemens Ice Arena sledding hill frequenter. 

Thursday, January 26

Camel makes her Super Bowl picks, I call foul

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/01/26/popcorn-park-zoos-camel-picks-giants-to-win-the-super-bowl/

So this camel named Princess made her Super Bowl pick (the Giants) again, and is currently on a six game win streak when it comes to the big game. Whatever.

I worked with camels part of last summer, and I have to tell you, they are not very smart animals. No way this camel doesn't have her nose in some sort of elaborate scheme involving the CIA, NFL and even SOPA. Where I worked, it took a camel almost all summer to learn how to walk in a tiny circle without bucking people off of its mangy hump. And even then it was too unstable to allow for anything other than the workers (myself) to ride (which was very uncomfortable, by the way).

Besides, she's only 63% right on her lifetime picks. Come on, something doesn't add up here. She's a camel, she has a terrible record, and then all of the sudden she's some kind of Super Bowl guru? Someone get Jessie Ventura on the line and figure out this conspiracy. I do not buy it. Sell, sell, sell.

This brings up another issue. Teachers out there, I love you, but you were DEAD WRONG when it came to camels. There is NO water in a camel's hump. The hump is not some kind of magical storage bag that fills up when the camel drinks. No, it is full of fat. Kids these days have no idea what a camel's main attribute is all about, and I blame the education system. Stop propagating lies and teach the youth about a camel's hump fat. What's next, Pluto is a planet? Please.

P.S. I guess we know what Santa Claus does in the off-season. Or maybe he doesn't even use reindeer, instead opting for a more durable animal such as a camel. Santa's even rocking the standard green shirt, tan hat look that all camel operators I know utilize. Good for Santa.

By Aaron Brandt, who thinks the Patriots will win. I guess. Who cares, I'm an advertising major; shut up during the commercials.

Wednesday, January 18

Some thoughts on SOPA

Well all of the sudden, the Internet is exploding with some hubbub about the Stop Online Piracy Act, which if you haven't heard, basically gives the government more power to stop pirating online. However, it gives so much power, that individuals and websites can be shut down if they are found to be violating the terms of this bill.

This is a bad idea, just like any other expansion of government power. But this isn't a new school of thought for me, simply brought to attention by some blackout of Wikipedia or nagging pop-ups on my Tumblr. Nah, I've been against big government since 1991 (after my brief stint with the Clinton family).

What gets me is the sudden massive surge of interest in politics. Yeah, this is a very important issue, but why can't we pay attention to other political and ethical issues? Why is this the one that seemingly everyone with a Facebook is rallying around today? What about other issues? No matter what side of the issues you are on, they all have a huge impact on our everyday lives.

We have a 14.3% poverty rate.
Unemployment rates are going up.
Health insurance premiums are sky high.
Inflation has increased 3.77% since 2009.
There are 45.3 million people on food stamps.
Gas prices have doubled since 2009.
Home values are falling.
The national debt is up to $14.7 trillion.
Our deficit is up to $1.28 trillion.
There were just under 1 million legal abortions in 2008.
China owns lots of our debt.
We are at war.
The processed food we eat is killing us.
There are millions of illiterate Americans.
Public schools are failing many of our youths.


I wish we could all rally behind some of the causes above like people have against SOPA. I think it is fascinating to see websites like Reddit and Tumblr get behind an issue that is philosophically conservative. Keep the government smaller, and increase the freedom we have as US citizens. It just goes to show that people are becoming willing to ignore parties and affiliations when it comes to major issues that directly affect them.

However, simply posting links to call our senators won't get anything accomplished, which is why I fear that SOPA will succeed. It is easy to sit back all your life and then all of the sudden get into politics when your LOL Cats and term paper gold mines become threatened. My hope is that we take this new found activism and utilize it into the future. There is an election coming up, and there is a good chance a candidate (or current president, if you swing that way) can make a difference. Don't let a simple change of your profile picture be the last action you take before 2012 is over.

Note: Sopa is Spanish for soup. But Wikipedia is down, so I have no way of verifying that fact. 

Sources:
http://minx.cc/?post=322086
http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/data_stats/index.htm#Abortion
Wikipedia. Just kidding.

By Aaron Brandt, who likes Campbell's Chunky SOPA.