Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Hit the comments:

1) What do you traditionally do for Halloween?

2) What are you doing this year for Halloween?

3) What are you dressing up as?

4) What's your favorite costume you've ever worn?

5) What's the strangest thing anyone ever handed out to you?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Beamer Blog

Journey through the process of thesising and such with the creator of Student Bloggers and No Use for a Headline. The Beamer Blog is the third in a triad of featured affiliates by the same blogger here at Relatively Journalizing, and we welcome another great read from "The Beamer."

Note: Virginia Tech's head coach, Frank Beamer, is going to be pissed when he tries to start a blog now.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Superman of Broadcast News Heads to Phone Booth


You've seen it before. When mild-mannered Clark Kent (or Kal-El for the real nerds out there) decides his services are needed in a big way, he heads to the phone booth to rip off the suit in exchange for tights. Well, Roanoke's (Va.) Superman of broadcasting, WSLS 10 anchor John Carlin,
has been caught in tights before. Well, sort of. No, not exactly. All joking aside though, WSLS and Access (with a Supermanesque welcome on its Web site) announced today that Carlin is leaving the station and joining Access' public relations team as senior vice president, taking over from retiring Terri Jones, the 2007 PRNews Agency Executive of the Year. And no amount of kryptonite is going to stop Access' growth now.

The addition of Carlin to the team at Access, named the best place to work in the Roanoke Valley in 2007 by the Blue Ridge Business Journal, is just part of the momentum going on there. Carlin brings an award-winning career with him, including a national Peabody award for his co-anchoring coverage of the April 16, 2007, shootings at Virginia Tech. That coverage also included an EMMY, a Virginia AP First-Place Award and an Edward R. Murrow Award. When Carlin joins Access this Dec. 1, after finishing his last broadcast at WSLS Nov. 28, he will join a team of highly skilled professionals who will soon be making changes of their own. Access will relocate to a newly renovated 17,000-square-foot historic building in downtown Roanoke in early 2009.

Todd Marcum, president at Access, said the firm is thrilled to have a journalist with Carlin's talents on board.

“John’s knowledge of media relations, ability to work on tight deadlines and exceptional communication skills will translate very well into our public relations efforts,” Marcum said in a news release.

Carlin is known locally as a runner and cyclist, and he serves on the boards of the YMCA and the St. Francis Service Dog Foundation. He also taught broadcast journalism as an adjunct faculty member for 11 years at Virginia Tech and has received numerous awards and recognitions for both his journalism work and his service to the community.

As someone who studied journalism as an undergraduate and has practiced it the past few years in different roles, I know what the passion journalists have feels like. However, as someone who has decided to pursue a career in public relations and is finishing up a Master of the Arts degree focused in PR, I also understand the passion and excitement that comes with developing campaigns, working on something new and different each day, and devising strategies that will better our communities by effectively giving both our clients and publics a voice — and John Carlin has made his community a better place for years. Congratulations, John, and best of luck from Relatively Journalizing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Buffalo Wild Wings: Great Customer Service, If the Food Doesn't Kill Ya

Earlier this summer, I went to eat at a little restaurant I call B-Dubs. You might call it BW3's, Buffalo Wild Wings, or perhaps you go old-school and throw in the Weck. Either way, my summer visit to the Blacksburg version of the restaurant I had frequented at its Huntington, W.Va., location as an undergraduate at Marshall University did not go so well. The food was cold and soggy, and the sorority girl server was, like, oh my goodness, totally incompetent.

So me, being who I am, I get online and fill out the complaint form on B-dubs' Web site. It wasn't long thereafter until I received a phone call from Mark Puckett, vice president of operations. Yeah, he personally called me. Puckett told me he was aware of problems at the Blacksburg location and that something like 90 percent of the staff had been retrained and the leadership there had been shaken up a bit. A well-deserved shakeup, trust me. I was impressed that Puckett called me in the first place to apologize for the experience I had and to let me know he had done something about the problems at the restaurant. To add to that, Puckett mailed me a $25 gift certificate to go back and try out the restaurant again. And so I did.

Before I talk about my return visit, I should talk about what was going on behind the scenes this whole time. It wasn't just my comment that caused a stir at B-dubs of Blacksburg. I'm not sure if there were other comments submitted, but I do know that the Virginia Department of Health likely made more of an impact than I or any other commenters did. I felt pretty special there for a week or so, until I found out that Buffalo Wild Wings was cited with 15 critical violations and 40 non-critical violations by the health department since February, according to the Collegiate Times in a story published this month. The newspaper also reported that during an August inspection, around the time I visited, there were at least four critical violations, and one violation included not storing chicken at the proper temperature. Yeah, my stomach turned a little just now. Oh, and the CT didn't get the same treatment I got — Puckett didn't return their requests for comments.

So I commend B-dubs for some great customer service and actually at least pretending to care that I wasn't going to give them my patronage any longer. I think that's great customer service and a good business model. But I just really want to know if the health problems there have been fixed (I didn't see this story by the CT until after I did my return trip courtesy of the gift certificate... but I didn't get sick). And I also think it's poor practice for the company not to comment when the newspaper of the school whose students keep it in business tries to get information from management (the local manager referred questions to Puckett rather than just being honest and talking to the reporter).

Well, I did use the gift certificate from Puckett and went back to B-dubs the other night for dinner. I had a server named George, and he was definitely better at his job than the ditz that I had the last time. I ordered boneless wings, half Asian Zing, half Mango HabaƱero. I also tried out the new chili-cheese fries. Yeah, there are some new menu items that seem pretty good, although they still didn't bring back the Dynamic Sauce Trio. Really? Is it that hard to take something you already make anyway (boneless wings) and give me the option of three different little dipping-sauce containers rather than just getting wings already smothered in a prechosen sauce? Whatever, I worked around it. Anyway, the food was great, and I don't think any of the guys I was with had a problem either.

I'll definitely go back to Buffalo Wild Wings again because of the great customer service I experienced and because of the food quality improvements. However, I don't think I'll do so until I see another health report that shows the restaurant as finally upholding standards. I just wonder how many people like me there are out there who did not comment and just decided not to go back to B-dubs or who will not go there at all now because they saw the terrible amount of health violations in the news. As a public relations practitioner, my advice to Buffalo Wild Wings would be to start a campaign locally around this restaurant on and off campus that focuses on two things: (A) Our service and food quality are back to what you love about us, and (B) We apologize that our restaurant did have health violations that were not up to the high standards we have for ourselves, but the problems have been corrected and we invite you back for our great wings. Being honest and engaging in a dialogue with the public can go a long way. Perhaps even longer than a $25 gift certificate.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hokie Recap: Ouch!

Well, nothing I called that needed to happen did happen for a Hokie win Saturday. But talk about some big losses. How's this: not one first or second string player from the original beginning-of-the-season depth chart was left in at quarterback, wide receiver or running back before it was all said and done Saturday.

The Hokies did not go to the air for big yards offensively — but Sean Glennon was starting to make it happen when he came in after starting QB Tyrod Taylor went out with an injury to his left ankle on the first snap of the game (of course, Glennon still got sacked plenty). The Hokies did not block a kick, nor did they return any kicks for touchdowns. And finally, the Hokies did not have any turnovers forced to get the ball within field goal range. Victor "Macho" Harris showed for the second week in a row that he's not all that great defensively as some people would like to think when it comes to big long-passing plays — he was beat plenty of times to let the Florida State Seminoles get big yardage, just like BC's receivers beat him last week. Also, the Hokies squandered away another early 10-0 lead, just like against BC last week.

But let's face it, the VT players really played their hearts out, and with some better coaching, the game might have been entirely different. Cory Holt, the third-string QB, came out and did a pretty good job overall, and he even threw a TD pass. That's good news that means VT might at least be able to keep from being completely embarrassed should neither Glennon nor Taylor heal up after this upcoming bye week in time for the November Thursday night Maryland game in Lane Stadium. VT was within one score after Holt's TD, and if the defense could've held and quit letting FSU convert third downs, the Hokies likely would've been able to squeak out another W. Of course, even Frank Beamer gave up with plenty of time left in the game — he let the team punt it away to an FSU team with plenty of time outs left to run down the clock instead of taking another shot at the end zone. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Frank — you need to learn to play until the final whistle blows. Watch a little movie I like to call We Are Marshall.

The injuries to the Hokies are devastating, and perhaps by the time this publishes or sometime shortly thereafter, we'll know more about Taylor and Glennon and their injuries. Either way, short of a miracle, any post-season hopes of a chance to play for the ACC title are gone for VT. It'd take a win-out now mixed with more losses from other division teams. We'll see what happens, but with a lack of enthusiasm from the coaching staff (minus Bud Foster, whose defense looked amazing out there with plenty of sacks) and all of the problems with the depth chart, I'm not counting on much more out of this season than a win against Duke to save face (though beating UVA would be nice too).

Next year, the offense will be older, and Taylor will likely be healthy and be back better than ever. And Beamerball will still be in effect. We can only hope there is a shake-up at offensive coordinator to prevent another tumultuous season like we've seen in '08.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Legend of Miyamoto

If you love Nintendo, then it's likely you love Nintendo's core lineup of characters. If you like those characters, well, it's likely you may be a fan (whether you know it or not) of the man who dreamed most of them up to begin with — Shigeru Miyamoto.

So Awkward-Squid over at Newgrounds has posted a Flash video he made titled "Legend of Miyamoto." It's pretty doggone good.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hokie Matchup: Florida State

Look, I'd be crazy to call the game today between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Florida State Seminoles. With the three ranked ACC teams falling out last week and three new ones coming in, this is one conference with plenty of young talent. Sure, the ACC might not have the gunslinging Big 12 quarterbacks, the SEC head-butting, the Big Ten blowouts, the WAC surprises or a PAC-10 powerhouse, but it's a conference that isn't willing to let any one team dominate this year. Even Duke's made a showing, and that's phenomenal in itself.

FSU handled Colorado pretty well, but the Seminoles struggled against Miami. Their matchup with NC State wasn't bad, but Wake Forest kept them out of the end zone. Here's the thing: VT hasn't played a team as good as Wake Forest yet (or at least that would be the thinking right now, that could all change very quickly). What I do know is FSU shut out Western Carolina and routed Chattanooga while VT lost to ECU and struggled to beat Furman and Western Kentucky. But on the other hand, VT beat North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Nebraska. It's crazy that VT beat GT but couldn't handle BC. (How's that for a lot of letters being thrown at you?)

I am a Hokie fan, and I do hope therefore that VT wins today. However, I think the ability to destroy small teams that FSU has faced makes VT's performance against small teams (when I say small, I mean non-BCS) look pitiful. I also think VT got lucky against GT, who will likely win the division unless something shakes up in the Hokies' favor.

The Seminoles will win unless three things all happen:

1) VT's offense goes to more of an air game and the receiving corps comes through

2) VT's special teams blocks one kick of some sort OR returns a kickoff once

3) VT's defense forces at least one turnover and puts it in at least field goal range

The game is on ABC at 3:30 p.m.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Chins Up, Virginia Tech Fans

It might seem like now is the time to hang our heads and give up. An early upset from East Carolina and a dozen lost opportunities against Boston College mean that the Virginia Tech Hokies don't have a moose's chance in Sarah Palin's backyard of surviving to go on to something such as the BCS National Championship. Heck, now they'll be lucky to make it to the ACC Championship game for a shot at the BCS Orange Bowl.

But now is not the time to give up. Chins up, Virginia Tech fans. We have a winning record, though all of those wins have been frustrating and close, but it's a winning record nonetheless. That's not so bad considering all of the very young talent on the Hokies' lineup this season. And you know, if we beat Florida State and win out the rest of our schedule, we still have a pretty good chance at playing in the title game. Maybe there will be a chance for revenge against BC, a repeat of last year's ACC scenario.

You know what though? Even if VT loses more games, we as fans still have plenty to be proud of. I'm not saying we shouldn't criticize Bryan Stinespring or boo Sean Glennon when he makes a rare appearance if that's what you feel like. That's all part of the culture. In the long run though, we're all Hokies, and no one else will ever know what that means. Regardless of who wins or loses, we're all always there in Lane Stadium giving it our all on every key play, just like the players are.

As an undergraduate, I went to a school with a relatively good history when it comes to football. Marshall University has two FCS national championships under its belt, and it's produced players such as Troy Brown, Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwich and Ahmad Bradshaw. There was also this little movie about the young Thundering Herd football team called We Are Marshall. But y'know, even all that did not resonate with the student body there. I went to only one football game as an undergraduate, and I just did not have a good time. People sat down and looked bored. Others left way early. There was really nothing special to it all. It seemed as though only the alumni really cared while the students would rather pack up their suitcases and head home for the weekend.

Enter Virginia Tech and graduate school. There's just something different about Lane Stadium and about Hokie fans. They are more passionate, and they do not sit down during the game. There are so many traditions and neat happenings surrounding every sporting event at VT. Now, I'm not knockin' Marshall. I love my alma mater, and I can't wait to go back for homecoming and watch the Herd take on the knights from down at UCF. What I'm saying is that Hokie fans are a special breed, and until you are one and you stand side by side with other ones, you'll just never know what it means. There's a mysticism that surrounds Blacksburg, one that seems to unite people, regardless of race or age. I can't explain it, but I guarantee you if you ask anyone else they'll know what you're talking about.

So chins up, Hokies. We still have a lot to be proud of. It's not all about what the football team accomplishes (or doesn't accomplish) — it's about inventing the future, it's Ut Prosim, but most of all, it's family.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

El Prezidino to Perform in Roanoke, Va.

If you missed my semi-recent post on El Prezidino, you should definitely check it out. Go ahead, read it, this post will still be here when you finish.

OK, now that you know all about Dino and the awesomeness that is his music, make sure you plan to attend this event:

When: Friday, Nov. 7, 2008

What: El Prezidino Hip-Hop Concert

Where: Mill Mountain Theatre, downtown Roanoke, Va., as part of Roanoke’s 4040fest

Special Guest Roanoke’s Kuntry at 8 p.m. El Prezidino at 8:45 p.m.

Cost: $5 to benefit Mill Mountain Theatre

All types of beverages available at intermission. Come for the concert, then stay for "No Shame Theatre."

El Prezidino is an emerging hip-hop artist from the Washington, D.C., area. Currently making the university circuit, he has opened for tobyMac and has toured as far west as California. A breakthrough artist in the genre, El Prezidino creates soulful and heartfelt hip-hop music that’s clean and positive, yet edgy. (the website for Urb magazine) has called him “hip-hop’s righteous superhero,” which landed El Prezidino on Urb’s list of next artists to watch. A former college and professional football player, El Prezidino has released two CDs.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Mom is a FOB

Nineteen-year-old blogger Teresa Wu is already relatively famous and well-known. She has a strong following on Twitter, and her newest blog (who can even count how many she has now?) has been met with almost overnight success. My Mom is a FOB is a Web site that is guaranteed to make you chuckle.

I think we all had that Asian friend in college (or friends, plural, for some) that did some things we found strange because he or she was "fresh off boat" (FOB). Or perhaps you had an American friend whose parents, though they had been in the U.S. for years, still acted like FOBs. Well, then this new site is for you, us and them.

My friends and I as an undergraduate used to enjoy reading different Konglish Web sites to see how English is used on products in other countries such as Japan, China and South Korea. Often, the messages are so construed that little kids are seen wearing T-shirts we would never even think of wearing with expletives and sexual messages displayed upon them. Every Asian I've ever met has a good laugh when you explain these things to him or her, so don't think of My Mom is a FOB as being racist in any way.

It's all in good fun, just ask Wu, who has already had her blog reach hundreds of people through Twitter and by being featured on other sites who take notice (like this one, for example). Wu sent out a tweet earlier yesterday that her inbox had been flooded with e-mails where people are sending funny things their FOB moms have said. We can only hope they continue to do so for our own comic relief.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Autumn Design

So I never made an actual post about it, but I am sure you regular readers out there have noticed that Relatively Journalizing got a makeover for autumn (or fall, if you prefer). I hope you like it and find it visually appealing and that it gets you in the mood for football, Halloween, jackets and turkey! Feel free to leave some comments regarding your thoughts on the new banner and color scheme. Also feel free to leave suggestions about what I could do for winter.

Question of the day: What is your favorite season, and why? Leave it in the comments.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hokie Recap: Stinespring, Receivers Continue to Haunt Hokies

The Virginia Tech Hokies faced the Boston College Golden Eagles Saturday, and the Hokies took away five turnovers from the Eagles. That's right, the defense forced five turnovers. Not only that, but also the Hokies blocked a field goal attempt. Oh yeah, and Tyrod Taylor picked up his third career 100-yard-plus rushing game. And Boston College didn't score after halftime. As we near Halloween, this seems like the perfect nightmare for BC, right? But it was the Hokies who were haunted by the ghost of Matt Ryan (looking over the game from above) Saturday night.

Yes, those are real stats mentioned in the first paragraph from Saturday's matchup at Chesnut Hill, Mass., where VT fell for the second year in a row to BC in a regular-season game. VT lost? Yes, they lost. But with a 10-0 lead early in the first quarter and a situation like the one described above, it seems impossible! If you just guessed that the coaches must have put Sean Glennon in during the second half, I applaud you for a very good guess, but that's not what happened either. There were two other major factors in this upsetting 28-23 loss to Boston College.

Number one, the VT receivers need to run some extra laps this week. They need someone in their face, and they need some extra training ASAP. (And it would probably help if they didn't rub butter on their hands before taking the field.) There was a total lack of concentration and discipline on the part of the receiving corps during the BC game, and had even one of those dropped passed been caught, the outcome of the game could have been very different. Tyrod's throws were great, and his rushing abilities were great too, but VT needs an aerial attack once in awhile if it wants to be competitive. I know there are a lot of young guys on the team, but this message is to all of them — you can't let Taylor and Victor "Macho" Harris carry you like they are your daddies, you have to step up sometime and make a play. That means you, receivers.

Now, the players played their hearts out (though I would like to see some more aggressive tackling and fewer missed tackles from the defense) Saturday night. They really didn't do a terrible job with what they have to work with. In fact, the biggest problem was the one thing that has remained the biggest problem throughout the season — Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring.

VT's offense is slow, predictable and way too conservative. If it were prettier, it might be considered the Palin Offense, but it's more like the Barbara Bush Offense — outdated, wrinkly, and whatever it spawns is idiotic. Someone should just hand Stinespring a coloring book and send him over to Newman Library for a few seasons. The playcalling was terrible as usual at BC. It was either a "Stinescreen" or a run up the middle into the biggest D-lineman Stinespring could find to let tackle VT in the backfield. Oh, and QB Tyrod Taylor was allowed to pass the ball like twice or something, but... well, see the previous point about receivers. But still, the receivers have to catch something eventually, and there are more run plays out there than what were attempted. A heckuva lot more.

Look, if I had a dime for every blog/Web site/forum out there advocating for the firing of Stinespring, I wouldn't need to finish my Master of the Arts degree and go into public relations. I could retire to a private island right now. So I'm not going to harp on it every day, just every time the playcalling for Virginia Tech is el stupido. Yeah, so expect to hear about this roughly once a week (alibi: bye weeks). But seriously, folks, how does this guy get to stick around with his boring playcalling? Maybe we do need a maverick afterall. Somebody get me a hockey mom to Lane Stadium right now! I bet there are some moms out there who could call trickier, more interesting, more successful plays than Stinespring. Of course, with the awesome performance of Bud Foster's defense, maybe Stinespring's strategy is just to go three-and-out as quickly as possible. If so, he's pretty good at making that happen, and, well, you've got to give him credit — it almost worked... almost.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Synchroblogging 2: I'm Usually in a Good Mood When...

This is the second post in a series of sychroblogging organized by my blogger buddy Kelvin of Moments in Time. My first post is here.

The topic last time was about what bugs me, and this time it's the other way around — what makes me happy?

Here's a list of five:

5. Playing multiplayer video games with friends

4. Watching the VT Hokies, the Carolina Panthers, and the MU Thundering Herd win football games

3. Writing (and reading, but it's just not the same as crafting my own story)

2. Doing something destressing, such as going to the shooting range, for example

1. Hanging out with the people who make me happy

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hokie Matchup: vs. Boston College

The Virginia Tech Hokies head to Chesnut Hill, Mass., today to face off against the Boston College Golden Eagles.

The Eagles are looking good at home lately, but the Hokies have won 17 of their last 18 road games — their most recent loss on the road (regular season) was at BC in 2006.

Tyrod Taylor, the sophomore at VT, is a great quarterback, but his passing game leaves a lot to be desired. Senior QB Crane up at BC is not great, but he excelled both passing and running last week against the NC State Wolfpack.

The Hokies have had a week off, so this game all depends on one question: Did they utilize it properly? Even as young as they are, VT football this year really comes down to coaching. Is the playcalling smart, and did the coaches fix the problems the players have had so far this season with the extra time they had?

This is a tough game to call. No one in the ACC seems to have an advantage. VT and Wake Forest have a slight edge over everyone else, but nothing is guaranteed. If Taylor wakes up the offense and unleashes an aerial assault while the special teams block a kick or two and the defensive performs at least as well as usual, VT will win out. If even one of these three things does not happen, the game will be very close, and BC might even take home (or keep home) the W — Hokie fans just hope the last 11 seconds of this matchup involve Tyrod Taylor taking a knee.

Friday, October 17, 2008

2009 BCS Bowl Predictions

So in Monday's post, I made my Super Bowl predictions for the 2009 version of the big game. Today, I figured I would make my mid-season BCS bowl predictions for college football. So, without further ado, here they are:

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. South Florida

Rose Bowl: Southern California vs. Alabama

Sugar Bowl: Ohio State vs. Florida

Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Boise State

And the winners are...

National Championship: Penn State vs. Texas

Thursday, October 16, 2008

VICTORY FOR BLOGGERS: First Amendment Still Reigns Over Roger Woody

Bloggers cleared in lawsuit
By Lerone Graham, The Roanoke Times*

The four bloggers named in a lawsuit brought forth by Christiansburg developer Roger Woody have been cleared of all charges by a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge.

Finish reading here.

*Relatively Journalizing is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Roanoke Times.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

U.S. Poverty Should Be Primary Focus

I am and always have been a strong believer that countries should mind their own business in most cases. Don't mingle. Don't get involved in civil wars between rival sects of a radical religion. Don't overthrow governments. Don't send our resources elsewhere when we need them. Yeah, that's right, I said it — be stingy, be greedy, think about yourself first.

Today is Blog Action Day, and thousands of bloggers around the world are blogging about this year's topic — poverty — on this very day, Oct. 15, 2008.

I chose to go along with the usual personal, heavily opinionated type of blog post you normally see from me on Relatively Journalizing. And I think that if we have excess we have a responsibility to help those in other countries. However, I don't think we should do so until we take care of our own. Would you let your own children starve to send food to starving children in Africa. No, of course not, but that's what the United States of America has a long history of doing.

So look, it's not likely you'll be able to change the government's mind. After all, America has this so-called great image to keep up. What I think is important about blogging about poverty today is that the U.S. poverty rate is at 12.5 percent. So for roughly every 13th person you see on the street each day, that's one person living in poverty! To me, that's still too many people in a land of dreams and prosperity.

There are 37.3 million people (according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data) living in poverty around us all over the country. So, before we get too sympathetic about those kids on TV, let's think about the kids next door. There are so many ways you can help, and the holidays are getting closer as well, meaning many families are going to need food, warm coats and maybe some presents to light up their lives this holiday season. Many just can't afford these things, especially with the terrible state of the U.S. economy right.

So here's what I'd like you to do: contact your nearest newspaper and ask for the nonprofit reporter. Or perhaps do a Google search of nonprofits in your area. Just find some groups in your area, read up on them, and determine which one you think might help those in poverty the most right now. Reach out to someone in your own community who is living in poverty, whether it's through donating to a food bank, giving away a jacket you never wear or making a monetary donation. Such a quick, small step can get us one instance closer to conquering American poverty and helping those who need it most — right under our noses.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Taking the Browns to the Super Bowl (Only Metaphorically)

Well, I suppose it's about time for some mid-season Super Bowl XLIII predictions. My knowledge of pro football pales in comparison to my knowledge of college football (except concerning the Carolina Panthers), so take what I say with a grain of salt (in other words, don't place your kids' college funds on what I say in a late-night betting match with your buds). However, based upon my observations, here's how I think the rest of the season very well may play out, regardless of the Browns' big win over the Giants last night.

12 teams will go to the playoffs, the four division champions from the AFC and NFC (for a total of eight), and two wildcards from each conference (for a total of four), making a total of those 12 lucky teams.

The Tennessee Titans end up winning the AFC South and grab first place in the conference, followed by the Denver Broncos, who win the AFC West.

The Buffalo Bills are the AFC East division winners, and they'll face the wildcard Pittsburgh Steelers. The AFC North is won by the Baltimore Ravens, who'll face the wildcard New York Jets.

The Bills beat the Steelers and go on to face the Broncos. Brett Favre wins it for the Jets in the last seconds of his game against the Ravens, and the Jets go on to face the Titans.

Titans beat the Jets, Broncos beat the Bills in overtime.

Titans face the Broncos and win the AFC Championship game, taking them into the Super Bowl.

The New York Giants win the NFC East, while the Arizona Cardinals win the West, securing the NFC's top two spots.

The Carolina Panthers win the NFC South, facing the wildcard Washington Redskins in their first playoff matchup. The Minnesota Vikings take the NFC North and face the wildcard Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Carolina demolishes the Redskins just like they did in the preseason, and they move on against the Cardinals. Tampa Bay equally destroys Minnesota to move on to face the Giants.

Carolina beats the cardinals, and Tampa Bay beats the Giants, so the two NFC South teams face off in the NFC Championship game. Carolina wins in the final seconds, moving on to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl
The Carolina Panthers will rally for their second Super Bowl appearance under Jake Delhomme. This time, the Patriots will not be a factor (as in the 2003 Super Bowl), but the Titans will fight hard to the last second of the game. Steve Smith drops what would be a game-winning TD pass in the endzone on 4th and long, and the Titans run out the clock.

Final score: Carolina 31, Tennessee 35

Monday, October 13, 2008

Beyond the Front: Let's Talk Suicide

The number of suicides in the U.S. Army continues to rise, and the Army (not suprisingly) has no idea what to do about it. So why not play a game? What could be better at combating suicides than a suicide game?!?! It's genius. I hope you'll excuse my sarcasm, but this is all so freaking ridiculous.

The Washington Post broke the story Wednesday, and I was appalled when I read in the story that the Army launched this program completely untested. Who the heck doesn't pilot test any form of communication before launching it? The Army, that's who! Medical experts say this new mandatory game could actually have reverse intended effects, actually causing soldiers to contemplate suicide more or even push them over the edge. This is extremely dangerous and reckless behavior by the Army, again, not surprising, considering this administration's ability to ignore the facts and all logic quite regularly.

The Denver Post article on the game also cited the same critical views of the program, stating that statistics are usually not favorable regarding community-based suicide-prevention programs. One expert quoted said, "Some media presentations about suicide can increase the likelihood of suicidal behavior, so there is a potential danger."

Can you believe this? Our brave American men and women in uniform are already experiencing such a mental health crisis because of the wars they have been involved in, yet the government is allowing the release of a mandatory game that trivializes suicide and could possibly increase it. Utterly stupid. Again, not utterly surprising.

There were several other media outlets that covered the story, though most just ran the Washington Post's version. Comments from viewers on the popular site were skeptical and critical of the video program.

There is one definite way to stop this suicide crisis in our military. Bring the troops home! Quit thrusting them into civil wars! Quit back-door drafting them and sending them on their third, fourth and fifth deployments! Don't force our troops to make unethical decisions by ordering them to bomb civilians or shoot people who had nothing to do with Sept. 11! It's horrifying and so saddening that we have lost so many lives in these wars, misguided by an atrocious administration. We shouldn't have to lose more, not to coward terrorists' roadside bombs and not to their own mental woes forced upon them by an irresponsible government.

You can play the first level of "Beyond the Front" here. Relatively Journalizing is not responsible for any effects experienced as a result of playing the game — blame the Army.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

You Could Win a Notebook Computer From StudentBloggers.Org — I Can't

For 15 weeks, HP is running this "HP Freshman 15 Giveaway" contest, and contest winners get a notebook computer and a whole bundle of nice stuff. Now, of course, you can't win a Mac, so who cares?

Well, let's face it, not everyone out there is attracted to something flashy, virus-free, fast and auto-defragging. Some of you losers out there may actually prefer a PC. So, perhaps you'd be interested in this contest. What? I sound bitter, you say? No, of course not, it's just that... well... I'm told I can't enter this contest over at Student Bloggers, which launches today.

You see, sometimes having connections isn't really a good thing. Alex Bea, founder, manager, el presidente, head honcho, overlord and such, at happens to be my colleague in the graduate program for communication at Virginia Tech. What this means for me is I know a really cool guy named Alex (but on the downside, he turns out to be stingy). What it also means is that he doesn't think it would be "fair" to let myself, Stephen, Evan or Gordon enter the contest because it could be some sort of conflict of interest. OK, Alex, fair enough, just don't be surprised when we don't invite you out for — well, nevermind.

So Mr. Ethical has the complete power to give away this one technological bundle, by however means he sees fit, to a college blogger that enters the contest on Yet, Mr. Sorry-That-Might-Be-Like-I-Gave-Preference-To-My-Friends feels the need to exclude the people who really matter in his life — the ones who really got him to where he is. Let's face it, Alex owes his friends his life.

Once, during a horrible storm that occurred late at night, I gave Alex a jump start when his car's battery died. Without that act of kindness, he would've been forced to walk home, probably being struck by lightning. Another time, Alex locked himself out of his office, and Stephen had to let him in because they were officemates. Without the help of Stephen, Alex would have probably had nowhere to use the Internet that night, going into withdrawal and ultimately withering away during a slow death. Evan, our other blogger buddy, has given Alex numerous rides to places, preventing possible muggings and stabbings. I'd be surprised if Alex even let our dear friend Adria enter the contest, even though she is a PC user, and even though she regularly feeds Alex, preventing what would otherwise be a serious case of malnutrition and lack of Vitamin Starburst. Still, after all this, he doesn't think we deserve a free notebook computer!

I'm actually suspicious that Alex will make up a fake blog and pose as a fake student blogger and give himself the notebook, and he's just afraid that we'll find out if he lets us enter because, duh, one of us would definitely have the best entry. So, here's what we have to do to prevent that — you've got to enter to win the notebook. This is the only way to get revenge on Alex. You must submit a stellar entry that even his "great wisdom" can't beat, so he is forced to give up the notebook to a real student blogger like yourself or someone you know. Go here to see details about the contest.

There's also information about the launch on Student Bloggers here.

Now, I could enter one of the other 14 contests, but seriously, who wants a PC? I'll take my big Mac, hold the viruses, the Internet Explorer, the useless pre-installed software, the Vista and the blue screens of death, please.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hokie Matchup: BYE WEEK

Let's hope the Hokies take advantage of the week off, as they'll need lots of motivation, endurance and good coaching to finish out a tough ACC schedule. Though there's not game this weekend, Virginia Tech faces Boston College away next week, followed by an away game at Florida State. These two matchups are crucial. BC doesn't look bad, and the Seminoles are probably the toughest ACC team VT will have to play (until the championship game, if they make it there, where they will likely face Wake Forest if all continues as it has been).

To finish out the season, the Hokies face Maryland on what should be a very loud Thursday night home game Nov. 6, followed by Miami away before mauling Duke and Virginia at home in Lane Stadium. Maryland shouldn't be a problem, as they've been surprising this year, but then sputtered in a nonscoring game against the atrocious Virginia Cavalier squad. Duke is of course better this year, but that's not saying much. The Hokies need a strong win in Chesnut Hill, followed by what will probably be a squeaker at FSU. If they can win those two games and avoid any fourth-quarter upsets against Miami, they should be well on their way to the title game against what will likely be the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest — a Wake team that had a close, but great, game against the Clemson Tigers this Thursday, the same Clemson team that started the season in the top 10 (ah, rankings, how you fail us).

Friday, October 10, 2008

J-Tips: Quit Holding So Much Stuff

Every now and then, I like to offer a little journalism advice for the aspiring writers out there. Of course, these tips are great refreshers for veteran journalists as well when speaking and writing for the news media.

See the very first J-Tip here.

Today's tip is something that really bothers me when I see it because it was reinforced so much at the journalism school I attended. I see plenty of newspapers use this one all the time, too. The Roanoke Times does it, the Herald-Dispatch does it, the Washington Post does it, and even the New York Times does it. But none of that makes it the right thing to do.

Don't hold meetings! Meetings weren't held! Quit holding meetings!

From Dr. George T. Arnold, the authority on journalistic writing and author of the Media Writer's Handbook:

"Although some mass communicators are not bothered by the use of hold, held or holding when reporting about meetings, conferences, parties or conventions, other writers and broadcasters think such use is...silly. A person can hold another's hand, a fork, a baby or any number of other objects, but how does one hold a meeting?"

Please, for the sake of the English language and for the sake of not looking silly, start saying that organizations will meet or that an event takes place. You're welcome.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Now Reporting On...

There's a new site out there called ReportingOn. Keeping in the tradition of mentioning something cool in the PR/journalism realm when I come across it, I thought I'd mention it. The site is still in BETA, and it is very rough (and not really all that useful just yet). I do, however, think once a few improvements are made and more than a few hundred people join up, this might be a useful tool. Basically, it's Twitter for journalists. (But isn't Twitter for journalists?) Anyway, you tweet — I mean write — a quick line about what story you are working on, and then you tag it to a beat (such as religion, community, business, etc.). Other reporters and editors can log on too and get story ideas and such. Except, well, anyone could log on because I never had to prove that I was a reporter to get an account. Which means this is pretty much just Twitter. With "beat tags." Right...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Highty-Tighties Practice on the Drill Field

I recorded a little passing-by video of the Highty-Tighties, the regimental band of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, on my way to the library after class the other day. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Apache Flyover at Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium

Here's a little something cool. Virginia Tech has frequent flyovers at its football games in Lane Stadium. Usually, it's a former member of the VT Corps of Cadets that gets permission to deviate from a training mission. We've seen stealth bombers, fighter jets and this past weekend versus Western Kentucky University, the Hokies saw two U.S. Army Apache helicopters fly over the stadium at the end of the national anthem. The video is posted to my YouTube account "jdisasoldier," but it was actually taken on Shari's camera because my cell phone's version was lower-res.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Virginia Tech Coaches Still Don't Get It

Let's get one thing out of the way — yes, the Hokies beat the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers this weekend at home in Lane Stadium to win their 30th consecutive nonconference home win in front of the homecoming crowd there. The score, while it should've been something like 40-3, was a crowd-angering 27-13. The ESPN recap of the game mentioned VT's "sputtering offense" in the headline. It's obvious the person who wrote the article probably didn't watch the game. The Hokies' first-string offense did a great job, as did the team's defense. It was the coaching staff who sputtered, who has sputtered all season, and who will probably continue to sputter despite the facts because of its utter stubbornness. Let's get one other thing straight. No, Frank Beamer, no matter how much you say it to yourself and the media — Sean Glennon is not going to the NFL. Ever. I'll bet my cat's first-born kitten on it.

It's almost as if the coaching staff for the Hokies doesn't give one iota about the team's ranking or its national reputation. Most people didn't see Saturday's game. Why? Because it wasn't televised. Why? Because the Hilltoppers should have never found the end zone, making for a boring, one-sided game. Instead, rather than seeing the game, everyone else, including a lot of the voters in the polls, will just see the score. A pitiful, pitiful score against a pitiful team that never should've been able to find the end zone (especially with the 13 penalties for 113 yards WKU put up).

So what went wrong? Nothing, for the first string. They did a pretty darn good job. But then when VT got up by a few scores, the coaches decided to let the backups come in — including the worst backup in history, also known as QB Sean Glennon. Glennon was sacked four times in the fourth quarter. Yeah, he just stood there. He can't run his way out of it, and he can't get his brain to think fast enough to throw the ball either. The hamster up there must have been exhausted. The second-line defense didn't do a great job either, but it was Glennon's lack of offensive ability that gave WKU the needed field position to turn it into a real football game late in the fourth. The Hilltoppers had already recovered one onside kick, so a quick score, an onside kick, and another quick score at the last minute would've put what should've been a pushover game into overtime. Ridiculous.

I guess Frank Beamer should go have lunch with Joe Paterno. I mean, Joe and Bobby Bowden are the other two guys in NCAA football with lots of experience (and age), and apparently Beamer is forgetting what it takes to make a national championship run. Check out the scores Paterno's Penn State has posted up this year so far:

vs. Coastal Carolina, 66-10
vs. Oregon State 45-14
vs. Syracuse 55-13
vs. Temple 45-3
vs. Illinois 38-24 (a closer score, but against a ranked team)
vs. Purdue 20-6

You can say, well, Penn State has played a few pushovers in there. Yeah, so has VT with a schedule against teams such as Furman and Western Freaking Kentucky University! Penn State is ranked in the top 10, which means VT could be also if the coaches would leave our first string in and actually showcase what the team can do. As a result of their coaching, the Hokies are the most underrated team in college football. At Saturday's game, the Hokies were in field goal range with half a minute left on the clock. Yeah, they could've tried for the touchdown, or they could have at least kicked the easy field goal before going off the field. Nope, Beamer just let them take a knee and walk off with the two-possession W against what should've been (and was, at one point, before they let Glennon in) a four-possession team. Play until the final whistle blows!

The even worse news is that Kenny Lewis, Jr., ruptured his Achilles during the game, putting him out for the year. The positive side to that is that Lewis wasn't really the impact player he was supposed to be at the beginning of the season. Expect Darren Evans to carry the weight just fine, as he was already doing a better job carrying the ball.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Affiliate Spotlight: Black Tie Lounge

Today's post starts a new feature here at Relatively Journalizing, and I think I'll call it "Affiliate Spotlight." Once in a while, I'm going to highlight one of my affiliate blogs that has an interesting post or two as of late. Today's spotlight is a shoutout at G, who operates the Black Tie Lounge. A recent post there talks about what it's like to be black in higher education and the professional realm.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hokie Matchup: vs. Western Kentucky

Head coach Frank Beamer's Virginia Tech Hokies meet up with the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers today for the first time, though Beamer went 3-2-1 against the team while he was head coach of Murray State.

The Hokies look to demolish the Hilltoppers to achieve their 30th straight non-league win at Lane Stadium/Worsham Field today.

It's doubtful the Hilltoppers will be able to keep the Hokies out of the end zone (they'd better not, or the VT coaching staff has some major work to do as the Hokies move on to finish out their ACC schedule in the following weeks), but even if they do, kicker Dustin Keys has made his last nine field goal attempts. Look for redshirt freshman Darren Evans and sophomore quarterback Tyrod Taylor to rush for plenty of yards today, which is great because the Hokies are 85-7 since 1999 when outrushing their opponent. Expect a good game out of Greg Boone and Victor "Macho" Harris as well, and look for Kenny Lewis, Jr., to try and finally break out.

I'm not saying it's impossible for the Hokies to lose today, but it would take lots of turnovers, perhaps some injuries and some real stupid play calling (don't put it past Bryan Stinespring, y'all) for it to happen, and I of course don't want to wish any of that on the Hokies. I've already heard lots of people say they aren't going to today's homecoming game because it won't be worth watching. Those people could be surprised to see a close game score at the end of the day, or they could be right, but real fans will be there, making Lane just as difficult to play in as it always is for the Hilltoppers.

As a final note, I'd like to give you an idea of just how difficult it is for other teams to play in Lane Stadium on Worsham Field. These statistics, as well as others quoted above, come from official VT records released by the athletics department on

The House of Horrors (Lane Stadium/Worsham Field)
Lane Stadium has been sold out (that's 66,233 seats) for 64 consecutive games, starting with the 1998 home closer against the Virginia Cavaliers. Here are the numbers of false starts (the opposing team jumping off the line too early for a penalty, for those of you nonfootball fans out there) and delays of game (the opposing team not getting the ball snapped to start the play before the play clock runs down) in the last 37 games at Lane Stadium. These mistakes are often attributed to the opposing team not being able to hear the QBs cadence, etc., because of noise in the stadium.

2003: 18 false starts, 9 delays of game
2004: 14, 5
2005: 13, 1
2006: 11, 9
2007: 15, 4
2008: (so far) 5, 0
Total: 76, 28

Friday, October 3, 2008

'Andy Griffith Show' Day

While the 48th anniversary of the Oct. 3, 1960, debut of "The Andy Griffith Show" is not an official holiday, I think we should take a moment to reflect today on one of the greatest shows of all time. Some may dismiss the show as a hillbilly comedy with nothing to offer today's viewers, but I would encourage those people to find a rerun of this show somewhere to watch. Unfortunately, it seems as though fewer and fewer stations are showing the old episodes now as they used to do only a few short years ago.

While we definitely don't all live in Mayberry, we can cherish the values taught in this show and strive to live together in harmony like Mayberry's citizens. The show described a simpler time, mostly in black-and-white, when "Paw" offered the best advice and "Aunt Bea" showed compassion like no one else. Barney Fife (pictured here, played by the legendary Don Knotts) was the friend who always meant to do the right thing — the kind-hearted do-gooder who always managed to make a mess somehow and provide us with a good laugh or two. This show was acting and moral-of-the-story writing at its best, and it's a shame more today don't follow the format. Thanks, Opie, Andy, Barney, Bea, Gomer, and all the others — you're still remembered, and we all still wish we could have known you in real life.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Meet Penny the Cat and a Rabbit

So, yeah, there's a cat living with me now. Her name is Penny, and she's probably somewhere between 75 and 100 years old. Toys don't amuse her, and she has to take two-hour-long naps if she walks from one room to the other. She does, however, enjoy eating and will do it pretty much any time you happen to give her some food. She's a sweet cat though, and she enjoys purring, cuddling and pawing pretty much any time you will give her attention.

I also met a rabbit the other day. I'm not sure what its name is, it just happened to be hanging around outside the building where I teach each Monday and Wednesday. At Marshall University, we had hordes of squirrels. At Virginia Tech, it seems as though you can always find a rabbit lurking under a bush on campus. This little guy wouldn't let me get close enough to get a very good photo with my phone's camera, but you can tell he (or she perhaps) is not very big. The rabbit eventually scampered off around the the other side of the building, but I hope to see it again soon.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Yeah, I Was a Baby Too, and Darn Cute

Yesterday was my birthday, as noted in the blog post for Sept. 30.

The birthday post may have led many of you to ponder, as you looked at my face in the Relatively Journalizing banner, what exactly I looked like as a baby.

Well, here I am, baseball outfit and all. It's funny, see, I've never really liked baseball in my whole life aside from Super Bases Loaded for the Super Nintendo. Could be because, as an only child, throwing the ball up in the air and trying to hit it when it comes down — then using ghost men to round the bases because you are up next to bat — gets old pretty fast.