The Pick Six: NFL Week 6 Edition

45139bafbe44765118822d5c37e1dacc1Today is going to be a great day, I can just feel it. I woke up feeling great because both Memphis and Alabama won their respective games yesterday, and since the Cowboys aren’t playing today, there’s no chance of a crushing defeat like last week to bring me crashing down from this victorious high. Since it’s the Cowboys bye week and I have no rooting interest today, I’m looking forward to kicking back and watching NFL Redzone, which I think will be a first for me, watching a full slate of games on instead of focusing on one more than others, so that should be fun, or at the very least interesting. Here are the best six games of the day and my picks. Enjoy.

6. Giants/Broncos at 7:30
I thought the Giants would be bad, but I never imagined them being this bad, 0-5 to start the season. I love it, but you have to think at some point that they’ll get things figured out and get a few wins because I still don’t think there’s any way they finish with a worse record than the Jets who are completely surprising me on the other side of the spectrum. The Broncos have looked really good thus far so I don’t think the Giants are going to get things pointed in the right direction today. Denver is a nine point favorite and I think they’ll cover it easily.

5. Buccaneers/Cardinals at 3:05
Arizona is once again underperforming this year, due largely in part to the fact that their running back, one of the best in the league last year got hurt in the opening game, but this is the NFL, where excuses don’t matter, so we’ll see how they handle a talented Tampa Bay team today. I really like the Bucs and think they can be a real playoff contender this year in the NFC. They come into the game as a one point underdog which is irrelevant because they’re going to win the game leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that they are the better team.

4. Packers/Vikings at Noon
It’s a rivalry game in Minnesota and while I think Green Bay is the better team, anything can happen in a rivalry game, one of the only times the home team has a clear advantage in the NFL unless you’re playing in Seattle or Green Bay, and this game is in Minneapolis which will elevate the play of the Vikings and keep the game competitive. Ultimately, I think Green Bay, the four point favorite, will win the game and cover the spread, but it should be an entertaining game nonetheless.

3. Jets/Patriots at Noon
If you would’ve told me at the beginning of the season that through five weeks in the season, the Jets and Patriots would have the same record I would have run away from you quickly, because clearly you are insane, but here we are and both teams are coming into this game with three wins and two losses, which to be honest is more wins than I thought New York would have on the entire season. New England is a nine and a half point favorite, and while I think they get the win, I’m going to take the Jets with the points and hope that they can keep it close and decide to stave off their inevitable breakdown for another week.

2. Lions/Saints at Noon
The Lions are clearly the better team, yet for some reason the Saints are a three point favorite. I think it will be a good game but I think Matt Stafford and the Detroit offense is going to rip apart the New Orleans defense, and despite valiant efforts by Drew Brees and the offense, they aren’t going to be able to keep up. Lions win.

  1. Steelers/Chiefs at 3:25
    At first glance, this was easily the best game of the NFL weekend, and after looking further into the other games, this one still holds up as the best and the one I’m most excited about. There is a real chance that the only undefeated team in the league goes down today at the hands of the Steelers who are only a three and a half point underdog. While I think it will be a close game, I think the Chiefs will walk away the win and remain unbeaten.
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The Pick Six: Best Games on Football Saturday

We’ve been having some cooler, fall weather the past few days, so I thought since the temperatures were going to get back up in the eighties and low nineties today, I would get up first thing this morning and take the dogs for a walk to enjoy a little bit of the cool while we still had it, so a few minutes after eight, with the temperature at a comfortable 64 degrees, I, along with the two dogs, left the apartment full of optimism for a fulfilling walk. Unfortunately, after they went to the bathroom, Mocha, the smaller of the giant rats, decided she wanted no part in the walk and just refused to do so, forcing me to have to pull and drag her across the grass against her will. After a few attempts at this, starting and stopping several times, the walk was over, all thanks to the selfishness of Mocha, so excuse me if today’s Pick Six seems to have an air of frustration about it, because that’s just how I’m feeling right now.

6. South Carolina/Tennessee at 11 on ESPN
As someone who lives in the state of Tennessee but is not a fan of the team, it brings me a sort of twisted satisfaction whenever they lose, and this year has been pretty fun so far, and I see no reason that has to change today. For some reason I always seem to be optimistic about South Carolina after they win a couple at the start of the season, before they inevitably sink back down into the pit of mediocrity from whence they came, but I think today they’re going to get back on the right track with a win over Tennessee who is a two point favorite. Upset for the Gamecocks on the road.

5. Georgia Tech/Miami at 2:30 on ABC
After watching the Miami game last week, and seeing their offensive struggles, I have serious doubts about how good that team actually is. Last week was by far their biggest game of the season, against a team that came in with a losing record, and they almost lost the game. On the other hand, Georgia Tech has beaten both Pittsburgh and North Carolina, and lost by one point to Tennessee, which to me are much more impressive than any of Miami’s wins except for maybe Florida State, whom they barely beat. Miami is a nine and a half point favorite, but I think it’s going to be closer than that. It will come down to Tech’s offense against Miami’s defense that will decide the game, and while I think the Hurricanes will probably win this one at home, I’m picking Georgia Tech with the points.

4. Oklahoma/Texas at 2:30 on ESPN
Remember when the Red River Rivalry actually meant something in college football, back when two relevant programs were playing the biggest game of their season? Those were fun times, and while I certainly don’t think today will be like those great match-ups in the past, I do think this game could possibly be interesting and worth keeping an eye on. Texas is trying to turn their season around and Oklahoma is coming off a huge loss last week, so both teams really want to prove something today. Oklahoma is a nine and a half point favorite, and I’m picking them over the Longhorns against the spread.

3. TCU/Kansas State at 11 on FS1
Kansas State was in the top 25 for a couple weeks to start the season, so we know they have some talent on that team, and I think TCU is overrated, so this could make for a good match-up. TCU is a four and a half point favorite, and I’m going to pick them against the spread, but I do think it will be a good and competitive game today.

2. Texas Tech/West Virginia at 11 on ESPNU
Somehow Texas Tech is in the top 25, and are the underdog today against an unranked team, which makes zero sense to me, but regardless of how dumb I think that is, I do think this will be a very good game to watch. West Virginia is a seven point favorite at home and it seems like a no brainer to me, but I’m going to take Texas Tech with the points. Show me you deserve to be in the top 25.

1. Memphis/Navy at 2:45 on ESPNU
Picking this game as the best game of the day is completely biased, but it’s the one that I’m most interested in outside of the Alabama/Arkansas game which should be a complete bloodbath, whereas this one I think will be close. This is another one of those games where Navy is in the top 25 but Memphis is favorite. This would be a huge win for the Tigers, their second win over a top 25 ranked opponent this season, and I think they’re going to do it. I’m rolling with Memphis -4.

October Reads Part 1

IMG_4306It’s Friday, which means it’s time to talk about books. You might be wondering to yourself why I’m acting like this is a normal weekly occurrence when oftentimes the day of the week is sporadic and I didn’t even talk about what books I’ve been reading last week, and while those are both valid points, I’m going to try doing better going forward about making Friday the official book review day every week, to give a recommendation or two to get the weekend started off right for everyone whose idea of a perfect day off work involves being sitting in a big comfortable chair with a good book. As for why I didn’t do it last week, I was wanting to wait until I finished the current book I was reading, which ended up taking a lot longer than I’d intended, but more on that later. With Halloween being at the end of this month, for the entirety of October I’m going to be reading books that are spooky, scary, creepy, or Halloween themed, so today.

To get the Halloween season kicked off the right way, I read “Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore” by Matthew Sullivan, his debut novel. Not knowing much about the book, except that it was one of the bestsellers on Amazon’s new novel list at the time that I was browsing early last month, I took a chance, intrigued by the title, and the short description about a late night death in a bookstore, and it really paid off. The book starts with a suicide of a bookstore regular, found by one of the employees, one of a few people in the world that he trusted and would talk to. From there the book follows that employee, Lydia, on a journey to find out what pushed her friend over the edge. Guided by clues left behind by the deceased, Lydia learns all about his life, and discovers a lot about hers as well as she is forced to face some of the haunting demons from her past. A quick read with perfectly placed twists that will leave you frantically turning the pages to find out what happens next, “Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore” was thrilling, suspenseful, and at times very eerie, making it the perfect way to kick off October. This is definitely near the top of my list in terms of favorite books that came out this year and would recommend it for anyone looking for a thrill ride that might leave you gasping audibly in disbelief, which happened to me at least one time over the course of this exciting journey.

The second book I read, “The Halloween Tree” by Ray Bradbury, was more of a traditionally themed Halloween book, and in fact is actually set on the thirty-first of October. It’s a fun spirited fall tale that follows eight boys and a skeleton on a journey to find their friend who they can never seem to catch up to, and also to discover the history of Halloween. While I did enjoy reading it, I found myself a little bit lost and confused during certain parts, but I feel that was mainly my fault. It’s a fairly short book, and I think would be best read in one to two days so it flows cohesively all the way through, but my mistake was getting distracted too often and letting it stretch out for more than a week, breaking up the pace of the story too often so the only thing that stayed with me from day to day were fragmented parts of the story rather than keeping up with the big picture. Even though I messed it up this time and didn’t enjoy it to the fullest extent, I would still recommend checking it out if you want a fast paced, fun book to get you in the mood for Halloween, but I would definitely suggest trying to read it in one to two days, which is easily doable lest you get distracted like me.

Whether you read either of these books or you choose to read something else altogether, the important thing is that you read, even if only for a few minutes. Open your imagination up to all of the exciting worlds out there, and I guarantee, you won’t be disappointed.

A Costly Mistake to Make When Flying

Hot black coffee on a cool, overcast morning takes me back to Paris, walking around the cobbled streets of the city enjoying everything around me, which is strange because the only time I ever remember having coffee on either of my trips there, I wasn’t  walking around the city at all, but was rather thousands of feet in the air somewhere between Amsterdam and Paris. I was on an airplane with my dad, fourteen years old, and outside of the United States of America for the first time in my life. I had survived my first flight ever, from Memphis, to Amsterdam, so was a seasoned and confident air traveler by the time this second flight rolled around, so I was more carefree, relaxed, and laid back, my stomach no longer clenched tight, and open to the possibility of filling it with whatever food and drinks the airline had to offer, which just so happened to include coffee.
 
This was the only coffee I remember having on the trip, and come to think of it, it wasn’t even black coffee. This was before I became a coffee purist, freeing my morning beverage of gallons of cream and piles of sugar, so it is strange to me why drinking black coffee on an overcast and cool morning makes me think of something that has no apparent connection whatsoever. It’s really fascinating to me, like I would love to have the kind of free time to just spend hours every day sitting around and thinking about why certain things conjure up memories of other things that seemingly aren’t related, but I’ve got a life to live and a blog to write, so I guess I’ll just go ahead and get back to it. While coffee on the plane was great, what I was really looking forward to was the food. I know, in hindsight it seems weird to me that I ever looked forward to airplane food, but having only been on one flight before, where one of the meals on the plane was breakfast, my favorite, so I hadn’t been jaded yet to the realities of airplane food.
 
The stewardess came around after the drink service was finished, offering one thing and one thing only, cheese sandwiches, which sounded absolutely perfect to me. Just bread and cheese, the title said it all, no unsavory condiments or slimy lunch meats; I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. My dad tried to warn me, tried to tell me the truth and bring my expectations back down to a reasonable level, and whether it was the high altitude or the excitement of trying new things in a new place I do not know, but I didn’t listen to him or heed his warning. I stuck out my hand for a cheese sandwich, making the single greatest mistake, even to this day, of my entire life of air travel. I opened the wrapping and between two large pieces of crusty bread, was cheese, yes, but it certainly was not the star of the sandwich. No, that role was saved for the half jar of mayonnaise that had apparently been dumped on the bottom half of the sandwich bread, the excess of which flowed freely out the sides of the sandwich, making sure the person who had made the terrible decision to accept this “meal”, would have a sticky and smelly reminder on their hands for the remainder of the flight. I knew within seconds that I had made a mistake, and the look on my face must have given me away, because my dad, a fellow hater of mayonnaise, sympathized with me and told me that I didn’t have to eat the sandwich. He had tried to warn me about the over abundance of the most disgusting concoction on the planet, but I hadn’t listened, thinking his hatred for the stuff was clouding his judgment, causing him to exaggerate, thinking foolishly that I would be able to scrape it off onto a napkin and it would go undetectable on my taste buds. Even though he told me that it was okay, that I didn’t have to eat it, I felt guilty about it, so I nibbled at the edges of the bread, hating every bite, for as long as I could, before giving up, rewrapping the sandwich, and shoving it as far down into the seatback pocket in front of me as it would go, like if I pushed it hard enough it would return back to hell from whence it came. For all I know that sandwich is still there, thirteen years later, stinking up a plane that makes the forty minute flight between Amsterdam and Paris, making terrible memories for some other poor soul.

My Crappy Neighbor

Why can’t I ever have normal neighbors with normal dogs? Is there even such a thing as a normal dog? I know, I know, every creature is unique and special in their own way so it’s wrong of me to think that any dog is normal in the sense that it is just like other dogs, so I guess what I should be asking is why I can’t have well behaved neighbors with well behaved dogs. I’ve talked before about the dog that would bark at all hours of the night, ceaselessly keeping both me and my wife awake, and the neighbors didn’t do anything to stop it, because it continued, day after day after god forsaken day. Then finally, one merciful day, weeks after my mind had drifted into a crazed oblivion, driven there by the incessant barking, it finally stopped. The moving trucks arrived and the neighbors, determined to make more noise than their loudmouth dog, emptied their apartment shouting back and forth and hitting furniture against the doorframe of the apartment, the bangs and clangs a farewell symphony for my least favorite neighbors that I’d ever had. When the apartment below mine was finally occupied again, the new neighbors seemed nicer, not that we made a point of getting to know them, or even talking to them more than a polite head nod in passing, because it’s 2017 in Memphis, not 1957 in Mayberry, but they were nice in that they weren’t excessively loud and weren’t yelling a lot like the previous tenants, and there was absolutely no sign of a dog or any other barking animal for that matter. I was in paradise, or as close to paradise as I could be so far away from any sign of the beach.
 
Then a new neighbor moved in, this time right across the hall from me, so close that if we walked out of our apartment at the same time we would be face to face on the landing above the stairs, which is too close if you ask me, but you didn’t, so go ahead and strike that altogether. The good news is, there isn’t a noise problem, but the bad news is there is another problem, that is possibly way worse than that of a barking dog. You know how I haven’t written much about going to play disc golf lately, how after the last time I became fed up with all of the big dogs being allowed to run free of their leashes with no regard for the general public? Well this is along those same lines, instead of now being able to avoid it by not going to a particular park, it’s happening where I live, so I really can’t escape the problem unless I move, once my lease is up, at the end of June, which is no good for me. The new neighbor has a pitbull and I know that not all pitbulls are dangerous, and this one may be the sweetest and gentlest dog in the world, but there’s still no reason for someone to take their dog outside where other people live, regardless of its breed or size, and not keep it on a leash. It’s irresponsible and downright un-neighborly, and as citizens of this great world, we shouldn’t have to stand for it, the constant fear of a strange dog charging towards you. If you kick, you’re a monster, but if the dog bites you, it’s just being a dog, playing around. Plus, PLUS, it’s against the rules of the apartment’s special pet addendum that has to be signed if you want to have a dog or a cat living with you, which I know because I had to sign one for both of my “beloved” Chihuahuas . So now every time this dog is outside, I’m terrified for my life, thanks to the traumatic experience of being attacked by a German shepherd in a French restaurant more than ten years ago, and I find myself checking the peephole before I leave my apartment, making sure the beast isn’t patrolling the landing just outside my door, waiting longer in my car after arriving home until the dog gets tired of running around in the area between the parking lot and the apartment building and heads inside.
 
If it were that, and only that, the no leash thing, I would still be upset, sure, but not as upset as I am currently, because on top of totally disregarding the leash rule, the owner of the dog doesn’t pick up after him when it uses the bathroom. He doesn’t even attempt to feign interest in performing the civil and responsible duty of picking up his dog’s massive piles of excrement, like he doesn’t even carry a bag outside with him to act like he’s doing the right thing, so now, every time we go outside, we have to constantly be on the lookout, heads bowed in reverence, searching for the horse-sized piles of dog crap. This too, is a clear violation of the apartment’s rules, and it’s really annoying to me that this has been going on for a couple weeks now and nothing has changed, but when I hung a Memphis Grizzlies flag up on my balcony, which disturbed absolutely nobody, I received a notice that I was being fined for the flag, citing the lines in my lease about not having “debris” on my balcony within a few days of having hung it outside. I could call the apartment office, and let them know what is going on, ratting out my new neighbor, but I really don’t want to be that guy, that has to run to the authorities if I want anything changed. Why can’t everyone just behave in a civilized way? That way the responsibility of being the snitch wouldn’t have to fall on someone who is very uncomfortable in the role. I guess the right thing to do would be confronting this neighbor face to face, just telling him that it’s against his lease to let his dog be free off the leash and to not pick up his waste after he uses the bathroom, tell him that I could have gone to the office and told them, but I wanted to talk to him first, man to man, and see if we could resolve this issue on our own. I wish I were the type of person that could really confront someone, but unfortunately I’m doomed to be the coward, always shirking uncomfortable situations in favor of sitting quietly in the shadows and waiting for them to pass, so the likelihood of me confronting my neighbor is virtually nonexistent, so the question now becomes, do I send an anonymous tip to the office and risk being stuck with the unsavory title of “Kendall the Rat” or do I lie low and hope that it resolves itself all on its own? This isn’t rhetorical, I’m really asking for your advice. Help me! Lest I end up hiding from the dog and stepping in dog poop for the next eight months. Any and all tips are appreciated to resolve this issue with my crappy neighbor.

My Screw Up at Work

A couple weeks ago I wrote a blog post about catching some fraudulent activity at work, detailing the event and how I came to the conclusion that something wasn’t right. It was a proud moment for me, using everything I’ve learned working at the bank this year in stopping suspicious and fraudulent activity from continuing, but if I’m going to talk about my triumphs, the things that I do well and am proud of, then it’s only fair that I also admit to my mistakes, when I don’t catch something, and when I screw things up at work, and that, unfortunately, is what I’m writing about today. This past Saturday was my weekend to work this month, and it was busier than any Saturday I’d worked thus far. There was long line to the door for just about the entirety of the four hours in which the bank was opened, and I was on my feet running transaction after transaction, nonstop for the entire shift, and it was in the midst of this hectic rush, that I cashed a check that I shouldn’t have, and today it has come back to bite me.

I got a phone call first thing this morning, by a customer asking for me by name. He had contacted the branch I worked at on Saturday and was given my name as the teller who ran the transaction to cash a check on his account for a fairly large sum of money. I put him on hold and looked up the transaction and sure enough, I did cash the check, and I did remember cashing that specific check, because the background image was of the football team, that I also cheer for. The person who brought in the check to cash didn’t have an account at our bank, so I did my due diligence and compared the check I was holding to other check images, making sure the signatures, handwriting, and the check numbers all lined up, and I made the decision to go ahead and cash the check, because everything looked to be in order. In hindsight I wished I would have just called the account holder to verify the check, but nothing I found in looking at the signatures gave me any reason to be suspicious, but all of this could have been avoided with a simple phone call.

Apparently the check was a good one, and the account holder had written it to the person whom I met on Saturday morning, however the problem was, that the check had already been deposited into a different bank’s account the previous day through mobile deposit via a photograph of the check. Because it hadn’t been scanned into an actual deposit, there were no physical signs of the check having already been run, so I obviously didn’t even think that it had already been deposited, so I cashed the check, gave the man the money, and got the phone call with the bad news this morning. The customer who had written the check, was in contact with the person who cashed it, explaining that he didn’t think the mobile deposit went through and just decided to cash it, but there’s really nothing I can do about it at this point. Hopefully the man will bring back the money since the mobile deposit hit his account, but it’s really out of my hands. If I’m lucky the money will be returned and it won’t count against me, because it really is a lot of money, but I’m just trying to stay positive about the worst mistake I’ve made since working at the bank, and will use this as a learning experience going forward to make sure that something like this never happens again. Maybe next week I’ll be back to writing about something positive that happened at work, but today, it’s all about admitting that I messed up, but I’m not going to let that keep me down.

The Pick Six-NFL Week 5 Edition

6. Chargers/Giants at Noon
Like last week’s matchup between the Browns and the Bengals, both of these teams enter today’s game without a win, so I’m interested to see which of these teams can finally put together a good enough game to walk away victorious. The Giants are three and a half point favorites, but I have just about zero confidence in their offense, and I think it will be a low scoring game, so although I don’t know if the Chargers will win, I’m going to pick them with the points.

5. Cowboys/Packers at 3:25
Last week the Cowboys looked horrible, HORRIBLE, in the second half of their loss at home to the Rams. I remember sitting there in my dad’s living room while Jared Goff of all people just picked apart our defense, and saying to him that I was not looking forward to playing Aaron Rodgers the next week, but now that next week is here, I still feel the same way. I’m afraid that Rodgers is just going to destroy our defense, I just hope our offense can match them drive for drive so at least we’ll be in it with a chance to win near the end of the game. Dallas is a two point favorite, on the road, which makes zero sense to me, and while I hope I’m wrong, I’m taking Green Bay in this one with the points.

4. Ravens/Raiders at 3:05
Both teams have not started the season the way that they’ve wanted to, or how a lot of people expected them to, especially the Raiders. I’m just interested in this game to see which of these teams might get back on track this week. Oakland is a four point favorite at home, and I’ll take the Raiders to cover.

3. Seahawks/Rams at 3:05
It’s too bad that this game is at 3:05 just twenty minutes before the start of the Cowboys game, because it is one that I really wish I could watch. The Rams are so much better than anyone expected, and the Seahawks are usually pretty good, so it will be interesting to see which of these teams walks away with the win today. Seattle is a two and a half point favorite on the road, but I’m going to take LA coming off the big road win in Dallas last week to get the win and the upset.

2. Panthers/Lions at Noon
This is really the only game that looks good to me in that twelve o’clock spot, so I really hope my local Fox station is carrying this game. Both teams come into this week at 3-1 so it should be a very good matchup between a couple of good quarterbacks. After losing his Dannon commercial earlier in the week, and finding out today that Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is going to be his replacement, I fully expect Cam Newton to play distracted today, which is why I’m taking the Lions -2.5.

1. Chiefs/Texans at 7:30
Deshaun Watson looked absolutely incredible last week, but now he faces the only undefeated team left in the NFL. This one is tough for me, because my heart wants to go with the young and talented Texans quarterback to knock off the mighty Chiefs, which would be pretty remarkable, but my head is telling me that it’s just not going to happen. It’s easy to overreact the week following a big game, so in attempting not to do so, I’ll make what I think is the smart pick and take Kansas City -3.5.