The Facebook Rant I Won’t Post

There are some times in life when you’ve just had enough. You’ve seen the people on your Facebook feed “like” one too many Paula Deen or Rush Limbaugh status updates, and it’s time to pull the plug with one final rant to end it all.

I do try and stay as non-political on Facebook…well, I do now. I didn’t used to be that way but rarely is anybody’s opinion of anything changed by a Facebook status update, and as my awesome wife is fond of saying, things like that can usually do more harm than good.

But I’m over it…and while I don’t yet have the balls to post this rant directly to Facebook (and therefore be forced to deal with the backlash to the point of probably having to close my account for a while), I decided to at least get my thoughts out here in blog form. Yeah…it’s not quite the same I guess, but here goes.

/beginrant

What the hell is wrong with you people?!? Yes, I get that most of the people this rant is directed at have probably already “hidden” me so they probably won’t see it, but on the off chance that you are one of those who I am talking to (and you’ll know very soon who you are), pay attention…as I repeat myself once more…

What the hell is wrong with you people?!?

I mean it…what happened?  So many people on my Facebook feed here are liking things and posting things that are so divisive that I don’t know how it is we were even at one time friends.  People posting comments to morons like Mike Huckabee’s Facebook page, Glenn Beck’s Facebook page, and the like…people backing Rick Perry and his anti-woman stances in Texas…people actually thinking that gay people are sub-standard for wanting the same federal benefits that so many of us enjoy as heterosexual (or as you would put it, “normal”) couples.

So again…WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!?

And where in the hell do you get off using God and Jesus and the Bible as your justification for the blatant racist and sexist remarks, for all your class warfare?  Where in the Bible does it say “Marriage is only a religious institution and therefore if anyone tries to enter into any type of union other than what we deem as traditional marriage, it is therefore an abomination and the people involved should be exorcised from society and never given full citizen status”…where does it say that you are able to discriminate against people based on who they love, based on what color their skin is, and what gives you the right to think that someone calling some a “nigger” is anything other than a backwards-thinking redneck who needs to join us in the 21st century…hell, I’d like it if they at least caught up to the end of the 20th century. That would be at least progress.

Huckabee wants to say that “Jesus wept” over the rights of gay people to get married and have their unions recognized by the federal government. Let me tell you something, Mike…Jesus wept over a lot of things, and many of them were probably over things that spewed forth from your mouth.  Jesus loved…he loved all. He mixed it up with the worst in society back then because he knew that’s where people were. He knew the Pharisees had it wrong, and you, sir, are a modern day Pharisee, as are many of your compatriots in the mainstream right-wing media.

At the very least, understand this. Religion and politics were always meant to be separate but equal. But the minute people starting dragging God into the political arena, things got askew.  There’s a reason why our founding father’s made the first amendment to the Constitution the way they did. They knew the state could never work if it was controlled by people let themselves be overly influenced by religious groups. They came from that lifestyle in England and other places where state-run religions were a way of life. They wanted whatever religion you practiced to be between you, your God or gods, and your community. That’s it.

God-centered politics are all about an agenda.  Lots of religious organizations are trying to get their voices heard and they have deep pockets, and so that money equals influence in Washington. But when that influence spreads to less rights for women and minorities and immigrants, it’s too far.

It’s too far.

My God is in my heart, in my home, in my church, in my church family. That’s where he thrives, and I want to take His message of love to the world, but for the love of almighty God…

Keep God out of politics.

#BurgerCoalition Celebrates One Year Anniversary In Style

Some months ago, I was fortunate to run into Dan Gavin on Twitter, and was introduced to he and James Martin’s concept of a monthly burger club called Burger Coalition.  After several failed attempts at securing an invite to their monthly gatherings, I managed to pull it off earlier this year, and was able to attend a second one this year as well. Soon after our gathering at Flip Burger, Dan revealed his plans to have a grand celebration at the one year mark, and last night was that night. And oh, what a night it was.

The crowd was hoping early.

The crowd was hopping early.

Dan and James had a simple idea: to create an atmosphere where  new people could meet each other and get to know one another over great food, specifically great burgers.  And while their idea isn’t complicated, it certainly has taken off and grown into quite the monthly gathering.

The one-year anniversary party was held at Octane Coffee in Homewood, and from start to finish, the event was a catered affair.  Chefs Wil Drake and Roscoe Hall of Magnolia Creek were the masters of the evening.  Octane Coffee is a relatively new spot over in the heart of Homewood, and is a great spot for an event such as this.

Right out of the gate, people were trying unique beverages from the bar and I could tell it was going to be a perfect evening.  The bartenders were mixing with superb skill and it was a pleasure to be surrounded by so many like-minded foodies.  Octane had a great selection of specialty drinks available and some great craft beers from various locations.

The first thing we got to enjoy was Lauren Sharp’s “Next Door” macaroons. They might’ve been my favorite part of the night.  They were bacon jam with mascarpone cheese and they were absolutely divine.

Ridiculously delicious macaroon!

Ridiculously delicious macaroon!

These macaroons were obviously made to look like burgers but they tasted like a little bit of heaven.  And the shoestring crunchy fries to go along with it were a great touch.  The salty and sweet combination made for an absolutely perfect start to the night. And from there, it just took off.

Chefs Wil and Roscoe came out to give us the rundown of what we could expect with our meal, and it was nothing short of spectacular.  The first course was a faux crab cake made from spaghetti squash and squid ink.  After that, we had some outstanding mustard ice cream served on (get this!) a Bugel.  That’s right…a mini ice-cream cone…unbelievable!

After the palette cleanser, we moved onto the next course, a real comfort food special, potato salad made from gnocchi. It was unreal…just excellently prepared and pulled off.  Then, it was time to move onto the main attraction, the burger.

C'mere you!

C’mere you!

The burger itself was great…the meat was farm-raised beef from a friend’s North Carolina farm, and the buns were homemade and baked earlier that week specifically for the party.  The burgers were covered in caramelized onions and homemade cheese whiz.  The kettle-style chips were topped with this amazing ox-tail gravy which in any other circumstance might’ve been the both the highlight of the night and also awesome on the burger itself.

The burger was superbly cooked at medium rare and had a flavor that’s really hard to explain.  The cheese whiz was a nice touch and made for an interesting flavor in and of itself.  But to me, that ox-tail gravy was out of this world.

And what would a night dedicated to burgers be without a little milkshake for dessert.  And here is where the chefs really outdid themselves.  The banana malt milkshake was topped with pink peppercorn and (get this again!) pop rocks!

As if you had room for this...

As if you had room for this…

After I received mine, I took it and mixed it all together and the flavor of the bananas, chocolate, malt, peppercorn and pop rocks were unreal together.  It was one of the more unique things I had ever had, and really just an exquisite ending to the night.

Dan and James came back out and thanked us for a great night and a great first year of Burger Coalition. But in truth, it was the 60 or so of us that should’ve thanked them for taking us with them on this journey of food and social exploration.  They have created quite the movement here in Birmingham and also in Atlanta, and it goes to further show that all it takes is a simple but great idea to resonate with the people of the South.

I am looking forward to the next year of Burger Coalition and where it will take me and everyone else who jumps in. My question to you is this…what are you waiting for?

[SPORTS] What Did We Learn – Game 1, Braves v. Phillies

Opening Day! It doesn’t get more exciting than that…and as people filled the various ballparks across the country, Turner Field was packed as well, as the Braves and Phillies kicked off the 2013 campaign.

Starting for Atlanta was Tim Hudson, the 37-year old veteran of the squad. Opposing him was Cole Hamels, the ace of the Phillies staff, and one of the better left-handed pitchers in the game today.

The Braves were debuting their new outfield of Justin and B.J. Upton to go along with Jason Heyward, and big things are expected from them. The Braves were also sporting a new third baseman in Chris Johnson (who will platoon, at least early on, with Juan Francisco, who was Chipper’s backup last year).

So what did we learn from the first game of the year?

1 – Tim Hudson still has to be able to locate and get strike one on batter to stay effective. Hudson’s key pitch is a sinker that, when on, is one of the better pitches in baseball. It’s effective at getting ground balls but when his command is not what it should be, he stays up in the zone and he simply doesn’t have the velocity anymore to blow hitters away. Chase Utley has particular success against Hudson last night when Hudson failed to get his sinker to sink. But Hudson is a battler and he kept the Phillies mostly in check last night.

2 – Freddie Freeman could be up for a super huge year. This guy’s swing has very little wrong with it, and he sees the ball in the zone and really puts good swings on the ball to all fields. He had a tremendous spring and I predict he’ll be one of the leaders in many offensive categories come the All-Star Break.

3 – The bullpen, while a touch shaky, showed why it could be one of the best in baseball. Kimbrel pitched well to close the game, after a few command issues in the spring, and Avilan was also solid. O’Flaherty and Walden both gave up runs but neither pitched that bad. The Phillies have a pretty good offensive lineup so you don’t have too much to be ashamed of when they score on you.

4 – Justin Upton and Dan Uggla both went deep (along with Freeman) and it showed that we could be up for a huge year in the power department from this Braves squad. But, they did strike out 8 times in 33 plate appearances as a team, so hopefully more plate discipline will result in that number coming down into the more manageable 4-6 range.

The Braves are off today and head back onto the field on Wednesday as Paul Maholm and Roy Halladay face off. Go Braves!

Today I saw you

Today, I saw you. And you saw me. We haven’t seen each other in years…probably bordering on more than 3 years since we saw each other last. And it happened so fast…I’m not even sure what I saw.

I saw you…and I must say, you look great. I can’t say I stared at you…I don’t know why but both of us seemed pretty engrossed in our phones. But the few moments I stole looking your way gave me all I needed to know about how you’re doing…you’re doing great.  I’m glad you feel good and that things are going so good with you and your family.

When I turned around and saw you, my instinctive “hey” was heartfelt, and the one I got in return was as well.  I wonder what would’ve happened if I had swallowed my pride and gone up to you after that…?  I wonder if you would’ve been nice…or maybe merely polite.

I hurt your feelings, that much was clear when we stopped being friends more than 3 years ago.  I apologized. A lot. And still it didn’t seem to matter.  ‘Give me time’, you said, and so I did. It didn’t seem to change anything.  Our lives as friends had diverged in a wood and we went down separate paths.

It’s okay, really. I get it. I don’t get the lack of forgiveness though. Yeah, I’ve spent a little time thinking about you these past 3 years, not a lot mind you…and only really when someone else in my life mentions you. I don’t bring you up to the people I know because it’s obvious now that you and your family are a chapter in my life and my family’s life that’s closed. For good.

But yeah, I don’t get the lack of forgiveness. God teaches us to love one another…part of loving each other is forgiving each other when we inevitably wrong someone. Forgiveness isn’t easy, Lord knows I know that. But I’m trying.

Are you?

You would probably say that you are, and you may even say you have forgiven me, but maybe you’d also say that you know you don’t want me or my family in your life at all. That hurts, I won’t lie. The countless hours our families spent together over the years tell me otherwise. But if you’re in a different place in your life and don’t need me or my family in your life, that’s your choice.

I hope you have forgiven me. I hope you have. I hope there wasn’t a moment when you saw me today, when that lump jumped up in your throat and you said “Hey” when you remembered that you hadn’t forgiven me. Because I forgave you a long time ago.

And now, I’ve let you go.

My journey with social media

This is going to be a bit disjointed I’m sure, more like stream of consciousness for me, but in a way, I feel like I need to get some thoughts out there on where I am with social media.

First, there’s the school of thought that you shouldn’t think about social media at all. I’m sure a lot of my friends are that way, as I probably have 100-150 people on my Facebook friend list that post with any regularity, and I have over 600 “friends” on Facebook.

I’m not sure how I feel about this…clearly, social media is what you make of it, and many have, for some time now, used Facebook and Twitter to promote their own ideals to their “followers” and “friends”. But some choose to simply lurk in the background, viewing the news feed as some sort of time-wasting activity that allows their brains to shut off for a time (as a break from work, kids, routine, etc.)

I get that too…I get things like Facebook and Twitter being ways to pass the time. I’ve found that in my experience in social media, Twitter is a much better forum for me because of the way you engage with the people that follow you and (hopefully) the people you follow. Facebook seems to be way more “post and I’ll get back to you later” for me. I’m sure it’s different for everyone.

I’m also conflicted because (and this may sound pompous) but I am a complicated person. I love God, but I also love good humor (that’s not always the cleanest or maybe even ethical). I have great experiences I wish to share with people (Facebook seems better suited to that) but without any real engagement back, how do you know if you’re making any impact? Should you even care if anybody is reading what you post?

I find myself sharing what might be deemed as “politically incorrect” on Twitter more often than not and sharing the lighter side of things on Facebook. That doesn’t seem right…why should I be two different people through different social media outlets?

Is it because most of the people I follow (and that follow me) on Twitter are on the left-side of the political spectrum and the vast majority of the people that are friends of mine on Facebook are on the right-side? Maybe…I’m sure that has something to do with it. And I’m sure that when I’ve run into times when I’m posting a lot of left-wing material to Facebook, lots of people have chosen to “hide” me or maybe even “unfriend” me.

Maybe that is the contributing factor to not posting a ton of stuff to Facebook…maybe I don’t want people to unfriend me or hide me…but in the end, I’m tired of being one type of person through Twitter and another through Facebook. I don’t know what this means, but for all it’s problems, Facebook does provide a connection to a lot of people I would otherwise never hear from. And in fact, I could go weeks without being on Twitter and feel like I haven’t missed a thing because it’s not so much about life events on Twitter as it is “stream of consciousness/what’s happening right now”.

Wow…so where does all this leave me? I don’t know…maybe it’s time for a Facebook break? Maybe it’s time to be the same person across all social media, but living to who and what I believe across all forums and know that the people that love me and want to be my friend will do so even though they might not believe the same way I do. Maybe I should just get back to work and stop worrying so damn much about things like this.

Thanks for reading.

Definite Debate – Edition 1.0 @RonQuixote_ and I debate the NBA

Time for some definitive debate. This is a new feature on Mattplanet.net that will have Ronnie Harris (@RonQuixote_ on Twitter), a good friend of mine, and I debating various sports topics until we’re either blue in the face or we agree with each other completely…could be that both happen simultaneously, so it could be fun.

The first topic up for debate is quite simply this:

If the NBA Finals started today, which two teams would provide us with the best match-up?

I guess what we need to first establish is this: are you a fan of dynasties?

Ronnie (Ron) Harris
If the NBA finals started today, and we kept all things constant (I’m not really expecting blockbuster moves), then I think we would be looking at a rematch of last year’s finals-only this time I think it’s way more interesting. One on hand you have Lebron, who is FINALLY playing like he’s the best player in the world and on the other, Durant (one year older and one year better).

To continue this prediction, the biggest thing to look at would be OKC’s roster altogether: 1. Can Westbrook not be all Westbrook-y when the game on the line 2. Although Harden was marked absent during the entire finals last year, do we really think Kevin Martin is that guy who can perform off the bench? If so, I think OKC takes it this time. Advantage: Big men.

However, if I’m wrong…we may very well be looking at a dynasty Sure D Wade is declining and there’s speculation of Bron leaving South Beach, but who can really stop these guys? No one.

And that’s a NBA I will miss, when marquee players would play their entire career with one (or 2) teams, and not join forces to form a super team. But these superteams are on the way, and we just have to live with them.

Matt McLean
Look, I know that I’m not going to be lauded for saying something as obvious as this, but Miami is a great team and so is Oklahoma City. The bottom line though is San Antonio plays winning basketball too and if we’re just looking at the Western division, I wouldn’t count out the Clippers from making some kind of run either.

You mention LeBron…and I’m with you, clearly he’s the overall favorite for MVP right now (and we can also discuss that here) but I have a couple questions…

One…how do you explain that Miami is currently 13th in points allowed this year? Where is the defense? By contrast, the teams currently below the Heat in the Eastern division, the Knicks, Bulls, Nets, Pacers, and Hawks all allow fewer points per game so far this year. And look at the statistical leaders for Miami…LBJ leads in all categories outside of blocks per game…where’s the balance?

Ronnie (Ron) Harris
To veer off subject for awhile, I currently like what’s happening in the Western right now. The Clippers are extremely deep (and playing defense!!!), the Spurs are being their usual selves…and…didn’t I try to warn you all about Golden State? With Bogut back they may give some unfortunate team a scare in the playoffs.

But let me jump back into this convo.

I’m putting stats aside with my prediction. I think Miami’s defensive numbers may be affected by their second unit…I mean…look at them. Plus…don’t you think Miami is just bored right now? I think the sleeping giant that is Lebron will be awakened come playoff time. He just has another gear that no other player in the league has. And when he moves, so does this Heat team. That look Lebron had in his eyes during the latter portion of the playoffs lets me know that he never wants to fall short of a title again. So expect this Heat team to kick it up a notch once they feel ring #2 near

Matt McLean
Hey, I like veering off subject, it’s precisely why I rarely follow the Mapquest.

Look, the West is deep, very deep in fact, and yes, playing D. San Antonio doesn’t scare many people and that’s exactly why every team in the West should be scared. We could go into a lot of numbers with San Antonio on why they win, but the fact boils down to this…they just know how to win. Period.

If you take the first four teams (the teams that would have home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs) from each division…you’d have Miami, New York, Chicago, and Brooklyn in the East, and San Antonio, OKC, the Clippers and Memphis in the West. I’m sorry but give me the West there…LeBron may be the new gold standard in the NBA for superstars, but I’ll take that foursome from the West every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

BTW – you were totally out front on the Golden State thing…they have good talent and Bogut coming back is huge for them.

So you’re predicting a OKC/Miami final if the Finals started today? Or am I misreading you?

Ronnie (Ron) Harris
Yes, that’s exactly what I’m predicting. Sure the West is better top to bottom but the East is top heavy. If Rondo didn’t go down, this conversation would be different. Because I would tell you that the Celtics get it together by April and carry that momentum into the playoffs…taking them straight to the ECF facing Miami…and who knows where that series goes, but that’s why I love it.

But since All-Star break is approaching and things are beginning to set in stone, I still say OKC-Miami.

(PS Hurry back, Derrick Rose)

Matt McLean
Yeah, if Rose was playing and healthy, and Rondo didn’t bust his knee up, we’re talking a whole other thing in the East…man, is D-Rose ever going to be healthy?

I’m mostly with you…since the East is now pretty much the Heat and everybody else (when the chips are down), I’m taking the Heat to win the East.

The West is just stacked…I think OKC is great, don’t get me wrong, but San Antonio was left with a bad taste in their mouths from last year and somehow I expect this team to show up in playoff time. I think San Antonio gets it done and makes the finals.

Heat sweep if that happens btw…

Ronnie (Ron) Harris
Rose is gearing up for return after the All-Star break and if he’s even 75% of his old self then that would be great. The Bulls have been winning games that they have no business winning (and losing ones that they have no business losing) but Rose’s scoring would add consistency. More importantly, we may be seeing something big building with Jimmy Butler. He’s been that guy in Rose’s absence. I can’t speak for this year, but Rose’s injury may be a blessing in disguise because these role players have developed and gained confidence.

Matt McLean
You gotta wonder what Rose’s long term future in Chicago is though…clearly teams like Miami, New York, Brooklyn, et al are going to be powerhouses in the East. How much longer will Rose and Co. be in that group if they can’t be consistent for 82 games and couple that with a run in the playoffs?

Ronnie (Ron) Harris
I think he stays in Chicago. That’s his city. He wore #23 because of Jordan and he wants to deliver them a title. I think he and Noah healthy could win a title one day with a few more pieces. Plus Thibs’ defensively driven coaching style is kryptonite to many teams

Matt McLean
Sorry but as long as LBJ resides at South Beach, I think the Bulls are blocked from a title. Of course, Lebron isn’t a kid anymore…

So to wrap this Definitive Debate up, give me your MVP candidate for the NBA season if the vote happened right now. For me, it’s Lebron by a nose over KD.

Ronnie (Ron) Harris
I say Lebron over KD also. No one else is really making any ground in this race, although Melo was looking mighty hungry for awhile.

Talking about 2013’s Alabama football team? Talking about 2013’s Alabama football team.

A dismantling…a mauling…call it whatever you want to call it, and it’s already been said ad nausea, last night’s Beatdown by the Beach is yet another reason to put your full faith and trust in the SEC, and specially Nick Saban and the University of Alabama. The championship rings haven’t even been sized yet and many are predicting that 2013 could be a year where Alabama could do an unprecedented BCS ‘Three-peat’.

As good as Alabama looked against Notre Dame, expect the 2013 version of Alabama’s team to be even better. On offense, Alabama loses two (maybe three) off the offensive line (Chance Warmack and Barrett Jones are both seniors and D.J. Fluker is thinking about foregoing his senior year for the NFL). Losing all three guys would be a blow that would hurt a bit, make no mistake. Not a lot of teams can replace 3 starters on the offensive line and not see a dip in some area of the offense. One of the tight ends, Michael Williams departs, and there are reports that Eddie Lacy is considering leaving early. But outside of those guys, everybody else is back, including those who are coming back from injury (Dee Hart, J. Fowler, D. White, Kenny Bell).

Clearly the most important part of the offensive group returning is QB AJ McCarron. McCarron has played masterfully in his biggest games, and looks to enter his senior season a legit Heisman Trophy candidate. And when you add to all of that a stable of highly ranked players from high school (RBs Altee Tenpenny, Tyren Jones and Derrick Henry, and TE O.J. Howard) and offensively Alabama could be scary good next year.

On defense, the losses include three defensive linemen (Quinton Dial, Damion Square, and Jesse Williams), one linebacker in Nico Johnson, and starting safety Robert Lester. Everybody else is back, and you add to that guys coming in that could make an impact like Jonathan Allen (#1 ranked high school OLB in the country), and guys that played a lot this year that are coming back like Landon Collins, Nick Perry, Geno Smith, and Denzel Devall, and you’ve got a defense that should be better, especially within the secondary, which by all accounts was the weakest part of a very good Alabama defense in 2012.

Schedule-wise, Alabama gets LSU, Arkansas, and Tennessee at home, and they start off with a rebuilding Virginia Tech team in Atlanta. They do go to College Station to play Johnny Heisman and his Texas A&M bunch but that’s early in the year (9/14/13) and you can bet that Saban is probably already getting tape together on that team this week to start preparations. They end the year (as always) with Auburn, on the Plains in 2013.

The rest of the SEC West should come down to LSU and Texas A&M. Ole Miss is surging but are still a year or two away from competing with the top three teams in the West, and Mississippi State can’t seem to stay consistent. Arkansas will have a new coach and system, so expect some growing pains there, and the same holds true for Auburn.

Over in the SEC East, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina remain the teams to beat, but don’t sleep on Vanderbilt. I expect Georgia to have a big year, however they start off with a brutal first two games, going to Clemson and then playing South Carolina at home. We’ll know really quickly if Georgia is going to contend again in 2013.