PortaBloggy: A Pivot for 2017

Hey everyone!

So starting in the next few days, AKA when we feel like it, you can expect to see some new content right here on PortaBloggy.

Our original mission was to write long form pieces that would last throughout an entire BM, but, as you can certainly see, that was simply not feasible.

In light of this, we’ve decided to move in a different direction, and treat this space as kind of a medium for us to describe “shit.” Now that could mean stuff we find displeasing, or just stuff in general. We’d like to keep the theme of the name relevant, and that’s the best way to do it, I think. Personally, I’d also like to post a “Weekly Digest” (staying on theme!) of links and articles that I found interesting during the week on either Saturday or Sunday.

I’d also like to point out that, I’ve removed all pages and categories from the site. I think a big issue in our launch was trying to be too many things at once, so we are going to focus on one thing and one thing only: getting content up, in whatever form possible.

There will be venting, there will be high level discussion, and there will be complaining. But my hope is that we will be able to be consistent in both delivery and voice, and that you will enjoy what you see and read here.

So with that, welcome to the PortaBloggy of 2017!


The Vending Machine of the Future

There’s a pretty huge problem facing the Internet. I may have a way to start solving it.

On Sunday, The New York Times ran a piece discussing at length the issues currently being faced by the media industry.

“Oh no,” you might be thinking, “another article discussing the failure of print? I already know about that!”

Not exactly. This Times, (haha, see what I did there?) the focus was on the online sector, with sites like Buzzfeed and Mashable the examples used to back the thesis that questions the longevity of online news. Mashable, at the beginning of the month, announced lay offs of some high ranking editors, and Buzzfeed missed it’s 2015 revenue projection by 32%. For two behemoths, both looked to by those looking to break into the industry of online media as potential soft landing spots in an industry mired in uncertainty, this has come as distressing news. The reasons for these unfortunate signals are many, but The New York Times, in the first article linked, points to the availability of ad blockers for mobile browsers, and the potent power of Facebook with its encapulsating grasp and its strong desire to keep users on its site as opposed to following links to external content.

I’ve thought about this downtrend, as plenty of more informed others have, extensively. As the Times article points out, users of mobile devices have moved toward interactions where they are merely checking app feeds with the goal of consuming as much content as they can in as short of a time as possible. Things that can get in the way of that are advertisements and anything else like surveys or newsletter signups that a user can identify as a ploy to make them a pawn in an internet revenue game. As younger people grow, taking that awareness for ingenuity and money making business gimmicks with them into the world, it’s very difficult to imagine a world where these methods for making money can survive.

Everyone pretty much wants the Internet to work like this (and this is pretty much how it works right now): as a vending machine, where all the pretty content is displayed for you, and all you have to do is push the right buttons, and it is delivered to you, for no charge (save the monthly subscription fee to your provider).

Media sites have tried to monetize the delivery of this content, as mentioned above, with ads, surveys, email newsletters containing ads, and plenty of other means. One would think that the subscription model would work quite well, as we do like to shell money out on a monthly basis for access to unlimited content, as we do for video streaming. This hasn’t really translated, or it doesn’t seem it has, to online media, as the inputs to the conversation are so numerous, the thought is always “I can get this information somewhere else, without this $10/month charge.”

Many sites are funded by venture capitalists, looking to cash in on the “millenial media boom” as termed in the above-linked Vanity Fair article, and I thought this could translate to the public when I suggested that Gawker conduct a crowd funding campaign, like a Kickstarter, to pay off the Hulk Hogan verdict. To some degree, I think, people will spend their own money when it seems “cool” and “beneficial” to the world as a whole. If marketed properly, perhaps there is some viability to this solution of raising funds for a media site, but that isn’t the solution I am proposing here today.

To remedy this situation, one must keep the vending machine analogy in mind, and think about how selfish it is to be constantly standing in front of it, pushing button combination after button combination getting fat on the acquisition of information we partake in every single day of our lives. There are actual, live human beings on the other side, filling that machine with content every single day. They are just like us, with bills to pay and goals to meet, perhaps even with a family to feed. Perhaps the mean we use to get to the vending machine, our technology, has led us to be deluded into thinking the Internet is some magical creature stocking that machine full of content for us to digest, but that isn’t the case. (at least not yet? *Gulp*)

The Internet is a special place for all it gives us, like the access to thoughts from all over the world, the connectivity to our family and friends, and the place for our own voice, just like this site, when we ourselves want to be seen and heard. It would be amazing for that continue forever, unobstructed and untainted by corporate interests and greed, but sometimes you have to be realistic, and really think if that will be allowed to continue to be the case. by those in higher power like the service providers and the companies holding controlling stakes in some of the suffering media sources.

The solution I think would really work is some kind of credit or token system, a consummable form of currency that would be used up when one wants to read an article or gain access to a certain piece of content. I’ve heard about a “pay per view” kind of system, where a user’s credit card would charged a small fee for access to an article, and some sites have even started charging a small fee to recoup ad revenue lost to ad blockers, but rhe token system would be different for one main reason: it would be tied to your monthly service provider bill. For instance, let’s say $50/month gets you your regular high speed Internet, but now it also grants you 100 credits to be used on the “Internet vending machine” whenever and wherever you please. A 2,000 word article or less with video costs you 2 tokens. A hour long documentary costs you 5. A Buzzfeed listicle costs 1 token. A Mashable video review of a new tech gadget deducts 3 tokens. Need more tokens? Take it up with your provider as you would with a higher data plan with your wireless carrier.

Now this idea would be largely, actually hugely, dependent on the ability of the stakeholders involved to figure out a way for content providers to get paid from service providers based on tokens used on the site in question. It’s eerily possible to imagine a world where certain ISPs have deals where things like “no token access to Netflix for your first year!” and “half token cost to The Verge for your first six months!” exist. There is also the question of moving sites like Netflix, already super profitable based on its subscription fees, to this model. Perhaps video streaming is on too solid of ground to be messed with. I think we can all be ok with that.

Of course, corporations would make out nicely here, and frankly this kind of world is slightly scary, but hopefully this would lead to a stronger and more stable job market for content creators, and less layoffs in an extremely important industry.

A big retort to my argument is going to be that it fattens up already massive corporations like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner, giving them more power over what you can gain access to. Yes, I admit that there could be some serious moral issues here, like letting your provider know of the content you are consuming. However, why not remedy that by treating the privacy of content viewed as sacred as your Social Security number and home address, infinitely more sensitive information that your provider already has? In doing so, an end user can experience the Internet in peace, and the provider merely makes its money and shuts up.

This just a thought, but could be a potential solution to the declining health of media. Maybe this has been discussed at length in board rooms somewhere, in which case this writing will be a preview, rather than a solution. Whatever the case may be, let’s hope for a route that continues to provide valuable content and journalism, that doesn’t come with such selfishness on the part of the consumer.

I would welcome your discussion with me on this, whether here in the comments or on Twitter: Peter Sarian. Thank you for reading.

This Sure Feels Like Phil Jackson’s New York Moment

Two years ago, Knicks fans were ecstatic.

Legendary NBA figure Phil Jackson had just signed on to be the team’s President, a position that would enable him to oversee personnel decisions along with General Manager Steve Mills, and to, more importantly, develop a “culture of winning,” as the Zen Master put it.

This was great for the Knicks, a team perceived by many, including it’s own fan base, to be run by a self-absorbed billionaire in James Dolan, who made ill-advised move after ill-advised move in hopes of pushing the Knicks toward competitiveness and relevancy. Jackson was finally, mercifully, going to be putting an end to the overreaching steps taken by Dolan far too often. Dolan would listen to Phil, and Dolan would shut up. Phil couldn’t have won 11 rings by accident. He had credibility, and Dolan was going to respect that. Things were going to change. And the Knicks were going to be good.

Well, things certainly did change, and quickly, as Phil Jackson made moves that shipped off guys like Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, JR Smith, and Tyson Chandler, the latter three being key parts in New York’s 56 win season in 2012–2013 under the recently fired Mike Woodson and Co. Talks with fellow Knicks fans centered around the same thought: Phil was making good on his promise to change the culture, and it started by rooting out these four bad apples in an otherwise good bunch. The winning, though? That was, and is, a completely different story.

The 2014–2015 season was a disastrous 17 win campaign, one that saw Derek Fisher flounder in his first year as coach, Carmelo Anthony undergo career-altering knee surgery, and guys like Lou Amundson starting at the 5. (No offense to Sweet Lou, I love the guy, but I think even he would admit he is not a starting 5 in the NBA) It was tough to watch at times, and the games were mostly ignored with the thought that this season was a sacrifice for good things to come, and future deep playoff runs.

The NBA draft didn’t yield much happiness either, as the Knicks used the #4 pick on a young Latvian who’s name we all know by now. Kristaps Porzingis was destined, or so it was declared on Twitter the moment the pick was announced, to be the classic Euro-bust that comes along every so often and completely blows up a team’s plan for the future. The pundits were out, not the least of which was Stephen A. Smith, a “native New Yorker” who claimed to be “completely disgusted” with the pick.

Thankfully, young KP proved the majority of us Knicks fans wrong when he went out and had a hell of a season, dazzling us with dunks, sinking deep 3 pointers, sometimes from Steph Curry Land, and going to the All Star game and putting up some great numbers in the admittedly completely offensive-focused affair. Unfortunately, like the rest of his team, Porzingis seemed to hit a wall of sorts, becoming less productive and energized as the calendar turned to February. Once at 22–22, the Knicks limped to a 32–50 record, which obviously meant no playoffs, and more questions.

KP’s stamina and Carmelo’s patience weren’t the only things that didn’t survive the season, as the Knicks (read Phil Jackson) decided to cut weight in the firing of Derek Fisher. Citing reasons like it being “time for a change” and an opportunity to “move forward” Jackson met with the media and installed interim head coach and triangle worshipper Kurt Rambis, who oversaw the final 2o or so games without any noticeable improvement. With the Knicks not engaging in playoff action, and being without a draft pick, the conversation surrounding the team has focused squarely on the huge head coaching decision on the table.

After two seasons of relative failure, many fans, myself included, are calling for another significant change, this time at the head coach position. After the disaster that was Derek Fisher, (who perhaps got a bit of a raw deal, but I digress) and the incompetence of Kurt Rambis , it feels like the right time for Phil to spring for a coach like Tom Thibodeau or Jeff Van Gundy, two disciplinarians focused on hard practices and motivating players, instead of more system focused basketball. Given Thib’s recent success with the Bulls, who became a mess this year without his guidance, many fans and writers are bullish on the idea of him coaching at MSG, with some reports that the Knicks job is the one he always wanted and that he would “crawl to Madison Square Garden” for it.  Some have even gone as far as claiming it’s time for Dolan to re-enter the fold and declare his wishes for a change, or for Melo to demand a trade if a competent and established coach isn’t hired.

In light of recent developments, including words directly from Phil Jackson’s mouth, it seems he has no desire to abandon the triangle offense, the system that rewarded him so handsomely for his loyalty, in favor of a popular move at the head coaching position. In closing press conferences last week, Phil expressed his desire for a “simpatico” relationship with his head coach, and his reinforcement of the “system” and its principles. Phil’s alleged phone call to (an uninterested) Luke Walton, a disciple of the Zen Master and ticket holder on the Golden State Express, confirms Phil’s words with actions, and further evidence came while this was being written, which said that Phil, Kurt Rambis, and about 4–6 players would meet to review “triangle offense principles.”  Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on one’s attitude, it seems like Phil will stick to his guns, and continue to hold the principles of the triangle close.

This situation has all the makings of a legacy defining moment for Phil Jackson’s New York experience. Will his staunch defending of the triangle offense prove correct and fruitful, or will his stubbornness to see what this team really needs lead to him being held in contempt with Knicks fans, his name muttered in the same breath with Isaiah Thomas and Stephon Marbury? While Phil seems to have made his decision, history has not.

New York Yankees 2016 Preview

Baseball season is here. Today, the New York Yankees begin their season and their quest for their 28th World Series Championship in franchise history. There’s a lot to talk about with this 2016 squad, but before before doing so, let’s recap the 2015 campaign. The 2015 Yankees were a success, in my opinion. They got off to a hot start and jumped out to a huge lead in the AL East. Unfortunately, the dog days of summer caught up to them as the team’s elder age became a factor while the Blue Jays kicked it up several notches. The Yanks lost their lead in the AL East, and subsequently the Wild Card game against the Houston Astros. All was not lost, though, as new Yankees acquisitions Didi Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi, and Andrew Miller contributed strongly to the Yankees last year and I see them building on that this year.

The 2016 Yankees are in a weird spot. A lot of their big contracts come off the books after this season and next season: Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez, and C.C. Sabathia. In anticipation of this, the Yankees added some youth with some pieces that were acquired in the offseason. Aaron Hicks, Starlin Castro, and Aroldis Chapman are hopefully going to be huge assets, and the Yankees are relying on their assistance in order to have success in 2016 and beyond. In a departure from their previous ways, the Yankees managed to get younger despite not signing a free agent this offseason. While these moves were and are encouraging, the team is still reliant on its veterans to compete at a high level if this team is to make a deep playoff run.

The pitching staff returns Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova, and Luis Severino. All of these pitchers, except for Severino, were injured at one point or another last year, and Severino himself only played in the second half of the season. The pitching staff is probably the Yankees biggest question mark going into the year, and understandably so.

Looking at this group, I really believe in the potential of both Severino and Eovaldi. Sevy was very sharp in his limited time last year, bringing a swagger that allowed him to be confident and challenge hitters. I think if the Yankees manage him right, he will be the ace of this staff in the very near future. Eovaldi started off pretty slowly last year, but when he rediscovered how to throw a split finger; it completely reenergized him. If he can bounce back from his injury, and remain effective longer than 5 innings, the Yanks will have a very solid #3 on their hands in Nasty Nate.

That leaves Tanaka, Pineda, CC, and Nova as the big question marks of this group. Will Tanaka need surgery on his elbow? Can Pineda pitch to his full potential? How will CC throw since he entered rehab? Will Nova turn the corner since he had Tommy John surgery? These are some of the many questions we will hear throughout the season regarding these pitchers. Personally, I think Tanaka will be fine, but won’t quite regain the dominance of his rookie year, which was mostly the byproduct of no one seeing his stuff  previously. I think Tanaka can and should be looked at as this staff’s #2, rather than the ace, as in he will put up good numbers, and be steady, but not quite dominate batters like he used to.

Pineda needs to figure his stuff out and stay healthy. This guy is the definition of a head case.  When things go well for him, he has shown he can be unstoppable. When he starts giving up hits though, his body language gives away how upset or rattled he is, and suddenly he’s just throwing batting practice. If he can stay healthy, and learn to control his emotions, he should be in line for a good year. Let’s see if Big Mike can take care of business this year. Larry Rothschild, I’m looking at you bud.

CC and Nova are probably the scariest options here and just concluded their battle for the #5 spot, with CC emerging the victor. Hopefully, CC is now focused since his stint in rehab to remedy his alcoholism. He’s not the same ace as he was with the Yankees in 2009, but he’s smart enough to compete. Nova will be the spot starter/long reliever from the bullpen. I don’t think he’s fully recovered from his Tommy John surgery just yet, and he probably needs some time to feel things out. He is also in the last year of his contract, and I think if he can be effective, he will earn himself a nice pay day from a team in need of pitchers. If, however, CC and Nova falter, I can definitely see Cashman making a move to shore up this shaky staff.

While the pitching staff has its issues, the bullpen will be the Yankees biggest strength this season. The Yankees picked up arguably the best closer in the MLB in Aroldis Chapman, and despite his suspension for the early part of the season, he will regain the position upon his return. The Yankees will move last year’s closer Andrew Miller to the set up man role, and former 8th inning guy Dellin Betances will handle the 7th inning or earlier, if needed. All three pitchers have nasty stuff and can be almost impossible to hit.  The beauty of having these three will be the lessening of stress on the starter, allowing him to go 5 or 6 innings, while remaining confident in unleashing the three headed monster to lock down the game. I also like a few of the other pitchers that will be featured in the bullpen. Shreve, Yates, Barbato, and Cessa won jobs out of camp and they will have to show that they have the talent to stay at the major league level. All of these relievers are young guys who can bridge that gap from the starters to relievers, if maybe one of the Big 3 isn’t available, or while Chapman is suspended. I’ve always thought that Girardi does a nice job of mixing and matching his relievers, and he is especially adept at bringing up relievers from AAA in emergency situations, sending them down to rest/throw more, and then bringing them back up at a later time if need be. Don’t be surprised if we see a lot more young assets coming up to the team to pitch the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings such as Pinder, Mitchell, Goody, and Lindgren among others, before handing it to that Big 3 of Betances, Miller, and Chapman.

With pitching out of the way, let’s look at offense. The Yankee infield got a huge boost by adding Starlin Castro from the Cubs. Granted, it came at the cost of Mr. Reliable Adam Warren, and Castro has only played second base a limited amount, but if you watched any baseball in 2015 you know he is 1000% better than whomever was getting rolled out to play there last year. Didi and Castro form a nice double play combo on defense, and their bats came on late last year. I’m really looking forward to watching the middle infielders contribute to the team this year. Brian McCann is a great catcher, and I love how he handles the pitchers and calls a game. He still needs to work on not pulling the ball so much when the shift is on, and I really thought he would be providing more power, especially at Yankee Stadium with its short left field porch, but his 2015 was much better than 2014. If he McCann can continue to improve, this lineup becomes that much more dangerous. Mark Teixeira was having a great season, maybe even an MVP-type season last year before a bad injury in August ended it prematurely. He looked like a whole new hitter, he was very clutch, and was hitting with great power. At this point with Teixeira, you almost have to expect he will get hurt at one point, and build a roster that takes that into account. I’m hoping the Yankees bring him along slowly to mitigate that serious injury possibility, and that Girardi can provide steady rest for him either at DH or with a full day off. Chase Headley had a bad year last year, both defensively and offensively. He made the most errors in his career and wasn’t as effective at the plate. I think if he can play better defensively, it will also allow him to be confident and hit consistently as well.  With Rob Refsnyder going down to the minors last week, that leaves Dustin Ackley and Ronald Torreyes as the backups. Ackley will be the super utility man and who can sub in at first and second base to give Castro and Tex a day off.  He also can play some outfield if necessary to give some of the guys a rest. He isn’t a sexy player, and he won’t put up amazing numbers, but he will allow these guys a much needed rest when necessary, and perform competently.  Torreyes will sub on the left side of the infield at short and third when Headley and Didi need a rest.  He only had about 10 at bats during September of last year, but he obviously played well enough in Spring Training to win a spot. Austin Romine will probably be the backup catcher for now, and he is very good defensively, but his hitting leaves much to be desired. He will start the year as the backup, but I see Gary Sanchez eventually taking over this role in the near future. In the event that Tex goes down with injury or needs a day off, I like the idea of moving McCann to first to keep his bat in the lineup, and having Romine (or Sanchez) behind the plate.

The Yankees outfield stays the same and they get a tad younger with Aaron Hicks as the backup. I like having Hicks in there because he can play every outfield spot and can hit well. He will allow Beltran to rest or DH and can play to give Gardner or Ellsbury a rest when the Yankees are facing a lefty pitcher. I am confident that Gardner and Ellsbury will both have bounce back years. In 2015, both players were hurt and played through their injuries when they probably shouldn’t have. As a result, their numbers dipped tremendously as the season went on, especially Gardner, whose second half paled in comparison to his first half. This year, the Yankees have reliable options for subs to allow them to rest when necessary, which will hopefully allow both guys to remain fresh into October.

Everyone’s favorite, A-Rod, will be the starting DH again. He had a phenomenal year in 2015 and I think he almost reinvented himself, as he finally became the role model for this team. Alex wasn’t immune to fatigue either, as his numbers decreased throughout the year as well. With reliable backups, though, that will allow guys like Tex, McCann or Beltran to sub in at DH giving A-Rod rest when and if he needs it.

In 2016, and as it has been in recent years, the major key to the Yankees is rest and injuries. If Girardi can manage to give the vets regular rest, and the backups perform as I think they are capable of, they will be fine. The injury factor can make or break this team, as the starting staff, infielders, and outfielders all have players who have had long term injuries in the recent past. Hopefully, and as I believe will be the case, Girardi will manage this team well enough to prevent any major injury, and the Yankees will be successful. Don’t be surprised if we see some young assets make an impact this year at some point, in preparation for the departure of some of the older guys. This may be the last time we see the “same old Yankees,” as in the core of the team being expensive free agents of 4 or 5 years ago.

I don’t think the Yankees will win the AL East, not with Toronto and their stacked lineup around. The Yankees should do well enough to win a Wild Card and advance to the ALDS, and hopefully go further. I’m looking for an ALCS appearance at the least to call 2016 a success.

With that being said, Yankees fans should be excited for the season ahead and look for the team to build off of last year’s playoff appearance. Let’s go Yanks!

2016 Final Four Preview

Wow, what a crazy couple of weeks huh? This year’s tournament certainly has not disappointed, bringing us double digit seeds advancing, plentiful overtimes, long distance buzzer beaters, and quite possibly the greatest upset in NCAA Tournament history. After two crazy weekends, we finally are down to the Final Four. As I mentioned in my previous March Madness blog, this tournament was wide open, and on the majority of brackets, this Final Four was not present.

The main story of this year’s college basketball season was the senior. All four teams that made the Final Four have valuable seniors surrounded by veteran teams that have helped them get to Houston. Syracuse and North Carolina played each other twice earlier in the year, with UNC winning both at home and on the road. Oklahoma played Villanova at home and beat them. Obviously, things change from the regular season to the tournament and I, along with many media pundits, expect both games to be entertaining and close.

The first game of this evening will be Oklahoma vs. Villanova. This game is interesting for a few reasons. Buddy Hield is arguably the best player in college basketball, and has been very entertaining during this run. I think he is the motor for this Sooner team, as he has helped spark them during this tournament, and is arguably the biggest reason for their Final Four appearance. Given Hield’s performance all year long, this isn’t too surprising. Villanova, on the other hand, has shocked me completely. I did not feel confident in Villanova going into the tournament, especially given their loss to Seton Hall in the Big East Tournament, and their recent early exits in March Madnesses past. I was proven wrong when they beat Miami and Kansas last weekend in different fashions. In the Miami game, Nova shot the ball extremely well. They played a flawless game on the offensive end and beat Miami easily. Against Kansas, Nova played arguably their best defensive game of the year, by constantly challenging Kansas and limiting Perry Ellis’ scoring, frustrating the Jayhawks. Now, Villanova will meet Oklahoma in a game that has me extremely excited for 6:09pm to get here. Buddy Hield and Ryan Arcidiacono are the two seniors, leaders, and best shooters on their respective teams, and  both will have an impact on how this game goes. To try to neutralize Hield, it wouldn’t surprise me if Villanova puts Mikal Bridges, a lengthy defensive forward, on the senior Sooner to try and limit his offense. If Hield is going to be off with his shot which isn’t too likely, Oklahoma will need to get a lot of rebounds from Ryan Spangler, and I expect Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard to pick up their game on offense in this scenario. In the end, I think Oklahoma will prevail, as Hield is having a special season ala Kemba Walker with UConn. Both players lead their team and the nation in scoring, and I believe Hield will also lead his team to a National Championship.

The second game on Saturday night will be North Carolina vs Syracuse Part III. ACC games are always competitive, and when the stakes are this high, prior head-to-head results should be thrown out the window. Both teams are peaking at the right time, and that should lead to some exciting drama late into this Saturday night. Syracuse has been a shocking team this tournament, with nobody expecting them to go this far. They probably benefited the most from the top teams going down early, including the #2 team in their region, Michigan State, and their stunning first round loss. ‘Cuse has played phenomenally in two come from behind wins against Gonzaga and UVA, and the zone and press has caused all sorts of issues for teams this tournament, and I expect them to frustrate Carolina a bit as well. While Syracuse has battled through adversity in each round so far, UNC has had an easier ride, beating every opponent by at least 14 points. The Tar Heels have done so with great rebounding which has limited opponents to one shot and gave them second and third chances on offense, and also success from beyond the 3 point line. If they can hit that 3 ball against Syracuse, they should make it to the championship game on Monday night. I’m looking for Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney step up in this big spot for UNC to help them get past Syracuse. While this has been primarily a senior focused season, freshman Malachi Richardson has been huge for Carolina on both ends of the court and will have to continue that trend tonight. I think Joel Berry and Marcus Paige will need to hit their 3’s against the Cuse zone, and I do think they will be up to the task. Add in Brice Johnson and his double doubles in points and rebounds throughout the year, and one has a lot of to be confident about with this UNC squad. In light of this, I think the Cinderella story for Syracuse  will come to an end. UNC is too much to handle, and they are really clicking at the right time. Let’s not forget that UNC was the preseason number 1 entering the year, and if they perform as they should, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be in the finals after Saturday night’s festivities.

I am picking Oklahoma and North Carolina to win tonight and advance to the championship game. I think both of these teams’s veterans and success throughout the year will guide them to victory. The Tar Heels and Sooners should make for another wild game for the championship. Both teams really match up well with strong rebounders, scoring, and senior leadership. I think most or all of America would pick UNC to win this game, as they were the preseason favorites, have great scorers, and have arguably the best rebounder in all of college basketball. However, I think Oklahoma is on a special run, and that they are destined to be the UConn of 2011 or the Syracuse of 2003 where one player takes his game to a whole new level. Buddy Hield will be that player in 2016. His play this season has been truly special, and I don’t see it falling short of a championship.


All of America can agree that this tournament has been nothing short of incredible, and I really am hoping for some more drama during these final games. It would be great to see some nail biters coming down to the wire, or a buzzer beater shot to end a game, or a multi-overtime marathon, or who knows what else to go along with the madness of this tournament. Hopefully, these final games are as exciting as the others, but while they happen, let’s not forget to reflect on this college basketball season, and all the insanity we enjoyed because of it.

Dear Gawker,

This must be hard. Your very existence, ironically, has just been threatened by a story you posted on your site. This one is to be exact (it’s SFW now): http://gawker.com/5948770/even-for-a-minute-watching-hulk-hogan-have-sex-in-a-canopy-bed-is-not-safe-for-work-but-watch-it-anyway. Usually, you post these audacious things and enjoy a lot of click traffic and some tweets from the inner circle of the Internet (you know, the one that seems to get to decide what is cool and what is not cool in the blogosphere). But not this time.

This time, you went too far. Regardless of Hulk Hogan knowing or not knowing if he was being filmed, or the reason for him suing you not being this tape but another, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that any reasonable human being can agree that you crossed a line here in your pursuit of viral content and constant relevance.

Now, we do agree on one thing, and that is the enormity of the $140 million settlement awarded to Hogan by the jury. Seemingly on the heels of Erin Andrews’s $55 million victory in another privacy invasion case, we have learned that white people’s privacy is worth more than black lives, but I digress.

So, you’re going to appeal, and you are confident that this large amount will be reduced drastically, or perhaps entirely, if the appeals court buys the arguments made in Nick Denton’s response here. Even so, a verdict any larger than $50 million would certainly not be ideal, to put it in the lightest of terms. For example, in 2014, you guys made $6.7 million in profit against $45 million in revenue. At least Denton sold a minority stake to semi-prepare for this outcome, but it doesn’t seem like it would come anywhere close to putting a dent in that 140mil, evidenced when he said, “We don’t keep $100 million in the bank, no.”

Regardless of the final verdict, right now you have to pay a bond of $50 million under Florida state law when appealing the case. That’s a good amount of money, and it might clean out your rainy day fund. (Are we wrong? Tweet us if so!) Perhaps you even already paid this $50 million, but in any case, the team at PortaBloggy has a solution for you. It might take some pride swallowing, but please just hear us out.

You guys should totally just crowd fund this. Like, as in, make a Kickstarter right this second, and just see what the hell happens. You have nothing to lose and only money to save if this works out. Will it be embarrassing that you have no other options? Probably. But you know what is more embarrassing? Shutting down because you published (parts of) a sex tape.

Maybe you’re a tad skeptical, but this idea works for a few reasons. 1. Some people are actually taking your side, and would you believe it, they actually like having you guys around! Give them a chance to show you how much they care by giving them this contributing opportunity (Maybe hire them after as freelancers also?) 2. This (sort of!) follows Kickstarter’s rules for a project, that a. projects create something to share will others (you continue to exist and share content), b. projects must be honest and clearly presented (never been a problem for you guys), and c. projects can’t fund-raise for charity, offer financial incentives or involve prohibited items (depending on how you view yourselves at this point, the charity thing could be a slight issue, but I think you can argue your way through that one). And finally, 3. You can’t pay this money and still exist in your current state. Just be honest with us.

So please guys, save money and save yourselves, and crowdfund the Hogan verdict.


The PortaBloggy Staff

Bracketeering – Round 1

Bracket fever is in full swing across the country, otherwise known by our bosses as the least productive work week of the year.

Here at PortaBloggy, our “Bracketeering” (TradeMark not yet pending) doesn’t just stop at the NCAA Tournament. Our creative minds theorized what it would be like if colleges with active NBA players had these current players represent their respective schools in a mega NCAA/NBA joint bracket.

Think of it this way: The University of Kentucky has 20 active players in the NBA. This accounts for the most players produced by any school, so we gave them the #1 seed. On the flip side, Wake Forest only has 6 active players in the league, so we tagged them with the #16 seed.

Our selection committee (party of one) assembled the best possible 5-man lineup using these available players. All statistics were provided to us by our good friends over at Basketball Reference*.

Follow? No? Whatever. Just share this on Twitter and hopefully a friend can help you out.

*we’re technically not friends yet, but that’s neither here nor there

Without further ado, on to…

. . .

Round 1

1. Kentucky – PG: John Wall, SG: Eric Bledsoe, F: Anthony Davis, PF: Karl Anthony Towns, C: DeMarcus Cousins
16. Wake Forest – PG: Chris Paul, SG: Jeff Teague, SF: James Johnson, PF: Al-Farouq Aminu, C: Tim Duncan

Kentucky – True to Kentucky fashion, the Wildcats kick things off as our #1 seed and tournament favorites. Top to bottom, this team is incredibly athletic, balanced, and star-studded, just like Calipari drew up. Players like Rajon Rondo, Julius Randle, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and a dozen others couldn’t make the cut, showing how deep Kentucky’s presence in the NBA truly is.

The backcourt of John Wall, currently 3rd in the league in assists, and Bledsoe, averaging 20.4 PPG this year, would be a sufficient duo to take down most teams in this bracket on their own. Incredibly, they are joined by future MVP Anthony Davis, likely Rookie of the Year Karl Anthony Towns, and anchored by DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins. If you can find a flaw with this team, you can have my job.

Wake Forest – The Demon Deacons feature arguably the greatest power forward of all time in Tim Duncan, the Big Fundamental. Chris Paul, who has consistently averaged around 19 points and 10 assists per game during his tenure with the Clippers, is a future Hall of Famer himself. Jeff Teague has blossomed into an All Star guard in Atlanta, but Johnson and Aminu remain uninspiring. Sorry fans, you won’t be seeing a 16 over 1 upset this year. Duncan’s age, paired with CP3’s inability to win on a big stage [ducks for cover], leaves Wake Forest short of moving on.

Brandon’s Pick – Kentucky

. . .

8. Syracuse – PG: Michael Carter-Williams, SG: Dion Waiters, SF: Wesley Johnson, PF: Carmelo Anthony, C: Fab Melo
9. Texas – PG: D.J. Augustin, SG: Avery Bradley, SF: Kevin Durant, PF: LaMarcus Aldridge, C: Tristan Thompson

Lookout! It’s the battle of fanhoods for PortaBloggy contributors Kevin Hunker (Syracuse) and Brian Graney (Texas). Let’s see which writer gets bragging rights for the next year. Or, at least, until their first round of golf.

Syracuse – Syracuse is loaded with high-volume shot takers in Carmelo, Waiters, and MCW, but plagued by lackluster defense. Combined, the three scorers are shooting near 42% per game. It’s an eerily similar scouting report to Kevin Hunker’s own basketball skill set nonetheless. Wesley Johnson is a lanky wing who can play solid defense, but doesn’t have the height to effectively contain Durant (who can?). Poor Fab Melo gets his one shot to play next to the real Melo, but will struggle getting rebounds opposite Thompson.

Texas – A former MVP and a perennial top-10 MVP candidate, Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge respectively, are virtually unstoppable together. Durant’s elite versatility and Aldridge’s prowess in the paint is a sight we get to see once a year at the All Star Game.

Avery Bradley has settled in nicely as an above-average defender. Tristan Thompson, an offensive rebound juggernaut, is averaging 3.4 ORB’s per game throughout his career. His proficiency around the rim can keep alive any rare miss by either Durant or Aldridge. Augustin, nothing more than a replacement level player at this point in his career, appears to be this teams weak point. It will be tough sledding for Syracuse in guarding Texas’s bigs up front, so I’ll chalk this up as a win for Brian Graney.

Brandon’s Pick – Texas

. . .

5. UCLA – PG: Russell Westbrook, SG: Jrue Holiday, SF: Arron Afflalo, PF: Trevor Ariza, C: Kevin Love
12. Georgia Tech – PG: Jarrett Jack, SG: Iman Shumpert, SF: Thaddeus Young, PF: Chris Bosh, C: Derrick Favors

UCLA – What an outstanding backcourt. Next to Steph Curry tha god, Russell Westbrook is undoubtedly the best point guard in the game. A truly elite playmaker, he may even have supplanted Kevin Durant as the best player on his team [ducks for cover]. Paired alongside the versatile playmaker in Jrue Holiday, UCLA will be able to feed Kevin Love down low or around the three point line with ease. Add in underrated wings in Afflalo and Ariza, the scoring should never be in drought. Defense, however, may be the knock against this team.

Georgia Tech – A talented frontcourt in Young, Bosh and Favors won’t be enough to offset the deficiencies in the backcourt. Jack is a serviceable veteran and is capable enough to share the rock with the bigs up front. Shumpert, with all of his glorious hair, rap songs, and Instagram posts, has settled into the role of a “Three and D” shooting guard. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the frontcourt won’t be able to carry this team to a win over UCLA.

Brandon’s Pick – UCLA

. . .

4. North Carolina – PG: Ty Lawson, SG: Danny Green, SF: Vince Carter, PF: Harrison Barnes, C: Tyler Hansbrough
13. LSU – PG: Marcus Thornton, SG: Garrett Temple. SF: Anthony Randolph, PF: Brandon Bass, C: Glen Davis

North Carolina – The Tar Heels boast a talented, balanced lineup. Vince Carter may be riding into the sunset, but he can still be an efficient player and veteran presence for this young squad. Harrison Barnes is finally coming into his own on the Golden State Warriors, and is certainly due for a sizable payday this summer.

On offense, the backcourt of Lawson and Green can be quite competent. Lawson, an undersized point guard, is a dynamic scorer and passer when healthy and not in jail. Danny Green is as good as they come at knocking down threes.

On defense, Lawson probably should take a defensive driving course for his abundant DUI arrests…and for allowing opposing point guards to drive to the hoop. Similarly, Green is a known liability against quick, athletic guards, which puts UNC at a bit of a disadvantage on the boards.

LSU – Aside from Brandon Bass and Marcus Thornton, no other player on this roster is a quality NBA starter. Anthony Randolph never panned out despite his potential, and Garret Temple can kick rocks. Big Baby can take all the charges he wants, but at the end of the day, he’s still Big Baby.

As long as Lawson can avoid getting pulled over on his way to the game, UNC will have no problem handling this sub-par LSU team.

Brandons Pick – North Carolina

. . .

6. Arizona – PG: Jason Terry, SG: Andre Iguodala, SF: Derrick Williams, PF: Aaron Gordon, C: Jordan Hill
11. University of Connecticut – PG: Shabazz Napier, SG:Kemba Walker, SF: Rudy Gay, PF: Charlie Villanueva, C: Andre Drummond

Arizona – The trio of Williams, Gordon, and Hill up front feature some of the best raw, athletic talent. You may or may not have seen Aaron Gordon sit on air during the dunk contest, but now combine that with defensive guru and reigning Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, and you have an Arizona team that can be aggressive with its strength and balance. Oh, and let’s not forget Jason “The Jet” Terry. The maker of many clutch baskets in his heyday. How can you bet against The Jet?

UConn – …and UConn is exactly why you can safely bet against The Jet. As the old adage goes, the three things you can count on in life: 1) death, 2) taxes, and 3)never bet against UConn in a tournament. Sure, Jeremy Lamb is a more talented player than Shabazz Napier. But Shabazz has that UConn magic. When in doubt kids, don’t ever doubt the UConn magic.

Brandon’s Pick – UConn

. . .

3. Duke – PG: Kyrie Irving, SG: JJ Redick, SF: Luol Deng, PF: Jabari Parker, C: Jahlil Okafor
14. Michigan – PG: Trey Burke, SG: Tim Hardaway, Jr. SF: Jamal Crawford, PF: Glen Robinson, C: Mitch McGary

Duke – You may hate Coach K, Laettner, the Cameron Crazies, and everything Dook, but you can’t deny their consistency year after year. The backcourt of Kyrie and Redick is a highly effective pairing. JJ is shooting an insane 48% from beyond the arc this year, and Irving has an effective field goal percentage at over 50%.

Deng, while getting up in age, has been a bulldog on defense throughout this career. Rounding this team off with talented young stars in Parker and Okafor, this Duke squad should have great ball movement and chemistry, and will find a way to win games.

Michigan – This version of the Fab Five doesn’t compare to the original of the 90’s. Former 6th man of the year and Mr. Crossover, Jamal Crawford is the only veteran on this team. The other four all played together in the NCAA championship game against Louisville in 2013. With none of those four standing out as anything more than young bloods learning the game, the Wolverines won’t have the experience to outlast the Blue Devils. ESPN won’t be making a 30 for 30 on this one, folks.

Brandon’s Pick – Duke

. . .

7. Florida – PG: Nick Calathes, SG: Bradley Beal, SF: Chandler Parsons, PF: Al Horford, C: Joakim Noah

10. Washington – PG: Isaiah Thomas, SG: Nate Robinson, SF:Terrence Ross, PF: Quincy Pondexter, C: Spencer Hawes

Florida – Featuring Billy Donovan era NCAA champions in Horford and Noah, it would be hard for opposing big men to clean up the glass against these two. Noah, who plays with passion and loves to get under opposing team’s skin, may be the scrappiest center in the game.

Parsons, shooting 42% from the 3 this year and 49% overall, and Bradley Beal, whose numbers are increasing all around year after year, form a solid core for this Gators team. As for Nick Calathes? Kicking rocks.

Washington – Breakout player and first-time All Star Isaiah Thomas is taking the league by storm. The pint-sized point guard is 10th in scoring this year, and quietly leading the Celtics on a charge into the postseason. Nate Robinson may be bouncing around the league, but there’s nothing more fun than watching Krypto-Nate bounce to the rim. He even did it wearing Shaq’s elephant sized shoes!

Terrence Ross is a complementary piece to this team, just like his complementary role to Lowry and DeRozan in Toronto. However, Pondexter can kick rocks and Hawes is terribly overrated and overpaid, whose numbers and minutes are diminishing each season.
Bracketeering at PortaBloggy isn’t for the faint of heart.

While Florida is the superior team, anything can happen in March (Hi FGCU). The diminutive duo of Isaiah and Nate will blow up for alternating 15-point scoring runs, and the Huskies pull out the upset in OT. If that’s too much for you to handle, you too can kick rocks with Calathes and Temple.

Brandon’s Pick – Washington

. . .

2. Kansas – PG: Mario Chalmers, SG: Andrew Wiggins, SF: Paul Pierce, PF: Marcus Morris, C: Markieff Morris
15. USC – PG: O.J. Mayo, SG: Nick Young, SF: DeMar DeRozan, PF: Taj Gibson, C: Nikola Vucevic

Kansas – Led by The Truth, the Jayhawks are a well balanced squad. Pierce may be old, but he’s adjusted to the game in his elder age rather nicely. Chalmers, love him or hate him, is a solid distributor and has plenty of big game experience from his time with the Heat.

Former top overall pick Andrew Wiggins would benefit with real life experience playing under Pierce’s wing, rather than the abyss that exists in Minnesota in regards to developing young stars. Wiggins is an effective scorer still learning the game, but has the talent to contribute at a high level today. Hopefully they don’t ship him up to Boston when he’s ready to win a ring…

The Morris twins, headcases they may be, have that from the womb to the hoop chemistry. Both big bodies and above average rebounders, they will keep Kansas competitive in every game.

USC – Let’s go from the bigs down for this one… Vucevic is an underappreciated player on a rebuilding Orlando team. A big body with a deft touch, many teams would be more than happy to have Vucevic anchoring the paint. Taj Gibson, more of a 6th man than a starter, has the length and experience to contribute nicely.

DeMar DeRozan has improved tremendously over the course of his career, and earned a well-deserved All Star berth this season. He reminds me of a young Kobe-lite. As for Swaggy P and OJ Mayo…oh boy. Unfortunately for USC, they’ll end up forfeiting this game as the two will be ejected for fighting (each other) in the first half. Swaggy P get’s KO’d in case you were wondering.

Brandon’s Pick – Kansas

And that about wraps up Round 1 coverage. Round 2 featuring the Elite 8, Final 4, and the Championship game is coming your way later on.

Haunted Dreams 2016

Monday, 3:45 am.

I gulp for air as I break out of the nightmare, the same one for the third straight night.

I’m sweating, and breathing heavily. The cat is terrified, staring at me at the end of the bed with its head cocked to the right. “It’s ok buddy,” I say, gesturing for him to join me. He obliges, and places himself in my lap. I reach for the water on my nightstand, still lost in thought, and stare at my Ikea carpet, recollecting the dream once more.

I’m on the New York City Subway. It’s the 2 train, downtown, towards Brooklyn. I know this because of the signs, yes, but also because the stops are being repeated by the conductor rapidly, without hesitation, and while the train is motion.

We stop, but not at a station. I turn to the man to my right to bemoan yet another “train traffic” hassle, but just then the doors open, and from somewhere below the door level, men in suits climb aboard. Except they’re not quite men. They have the heads of rats.

I freak out. I feel the sudden need to get off the train. I have to. But the men keep coming. And coming. And coming. They’re filling the car rapidly. They’ve taken all the seats and are now clogging the standing areas, grabbing hold of the poles. I suddenly am struggling to breathe. I try to push my way past them, and this act of resistance is met by every single set of beady eyes turning to me. I feel all of them. They’re gnawing at me from every angle. I push and I push and I push. But I can’t get off. More of them are pouring in. I’m getting squished into nothing. The lights dimming as the men continue to stare. I’m going to pass out. My head and neck are pushed from the left and I face the rat closest to me on the right. He says something.

“Good night Donald.”

Now I can’t fall back asleep, so I might as well get the day started.

I turn the shower on, and the water hits the basin with force. I undress and jump into the warm water, hoping to calm down, but I can’t. My mind turns to the dream.

I used to take the 2 train to work in lower Manhattan, but haven’t taken it in quite some time. It’s a popular express train line that serves three boroughs: The Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. I’m not sure why this dream happens on this subway, but perhaps since it’s the one I am most familiar with, it is the one my subconscious has chosen. I have no idea what to make of the men, dressed in suits, with rat faces for heads. Why are there so many of them? Why are they flooding onto the subway without ebb? Why did one call me Donald? That’s not even my name!

I’m washing my hair when I hear the voice. It’s so low, so faint, that I can’t make out the words, but it does seem to be repeating the same two words over and over. It continues throughout my shower, subsiding only when I shut down the water.

“What the hell is going on?” I mutter, grabbing my towel. I dry myself, and look in the mirror. In it is a black mass that quickly dissipates when I notice it. I jump and knock my head on the wall. I’m dizzy, and I stumble with my eyes closed when I see something in the black of my eyelids. Senator Ted Cruz.

Tuesday, 8am.

I wake from a restful sleep, one spared from the horror of the dream, and set my alarm for a 20 minute snooze. Hey, after the past few nights, I’ve earned it.

I relax under my covers, and fall into that not-quite-awake-but-not-quite-asleep phase that often follows the press of the snooze button. Images of Ted start to flash; he’s at the podium, then on a different stage with a microphone in hand, then taking pictures with supporters holding signs in a large auditorium.

I pop out of bed, thoroughly discomforted by the images in my head. I grab my phone, and call out of work. Something is happening here, and I need to investigate.

I call New York’s top rated demonologist, and he tells me he can do 2pm. Perfect.

I spend the morning doing more research, and it turns out that there have been similar cases across the nation, of people seeing presidential candidates in their dreams, and even hearing words being said aloud in their heads.

Lunch time approaches, and I head out for some food. At the corner of my block, two construction workers are having a lively discussion. They’re shouting expletives in front of each other’s names. One of them is named Ted.

I return to my building after lunch, and kill some time watching CNN. Ted Cruz is on the rise in many states, passing Marco Rubio and threatening Donald Trump.

The demonologist arrives.

Upon entering my apartment, his body language shifts from greeting to suspicion. “When did this start happening did you say?” He asks. “Well, the first dream was Friday night. It happened again Saturday night. Then it happened AGAIN Sunday night. I didn’t have it last night, but I’ve been seeing his face and hearing things while I’m awake.”

He nods in comprehension as he walks my apartment. Living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom. He joins me again in the foyer and says, “Look man, I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I’m feeling a presence in this apartment. It’s not serious yet, but it could get there. If you have the dream again, give me a call, ok?” “Ok,” I answer him skeptically, and he bids me goodbye while pulling out his phone to shoot off a text. I watch him walk down the hallway of my floor and down the stairway, with an air of familiarity. Had he been here before?

I’m on the train. The conductor repeats the stops. The train comes to a halt. The men are coming in. They have rats heads. They don’t stop. They are staring at me. They are laughing at me. Why are they laughing? “Why are you laughing?” I ask. They keep laughing. Louder. Louder. Louder. The train gets smaller. Smaller. Smaller. I’m going to pass out again. I’m not going to make it off this train.

Wednesday, 5:06am.


I’m awake, but I don’t feel alone. I realize that the cat isn’t in my bed.

I sit up to call him, and that’s when I see it.

“It” is a black mass in the shape of a man at the edge of my bed. It’s saying something over and over. “Trust me.” “Trust me.” “Trust me.”

I’m horrified. I back into the corner of the wall my bed rests against. I gather my courage to ask the figure something.

“Wh — wh — what do you want from me???”

The muttering stops. The figure leans closer to me.

It speaks clearly now as it says, “Your vote.”

I jump out of bed and the figure disappears simultaneously. I grab my phone and call the demonologist. I expect to be waking him, but he answers on the first ring. Was he waiting for my call?

I’m in shock and can barely speak. I stutter, “H — he — hey. Uhh, I — I had the dream again — and — uh — um — he — was — in m — my — my room.” He tells me to wait outside of the building. He’s on his way.

15 minutes later, we shake hands and we walk into my building and subsequently into my apartment.

He stiffens up as we enter, severely this time, and takes a deep breath. He withdraws his phone from his coat pocket and places it to his ear. He doesn’t greet the recipient of the phone call, just gives him or her the address to my apartment.

He turns to me. “Do you have somewhere you can stay for the day?”

The knock on the door is surprising at this hour, but not unwelcome. The man declares confidently, “Come in.”

The assistant enters the large bedroom and addresses the man in an exasperated voice. “There’s another, Mr. Trump. We need you to get down there ASAP.”

The candles are lit and the living room is crowded with his staff. Trump looks around the apartment. “Who could live like this?” He asks rhetorically. The demonologist gets his attention. “We’re ready sir.” Trump sighs, and pulls a folded piece of paper from his back pocket.

“Ok, let’s make this quick,” he says into the air. He then turns his attention to the paper, and begins to read.

“Ted, I know you’re here Ted. Come out now Ted. I found you, ok, I found you because I have the best people and the best demonologist in New York, ok. What did you think was going to happen, Ted? Did you think you could just set up shop in my city and remain hidden? No way Ted, ok. I could maybe expect this carelessness from Baby Rubio, but from you? Frankly I’m disappointed.”

Trump’s arms, which had been wildly gesticulating, fall to his sides, and he looks to his team. “Ok everyone, time to chant.”








The last chant is interrupted by a high pitched, rat-like squeak. A black mass comes from the bedroom and into the center of the circle, where the candles are, and materializes into Ted Cruz.

Trump is elated. He has found the soul piece Ted had sent to New York. Trump addresses the figure in Trump baby speak. “Ha! I got you Ted, just like I told you I would.” The business man is handed the hat, a Make America Great Again hat, and places it on the ghostly representation of Cruz. The rodent-esque screech returns, loudly, and the figure vanishes into thin air.

Trump smiles widely.

“That was fun.”

I hang up with demonologist. He tells me the apartment is safe now, and I can return whenever I’d like. I thank my friend for her hospitality, and head to Starbucks for the beverage with the highest caffeine content they have.

I order my latte, with 6 shots of espresso, and sneak a look at the barista’s name.

It’s Ted.


$#*! Tech: 2009 MacBook Pro

Editor’s Note: Complete $#*! is a new section we are launching today that will focus on topics  we find to be $#*!, or want to find out if they are $#*!. Here is the first post, regarding an old MacBook. -PJS

Backsliding is what they call it; where an individual returns to an ex in the hopes of finding what once was, thereby completing the regression into a certain time in his or her past that is remembered as so much better than the present.

I’m pondering this term as I put my 15inch MacBook Pro with Retina display atop a newly purchased iPad Pro. In fact, the iPad is still residing in that temporary buyers’ remorse phase where it still sports its plastic wrap. I won’t be needing either of this devices this evening.

It’s time to explore an old friend, and find out if he has turned to $#*!.

The 2009 MacBook Pro, the elder statesman of my devices, sits on its side on the floor by my bed. It has to remain constantly plugged in to avoid the quick death that comes with having the battery carry the weight of handling background computing functions.

I remove the old laptop from the sleeve it’s lived in since it was given to me as a high school graduation gift. The shell of the device gives away its age immediately. The aluminum unibody casing is discolored and scratched badly, giving the computer a battle tested, yet unaesthetic, look. Even so, I can’t help but smile as I recall all the late nights in the library, the meetings planning events, and the classes spent on Facebook instead of taking notes. The damage on its aluminum is not so much a product of neglect, but rather of intense use and companionship.


I place the laptop on it’s rightful perch on my thighs, and the weight and thickness from the old components, like the optical drive, is immediately evident, and unpleasant. Not only does the computer look old, but now it comes to light how old it feels as well.

I flip the clamshell open, and that doesn’t feel too great either, to be honest. Over the last 7 years, the hinge has become mushy, and now the top flips open haphazardly. This is bearable though, because once I select an angle to use the laptop at, it holds. I press the power button, and the screen reluctantly comes to life.

After years of using Apple products with Retina displays, the ‘09 computer’s screen looks deplorable. One really has to ask how he or she survived using the low resolution found here for so long. It’s remarkable what passes as “cutting edge” when looking at one generation of technology to the next. Look, you can even see the pixels in the picture below! Perhaps this is too personal a gripe, as many continue to use this same screen or a similar one on computers like the the MacBook Air without complaint. At the same time, there’s a good chance these people haven’t gotten a chance to use a Retina laptop, so they have no basis for comparison, and no idea what they are missing.


I bang the old keys to enter my account password, a welcome reminder of the papers written, emails sent, and Facebook messaging done. In fact, this keyboard feels better than the one found on the 2014 MacBook Pro with Retina Display, which frankly feels kind of “clickity,” as opposed to the elder Mac’s “clackity.” The travel and rebound on the ‘09 are more noticeable for sure, while the ‘14 feels quite shallow with not a ton of travel in the keys. A keyboard has never been a huge deal, but rather an added delight to my computer experience, so I can accept the slightly less than ideal experience typing on the ‘14 in exchange for improvements like the Retina display. However, I may begin to reach for the ‘09 instead if I find myself in a situation where a lot of writing needs to get done. The trackpad, on the other hand, is a different story. It feels sluggish and clunky compared to the new one found on the ’14.


That about does it for the hardware that you can see and touch. Now for software performance. I should note that everything in this machine is as it was purchased back in June 2009, except for the RAM, which was upgraded from 4GB to 8GB in early 2014.

Since the end of my college career, I’ve been a pretty light laptop user. I really only went with the 15 inch model of MacBook for two reasons: 1, because I was an Apple Retail Store employee at the time and wanted to maximize the use of the massive discount, and 2, a desire for the extra screen real estate. As such, it’s probable that the ‘09 can handle the tasks I need done: browsing the web, watching video, writing for this site, sending some email, etc. I didn’t test the laptop on intense tasks like editing video or gaming, because they are not essential to my ability to use this computer as my daily machine. Additionally, it’s rather obvious that a 2009 computer of any brand would not be ideal for this kind of work.

Anyway, Let’s get on with the testing. First up: checking social media. The computer should be able to accomplish this, which is probably/pathetically the majority of what I do with my current devices, and usually the first.

I navigate to Facebook using Safari, and do some browsing. It’s not bad at all, as pages load comparably fast to my newer tech. However, I notice some lag in scrolling through the news feed, and the trackpad feels even slower to respond on the webpage than on my desktop when no programs were running. I open Twitter in another tab, which puts additional and again noticeable strain on navigation. It’s slight though, and tolerable.

To add to the stress on the machine, I add another tab, the PortaBloggy WordPress page, and boot up YouTube to stream some music. I start typing, which goes is alright at first, but after a few words, lag sets in. Auto correct is also slow to respond to corrections, and YouTube skips in the background. This would not work as a writing and listening solution for me as a soon-to-be-world-famous-blogger. It is a poor experience, and introduces frustration in the form of hiccups when trying to write.

I now open a fifth tab, Gmail. I mark some conversations as read and draft an email to my co-bloggers about who is going to cover Thursday with a post. Same issue, more lagging on text input and a skipping video in the background.

Tab #6. Netflix. I switch off the YouTube music for now, and fire up an episode of Always Sunny in Philadelphia (watch it if you haven’t). Oh man, does this computer hate me right now. The video of the show is stutters badly. I jump back to Facebook to check notifications and Twitter to check new tweets, and both are super sluggish in their response to my trackpad prompts. Typing a post on WordPress is impossible, due to pauses when the website auto-saves my work. With this much going on at once, this machine feels truly unusable. I step away from the laptop for a moment, and return to jump around tabs again, only to find the performance has worsened greatly. The fans are going at top speed, and in the 30 minutes I’ve been using the computer, the battery has gone from full to 50%, so taking this out of the house for work on the go, without the charger, is not an option. This wouldn’t work for someone looking to head down to the local Starbucks and get some writing done.

All things considered, the ’09 MacBook performed admirably and surpassed expectations. While not a buttery smooth experience like the two products I set aside for this review, this computer would step up when required to do some very light web browsing and writing, as long as that’s all one is doing. Oh, and bring your charger if you are leaving the house.

I know this omits a ton of topics a typical review would cover, but this is what I do on my computer, and what I believe the majority of computer users do on their computers as well. Besides, a tech-informed individual would already be aware that this machine would not provide a usable experience for video editing and the like, so I felt it unneccessary to explore those use cases.

While I wouldn’t make this computer the first choice for fulfilling my needs as an individual and my needs as a blogger, it certainly was a dose of nostalgia to use it, and made me smile in the process.

7/10, might use again. Not $#*!.


Introducing Chipotle Roulette

Editor’s Note: This post is the first in a series of PortaBloggy “Life Hacks,” centered around the digestive system and ways to get creative with your #2 time. Enjoy! -PJS

This past Wednesday, I decided to play a dangerous game. I ate Chipotle at 2pm, and I had a flight at 8:30pm.

In light of the recent E. Coli outbreak and questionable food safety at America’s favorite slightly classy fast food restaurant, I figured it would be fun to eat it for lunch, and then fly halfway across the country that evening. This was to be the ultimate test of my intestinal fortitude, using perhaps one of the best methods for doing so in the 21st century. I was being a millenial. I was being a blogger. I was being irrational. People have written long form pieces and even books about less interesting topics. Pondering this, I ordered, then devoured, my double-chicken-guacamole-Tabasco-added-on-top burrito bowl in about 15 minutes. It went down great. I wiped my mouth with the brown recycled napkin. Now, it was time to play. The name of the game? Chipotle Roulette.

For the rest of the afternoon, I ran some errands and packed the rest of my items. At around 5pm, my friends and I headed to the train station to catch the AirTrain to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Everything went smoothly; from checking in at the automated kiosks, to clearing security, to finding seats together at the gate.

As we sat down and placed our luggage by our feet, my friends announced that they wanted to get something to eat. I, having eaten such a high volume of chicken, white rice, and black beans, decided to skip this meal, and volunteered to hang back with everyone’s bags. This actually turned out to be pretty stressful. What if my digestive system decided now was the time for the unruly gang of ingredients to be purged from my body? I reached for my phone to tell the guys not to be long when a text came in from one of them: “We’re getting Chinese, want something?” I thought for a minute. While not hungry, I could certainly eat, especially a little pork lo mein perhaps. The side benefit being, the stakes in this round of Chipotle Roulette had just been raised and compounded significantly. I responded with my order, and in a few minutes four young men were chowing down on some Chinese food at Gate 7 in the JetBlue terminal of JFK airport. Dignity optional.

We finished our meals and boarded the plane without issue. I grabbed my seat on the plane, proud of my body for still holding the garbage I had put in it without complaint. The flight was pretty smooth, aside from the delay in taking off due to a backlog of planes waiting for runway space. After four hours in the air, we landed in Denver, and this round of Chipotle Roulette was won by me, handily.

My goal in writing this is to inform PortaBloggy’s readers about this fun, self-imposed challenge that can be issued at any time. Have it for lunch before a work event taking place that evening. Have it for the dinner before going out drinking for the night. Will you have to go or will you not have to go? That is the question. The answer is yours to find out. May the guac be ever in your favor.

Also, PortaBloggy would like to announce a business relationship with and our own endorsement of Chipotle. They get more diners, we get more readers who find themselves on the toilet after their meal. It’s a win win here, so please, head over to your neighborhood Chipotle and PortaBloggy, in that order.