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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

WUMF: May Edition

Another month, another WUMF.   So, what's happening my little droogies?

That much, huh?

May has been one of those weird months. I probably say that every WUMF update but really, May was weird.

1. Mother Nature is ragging it extra hard.
I know I added Mother Nature to the list of nominees for the d-bag of the year award in my last update. But May was an even bigger nature fail. Between the flooding along the mighty Mississippi to the destructive tornadoes that ravaged Joplin, Missouri, Mother Nature has been asserting her will upon us. Somewhere, Mark Wahlberg is saying the trees are out to get us.

Remember, you can donate to the Red Cross by texting 90999 from your mobile phone or by going to the Red Cross website and donating from there, if you’re like me and don’t have a data plan.

2. From Super Bowl MVP to Mirror Ball Champ
This past season of Dancing With the Stars was a little more exciting than the past couple. First of all, I wasn’t planning on ever watching the show again because that was my Mother-in-law’s thing. We would all go out to dinner on Tuesday nights and have to get our asses moving so she could see the elimination. Frankly, that show could be condensed into one hour. They really drag things out and plug a lot of commercials for it which is a drag for me.

However, since it was announced that Hines Ward would be competing, I figured I’d give it another go. Still, I would just put my cable box on ABC and do whatever. Then I would go back and find his dances, watch them and move on to something else. Usually, I am on the Wii with my Father-in-law hunting any manner of animal and would pause to go back and let my wife watch the dances.

Both those concepts bring me to my entire point. With the NFL in lockout mode, the athletes are kind of just left out in the cold. While other Steelers are tweeting and making the PR team within the front office spin their heads around, Hines did something constructive, if not a bit egotistical. He went out in front of millions of people and entered a dancing competition.

Now, there are guys; those manly man with man hands, rough from working in the pits of blue collar America who will sit there and say, “Yinz are crazy if yinz think I’m gonna be watchin’ Hines twirl arahnd like a ballerina on that Dancing show, n’at.” Fine. Be that way.

Then there are those guys that think that Hines being on DWTS somehow makes him less of a man. Well, especially since he cried real manly tears after his partner got hurt. However, I dare any one of those supposed butch men to walk up to Lynn Swann or Eric Dickerson and call them something akin to being soft. See how well that goes for you. Ballroom or Latin dancing is not akin to putting on tights and prancing around on Swan Lake. It is a workout. It is a hard thing. It is manly. It takes a lot of skill and discipline to do the amount of work he did in the amount of time he had to do it. Lay off of him for that. Besides, we know you watched when he was in the finals. Come out of the television reality/competition closet and admit it. He was good. He deserved to win. However, I don’t think Pittsburgh needs to have a parade to celebrate that fact.

The fact is that if there is a football season, this year, Hines will be in better shape at training camp than he’s been in years. Truthfully, he’s going to need it to continue to compete against the young guys.

3. Not a Fan
As I have said before I listen to 93.7 The Fan on my way to and from work. I am not usually a guy who would call into a show because a lot of the Fan is bullshit. They start these inane topics, sometimes one that incite certain feelings on either end of the spectrum baiting people to call in to air their opinion. Half of the time, they pull the pin on a grenade and then toss it into a Zambelli warehouse and watch the show.

Case in point, they ran a topic a couple of weeks ago asking fans to weigh in on who their most hated sports figure is. It would be easy for me to say Tom Brady, Chad Johnson or Ray Lewis. But I had a more entertaining story to tell. That is one I have often told to people as well as posting it on this blog.

How funny would it be to get onto a live radio program and tell them that I hate Rocky Bleier? I don’t, of course. I would simply tell the tale of how my wife hates Rocky Bleier, even to this day. It’s an awesome story with a great ending. So, I called in to the show. I actually got through on the third try and they put me on hold.

The thing to remember about calling into this show is that their hold music is the show, so you can turn down your radio to eliminate feedback, considering they are on a delay in order to be able to censor anything inappropriate. So, I sat in traffic from the Forbes Ave exit through the Squirrel Hill tunnels, waiting to get on the air. During this time, Joe Starkey, John Seibel and Josh Miller all bandied around their picks and their critiques of other people’s picks. They went to a few commercials and really didn’t take a lot of calls, infuriating me.

As to not sound like a jackass, which I am prone to do in public speaking venues if I don’t rehearse; I ran through my tale to cut it down for time and clarity. After waiting about 20 minutes, I had the feeling they were finally coming to me. Then I heard, “Was that [my name] we cut off…” and the phone went dead.

I waited twenty minutes to be hung up on by a D-bag DJ. Thanks a lot guys. I had an awesome story and you blew it. I will never call in again… well, maybe once to tell Ron Cook and Andrew Fillipponi they are the biggest idiots in sports radio.

4. The Rapture That Wasn't
We all survived.  Didn't we?  I was a little worried there because the Monday and Tuesday after the supposed Rapture, I saw little traffic on my way to and from work.  For about a minute I was convinced that maybe it did happen and I could coast my way in under an hour.   No such luck.  By Wednesday, traffic was back to normal and on Friday, it took me over two hours to get home. 

It was unreal.  I didn't find out about an accident at Edgewood / Swissvale until I was past the I-79 exit.  Not that it would have mattered since there was an accident at the S-curve of I-79 North, backing up traffic there.   I hit the standstill at the end of the Fort Pitt Bridge and made the gutsy move to try and traverse downtown in favor of the Strip District in order to go through Bloomfield and Shadyside.   That was a big mistake, too.   I made it to Point Breeze and Penn Ave was at a standstill because of an accident up in Wilkinsburg.  I was sitting at lights sometimes two or three cycles long.  I eventually decided to bypass traffic using a side street.   Here's a tip for you, if you ever try doing this, always turn right.   I turned left and when I decided to get back on Penn, I had to fight against traffic to turn left and nearly got creamed by a PAT bus looking to run the red light.

Anyway, back to the Rapture.  When is the class action lawsuit, I wonder.  After all, Harold Camping made a ton of money off of promoting the coming of the rapture.  Granted, he neither explicitly asked for money and what monies he did receive were mostly used for advertising.  However, he probably came away with a lot of cash for his radio network and organization.  So, my question is, "What does God need with a starship?" 

That obscure reference is to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.  In the inferior, odd numbered, sequel in the series, the Enterprise is hijacked in order to find the location of Sha Ka Ree, the place of creation in the universe.  On the planet, they supposedly find God who needs a starship to leave the planet.  Well, you get the idea.   My use of that quote asks what does Harold Camping need with money if he plans to be taken in the Rapture?  He can't spend it.  He can't take it with him.  

So, why do people feel compelled to give him money?   Are they simply adults who are capable of their own actions or are they people who have been suckered based upon the playing on their devout beliefs of salvation through cryptic biblical references?   For the most part I think people should be responsible for their own actions but if a relative of mine was duped in a scam because they went after a weak spot in their armor, like family or faith, you better believe I'd be on the scammer like a fat kid on cake. 

In any case, we get another shot in October for Camping to be right.  And when that day comes to pass and we're all still here, maybe someone will go after this guy full force.   He was wrong in 1994 and didn't make another prediction until 2011.  Now, he's got a second prediction six months away.  Seems if he knows his time on this Earth is about up and I don't think because he knows when the Rapture is.

And that’s another WUMF update for you. See you next month.

Friday, May 27, 2011

David O. Russell Exits Uncharted and There Was Much Rejoicing

Remember when they announced that David O. Russell was going to direct the Uncharted film adaptation and Marky Mark was going to star and we all collectively went, “Oh, Crap”?

Well, guess what? Russell is out as director!

The best news ever! I wonder if Marky Mark will be gone, too. Was he ever officially attached? The rumors of Joe Pesci and Robert Deniro being attached were almost enough for me to put my head right through my desk.

Now, the door is open. Naughty Dog, step up, help get this script right and grab Nolan North and stick him in a gym for the next year. Otherwise, go find Joss Whedon and have him doctor up the script and get Nathan Fillion’s tight pants out of storage and half tuck his shirt because he’s got some work to do, too.

I can only hope that everyone sat down and looked at what was about to happen with this movie and someone said, “WTF are doing here? Every geek will slit our throats if we screw this up.”

Would we really?

Yeah.  We would.

Here is one of the better FANMADE trailers for what an Uncharted movie would look like with Nathon Fillion as Drake.

And in case you forgot how cool this game series is, here are the trailers for Parts 1 and 2.

and also for part 3, coming out 11.11.11

I'm still not convinced the movie won't suck but at least it won't suck because d-bag David is directing it.

(Special thanks to my friend L.P. for passing along the news.  Made my day!)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

20th Anniversary of the Penguins First Stanley Cup: Where were you?

This is a day late, but I wanted to get this on the record for posterity.

Yesterday, while driving home and listening to 93.7FM, the question was posed.  What was the most memorable Pittsburgh championship in your mind?

There are so many to choose from.   The 1960 World Series win against the Yankees is up there for sure.  But the memory that stands out the most was 20 years ago, when the Pittsburgh Penguins won their first Stanley Cup against the Minnesota North Stars.   I included an excerpt from a post I did when the Penguins won their last cup in 2009.

I was a sophomore in high school and on May 25th, I was at a graduation party at the Indian Creek Valley Community Center in Indian Head, PA. Now, as a sophomore, one doesn’t expect to be attending a lot of graduation parties for his/her classmates. I was one of those weird cases where I spent a lot more time hanging out with the upperclassmen than my own grade. It was my first high school graduation party for a non relative and it was also my first taste of underage drinking beer at a party.

As kids, we all had our moments of sneaking a drink from our parents’ liquor cabinets or our Dad giving us a sip of beer during a Steelers’ Game, but this was the first real opportunity for me to partake in celebratory libations. I wasn’t even supposed to be driving a car after midnight at this point in my life. Luckily, I got a ride to this party because I was in no shape to drive by the end of the night, or so I thought.

This was 1991, a few years before the availability of big screen viewings of events via LCD projectors and the like. Those kinds of resources were for business meetings and sports bars. I was in a Community Center nestled in the foot hills of Western Pennsylvania. We had car radios to keep us posted on the NHL action. We made as many trips to the cars to get an update as we did the keg to get more beer. By the end of the second period we were all feeling pretty buzzed and our inebriation was directly proportional to our confidence in Pittsburgh winning the series. It was a foregone conclusion that Pittsburgh was going to win this game. After trading wins through the first four games, Pittsburgh picked up momentum in Game Five with a 6-4 win over the North Stars in Pittsburgh. Now all that was needed was another win in Game Six at the Met Center in Minnesota. The Pens were up 7 nothing and it looked hopeless for the North Stars.

Wait?!? Did Jimmy Paek just score? The Korean guy just scored his only goal of the playoffs? Are you kidding me? Scratch that, it was hopeless. No offense to Jimmy, he is one of my favorites and that’s not being condescending. As the first of only two Korean players in the NHL, he is the first Korean to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup and he has his sweater hanging in the Hockey Hall of Fame to honor that. Not bad. You have to respect that.

As I sat in the cab of a friend’s truck and cheered in a drunken state at the sound of the Pens winning their first Stanley Cup, ever, I was given some sobering news. The beer we had been pounding, heavily all night, causing us to run around like jackasses, whooping it up over a hockey game, was non-alcoholic. Immediately, the crowed stopped stumbling and started walking around, normally. A few us tested out our blood alcohol level with a self given, field sobriety test, just to make sure. Throughout this whole evening, we were only drunk on hockey and toasted the winning Pittsburgh Penguins with another cup of O’Douls.

Monday, May 23, 2011

What Is Left When There Is No LOST

The series finale of LOST took place one year ago, today. It seems a bit silly to eulogize a show, let alone one that has been off the air for a year, but it is important to note that there really hasn’t been a particular show to pick up the baton that LOST dangled out there.

Love it or hate it, the last episode of LOSTis one that stirred a lot of debate and conversation, some frustrating, some enlightening. An indelible impression was left when the passengers of Ajira 316 left the island, passing over a dying Jack Shephard. Left behind was a dead Locke/Smokey, a newly appointed island keeper in Hurley and a reformed right hand man in Benjamin Linus.

As the embers of those feelings about the show started to cool, LOST fans desperately searched for another show to fill the void. The hopes for another show, like LOST, seemed in peril. Some fled to the land of Fringe, some to V and little went to the Event.

Yet, I don’t think there has been another show out there that can compare with LOST. Now, I don’t think LOST was the greatest show ever but in terms of the mythology and intricate story lines of redemption and good vs. evil, I don’t think you can find another that was so good at it.

I still have a ton of questions about the show. Some that will never be answered. Maybe that’s the allure. Maybe that’s the hold the island has on its audience. Because we never really got closure, we’ll never really be free from wanting more of our fated castaways.

Among the big head scratchers for me, still, are the decision to kill off Jin and Sun after spending a huge portion of the preceding season keeping them apart with Sun desperately searching for her husband while trusting the Man in Black wearing a Locke suit. How about the Lighthouse? What the hell was the point of all that? Was it just some special contraption used to bring Jack’s belief to the island to join the rest of him? The others, the true Others claimed that it was there island. Yet, we knew that they were most likely brought there just like everyone else. Why kidnap the children, do experiments on Claire and Sun, hold Jack, Kate and Sawyer prisoner? Why did they spend so much time on Walt and why wasn’t he kept around? What the hell was the point of the blast door map or the lockdowns or any of it?

I could go on for days wondering, and sometimes remembering, about what made the show so damned interesting and head-into-the-desk slamming all at the same time. In the end, none of it mattered. It truly was, as they said, a giant Rube Goldberg device. It was a overly complex machine designed to perform a simple function, find a replacement for Jacob. Yet, throughout its six seasons the show created such an addiction among fans, they were willing to overlook a lot of the flaws in the execution of some of the seasons.

Looking over the sheet of new shows for Fall 2011, there is a noticeable lack of enthusiasm on my part, much to the relief of my DVR, I’m sure. There is a J.J. Abrams show with Jorge Garcia for those looking to recapture some of the nostalgia of Hurley being on an island. Of course, this time it’s Alcatraz. There are also a couple of other shows that piqued my interest, but nothing with the same caliber of LOST. Of course, I said the same thing about LOST when the previews for the pilot episode started airing.

Season One Summer Promo

Not much to make of what’s going to happen from that promo. We see a spectacular plane crash, a lot of Michael Bay explosions and chaos. Then we see a man shooting a big fluffy pillow as it hurtles itself towards him in the brush. We get the final question which defined the show to a ‘T’.

“Guys, where are we?”

It was a whim, an afterthought, a slip of scheduling that I actually saw the pilot episode of LOST and that was all it took. Like a junkie, looking for a new drug to take, I was hooked. I was searching through my couch cushions for change in order to score my next high. “The first one is free. After that, you gotta pay to play.” It was so simple a premise. Take 48 people, crash them on an island, add unknown scary monster sound, and leave on a low heat. After that, it became so much more complicated and erratic of storytelling to even try to explain to someone who had never sat down with it from the beginning. Fortunately, here is an excellent explanation in three minutes.

LOST in Three Minutes

So, as another season in television comes to a close and we see a bunch of new shows get plugged and a bunch of existing one get bled like a stuck pig. Remember, we’ll always be LOST, together.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Velocity Rapture

The end is seriously nigh, maybe.

It could be, or it won’t.

Your mileage may vary.

Tomorrow, May 21st, 2011 is the supposed day of Judgment. The Rapture. The straight to video Kirk Cameron movie. Repent! Genuflect! Sashay! Turn, turn, ball change kick turn!

I for one look forward to the quickened commute I will face on Monday. Not to mention, everyday errands will be much easier to accomplish without the crowds. I would say that Black Friday would be a great experience except that it’s after the end of the world.

But what about the variables concerning this end of days prediction.

Will Australia spoil it for everyone else, since they’ll be first in line? Are we going to hit that magical number of 144,000 before they get to NYC? What about Samoa? They are changing the placement of the International Dateline.

What if you are aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour? Will you just vacate your space suit during an EVA or are your SOL because you chose to be away from the Earth when it’s time to be called in for the big dinner in the sky?

What about babies? If you aren’t baptized, are you sticking around? In a coma? Sleeping because you have the night shift? My wife kicks me when my alarm goes off and I don’t hear it. She’d be pissed if I wasn’t there and she had to roll over and turn it off herself.

How many people will call off on Monday only to find out that the Rapture didn’t come?

How many Catholic priests will still be in mass on Sunday? (Insert parting of hair jokes here.)

Those signs on the Parkway East that estimate travel time will go nuts. “Estimated Travel Time to SQ. Hill Tunnels: Zero Minutes”. Frankly, tomorrow would be the best time to hack into the signs and put something funny like, “Estimated Time To Rapture: 25 Minutes” (thanks to Lesley for that one.)  Here's another great prank courtesy of Six Feet Under

In all seriousness, yet not, I feel bad for the people who really believe in this stuff. Tomorrow will be like their Great Pumpkin moment. They’ll be like the Cincinnati Bengals’ fans in December. Always close to the playoffs but never making it very far. I mean how would you feel if you gave up your job, your family, everything to go about preaching the end of the world coming only to find out some guy forgot to carry the one? I mean he’s already screwed up once in 1994.

Let’s face it. The bible is a good story. It was written by a bunch of people and much like today’s movies, they’ve rebooted the franchise numerous times. Supposedly, Moses wrote the first five books during the forty years that he wandered around in the wilderness. Should have been drawing a map. “That rock looks vaguely familiar.” But just like every culture, the story is changed to suit the purpose. Every religion has its own telling of creation and the apocalypse. Which one is right? The answer; all of them and none of them.

No one person got the story right and IMO that’s what it is, a story. Fantastical events occurred for everyday occurrences. With no knowledge of modern science they were chalked up to some sort of higher power. We have a world population of almost seven billion people but only 144,000 are getting saved. Surely, in the last 100 years there have been more than 144,000 righteous people born. What about them? Is there a name cutoff? Is there a lottery? Is there a reservation process?

So, Monday, I’ll be posting and the same amount of people that read today will be here. Well, that is unless you just don’t care.

And just in case I am wrong… I’m taking your stuff.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Buccos Brewhaha With Local Bar

Yes, I spelled 'Brouhaha' wrong on purpose.
I had planned out a lengthy, count 20 paragraphs, post about this story.  Instead, I'm listing a few links because each one has it differences.  You be the judge on who is right and who is wrong.

Coonelly 'scolded' Bar Owner:  Warning... Bob Smizek alert.
'Pirates Lose' Beer Special Brings Bar Heat From Team‎:  WTAE
Bar Discounted Beer Every Time The Pirates Lost; Team Bullies Them Into Ending Promotion: Deadspin

In essence, a local bar offered a discount of five cents off a pitcher of beer every time the Pirates lose a game.  It's a consolation prize for fans who patronize the bar.  It was taken as a jab at the ball club and someone within the Pirates' front office asked for a boycott of the bar using Pirates' letterhead in her communication.  That caused the owner to contact the news media, which in turn caused Frank Coonelly to contact the owner, which caused everyone to jump all over this because the Pirates' Front Office is evil.  Right?
My take on all this...


The Pirates suck.  They have sucked for 18 years.  They continue to suck.  News media in Pittsburgh makes fun of them.  Locals make fun of them.  Other teams make fun of them.  Yet, this little bar in Kennedy Township is the straw that broke the camel's back?

When I was 16, I did a stupid thing.   To which everyone says, "Only one?"  That week, yes.  Anyway, I went with some friends and participated in egging a house on Halloween.   What I didn't know was that everyone egged this house.  It was listed in Zagat's guide to egging and corning houses.  I swear....  (No, I don't, really.)  Yet, apparently, my friends and I were that proverbial straw, because the homeowner chased us down and got my friend's plate number.  The next day, cops called my house and I was fined $93.  I also got grounded for the first and only time in my life where it lasted more than five minutes.   I also had to miss a Def Leppard concert, which I paid for with my paper route money.  Lesson learned. 

The point is that the Pirates have been the egged house for so long that someone felt compelled to fight back against a semi-satirical jab at their losing streak.  Now, it's a major news story.  It didn't need to be.

Was the Pirates' employee wrong?  Yes.
Was the promotion a bad idea?  No.
Was Frank Coonelly rude and an 'arrogant ass' as the bar owner said in a WDVE interview?  Maybe.

Frank has a track record and looks guilty, no matter what he says to the contrary about the incident.  What he needs to do is take ownership of the situation that was created by his staff and promote the fact that it was a mistake and steps are being taken to readdress company policy about such matters.  He should also make amends with the bar owner and she should make amends with him.   Then he should go out and start winning some ball games or my friends and I will be looking for his house in the latest edition of "Places to TP in Pittsburgh".

Besides, what right do the Pirates have in even calling out this business?  It's a free country.  The only real loser is the bar, which would have ended up serving free beer by the All Star break.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I Can Feel It In My DVD Player Tonight

Hmmm.  What to do?

Awhile back I went on about how I was looking for some much needed childhood nostalgia lovin'.  To appease the pop culture gods of my youth I went out and bought the Complete 1st, 2nd, and 3rd season of Scooby-Doo.

My kid watches it nonstop.  Though, lately, she's been looking towards the newer episodes to watch instead of the old ones, which she's thoroughly exhausted.   Yet, just because she's found a new 'must watch' thing, that doesn't mean I've given up the ghost... or the old caretaker dressed up like one, anyway.   I'm still on the lookout of all the old episodes with all the celebrity guests.... and the ones that weren't included on the third season disc, namely the 10,000 volt ghost and the episodes with Scooby-Dum.

However, while that's being investigated, I've come up with a new way to satiate my sappy childhood memories. 

I never watched Miami Vice in its entirety growing up, though I felt compelled to buy a stupid Miami Mice shirt when I was a kid on vacation in Virginia Beach.  I loved the music and I loved the fashions but for some reason I didn't get into watching it at any great level.  I did catch a lot of the episodes and was sucked in by the "Crockett's Turn To The Dark Side" storyline.  However, when the movie came out a few years ago, I was appalled.  It was just sad to see yet another one of my childhood memories ruined.  And to be done by the genius who brought you the show and a movie like HEAT makes it all the worse.  It was up there with Spielberg and Lucas ruining Indiana Jones with Crystal Skull.

Maybe the show won't hold up to the test of time.  We are a society that has definitely moved on in terms of good television storytelling, especially in the realm of Cop Dramas.  After shows like NYPD Blue, CSI, Law & Order, and Detroit 1-8-7 I think we have a better gritty realism than the bikini and pastel clad beautiful people of the 80s.

Still, that will probably not stop me from indulging myself and buying this box set.  So, slip on your loafers over your bare feet.  Get out your Ray Bans.  Put the top down on your '72 Ferrari.  Hold on to the 80s and feel it in the air tonight.

Oh, and watch out for alligators named Elvis. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

PENNDOT Tries To Calculate Traffic Again: Still Wrong

On Monday, I posted about the new traffic travel time indicators being used on the Parkway East. I also said they were crap because they were severely off in their travel time amounts. As an update, I did do some timekeeping of my own on the way home, Monday evening. Once again, the times were waaaay off in their estimation.  Channel 4 even tested it, but my experienced varied.

First up, as you approach the Forbes Ave exit heading east, there is another sign that usually reads, “Congestion: 1mile ahead” or something of that variation. Monday, at 4:16, it read “Travel Time to Squirrel Hill Tunnels, 7 Minutes.”

As traffic normally begins to back up around Bates St., I felt this was going to be an easy one to dispel and it was. It took me a whole 14 minutes to get to the Squirrel Hill Tunnels. Then, as you approach the Churchill exit, there is another sign which read, “Travel Time to I-76, 7 Minutes.”

There is no way, no way in hell that you could make it from Churchill to the I-76 / 48 / 22 interchange in seven minutes, doing the posted speed limit of 55 mph. I was not going 55 mph and it took me more than seven minutes to reach the turnpike.

That got me to thinking that someone must have been hauling ass to the tune of 80+ mph to trigger that travel time estimation. In fact, I worry that this will promote a bigger presence of police along I-376 between Edgewood and Monroeville. Obviously, whatever formula PENNDOT is using is based on the speed of a vehicle that passes by their camera. That means that the natural tendency is to speed on the Parkway East. Well, duh!?!?

Maybe they need to move the cameras. I have no idea where they are placed but I think a better location would be at both the Westinghouse Technology Park, for the inbound, and right around Bates St on ramp, for the outbound. Then, have the cameras relay that information back to the signs, taking into account the distance between the sign and the camera.

Noticeably, the signs were not operational on Tuesday, leading me to believe they knew they were full of crap. Yet, this morning they were back up again and half wrong. The sign coming into Pittsburgh had the travel time from the sign at Penn Hills to the Tunnel at 10 minutes. It was around 16 minutes.

Once I got through the tunnel, there was another one, stating that estimated travel time to downtown was 12 minutes. First of all, what the hell constitutes ‘Downtown’? Is the end point the Grant St exit? Is it Forbes and Grant? Is it the T station on Liberty Ave? Is it a garbage can inside the USX building’s janitorial closet on the 12th floor? This one was more accurate, given I considered Grant St the end point. It took 12 minutes from the sign until the red light at Grant St. Still, that is only accurate if Grant St. is the destination.

We’ll see if there is any accuracy this evening as I drive home.

Monday, May 9, 2011

PENNDOT Uses Magic Eight Ball To Determine Travel Time on Parkway East

Where Is Your God, Now?

PENNDOT is trying, repeat ‘trying’, to get into the 21st century with ‘Real Time’ measurements of how long it will take you to reach the tunnels on the Parkway East. I say ‘trying’ because today was not an accurate estimate of my travel time.

Usually, if I can get on the Parkway East before 6:30 AM, I can make it beyond the Squirrel Hill Tunnels just before 6:45 AM. That assures me that I can make it to my office just before 7:00 AM. I like that extra few minutes of time to heat up my breakfast and make a cup of coffee before I get going.

So, today I managed to get on the Parkway East around 6:20 AM. So far, so good, right? I saw the sign before the Church Hill exit that usually says something along the lines of ‘Congestion 1 mile ahead’ or 2 miles or 3 miles. Today, it said, ‘Travel time to the Squirrel Hill Tunnels is estimated at 10 minutes’. I paraphrase the actual message as I was driving by fast enough to go back in time, given that I have a Flux Capacitor and some plutonium. Unfortunately, the 05 Malibu Maxx did not come with a Flux Capacitor. DAMNIT!

It was 6:24 AM, at that moment. I thought, ‘Oh, that’s different. Not too bad, then.’ That meant I should reach the tunnel by 6:34 AM.

Unfortunately, everyone decided to just stop on the parkway as we rounded the bend by Westinghouse Technology Park. I didn’t reach the tunnels until 6:44 AM; a full 20 minutes from the sign which read 10.

So, I guess the takeaway is that this ‘estimated’ time could mean anything from twice that. I think that’s a considerable delta. In fact, I think that is too much of one. Why don’t they just go back to the old method which was more reliable? Except that isn’t too reliable when there is an accident on the outbound lane and everyone in front of me slams on their brakes so they can see the wreckage. How about this for some traffic estimations?

“The tunnel monster is PMS’ing it. Everyone is on their brakes from here to the Edgewood/Swissvale on ramp.”

“Rubberneckers ahead. Better call your boss.”

“Remember how you tried to fit into those jeans from last year? A tractor trailer thought the same thing with the tunnel.”

“There’s snow. There are tractor trailers ahead. They never clean off the tops. Do the math.”

“’Eff it. You aren’t getting anything done today, anyway.”

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Get Dave Letterman On the Phone

On Monday, I kind of took a jab at my wife over her saying that they killed Obama Bin Laden.   Well, I apologize because everybody seems to be having trouble getting the name right.   Now, normally I would laugh at the fact that FOX News got it wrong.   I’ll let you stew on that for a bit.   However, it seems that CNN, local news affiliates and even people can get the names mixed up just as much as Geraldo Rivera.

Check out 1:02 for the huge fail.

Now, as I was coming back from lunch during my day long sit-and-wait-to-be-told-that-I wasn’t-going-to-be-picked-for-jury-duty, I passed by one of the televisions which was showing HLN.   The crawl at the bottom was “NYC FIREFIGHTERS REACT TO OBAMA’S DEATH”.

As an amateur humorist and lover of all things quirky about language I have to find the funny in all this.   In our time, we have had a murderous Al Qaeda leader named Osama Bin Laden and a President of the United States named Barack Hussein Obama.  Now, what are the odds that, one day, these two people with similar sounding names would cross paths where one would end up being killed during the others Presidential term?  It boggles the mind.

As we move through the life cycle of this news story, there will probably be countless other grammatical slips and I hope that we have the common sense to realize what they are and move past them.   However, I’m sure somewhere in the White House, Michelle is asking her husband about his ‘other wives’.   At least, I hope she’s joking about it.

With that, I leave you with the only possible to tie this all together.

Dave at the 67th Annual Academy Awards
March 27th, 1995

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Was Scooping Up Cat Poop

Everyone wants to have that philosophical, frozen in time debate about where they were when something happened.

“Where were you when…”

Our parents had the ‘When Kennedy was shot’ for their generational question.   Mine was, ‘When the Challenger blew up’.   The tail end of that generational question will be, ‘When 9/11 occurred.’  The new generation will have a tossup.   Will it be, ‘When Michael Jackson died’ or ‘When Osama Bin Laden was killed’?

Given that the average teenager has limited experience with Jackson’s music, apart from Akon working with him in his final years, I’m thinking that Bin Laden’s death will rule out.   Just saying.

In any case, we have way too many ‘moments in time’ for us to keep remembering every little detail.  However, I have the feeling that when anyone ever asks me where I was when I heard Osama was killed, I will be able to recall exactly what I was doing.

I was scooping out cat poop from the litter box.

My wife yelled down to say, “They got him.  They killed O[inaudible].”

I said, “What?”

She yells down again, “They killed Obama[inaudible].”

I dropped the scooper into the litter box.  My heart jumped into my throat.  Someone just assassinated the President?!?!?

“Pause that, shit!  I’ll be right up.”

Turns out the first time she yelled down she said, ‘Osama Bin Laden’.   When I asked her to repeat it, she flubbed it and said, ‘Obama Bin Laden’.

Regardless of malapropisms, I stayed up an extra hour to watch all the coverage and nearly slept through the alarm this morning.   My thoughts swayed between relief that they had finally gotten the man responsible for planning the 9/11 attacks to fear that retaliation would commence while we celebrated.  After all, there is a need for Al Qaeda to establish relevance in the wake of this news and that scares me.

Then I heard the news that they buried the body at sea.  That’s just flipping wonderful isn’t it?  We just endured the onslaught of Donald Trump crying, “Show us your papers, Obama” for the last few weeks, now we’ll have continuous cries of “Show us the body.”   The naysayers will probably do the following.
  1. It’s election time.  Obama is using this to boost numbers.
  2. The body was conveniently buried to cover up that he has been dead or is still alive.
  3. This is to take focus away from the birthing issue.
Has it really come to this?   Are we really that divided of a nation that we look at every little thing that goes on as a conspiracy?  Can’t we just take a little comfort in the fact that a terrible person has come to justice, one way or the other.  I’m not going to go out and dance in the streets but I’m glad that those affected by the attacks in 2001 are one more step towards closure.

I’m also glad I wasn’t doing anything embarrassing when I heard the news.   “Where was I when Osama was killed?  Oh, I was in the bathroom, having an intestinal issue.  It was taco night.”

As a footnote I would to extend my sincerest support for those who have fought and died to protect us from harm.  I also commend SEAL Team Six for pulling off this operation with as little loss of life as necessary.

Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit

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