Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's just a little more quiet in Pittsburgh today . . .

In addition to everything else that Myron Cope meant to Pittsburgh and the Steelers, I'm told that he was a decent person.

Monday, February 25, 2008

California raisins . . .

I love these little "Ads by Google" that are conveniently positioned above this blog (at least right now they are). I admit it, I sold out. I gave in to The Man and agreed to have little ads appear on my blog. I doubt it will result in any money for me, but I did it. I'm a sellout. Blah, blah, blah.

But my favorite thing about the ads is that they are chosen based very loosely on any major keyword that appears in your recent blogs. So, for instance, while I was making fun of Ugg boots, little ads for Ugg boots were appearing at the top of my blog page. That's messed up. I feel betrayed.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Just reporting the news, folks . . .

Gateway 'T' stop to close for 2 years

Port Authority move will cut costs during work on extension

Saturday, February 23, 2008
By Joe Grata, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Figuring that energy, steel and cement prices will continue to escalate significantly, the Port Authority is cutting more corners on its $435 million light-rail extension to the North Shore.

Some T riders will have to sacrifice, too, by walking a few extra blocks or transferring to a shuttle bus at the Wood Street station.

Authority officials yesterday disclosed that the Gateway Center station will be closed for two years starting in mid-2009 to make it easier -- and cheaper -- to build a new, nearby Gateway subway station under Stanwix Street, in front of Fifth Avenue Place.

Bids for the block-long concrete shell of the $25 million-plus station are to be opened March 26. If the board receives an acceptable low bid, construction would get under way about four months later.

Instead of phasing work to maintain service at the existing Gateway station, the contractor will be allowed to close it along with a track loop that trolleys travel to change from inbound to outbound service, thereby saving time, labor and -- the authority hopes -- several million dollars.

The Gateway station is to be closed at some point in April to June next year and remain closed until mid-2011, when the 1.2-mile North Shore Connector is finished and open for business.

While trolley service is terminated at the Wood Street Station, the authority will operate shuttle buses to and from the Gateway Center area for riders who choose not to walk the extra four or five blocks.

The change represents the second cost-cutting move for a new Gateway Center station. More than a year ago, station designers eliminated a public plaza and modified other architectural features to cut costs. However, a glass-enclosed subway entrance, partly funded by $1 million from The Heinz Endowments and $100,000 from The Pittsburgh Foundation, remains in the plans.

"We're doing what we can to mitigate the impact of escalating construction costs without compromising safety or the integrity of the project," Port Authority Chief Executive Officer Steve Bland said. "I'd be living in a fool's paradise if I said there's no problem [about containing costs]."

Operations Manager Winston Simmonds, who's overseeing the project, said the authority is looking at other cost-cutting measures, such as using concrete instead of steel poles to support the overhead power system and entertaining value-engineering suggestions from contractors.

"Costs are a major concern for our design group, construction managers and the board," Mr. Bland said. "If we can't keep the costs down, the question becomes, 'How do we fund it?'"

The Port Authority has a $435 million funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration that requires it to build the system it proposed, including twin tunnels now being bored under the Allegheny River and two North Shore stations.

"You just can't lop off a quarter-mile of track or one of the North Shore stations," Mr. Bland said. "We're walking a fine line."

In June 2006, before the authority made a commitment with the FTA, it raised cost estimates by 10 percent, to the current $435 million estimate. The amount includes about $22 million for contingencies, including cost escalation and unanticipated costs.

The new Gateway Center station contract will be the second of 16 necessary to build the North Shore Connector. The first one, for $156.5 million, was awarded to North Shore Constructors, a joint venture of West Mifflin-based Trumbull Corp. and San Francisco-based Obayashi Corp., covering boring the twin tunnels and the majority of the civil work.

In project-related business yesterday, Port Authority officials reported that the special tunnel boring machine has completed the first 165 feet of tunnel heading toward the river from the 55-foot-deep "launch pit" at the northwest corner of PNC Park.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday . . .

Jim: Hey, check this out:

I was The Joker.

Dave: Lex Luthor. But only 43%.

And just 4% more than Catwoman.

Jim: I guess you don't make a very good villain.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

FF's night at the theatre . . .

Dave: How was "Amadeus?"

FF: Beautiful to look at but boring and less than perfect performances. We had a candy eater on our right that was "shhh'd" multiple times by the fur coat clad big-haired bitch in front of us. We had a conservative tight ass on our left, who apparently was unaware that Mozart had a fascination with women's bottoms and the word "shit". She was very vocal with her disgust. Rock me Amadeus.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I can't take it anymore . . .

Too much Oprah Winfrey. I'm Oprah Winfrey-ed out.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's the season between Valentine's Day and Easter . . .

As the snow melts away around here, it leaves behind in its wake an equally hazardous road condition. Potholes. It is full-blown Pothole Season in the City of Pittsburgh. They are everywhere. No neighborhood is immune. They are the great equalizer. The roads in posh neighborhoods like mine will fall just as big a victim to this plague as the roads in every other neighborhood. Potholes don't play favorites. Unfortunately, Public Works crews do.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

And this is what happened to the library clerk's father on Sunday . . .

My father fell on the ice today. Bruised his knees really bad. Had to call off work. Unfortunately, the stairs in question where he had his fall were his own.

This is what happened when Jim went shopping with his wife on Saturday . . .

Honest to god, Dave, I tried to get my wife to buy a pair of Ugg boots today.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I have Edgar Snyder on speed dial . . .

You know what I can't believe? I've been living in this oh-so-posh neighborhood of mine for more than nine years now, and I still can't believe that some people don't clear their sidewalks of snow and ice. I mean, at least thrown down some salt or something. Don't these folks know that all it takes is one "slip and fall" and then it's time to call a lawyer? It's not worth the risk.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go take a long walk around my neighborhood.

In pennyloafers.

Email from Jim . . .

I just went to your blog for the sole purpose of looking at the picture of the Ugg boots.

"Sole" purpose, get it? God, I crack myself up.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What happened while I was at work?

Uh, Sidney, is there something you want to tell me?

And who's your new friend?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's the end of the world as we know it . . .

I can't believe that I'm saying this on February 13, but I think it's over. The election for the next President. John McCain won. That's it. Over. And I don't want to think about it or talk about it. It truly sucks.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

And speaking of weird trends . . .

This young woman is so . . . orange. I've seen that shade before . . .
And if you haven't already heard, the price of first class postage is going up. Again. Up one cent to 42 starting in May. Time to stock up on those "Forever" stamps. The Postal Service pisses me off.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Today I saw a fellow on my street wearing Ugg boots. It was not pretty.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tales from the city . . .

Sometimes when I take my dog Sidney out for a quick bathroom break in the hedged-in yard behind my building, I don't put trousers on. Now, I am wearing boxer shorts, which I think more than adequately cover me for a quick trip outside with the dog. When he goes number two, we have to take a short walk out of the yard to a dumpster where I can deposit his deposit. I have been doing this since I got him at the beginning of October without incident. My neighbors don't say anything, except when it's really cold, my one neighbor comments on the fact that I go outside in shorts. But that's it. And she's crazy.

So, yesterday I took Sidney out back, and he did his thing. We were walking briskly to the dumpster, where I saw there was a man rummaging through the trash. This has become an all too familiar sight behind my building, but I try not to think about it. I don't know if it's always the same guy or not, but it's not a pleasant thing. Anyway, the guy turns around and very politely says to me, "Sir, you're wearing underwear." To which, I replied with a friendly smile, "Yes, and you're going through my trash." Pause. "I guess that makes us even." He smiled, and then he said, "I guess it does."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The three puppeteers . . .

Really? These are my choices? No Al Gore? No Ralph Nader? No universal healthcare? Are we even going to leave Iraq? What the hell is going on here?

Nice face, Hillary.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Where there's a Will . . .

Read me the one about Prince Hamlet again. Please! That one's my favorite.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Not perfect anymore . . .

Apparently, it's not as easy for the Patriots to win the Super Bowl when they don't have videotape of their opponent's final practice before the big game. Maybe next year, Belichick.

Friday, February 1, 2008

From my friend the library clerk . . .

We found a card in one of the return books today from a woman telling her boyfriend or husband that she is leaving him because after three years of being with him she is pretty sure she is gay.