Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Maybe I should get a Swiffer . . .

Despite being a short-haired dachshund, my dog Sidney has what seems to me like a lot of hair. And right now, he is shedding like crazy, meaning that there are little black and tan hairs taking over my condo. And not only do I think that I'm a bit allergic to him, but I think he's a little bit allergic to himself. We both seem to be doing a lot of sneezing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Love and baseball . . .

I feel like someone made a deal with the Devil on my behalf, but no one bothered to tell me about it. I've had what I consider to be tremendous good luck across the spectrum of my life. Too many examples to even start reciting them. There's been a lot of good luck. There's been some bad luck too, some of it disguised as such until it finally revealed itself as good luck. But I think, overall, I've had much more good luck than bad luck.

That having been said, part of that bad luck is that I've never been able to get something that I truly wanted. I get close (not unlike Sisyphus and his big rock) but then whatever it is that I'm pursuing somehow gets away.

I've been in serious love three times in my life, but those relationships always ended. I once thought that I knew exactly what my dream job was, and even better, I thought that it might be within reach at one point. But it wasn't. And now that chapter of my life is so distant and removed from where and who I am now. What happened?

Even my dog is named after the great anti-hero in Pittsburgh Pirates history. So close, but not quite there. And to have it snatched away from me so suddenly and so violently. Damn you, Sid Bream!

And ever since that fateful night in Atlanta, the Curse of Sid Bream has followed the Pirates into the team's 16th year of losing futility. And there was a time not so long ago, that the Pittsburgh Pirates were one of my great, great loves. And now I don't attend games in beautiful PNC Park, even if the tickets are free, and I can hardly bear to watch the games on TV. It seems as though all of my great loves are taken from me. And I quite simply want to know why. Why can't my lifetime of good luck spill over into these crucial areas of my life that have left me, in some ways, empty and desolate? Whose idea was this? I'd like to renegotiate my contract, please.

Baseball email . . .

Jim: I just realized that I have too many damn Pirates hitters on my rotisserie team.

Dave: Yeah, the Pirates have the same problem.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hanes HER way . . .

As this photo shows, the state of the economy is obviously forcing some folks to find unusual and unorthodox ways of saving money.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sun of Man . . .

It's Saturday morning and I'm awake. I got up around five to take Sidney out and feed him, like I do everyday, but today, I just couldn't get back to sleep. So, I left Sidney in the bed where he is still sleeping. and I've been up since then, diddling around on the computer, drinking coffee, and watching the slow and steady sunrise outside of my window.

It's been a glorious week, a week that has brought with it all of the pleasantries of Spring. The color green is finally starting to make its presence known all over the place, and the cherry tree is front of my building is bursting with blooms. How can I sleep when there is so much to do and so much to enjoy?

All of this comes after a difficult winter for me. I suffer from Seasonal Depression, so the winter months are just that much colder, that much darker for me than they are for the average person. January, February, and March were tough. I was struggling to get up in the morning, and I was sleeping in on the weekends until noon. But sure enough, just when I needed it most, Spring returned in April without the usual chill and wet weather that ordinarily accompanies it and the start of baseball season in Pittsburgh.

Now, I know that a rather severe wave of colder air and temperatures is expected here next week, but I really feel empowered right now. I think that Spring and the sun have given me the strength and fortitude to withstand a few days of typical April weather. For now, I am back to being what I consider to be my true self, my true Dave-dom.

At least until next January.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Did you know that inmates get industrial-sized Lunchables to eat in jail . . . ?

A new feature for Dave's blog . . . ?

Dave: Did you look at Tony Mandarich's blog?

Jim: No. Your blog is the only one I read. After that, anything else would just be drivel.

Dave: I appreciate the compliment. However, there were photos of hot girls on Mandarich's blog. I can't really compete with that. Maybe I should start having a "hot girl photo Friday" feature. What do you think?

Jim: As long as it doesn't compromise the integrity of the message on your blog, then I think you should have hot girls on it as often as possible. Or at least on Fridays.

The more you know . . .

Did you know that the lower class in America is now defined as households that make $35,000 or less? Scary. I know a lot of intelligent, educated folks from middle and upper class families who are now considered in the lower class.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mixed results . . .

Not a bad showing for Obama yesterday, really, considering Pennsylvania is a state divided with blue state status surrounding Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on either end and a whole bunch of red state folks everywhere else.

At least they still have their guns and their religion. And John McCain. And a war in Iraq. And a failing economy. And an increasing price of a college education to go along with a shrinking job market and salary deflation. And a two-class system: upper and lower. And a current President who is giving many of us $300 or $600 to help "stimulate" the economy by encouraging Americans to spend that money, rather than save it or apply it to existing debt. Problem solved.

America will continue to be in the same good hands that it has been for the last seven years.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Not only is today Earth Day . . .

. . . But it is also (finally) Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania. And there is a lot at stake in this one. So, stop reading my blog and go vote.

For Barack Obama, of course.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I wish there was a "Do Not Call" List for elections . . .

Franco Harris keeps calling me and leaving pre-recorded messages. I get it, I get it. I'm voting for Obama, already. Sheez.

Is Hillary's message falling on deaf ears . . . ?

Friday, April 18, 2008

A quote from Helen the library clerk on a beautiful spring day . . .

It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.

John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga

Thursday, April 17, 2008

From the bitter blogger . . .

I don't know why Barack Obama's comments last week about some people in Pennsylvania being bitter and disenfranchised and finding comfort in guns or religion have caused him any controversy whatsoever.

A) It's so true.

B) I'm a perfect example of a bitter and disenfranchised person living in Pennsylvania.


C) I'm so bitter that I can't even find comfort in things like guns and religion. I got nothing. Nothing, man.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Prices keep going up: gasoline, groceries, pizza, and light-rail extension projects . . .

Subway bids are budget busters

Low bid for second contract for light-rail extension is more than 50% over earlier estimate

Wednesday, April 16, 2008
By Joe Grata, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The apparent low bid for the second contract on the Port Authority's light-rail extension project came in at $48.9 million yesterday, well over budget.

Authority officials wouldn't say how much the bid for the new Gateway Center Station shell exceeded engineering estimates, but the number is well beyond the $25 million to $30 million range discussed two months ago.

The low bidder was North Shore Constructors II, a joint venture of West Mifflin-based Trumbull Corp. and Japan-based Obayashi Corp., who currently hold the initial $156.5 million contract to bore twin tunnels under the Allegheny River for the 1.2-mile North Shore Connector.

Joseph B. Fay Co. of Tarentum submitted the only other bid: $55.7 million.

"We were surprised that there were only two bidders," authority Operations Manager Winston Simmonds said. "It may be because there are so many other civil construction projects out there. The heated construction environment was definitely a concern for us, along with the escalation of labor, concrete, steel and energy costs."

The authority recently revised the contract and decided to close the existing Gateway Center T station for two years during construction as a means of minimizing costs.

"We've cut all the corners we can cut," Mr. Simmonds said.

The high bids do not bode well for the next contract, building the Allegheny Station shell and the elevated superstructure for the system on the North Shore. Those bids are to be opened May 14.

"Escalation is the concern for all contracts," Mr. Simmonds said. "It's reflective of the marketplace locally and nationally."

The Port Authority has a full-funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration for a $435 million project. As of the end of March, it had spent $162 million for consultants, insurance, other associated costs and construction completed to date.

With another $76.5 million still to be paid for the first contract, and if it decides to accept yesterday's low bid, the authority will have spent and/or committed a total of $287.4 million, leaving $147 million to cover four remaining contracts that include station finishes, signals, rail installation, traction power system, communications, escalators and elevators.

Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato has previously declared $12 million as the limit on the county's share of project costs.

Mr. Simmonds said he and other officials would discuss what they expect for the project's financial future after reviewing the latest bids.

"We want to clearly understand the differences" between bids and engineering estimates, he said. "We want to gather more information."

Even Bill agrees that Hillary is not number 1 . . .

Monday, April 14, 2008

Apparently, Hillary is not "number 1" . . .

Hillary may have gotten the Steelers jersey from Uncle Dan Onorato, but Obama got the endorsement of Dan Rooney.

From today's Post-Gazette:

The Steelers chairman released a letter endorsing Mr. Obama. "As a grandfather and a citizen of this community I think Barack Obama's thoughtful, strategic approach is important for America," the letter addressed to "fellow Pennsylvanians" said. "When I hear how excited young people seem to be when they talk about this man, I believe he will do what is best for them, which is to inspire them to be great Americans."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

21-gun salute . . .

Charlton Heston died last Saturday. What I want to know is if there was anyone there to take the rifle from his cold, dead hands.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

This issue very much troubles me . . .

I've been making some quiet and some not so quiet observations about the direction of the economy (read: money) for several years, but now, with an election year and all, everyone seems to be getting on the bandwagon. It must really be bad.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dear Penthouse Forum . . .

The young woman who has been cleaning my teeth for several years is cute. She is attractive (even though I mostly see her with a dental mask obscuring much of her face) and she has a fun personality. Having my teeth cleaned by her has made the typically unpleasant experience of going to the dentist a little less unpleasant in recent years. She's married and has a young son. That having been said, there always seems to be a little bit of chemistry between us, at least for the 30 minutes twice a year that I spend with her in my mouth, err, working in my mouth. And it seems that almost every time I visit her, she says something during the course of my appointment that is ripe with sexual innuendo. But because I am a mature adult, I let those little tidbits go by without batting an eyelash. All right, that's not true. I probably bat both eyelashes and raise one eyebrow to much greater heights than its matching partner. But I don't say anything, and the little remarks just fade away as the six months pass between appointments. That is, until yesterday.

A typical appointment, complete with what I consider to be a little bit of friendly banter and perhaps a little flirting. The usual number of dental-issue-comments-slash-sexual-innuendos. Then she was using the Ultrasonic Superduper Teeth Scaler Thingee to clean my teeth, and she was explaining to me how some dental hygienists do not use the machine properly, leading to some discomfort for the patient. She was telling me that the head of the scaler vibrates and gets hot, and if you touch the vibrating tip to a place in the mouth for too long, then it burns the spot. Or something like that. While she was explaining the proper way to use the scaler, I just couldn't control myself anymore. I started laughing and I put my hand up in the air from my reclined position and simply said, "Stop. No more. Please." She started laughing herself and acknowledged that her explanation had taken us in the wrong direction.

It may very well have been my best visit to the dentist. Ever. And only six months until she and I can continue our bi-annual flirtation.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My parents brought a lot back with them from Florida . . .

My family is a mystery. Really, it is. And I know that almost everyone feels that way about their family, or at least they are entitled to. I have never met what I consider to be a particularly healthy and happy family, so I don't even know what that looks like. But I am quite certain that my family is not one of them. Case in point, my Father's sister was treated for cancer for several years, and apparently she now has a clean bill of health. However, while she was dealing with the cancer and its physically ravaging treatments, she developed clinical depression, which she was treated for and dealt with in addition to the cancer. As some experts (and those who have experienced it firsthand) will tell you, once you've been down the often dark and lonely road of depression, even following successful treatment and recovery, it always seems just a little easier to slip down that path again in the future when certain triggers emerge. And apparently that is what has happened, following my Aunt and Uncle's recent move from their longtime house in Virginia to a retirement community in a different part of the state.

My parents tell me that my Aunt is suffering from depression again. She doesn't like the "really old" people that are her new neighbors, and she greatly misses her "girls," the women that she has called her closest friends for many years. She says that their friends just don't call them anymore and she is lonely. Although many in today's world consider retirement communities a necessary evil when people reach a certain age and they need progressive help with taking care of themselves, many others consider retirement communities a waiting room for death. And while I'm sure that it was time for my Aunt and Uncle to make the move (especially since I'm told that my Uncle suffers from some dementia issues himself), it has obviously been very tough on my Aunt.

And really, the saddest part of all of this is that my parents just don't seem to understand. Not that I'm an expert or anything, but I do know that depression is very difficult. And while it's certainly challenging for those around the person suffering, I can assure you that there is no worse a position to be in than the person who is experiencing depression's steely grip. So, now my parents seem to be talking about my Aunt as though she's somehow "broken." Like there's nothing that they can do for her. And that's because my parents just don't understand. They have demonstrated that so many times over the course of my lifetime that I feel very comfortable making that pronouncement. They just don't understand. And they make seemingly no effort to change that.

My Father is my Aunt's only sibling. I don't know if there is anything that he can do or say to make my Aunt feel better. But the sad part is that I doubt he will even try, beyond an occasional email or phone call to her. That's pretty much what you get from my parents.

Monday, April 7, 2008

My Father . . .

My Mother confided in me that my Father has been sending money to Barrack Obama's campaign. Apparently, he told her, if he gives a certain amount, then he gets invited to an exclusive lunch with Obama.

PNC Park at dawn on Opening Day . . .

While hope still springs eternal for a constantly shrinking number of Pirate fans, PNC Park always looks beautiful from the outside. It's when you're inside watching the team play that what you see can turn very ugly. But hey, that's why the team added a new all-you-can-eat section for this season. No matter how the team is playing on the field, Pittsburghers still come for the overpriced food. So, now I am officially out of touch with the new generation of Pirate (or rather, PNC Park food) fans. Play ball!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

My father turns 74 tomorrow . . .

My parents returned from their winter home in Florida yesterday. They looked well, seemed well. But they also seemed older than the last time I'd seen them six months ago. Older, slower, not as sharp, not as logical. A little lost in Pittsburgh, things familiar in Florida still fresh in their memories. My father can't drive. Safely. But he hasn't been able to do that in years. Being his passenger is an act of faith. And hope. I caught him falling asleep a couple of times on the way home from dinner. He came to a complete stop at a green light before I encouraged him to proceed. Scary stuff. They have gotten "old" at a younger age than I had expected, but then again, what experience did I have to draw on.

This is a warning to all of you out there driving the streets of Pittsburgh. My father is back in town, and he drives a lot in the summer, mostly to and from PNC Park. So, beware.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

It's Saturday, but this blogger never rests. I have some questions . . .

If the City of Pittsburgh were to merge with Allegheny County, who would be the head honcho of the whole shebang? Uncle Dan or the Lukester? I'm guessing that it would be the Lukester (God help us all) because Uncle Dan will be too busy helping Uncle Ed move out of the governor's mansion so that he can move in.

How come the Lukester doesn't seem to get along with the same members of City Council that he formerly shared the big wooden table with in Council Chambers? Whenever Council suggests a good idea for the city, the Lukester vetoes it and then institutes the same suggestions on his own. What's up with that?

It sometimes takes me several days to get the driver's seat in my car back to exactly the right position after it has been moved. Is that weird?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Who IS Ron Paul?

Uh, hi there. I'm Ron Paul. I'm running for President as a Republican.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Nostalgia . . .

Today I threw away a CD that my college girlfriend Julie gave me for Christmas in 1993.

It was a lousy CD.

Apparently, as a lover, I'm right on time . . .

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Email news from Jim . . .

I just read in USA Today that deer penis, turtle blood and angelica root potions have been added to the list of banned substances for the Chinese Olympics. As far as I know, these substances are not banned in baseball. You should try sending some over to the Pirates clubhouse. Who knows? Maybe if Jason Bay starts eating some deer penis sausage to replace the steroids that I am more and more sure that he was on after every time I watch him play, he can get back to being the monster that he once was.

Now, THAT'S a campfire . . .