Sunday, January 31, 2010

At Penn Station East Coast Subs, when you place your order for take-out, they ask for a name for the order so that they can call it out when it's ready to go. So, of course, I always say my name is "Dave." It didn't take long for the regular employees of the place to recognize me as a regular customer. This one fellow who works there bellows out a big "DAVE" when I walk into the store. I think his name is Joe. Anyway, last night he was ringing up my large Philadelphia cheesesteak with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and spicy brown mustard, and we had a brief conversation about the merits of Penn Station East Coast Subs over similar sub places like Subway. We both agreed that Subway gives you very little meat, and the machine that they say makes their subs "hot" is little more than a glorified microwave oven that just makes the subs nasty.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Did you know that 25% of all of the pensions in the United States are in Pennsylvania? And I'm sure that some of the members of my vast readership who live in Pennsylvania have heard how many of the municipal pension funds across the state are grossly underfunded. I heard an estimate yesterday that the City of Pittsburgh only has 35% of the money necessary to cover its pension obligation. That's a pretty big shortfall. I wonder what the Boy Mayor is going to do, now that his "university tuition tax" seems to have faded away.

Friday, January 29, 2010

I have just now learned that J.D. Salinger died on Wednesday. As some of my vast readership know, I was a high school English teacher in what seems like another lifetime. I taught "The Catcher in the Rye." It wasn't one of my favorites, but I thought it was still a good book to read with high school students. It's considered a classic. And I can tell you from experience that there are frequently questions on "Jeopardy!" about the reclusive author and his novel.

His obituary is an interesting read, if you're, well, interested.
I need winter socks. Wool socks. I don't like them, but I need them if I'm going to be outside walking dogs on the coldest days of the winter. So, knowing that it's late in the season and local stores would most likely be out of or have very little selection of wool socks, I went to the ultimate source for all things wool: I ordered two pairs of good, solid, ragg wool socks like I used to wear when I lived in Toronto. They were not cheap. $12 a pair. And then $5.95 for shipping, for a total of $30 for two pairs of socks. But they're Woolrich, baby. Rich with wool.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

DAVE: I haven't been on Facebook recently. What's going on with you and the little family, family man Focker?

FOCKER: oh my, the usual, but all is going well.
i'm afraid to tell you that your wedding gift to us (coffee maker) just recently died as the carafe cracked. i think that's the incredible news for you.
lots of contemplative thoughts about getting on in life. interesting seeing a lot of these people on facebook...just perusing. interesting, i don't see brian or mike as any of chris's friends but i saw will was on there.
what's up with you? you still doing the dog trainer thing? how's your health?

DAVE: You can't just get a new carafe?

Have you joined a fantasy football league yet? It's what every male does here. I'm not into it. Outsider Dave.

FOCKER: hmmm, i wonder how you get a new carafe rather than a whole new machine...interesting....

no, i don't do fantasy football, just like i don't play poker, gamble, or drink coors light.

DAVE: Good old Focker.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I just took the Jeopardy! Online Contestant Test, and I got SMOKED!!! The questions were HARD. REALLY HARD. Too hard for me. Smoked.
There has been a Steely McBeam sighting.

Monday, January 25, 2010


DAVE: When I got up this morning, I found a stink bug in my kitchen.


JIM: My wife found one upstairs in our house yesterday.

DAVE: It's weird how they just, appear. And then they just sit there.

Until I kill them.

JIM: Yeah. Weird.
I drove by the new Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC today. Truly, a glorious looking building from the outside, a gem in the Pittsburgh landscape. And it cost a billion dollars, I think. That's a lot of money. No wonder UPMC has to close their satellite hospital in Braddock (where poor people live, many of them without health care insurance). That's as much money as the new Yankee Stadium cost to build. And I think the new Cowboys Stadium cost at least that much.

And when they started, there was already a hospital there. Does anyone remember St. Francis? Listen to me. I sound like I work for the Chamber of Commerce. Which I would never do. Because I'm far too anti-social. And because I would probably have to work with the Boy Mayor. And that just plain ain't happening.

As I was saying, I drove by the new Children's Hospital today, and I couldn't help but notice the handful of folks perched out on the sidewalk in front of the building, fighting the swirling wind, to smoke their cigarettes. While presumably, their children were in the hospital being treated for something or other. I know it's commonplace nowadays to see people puffing away hurriedly, visitors and staff alike, out on the sidewalks that border Pittsburgh's many hospitals. But it always makes me cringe just a little bit more when I see it at Magee Women's Hospital and at Children's.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

In the last week, I ate two things for the first time: Pizza Hut Stuffed Crust Pizza and the previously scoffed at McDonald's Big Mac Snack Wrap. Both were scrumptious. Especially the Big Mac Snack Wrap. All of the deliciousness of a Big Mac without the three levels of bun. So tasty.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

DAVE: I am one of those people who actually believe that health care reform is necessary to save the United States from becoming like California. Or worse. So, although it may seem dramatic, people like me (and there are many of them) fear that any major obstacle to Obama and his agenda will cause this country to never, I repeat, never come out of this recession, but rather probably continue to get worse. Now, I know that a lot of people don't want to hear that, that the great United States of America would never let that happen. But GM and the great model for the rest of the country California have already gone down. What's to stop the whole country from imploding? Ah. Except astronomical income taxes. Yes, that might save us from ourselves in the short term. And we all know how much people like tax increases, no matter how small. How will they react to their income taxes doubling, I wonder.

JIM: Yeah. Only the government can solve all of our problems.

DAVE: Well, I don't think "we" are doing a very good job, so who else is left to do it?

JIM: Fine. You win.

DAVE: No, damnit, I don't win. We all lose.

JIM: Especially people on welfare, for one example, who are incentivized to sit around on their asses and wait for that government check every month that makes their lives so much better and solves all of their problems. Can't wait until we're all like that.

DAVE: I would love to continue this conversation, because I think it has genuine merit, but I have to get ready for work. I understand what you are saying. And no one wants to hear the doom and gloom that I sometimes espouse.

JIM: There are obviously big problems in this country. And there are no easy solutions to most of them.

DAVE: Agreed.

DAVE: Okay. Back from work. I thought about our earlier conversation a lot while I was at work. I have a lot of time to think at work. Which is not always a good thing. The thing about the government is that it has the power to "manipulate" certain aspects of our economy that the "free market" may not be able to do in a favorable way for citizens and the economy. This is the kind of manipulation that you don't hear too many republicans or businesses complaining about because it favors the country.

For instance, since the real estate bubble has burst, as you know, the government bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Well, rather than kick every person who can't afford their mortgage out into the street, thus causing a tremendous flooding of the housing market with available homes and thus, causing the prices to go down much further than they already have, the mortgage companies have taken over the properties, but are now "renting" the homes to the buyers to keep the market stable. The government is very purposely and intentionally trying to control the housing market. Without their involvement, the market would be oversaturated with available properties all over the country, and we would all likely see our property values plummet. Plummet. Our recession as we know it would be a full-blown depression with soaring inflation, increased unemployment, and, as I said, no property value. But the government is "controlling" that. In addition to other, pretty important aspects of our economy. Unfortunately, the government can't magically create the vast amount of jobs necessary to get people back to work. But, they still try.

I have heard the arguments against "big government" ever since I was a republican myself. Should we have to depend on government to take care of us? No. But as a country, I think that we have more than demonstrated that if left to our own devices, we will screw over everybody we can for our own personal gain. Bernie Madoff is not a unique individual in our society. He is emblematic of our society.

JIM: Like I said before, you win.

DAVE: Fine.

I probably should win.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Email from the Father . . .

I've been doing this blog for so long that I'm beginning to have trouble remembering if I've talked about certain things or certain people before. Anyway, there is an older priest who has a condo in my building, and who is also on the condo association's board, along with me and a couple of other characters. The Father appears to be gay (not that there's anything wrong with that), and sometimes his emails are just hysterical. Here is a recent one on the topic of changing our building's rock salt supply to a dog-friendly alternative:

FATHER: Hi Everyone:

I used to have a dog and when I would take him out in the snow I would always clean his paws after our walks.

I am in favor of this pet friendly de-icer if it does not cost more than our regular salt.

I would even be in favor of it more if it cost less than our regular salt!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Thanks to Facebook, I can post a photo of Leigh from when she was in college. She's certainly wearing a lot of red, but I think she was a cheerleader or something. Love that hair.
Typical Pittsburgh January weather today: rain all day. It makes me miss the cold and snow.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

DAVE: Just to further demonstrate how insane Cyril Wecht is, he is now considering running for Governor.

DAD: Years ago Wecht ran for U. S. Senate against Sen. John Heinz, who was then running for his second term. Wecht got swamped by about 3-1. He said that the problem was "name recognition." My reaction to that was: "Yes, the people who did not know him forgot to vote for him or voted for Heinz because he was better known. And the people who did know Wecht refused to vote for him because of what they knew about him." The man's ego and arrogance know no bounds.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

DAVE: The daycare put a single ad on craigslist for a couple of new employees who would be working part-time for $7/hour under the table. They had over 50 responses, many of whom were from grossly overqualified, unemployed professionals. I may differ with the President on this issue, but the recession in this country will not be over until there are jobs for people, and I fear that that won't happen anytime in the near future. I don't give a shit what the other economic indicators say about the economy. We have created technology that has put ourselves out of work, and rebuilding infrastructure is not going to take care of that.

JIM: Send me the link. I'm ready to apply.

DAVE: Very funny. But this is a serious problem.

JIM: Yeah, that's it. I was joking.

Monday, January 11, 2010

DAVE: That's cool that you have Hooligans on CD. I'm pretty sure from my inquiries that it isn't available anymore. But I listened to my cassette over the weekend, and it's still rocking.

JIM: Jerry's Records was a gold mine for finding great used CDs. but you had to be there at the right time and get lucky because they always got grabbed up fast. I think there was probably a point in time where I would stop by there at least once every day to see what they had in.

DAVE: Meanwhile, I think I was still buying cassettes back then. Like most new technology, I was a little late coming to the CD party.

JIM: My parents bought me a CD player when I went off to college, even though I never really asked for one. When it comes to that, I have to give them credit for being ahead of me on that one.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I have just learned that McDonald's is now offering a Big Mac Snackwrap.

That's not right. No, sir.
Despite my varied musical tastes, if I had to pick one album that I could not be without, it would be "Hooligans" by The Who. It was released in 1981. I have it on tape, which I ordered from the Columbia Record and Tape Club. But I have never been able to find that specific album on CD. I've asked about it. I don't think it was ever released on CD. I have a bunch of Who CDs that are almost as good. But none that are quite the complete Who album that I consider "Hooligans."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

There is so much freaking rock salt scattered about in my condo. I'm sick of going around vacuuming it up every day. Aside from that, I'm not completely and utterly opposed to this winter. I'm out walking dogs in it, and I kind of like it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The savant who was the inspiration for "Rain Man" passed away: