Friday, April 30, 2010

Popsicle riddle from last night . . .

Who do all the inches follow?

Their ruler.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Is it just me, or does everyone work with someone who looks almost exactly like sandwich-board jobless guy?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pittsburgh region loses title of worst air in U.S.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

There will not be a three-peat.

After holding the title of worst air in the nation for two years, the Pittsburgh metropolitan area has fallen to third place for daily soot pollution, behind Bakersfield and Fresno, Calif., according to the American Lung Association's "State of the Air 2010" report.

The Pittsburgh area also dropped from second to fifth place for year-round soot pollution, behind Phoenix, Ariz., and Bakersfield, Los Angeles and Visalia, all in California.

But despite measurable improvements in air quality noted in the Lung Association's 11th annual report released this morning, the Pittsburgh region still received failing grades for both short-term and annual fine particle soot pollution and ozone smog.

Short-term pollution measures fine particulates in the air over a 24-hour period in micrograms per cubic meter. The long-term rankings use annual averages calculated and reported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

"People in Allegheny County breathe air that is too often dangerous, a public health issue that impacts even healthy, vibrant individuals as well as those most at risk -- children, the elderly and people with chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart and lung disease," said Deborah Brown, acting chief executive officer at the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic.

Read more:

I have a question that's always perplexed me . . .

When you have an item ready for recycling, does rinsing it out two or three times with water actually cancel out the environmental benefit of the recycling itself?

I am pretty solid when it comes to recycling. As my high-speed internet shopping spree unfolded, I found myself inundated with empty cardboard boxes. I used to just stroll those out to the dumpster behind my building. But now I use my switchblade (that I've had since high school and whose sole function in my life is to undo the tape on boxes) to undo the tape and break them down (like you're supposed to) before driving them to Construction Junction to be recycled.

I'm fairly certain that the gas that I burn to make what is a short journey to recycle the boxes cancels out, if not outweighs, the benefits of recycling the boxes. But I do it anyway. Although I do try not to make a special trip, so I get some environmental points for that. Right? Hello?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'm obligated to talk a little bit about the Pirates with my 76-year-old father . . .

DAVE: I've become convinced that the whole "re-building the system" was a colossal failure on the part of Coonelly and Huntington. They traded away all of those players, virtually the entire starting line-up from 2007 (except Ryan Doumit, who is worthless) and they got nothing in return. Nothing. There is nothing on the major league level, and reports are that there's nothing in the minors. They got nothing. You'd think he would have made at least ONE good trade. Even Littlefield had a greater return on his trades, and it pains me to even say that.

DAD: I think you are right. The players they acquired are doing nothing. The sad part of the whole situation is that Andy LaRoche may be the best of their acquisitions. What does that tell you? Of course, what difference does it make? If any of the players they have acquired turn out to do well, they will be traded as soon as they become arbitration eligible. You are also right about Ryan Doumit; he is really worthless, both defensively and offensively. Also, Garrett Jones is looking like a one-year wonder.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Who is Brendan Donnelly? . . .

JIM: He's the 38-year-old veteran journeyman who they [the Pirates] signed to stabilize their bullpen this year.

You don't fool me.

DAVE: Dude, the name sounds familiar, but I'm REALLY not following the Pirates. Scores only. I'm genuinely ready and willing to let the current ownership sell the team to anyone who wants to move it anywhere they want. The Pittsburgh Pirates are a cursed franchise.

JIM: Cursed? Please. Being so melodramatic just doesn't seem to suit you.

DAVE: I'm not being melodramatic, so you're right that it doesn't suit me. I believe that the Pirates are a cursed franchise. Plain and simple. And unlike other cursed baseball franchises like the Cubs and formerly the Red Sox, I don't intend to wait around for the curse to be broken. I named my dog after Sid fucking Bream. I've done all that I can do.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sandwich-board job hunter finds work after 2 years
Associated Press Writer
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
Apr 24, 11:30 AM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) -- When laid-off toy company executive Paul Nawrocki hit the streets of Manhattan wearing a sandwich board and handing out his resume, he became the face of the recession.

At the end of 2008, with the giants of Wall Street collapsing and bank accounts dwindling, this lone, mustachioed job hunter with the sign proclaiming he was "almost homeless" seemed like a mirror of a slumping nation's fears and troubles.

Nawrocki appeared on CNN and was shadowed by South American photojournalists. In a handful of weeks, he gave more than 100 interviews in TV studios and on the street. He began to think of his photograph like a Post-it note - stuck next to seemingly every article about the economy.

The world decided he was a weather vane for the nation's economic troubles. And maybe he was: Even though the attention faded, his troubles did not.

Having the eyes of the world on him didn't land the then-59-year-old any viable job interviews. His wife was sick, and keeping his health care was a struggle. He began to decide between the doctors and the mortgage.

Well, if Paul Nawrocki is a sign of the times, then times are looking up.

Because last month, after collecting 99 weeks of unemployment, Nawrocki finally found a job.

He's not the only one. While unemployment remains high, the nation added 162,000 jobs last month - the first significant job growth since the downturn began.

"It was good. It felt good," the Beacon, N.Y., resident says of his first day back at an office - 25 months after he was asked to leave his old one. "It felt like all new again because it had been so long."

Nawrocki hopes he's back on his feet after the long, dark stretch. But he knows he's still on shaky footing. The financial damage of the last two years won't just disappear.

"We're still not out of the woods," he says now. He has two mortgages on his home 70 miles north of Manhattan.

"One of our mortgages - I'm like six months behind. I don't know how I'm going to be able to catch up."

Nawrocki and his wife declared bankruptcy last year. They got food stamps. They went to food banks. They took gifts from family.

For months, he's been waiting fearfully for his mortgage company to call - waiting for a foreclosure notice, for something. But so far, nothing has happened.

In the end, his path back to work wasn't through his television appearances, but through old-fashioned networking. He went to a toy-industry fair, and a friend introduced him to the man who would become his boss. Nawrocki believes the tales of his sandwich-board days helped him land an interview.

His paycheck is nearly half the size; he had made almost $100,000 a year. And his title is a little less grand.

But the job still seems a wondrous, unlikely rescue - as though a hand had descended from the sky at the last possible moment.

"I had reached the limit, the last week," he recounted. "And they called and had me start the next week. ... Through this whole experience it's been like that. We get right to the edge, and then ..." he trails off.

And then. Hope returns.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Police find suspect neck-deep in liquid manure pit
Apr 22, 3:48 PM EDT

ALBION, Ind. (AP) -- Police said that officers searching for a man wanted on methamphetamine charges found him hiding neck-deep in a liquid manure pit at a northeastern Indiana farm. Noble County sheriff's deputies thought they'd lost the man until an officer spotted him in the tank beneath an outbuilding floor on the farm near Albion.

Chief Deputy Doug Harp said the man, 52, had been neck-deep in the combination of hog and dog feces for at least an hour Tuesday evening. He later became combative and had to be shocked twice with a stun gun.

The suspect was treated at a hospital for hypothermia before being taken to jail.

A Steuben County magistrate on Wednesday ordered the suspect held without bail because he missed court hearings in February and March.

Monday, April 19, 2010

JIM: I keep going back to The Quiet Observer just to look at last Friday's post. Ah, the good old days...

DAVE: Didn't you send me that ad for BMW?

I forgot to tell you that this morning there was a Sid Bream reference and tape on ESPN following the Braves highlights from yesterday. Sid Bream sliding into home will never go away.

JIM: Yeah, I sent it to you. But it feels so much more titillating and salacious to view it on a website.

I just used the word "titillating."

JIM: I just went and looked at her again.

I may never forget her. She just may be my Sid Bream.

Sad, but true . . .

Yesterday, after almost nine and a half years, the original battery in my car had to be replaced. The AAA Battery Technician who ran the analysis of my old battery and who also installed my new battery said he had never heard of a nine and a half year old battery.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Last night, I was experiencing a very strong desire for salt and vinegar potato chips. And I don't even really like potato chips. Doritos are my chip of choice. So, I went to my local neighborhood Giant Eagle for the chips and a couple if other items. While I was perusing the snack aisle looking for my salt and vinegar chips, I stumbled upon a product that I'd never seen before but that's been in the news lately. I couldn't help myself, I had to buy the Big Ben's Beef Jerky. I also sampled the jerky last night. Hence, the opened bag. I did not particularly like it. Perhaps it is an acquired taste.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Some members of my vast readership may know that there is a company called Metro Heating and Cooling located along Banksville Road that often has a sign out front with a timely message. This is the message on the sign today: "7 Get Married."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mother arrested in case of boy bringing heroin to school
Thursday, April 15, 2010
By Moriah Balingit, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The mother of an 8-year-old boy who brought nearly $1,000 worth of heroin to a Wilkinsburg elementary school in his backpack has been arrested, Wilkinsburg police say.

Police would not release the woman's name or what she was charged with.

A third grade teacher at Turner Elementary School saw the boy fumbling with something in his pockets during state standardized testing Tuesday morning. The boy was found to have 60 bags of a white substance that initially tested positive for heroin. Police later found 18 of the bags, some of them opened, in a classroom trash can. Police said the bags were valued at about $10 each.

Police were expected to release the woman's name later today.
Boy, 8, takes heroin to school
Wilkinsburg police weigh charges against several in Turner incident
Thursday, April 15, 2010
By Deborah M. Todd, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"At the age of eight you don't have that much awareness of what you're doing. You know by what you are used to, what you're familiar with. If you live in an environment where that's what you see, you start emulating and imitating and that's what kids do unfortunately. Parents and the adult population aren't setting good examples for young people to follow."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Continued from yesterday . . .

JIM: Well, I'm pretty sure based on past discussions that you would never vote Republican (of course, doesn't that make you as bad as the overly partisan Republicans you deride? a discussion for another time...), but you could always vote for Anthony Williams.

DAVE: I voted for the Republican who ran against our Boy Mayor a couple of years ago. The circumstances have to be extraordinary. And if I don't like the Democrat, then I don't vote for that position. I don't vote for every position on the ballot. I almost never vote for judges. I don't know a goddamn thing about who is or isn't a good judge. If I don't have an opinion, I don't vote.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

JIM: Saw the first Uncle Dan for guvner commercial in our local area yesterday.

So, you voting for him?

DAVE: I suppose.

JIM: Geez. Remind me never to seek the Quiet Observer's endorsement if I ever run for public office.

DAVE: I've followed Uncle Dan's political career back to when he was just a city councilman. He has risen very nicely into positions of greater importance. But when I think about Dan, my overall impression of him is that he doesn't make mistakes while in office. And one of the reasons his record appears so good is because he doesn't make mistakes. And one of the ways he doesn't make mistakes is by NOT DOING ANYTHING. He has never really DONE anything in a position of power here in Western PA that could get him in trouble with the voters. But I would hardly describe him with terms such as "proactive, progressive, or innovative." Slots machine casinos soon to be followed by full-blown casinos is not exactly what I call "proactive, progressive, or innovative."

His replacement as Allegheny County Executive here will have to face the issue of property taxes and how best to assess property values for taxing purposes. This was the issue that got Dan elected because the last guy had an assessment and taxes went up. Uncle Dan did everything is his power while in office to keep property assessments from happening under his watch, so that way he could always claim that property taxes (hot button issue in PA) never went up while he was in office. But a new assessment is coming. I think one has been ordered by the court. And when it comes, property values and taxes will, undoubtedly, go up. Uncle Dan is hoping he will be governor by then.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Let's play what are they thinking? . . .

The Lukester: Do you think that my rapidly receding hairline is that noticeable to the voters? Or my girlfriend?

Arlen "Walking Corpse" Specter: I used to be young and handsome like that young man right there. He's a dope, though. And it looks like he's got a rapidly receding hairline. Didn't that happen to Dan over there, too? Yeah, he lost his hair very quickly. Like when you have cancer. And they treat with that goddamn chemotherapy. Fucking hairs fall right the fuck out in the sink. Goddamnedest thing.

Uncle Dan: I think I just had a wet fart.
JIM: Did you ever have dinner with Cindy?

DAVE: After some time with no contact, I got a very nice email from Cindy this morning telling me that her life has been pretty crazy lately, but that she hasn't forgotten about dinner. I guess when you try to go out to dinner with a mother of two young boys in the middle of a divorce you have to be very patient. And I am.

JIM: Patience is a virtue.
I am hereby announcing to the world that high-speed internet has changed my life. (And not for the reasons you might think, those of you with dirty, little minds.) What HSI has done is that it has brought all of the shopping marketplaces on the internet to my desk. Whereas, in the past, I might not have been able to find a specific item that I was looking for, and I either gave up or settled for something that wasn't quite what I wanted. Now, I can visit websites all over the country (and the world), and with a little internet research, I can find those items that were so elusive in the past. Perfect example:

As some of my vast readership know, one of the many cool features of my old condo is the shower. It is a stall shower, but it is larger than traditional stalls, which makes it far more comfortable to use and maneuver in than those cramped stalls. I never would have bought the mortgage for my condo if the stall hadn't been bigger than normal. Anyway, despite being a large stall, the opening to the shower is small. 24.5 inches wide. Therefore, it requires a small stall shower curtain, which means that it needs to be less wide than a traditional shower curtain, but longer. The standard size for a stall shower curtain (if you can even find one anywhere other than Bed, Bath, and Beyond, dear god) is 54 inches wide and 78 inches long. But for my stall, that's both too wide and too long. So, since I moved in here, I have had to buy and use shower curtains that were simply too big for the space that needed to be curtained. And I had to put up with it.

Until HSI came to my home.

Just last week, I was able to browse all sorts of sites offering sizes of stall shower curtains other than 54 x 78. Finally, after an exhaustive and thorough session of Dave-quality research, I found my Holy Grail, my pot o' gold, my Emmanuelle Chriqui. Some random shower curtain company on the internet ( was offering a stall shower curtain with all of the prerequisite qualities in a smaller size. 42 x 74. And it was one of those funkadelic new shower curtains that's hookless. Apparently, these things are all the rage in hotel showers. I really don't know. I haven't stayed in a hotel in a while. But I solved two problems at once. I had kind of needed new shower hooks, and my monumental discover via HSI allowed me to find the small shower curtain with hooks built right in. What could be better? So, I ordered one. It came, I installed it on Sunday, and it fits the shower opening much better than did any previous one. And I can throw away my white plastic shower hooks that had gotten kind of grungy over the years. The quality of my life has been improved. Quality of life. What else do we have?

So, thank you Al Gore for "inventing" the internet. And thank you Comcast for making it fast and bringing it to my home.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sharks a concern for triathletes in Sydney Harbor
Apr 10, 5:24 AM EDT

SYDNEY (AP) -- Boats carrying shark-repelling devices will accompany swimmers during the opening leg of the World Championship Series triathlon event on Sunday.

Organizers said Saturday the devices have been fitted to ease any fears of competitors before they dive into Sydney Harbour for the 0.93-mile swim. That segment will be followed by a 24.86-mile cycle and 6.21-mile run.

Sharks often are seen in the harbor, persuading organizers to utilize technology which emits an electronic signal to repel them.

Engine noise from boats following the swimmers also is expected to keep sharks away, while a helicopter crew filming the event also will monitor the situation.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Man calls school to retrieve pot in son's Elmo backpack
Thursday, April 08, 2010
By Jim McKinnon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A Uniontown man was arrested this morning after staff at an elementary school found marijuana in the backpack of the man's son.

Ronald J. Washington, 33, telephoned Menallen Elementary School to ask whether his son, who is in kindergarten, had arrived.

Mr. Washington told school officials that he needed to retrieve something from his son's blue Elmo backpack.

State police said the school staff was suspicious and searched the book bag, where they found two clear plastic bags of marijuana.

State police were summoned and determined the bags contained 105 grams of pot.

After Mr. Washington arrived outside the school, the troopers confronted him.

Mr. Washington told the troopers, "It was something dumb."

Mr. Washington was arrested on charges of possession of marijuana, possession with intent to deliver the drug and disorderly conduct.

He was being held in the Fayette County Jail on $100,000 bail, pending a preliminary hearing at 9:30 a.m. April 14 before District Judge Joseph M. George Jr. in Uniontown.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

And just in case you didn't already know, the popular political term "clean coal" has about as much truth to it as "dry water."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

PSA . . .

Bottomline: Don't put ANYTHING in the storm drains. They're not there for you to use like a garbage can.

And yet, I've seen firsthand concrete companies pour their waste into the storm drains. Happens everyday, I'm sure.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Brett Favre became a grandfather today. He is younger than I am (although not by much). What. The. Fuck.

Oh, the funny little things that medical students pass around . . .

Monday, April 5, 2010

DAVE: Now, you and Rohan are going to have to get rid of your matching Donovan McNabb Eagles jerseys.

Despite recent problems for the Steelers (i.e., their star quarterback is a 28-year-old frat boy), you have asked about the differences between the Steelers and the Eagles before. I can tell you this for certain based on the behavior of the Steelers in very similar situations. When a star player is entering the last year of their contract (like McNabb was) and the Steelers do not intend to re-sign him, then the team releases him with that one year left and lets him become a free agent and decide for himself for whom he will next play. The Steelers don't trade players (especially stars) to other teams.

And they don't make the biggest trade in the team's history the night before the Phillies' Opening Day. Not cool at all.

FOCKER: agreed. they're a JOKE. and the best part is, i was reading in the paper this morning, that they said they considered donovan's "feelings" about where he wanted to go. so, we have dawkins, westbrook, and mcnabb gone: the only players on that team with any class or heart. i swear, rohan is closer than ever to becoming a steelers fan.
DAVE: I always thought that Washington might be a good place for McNabb to go, but then I figured that the Eagles would never trade him to a team in their division. I guess I was wrong.

JIM: Is there a more insecure professional sports franchise in America? in the world? They announce trading McNabb on Easter Sunday, the day before Opening Day, because they just can't stand to let the story be about the Phillies, even for one day. The guys running this organization are seriously screwed up.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Today at a local jewelry store, I traded in my gold high school class ring, a gold "D" ring that I used to wear for many years in high school and college, a Figaro gold bracelet that I used to wear in college, and a little gold ring that I used to wear in college when I was dating Julie the Virgin. (We were so queer.)

Well, I guess there are, in fact, SOME exceptions.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

DAVE: I wore wool socks with shorts today. I don't know if I was able to pull it off.

JIM: I'm sure it was fine.

I wore bamboo dress socks to my cycling class at the Y last night because I forgot to bring a change of socks with me. Definitely did not pull it off.
I just saw a commercial for the new line of Samsung 3D TVs, with a family gathered around their huge 3D TV, all wearing their very uncool, dark plastic glasses. Good times with the family. I predict that 3D TVs will not become a household item and will eventually fade away. My track record on these kinds of predictions is impeccable. I predicted the failures of such items as TiVo, the super-sized Cadillac Escalade (the pick-up-truck-looking version of the Escalade never did really catch on, so give me that), and GPS devices for your car. No 3D TVs. Bet on it.