Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tom Brady is the new face of UGG boots for men. And yet the Steelers can't beat this Madison Avenue darling?! This ONE quarterback, with the help of his evil genius coach, is the one guy who the Steelers appear unable to beat?! Remember those two recent Super Bowls for the Steelers? Yeah, they were great, no question, but neither year did they have to face the Patriots in the playoffs. And frankly, I'm sure many of us, including me, was happy that we didn't have to play them. The number of Super Bowls might still be four.

Monday, November 29, 2010

It is not uncommon for me to feel alone in a room full of people.

Unless there is a dog present. In which case, I know that I have a go-to friend in the room.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Have you heard about this yet? Apparently, in just two years, the Lukester has spent $200,000 in overtime pay for his personal Pittsburgh Police escort. Now, that's $200,000 in overtime pay, in addition to their regular pay. So, the Mayor of little old Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania feels that he needs AT LEAST 24-hour police protection that has gone beyond the officer's regular salaries to result in $200,000 in overtime. And as Bill Peduto has pointed out, that money did not come out of the mayor's personal budget, but rather out of the Public Safety budget, meaning that that money was taken out of the Public Safety budget for the ENTIRE City of Pittsburgh in order to provide a police escort for one man: our Mayor. Former Mayor Tom Murphy was in office for 12 years, and he didn't spend that much in police overtime during his entire administration. The Lukester appears to have no clue.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Tunnel of Love is on schedule to be completed by March 2012. But will there be a Port Authority left in 2012 to run the thing?

North Shore Connector said to be on schedule and under budget
Friday, November 26, 2010
By Jon Schmitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As if the challenge of urban subway construction weren't enough, there are a few urban myths for the Port Authority to deal with as North Shore Connector construction advances to the home stretch.

No, the Allegheny River is not leaking uncontrollably into the subway tunnels.

No, the grades at both ends of the tunnels aren't too steep to allow for removal of a disabled train.

No, the authority won't be too broke to operate service to the North Shore when the project is completed in March 2012.

The project is alive and well and 83 percent complete, said Winston Simmonds, the authority's rail operations/engineering officer, during a walking tour of the 1.2-mile, $528.8 million extension of the Light Rail Transit system this week.

"Still on schedule and under budget," Mr. Simmonds said, making his way through tunnels where there were a few construction-related damp spots but no gushing leaks and, sadly, no sign of that truckload of cash that a political TV commercial showed being dumped into the project.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10330/1106180-53.stm

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gail is the vice president of our condo board, and she almost never contributes to any discussion, unless it directly affects her. Then we hear from her.

GAIL: Hi everyone,

The person is here to take out my drafty air conditioners and replace with bricks and mortars.

He was here at the peak of the rat phase in the past - so knows of our previous problem - he said we still have rats outside (at least in my garden area) as he sees rat poop out there....

Not sure how often we have check-up visits - but it is needed now it appears.

Thanks, Gail

DAVE: It might be bunny poop.

GAIL: I will explore in more detail.... maybe there are pictures on the internet so I can differentiate.

DAVE: Now, THAT sounds like a fun afternoon, Gail. We do have a family of bunnies that lives on the grounds, and I would imagine that their poops are similar looking. I haven't seen any signs of rodents, inside or outside of the building, but that doesn't mean that a "check-up" by a professional exterminator isn't a good idea. I just don't want to leave any rat poison on the grounds that might cause harm to the bunnies. I'm sure we all feel that way.

GAIL: Ok - Cliff tells me he knows rabbit poop and rat poop (he is the one who crawled in the depths of a hospital as an administrator when they had rats - he NOW does roofing, not hospital administration) - and it was rat poop on my deck - so I would say - let's have a professional consultation to get rid of the rats and save the rabbits.

Thanks, Gail

Friday, November 19, 2010

My quest for comfortable, well-fitting jeans ended today. Not because I finally found a pair to my liking. No, but rather because I gave up and returned my most recent purchase of Gap skinny jeans in a 32 x 28. I think some people just aren't meant to wear jeans because they don't have quite the right body attributes necessary to properly wear them. I don't have hips and I don't have an ass, so I really have nothing to hold a pair of denim jeans in place on my waist, other than a belt, even if I'm wearing the proper waist size. I move around a little bit, and the next thing you know, the jeans are hanging lower than my waist and my butt crack is sticking out. I seem to be constantly hiking my jeans up. It's just too much work to be fashionable and have at least one pair of well-fitting jeans. I give up. I'm just going to stick with my Gap cords, the material of which is not as heavy as denim. Sometimes they dip a little low, but most of the time, they stay in place at my waist much better than any pair of jeans I've tried on. I love my cords.
JIM: I didn't shave for four or five days. My wife pointed out that I had some gray whiskers. Gray, Dave.

DAVE: You didn't shave for four or five days? What came over you? I have news for you, Jim. You are surprisingly un-gray compared to others our age. My beard is almost entirely gray at this point. I have a gray beard, Jim. You're in good shape, I'd say.

JIM: When I'm working past midnight every single night, getting up a little early to make sure I have time to shave just doesn't seem like a priority.

DAVE: I like your rebel spirit.

JIM: I have no spirit of any kind. My spirit was broken a long time ago.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And so it begins . . . this is for all those women out there who vote republican . . .

GOP blocks pay equity measure in Senate
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans have succeeded in blocking a measure designed to reduce wage disparities between men and women.

The 58-41 vote to take up the Paycheck Fairness Act fell short of the 60 needed to overcome GOP opposition. Republican senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who had been targeted by Democrats as possibly voting against a filibuster, in the end decided not to cross party lines.

Civil rights groups, labor leaders and the Obama administration all supported the bill, which would make employers prove that any disparities in wages are job-related and not sex-based.

Republicans and business groups said the bill would expose employers to more litigation by removing limits on punitive and compensatory damage awards.

Bruce Josten, executive vice president for government affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement that his group "strongly supports equal employment opportunity and appropriate enforcement of the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, this bill would, among other things, expand remedies under EPA to include unlimited punitive and compensatory damages, significantly erode employer defenses for legitimate pay disparities and impose invalid tools for enforcement by the Labor Department."

Pennsylvania Sens. Arlen Specter and Bob Casey co-sponsored the bill and voted for it.

"I am disheartened that legislation aimed at making sure women in Pennsylvania and across the country are paid the same as men for doing the same work has been blocked by the United States Senate," said Mr. Casey.

The bill was one of the first measures passed by the House last year after the election of President Barack Obama, who said he was "deeply disappointed" by the failure of the Senate to bring the bill up for a vote, claiming that "partisan minority of senators blocked this commonsense law."

The Paycheck Fairness Act would have provided women with legal resources to challenge wage discrimination and help to eliminate the wage gap. Among the bill's many provisions, the bill would have closed loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and prevented retaliation against workers who disclose the amount of their wages. In addition, the bill would have provided increased support for negotiation skills training programs for girls and women.

Pennsylvania, which has one of the worst gender gaps in the nation, would have been significantly impacted by the bill, said Heather Arnet, CEO of The Women and Girls Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based group which seeks to promote equality for women throughout the region.

"We are terribly disappointed that partisan politics trumped civil rights today," she said, calling it "a sad day for Americans everywhere when half the Congress refuses to stand up for our rights and freedoms."
TSA Agent
Written by Rob Rogers

Airport security has taken on a new urgency with revealing body scans and aggressive pat-downs. I am all for tighter security, but at what point do our personal civil liberties get tossed out along with our unapproved liquids? Hard to say, but I hope the Transportation Security Administration can strike a balance.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

DAVE: Since you are more familiar with the health care bill than I am, do you know if the part whereby all adults with pre-existing conditions can get health insurance has gone into effect yet? I know that it has for children, but I did not think that the adult part had gone into effect.

DAD: That part has not gone into effect yet for adults and probably will not until 2014, if there is anything left of the health care law by then.

DAVE: Don't get too discouraged. I'm convinced that the American memory and attention span is so short now that we could see another vote for "change" in 2012.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Apparently, Jeff Reed IS, in fact, done in Pittsburgh. It's the end of an era. And thus begins the Shaun Suisham experiment at Heinz Field.
Why do big movie studios keep giving M. Night Shyamalamalan tons of money to make movies? He's done. Done like Jeff Reed, done. He made ONE great movie (if no one spoiled the ending for you). Spoiler alert: Bruce Willis is dead the whole movie. Personally, I kind of liked Unbreakable. But the rest have been garbage.

Monday, November 15, 2010

DAVE: Taken as a whole, the Auburn cheerleaders may very well be the most attractive college cheerleaders I have ever seen.

JIM: You like those Southern Belles.

DAVE: When they look good and they're not coated with gaudy make-up, I like any cheerleader from anywhere.

JIM: I'm down with that.

JIM: I've always liked the SoCal girls from USC. More diversity. At places like Auburn, all the girls look exactly the same: like Barbie.

DAVE: The cheerleaders at yesterday's [Saturday] Auburn game did not, surprisingly, all look like Barbie. There were a lot of slim, nicely toned brunettes in the crowd. But you're right, USC is probably consistently the best. It's funny that I was just thinking that exact same thing yesterday.

Friday, November 12, 2010

JIM: I actually went out to a bar to watch Monday Night Football this week. Stayed out until the game was over too. You old man.

DAVE: What's a bar?

JIM: You old man.

George Bush forgives Kanye West.
Isn't that nice?

DAVE: Now that Corbett has won the election, we're seeing more commercials here for natural gas companies that want to drill into the Marcellus Shale. My only hope is that the City bans drilling inside the city limits. Since you're out in the boonies, they might want to drill under your house. There's Dylan's college education right there.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pu Pu
Written by Rob Rogers

Luke Ravenstahl, the mayor of Pittsburgh, just returned from a trip to China. He wrote a column for the PG called, "What I learned in Asia." I am guessing the column was written by some of the more mature people in his office. For what Boy Mayor really learned, see the cartoon below [above].

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The new old Gap logo has turned from dark navy blue to red. You know what that means? It's OFFICIALLY the holiday season. Time to get your holiday groove on.
DAVE: It is good to have Randle El and the trickeration back.

MICHELLE: Trickery IS good. Of course I didn’t see that play until this morning [Tuesday] – I fell asleep and woke up when it was 27-7. I wasn’t expecting the Bengals to stage an attempted comeback!

DAVE: Truth be told, I didn't see it until this morning on ESPN. I fell asleep on the couch and slept through the end of the game. Old man.

MICHELLE: LOL! Good – I don’t feel so bad!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pittsburgh-based rapper Khalifa arrested during N.C. show
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
By Jim McKinnon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh rap artist Wiz Khalifa began tweeting almost as soon as he was released from a North Carolina jail this morning following his arrest Monday night during a show on the campus of East Carolina University.

"[W]akin'. . . bakin' . . . wrist still achin'," the 23-year-old rapper, whose real name is Cameron Jibril Thomaz, tweeted at about 9 a.m. after he was released from the Pitt County Detention Center near the campus.

Khalifa appeared this morning in a District Court in Greenville, N.C., to, among other things, seek to have his $300,000 bond reduced and to pay bail money for members of his entourage who were also arrested.

The arrests came after campus police raided his tour bus and found about two ounces of marijuana.

Before the raid, Khalifa was heard saying that he liked to get high before performing. He said it was "not abnormal" for him to spend $10,000 a month on marijuana.

Hours before the show, he tweeted, ". . . smoke outs in Greenville nc tonite. fall thru wit ur finest plant life."

Some news reports said the show was stopped 45 minutes into the program and after he announced his fondness for cannabis.

Court records in North Carolina show he is charged with trafficking in marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of pot in his mobile residence.

Police found 57.5 grams of marijuana on the bus, according to court records.

The rap sensation and Allderdice High School graduate has been on the 60-city Waken Baken tour since mid-September. The single "Black and Yellow," from his forthcoming Atlantic/Rostrum debut, is No. 43 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is receiving airplay on Top 40 stations, including Pittsburgh's Kiss-FM (96.1)

He's scheduled to play sold-out shows at the new Stage AE venue on the North Side on Dec. 16 and 17.

#freewiz is the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter this morning.

In response to the Twitter traffic, Wiz tweeted, "man, jail sux! but bein taylor'd doesn't," which appears to be a reference to his fan site, dubbed The Taylor Gang.

As for his posse on tour, Wiz tweeted this morning, "finna get tha rest of these fools out and grab sum grub."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Regardless of my personal views on marijuana, I do think that it is ridiculous how many people get put in jail for minor possession charges. In my work with unemployed people to help them get ready for and find jobs, a common problem for many of them is that they have criminal records, frequently related to small-time drug activity. And these are young people, aged 20-30, whose job options are hampered terribly by their criminal records, many of which probably could have been avoided if they could have afforded to hire the kind of attorney that I would hire if I found myself in a bit of a jam. There are just so many of these kinds of people in our society who want to work but who can't get hired. Meanwhile, our jails are overcrowded with prisoners, many of whom are in there on minor marijuana offenses. I'm not saying that I am in favor of the legalization of marijuana, but I do think that it should not be placed in the same criminal category as cocaine and heroin. That's just silly.

Panel debates merits of legalizing marijuana use
Saturday, November 06, 2010
By Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The cost to incarcerate prisoners in the United States -- including nonviolent marijuana offenders -- averages about $26,000 per year.

Certainly, said Federal Public Defender Lisa Freeland, there are better ways to spend the government's money.

Even so -- as part of a panel at Duquesne University's Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law on Friday-- she was not willing to go so far as to say marijuana should be legalized.

"I'm not here to advocate for the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana or any other drug," Ms. Freeland said. But, she continued, the public must know, "There are substantial costs -- both financial and human," to the continuing high rate of incarceration in the United States.

About 500,000 people in this country are currently incarcerated on drug offenses.

Those include tens of thousands of people being held for crimes involving marijuana.

At the continuing legal education seminar on Friday, medical and legal experts debated the issues of legalizing either medical or recreational marijuana use.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10310/1101242-53.stm

Friday, November 5, 2010

DAD: About the recent election: Expect Republicans in the House, who have promised spending cuts to balance the budget, to spend tens of millions of dollars on investigations into Obama administration "corruption." While Boehner said he would be willing to sit down with the President to explore common ground, Mitch McConnell said that the GOP's priorities are balancing the budget, getting rid of the "health care spending bill," and stopping the bailouts. He went on to say that in order to do that they need to get someone in the White House who will not veto the Republicans' efforts. Just proves that their agenda all along was to get rid of Obama.

DAVE: Did you see Boehner crying when he was talking about the American dream? Pathetic.

Of all of the republicans' promises, I actually don't think that they would really stop the bailouts. Those are their friends who are getting the bailouts. I think that was just anti-Obama rhetoric to get elected. Some people think that the republicans will do absolutely nothing in the next two years (other than kill health care reform) because they win either way: If things get worse, it's Obama's fault. If things get better, they will take credit. But the best policy for them may be no policy whatsoever. And frankly, that's probably just as well.

DAD: I did see him crying and you are right; it was pathetic. Also hypocritical since he is now wealthy. As Republican whip a few years back he was also a bag man, delivering checks on the floor of the House from the tobacco industry to members of the GOP caucus.

The statements by Mitch McConnell were not made prior to the election, but the day after the election. So they cannot be dismissed as just 2010 campaign rhetoric. They may be 2012 campaign rhetoric. They cannot stop the bailouts, because that money has already been given to the banks (and some of it repaid) and I know of no one who wants to do any more bailouts or that any are needed. I think they will do the extension of the Bush tax cuts as well as try to repeal health care. Obama will veto an outright appeal, although he may agree to some modifications in the law. It will be interesting to see if Obama vetoes a tax cut extension bill for the wealthiest. He has said all along that he favors extending the tax cuts to those earning less than $250,000. Whatever he vetoes, the Republicans do not have the votes even in the House to override. It takes 2/3 of both houses to do that.
Discretion is raising your eyebrow instead of raising your voice.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

DAVE: Well, yesterday (Tuesday) did not turn out well for the Democrats.

DAD: That's the understatement of the year! I am not surprised by the PA Governor's race and not particularly disappointed. Dan Onorato was a very weak candidate.

Let the House Republicans push their agenda and see what happens to the country. Perhaps then the Democrats will come back stronger in 2012.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

JIM: I was wondering the other day what happens to the facebook accounts of people who die (or any other kind of online accounts people may have)? There must literally be thousands of people every day now who die who have facebook accounts. Do their families need to contact facebook and get their accounts cancelled? Do they just live on in cyberspace indefinitely? After some period of time, does facebook just deactivate or delete accounts that haven't been logged into? How does that all work?

DAVE: FB is nefarious, in many ways. It used to suggest people with whom I maybe exchanged emails once in my life, and I didn't even have their email address in my address book, but they came up as suggestions, anyway. A lot of first and only dates from my past reappeared. And so did my deceased Aunt Betty. I got sick of seeing FB's friend suggestions, so I turned off that feature. But I assume that my aunt's profile will live on indefinitely. I suppose a person could try and contact FB about deceased people, but I don't know what their policy is on that.

JIM: Kind of creepy, don't you think?

DAVE: Completely. That's why I don't post anything on FB other than two innocuous photos and my basic hometown info. In today's job market, that's also a good idea since employers are checking FB and myspace now for signs of issues.

These tech companies are something else. And many of them have an office at CMU where all kinds of shit goes on. They are working on robots over there that are going to take away even more human jobs than they already have, and I just don't understand why we endorse (and the government funds) research into areas that will eventually replace the need for humans in certain areas. That doesn't scare me as much as it makes me mad.

JIM: Control your emotions. It's hard to be a Quiet Observer if you're mad.

Monday, November 1, 2010

McShenanigans . . .

DAVE: Have you heard that McDonald's is re-introducing the McRib sandwich in every McDonald's in the country for the first time in 16 years on, of all days, November 2nd? That can't be an accident. I'm just not sure which party it benefits the most.

DAD: I had not heard that story, but I did see another one about McDonald's in today's (Saturday) newspaper. One man owns most of the McDonald's franchises in Ohio. Last week the employees of all of his franchises received a note along with their paychecks. The note told the employees that if the Republicans won control of Congress in the election November 2 he would be able to expand his work force and increase their wages and benefits, but if the Democrats retain control of Congress, he would have to cut wages and benefits and even consider layoffs. The Justice Department is investigating this for election law violations.