Friday, April 29, 2011

Politically, I agree with this guy all the way. But he is creepy looking. Imagine how many other proofs they had to choose from before they picked this photo for his big mailing. Yikes.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's a dirty business. Pennsylvania and its Governor have sold their souls to the natural gas industry, and there seems to be nothing that anyone can do about it. Some of you voted for the idiot. Not me.

Gas driller's response team came from Texas to Pa.
In-state emergency crew could've aided Bradford blowout
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
By Nicholas Kusnetz, ProPublica

When Chesapeake Energy lost control of a Marcellus Shale gas well in Pennsylvania on April 19, an emergency response team from Texas was called in to stop the leak. By the time the team arrived more than 13 hours later, brine water and hydraulic fracturing fluids from the well had spewed across nearby fields and into a creek.

Why did a team have to be called in from Texas? That's what ProPublica is trying to figure out.

According to a plan that Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection announced in August 2010, a Pennsylvania-based emergency response crew should have been available to handle the blowout.

The plan was created after Texas crews had to be called in to deal with two serious gas drilling accidents last summer. The first was a blowout at an EOG Resources well in Clearfield County on June 3 -- it took the Texans 16 hours to arrive at that site.

The other was a fire at a Huntley & Huntley well in Indiana Township that killed two workers on July 23 -- the emergency responders showed up 11 hours later that time.

John Hanger, the DEP's former secretary, said at the time that the delay was unacceptable.

"When an accident occurs, we cannot wait 10 or more hours for a crew to fly in from halfway across the country," he said.

To remedy the situation, Mr. Hanger said that Texas-based CUDD Well Control would open a new facility in Bradford County and that 16 specially trained responders would be able to reach any well in Pennsylvania in five hours or so. If a well operator didn't respond promptly, the DEP would call in the CUDD team. Drilling companies could use CUDD, too.

The arrangement seemed to work. When a Talisman Energy well blew out in Tioga County on Jan. 17, the CUDD team had the well under control in less than four hours.

Dennis Corley, CUDD's vice president, said he offered the company's services to Chesapeake after last week's blowout -- which occurred in Bradford County -- but was told that Chesapeake was already under contract with another emergency responder, Houston-based Boots & Coots.

Mr. Corley said the DEP did not request help from CUDD. The DEP, which is now led by Michael Krancer, didn't respond to calls and emails from ProPublica.

Rory Sweeney, a Chesapeake spokesman, said he didn't know why it took emergency responders more than 13 hours to arrive.

In a phone interview Monday, Mr. Hanger said the state's agreement with CUDD was still in place when he left the DEP in January. The agreement "was put in place to make sure it was a matter of a few hours" before help arrived, Mr. Hanger said. "That was the point."

In a notice of violation issued to Chesapeake last week and published by The Daily Review, in Towanda, Pa., the DEP asked the company to explain why the response took so long.

Another question raised by last week's incident is what tests the DEP and Chesapeake are using to monitor the spill's effect on water and soil.

In the notice of violation, the department asked Chesapeake for a full list of the chemicals it was using to hydraulically fracture the well. But Mr. Sweeney said on Monday that the company hadn't yet reported the composition of the fracturing fluids to the department.

He said Chesapeake is still determining exactly what was in the fluid that leaked to the surface. Despite that gap in knowledge, he said the spill has caused "minimal" harm to the local environment.

Mr. Sweeney directed ProPublica to a new website that companies are using to voluntarily disclose the hazardous components of their fracturing fluids.

But the problematic well, called Atgas 2H, is not listed on that site. Other wells Chesapeake has drilled in Bradford County are listed, however, and they show a number of toxic chemicals, including 2-butoxyethanol, which can damage blood cells and vital organs. Those disclosures also list at least one proprietary ingredient, a component that the company has kept secret.

Mr. Sweeney said Chesapeake has replaced the damaged well head and is now considering whether to permanently plug the well or try to bring it into production. Chesapeake has voluntarily suspended all its hydraulic fracturing operations in the Marcellus Shale for the time being.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

DAVE: Obama gave in to assholes like Donald Trump and produced his full birth certificate today. Trump took credit.

DAD: So he has a birth certificate that proves he was born in the United States -- big deal! There is still a woman in California who has filed a suit in a California court saying he is not a U.S. citizen. She wants the court to decide if the birth certificate is legitimate. How crazy is that? Trump is taking credit? One of the things that is proved by releasing the birth certificate is that Donald Trump is a lunatic.

Classy organization. Classy players.

2 Steelers report for work
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Only two players -- safety Ryan Clark and quarterback Charlie Batch -- reported for work this morning at the Steelers offices on the South Side after a judge temporarily lifted the lockout ban on National Football League players.

Clark is the team's player representative and Batch is a member of the executive council of the NFL Players Association.

Both players arrived at the team facility at 8 a.m. and were greeted by team president Art Rooney II. Each met briefly with Coach Mike Tomlin and Clark, after being told he couldn't use the locker room or weight room, departed approximately an hour later.

"It was good to be in the building again, good to see the people who help you do so much," Clark said. "It was good to meet my new defensive backs coach, Carnell Lake, and it was awesome to see coach Tomlin."

No other players were seen arriving or departing from the Steelers offices. Clark told the Post-Gazette Monday night he was going to call or text his teammates, urging them to report to work today.

"Honestly, it was tough getting in touch with all the guys," Clark said. "Charlie and I decided to text and call as many as we can. Truth of the matter is, a lot of guys just aren't here. Not many of guys are from Pittsburgh. It's tough to ask a guy from Florida to come in for two hours one day."

Meantime, Rooney said the league has instructed owners that no contract negotiations or business discussions with players will be allowed during this period, even though the lockout has been lifted for now.

Players are also being told they can't workout at team facilities, despite the ruling.

"We can't do anything until they tell us the NFL calendar year is starting," Rooney told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Clark understood the no-workout ruling, but he said he thought there "should be an opportunity" to use the weight room.

"We knew working out was kind of tough," he said. "It would be tough to tell (conditioning coach) Garrett Giemont and (assistant) Marcel Pastoor to put something together like that on such short notice. You can't put Thanksgiving dinner together on the day of. We understood that."

In a statement released today, the NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, "Players are being treated with courtesy and respect at club facilities. We do not believe it is appropriate for football activities to take place until there are further rulings from the court. Under the last set of proposals made to the NFLPA, teams wouldn't even be into offseason programs yet."

Rooney said it might be a couple days before the owners know if U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson in Minnesota will stay her ruling to lift the lockout while the league appeals. If she does not stay her ruling, the owners will ask a federal appeals court to do so.

"We have to wait and see what happens," Rooney said. "I still say the best way to settle this will be for both sides to sit down and negotiate. If that happens, we will get it done."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No rehab for Alvin . . . ?

Accused teacher to enter rehab
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
By Sadie Gurman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A former science teacher charged with a string of drug-fueled crimes will be allowed to leave the Allegheny County Jail to seek inpatient treatment for her heroin addiction, her attorney said Monday.

Philicia Barbieri, 25, charged with robbing a bank, stealing school computers and burglarizing a Shadyside neighbor, will head to the Ellen O'Brien Gaiser Addiction Center in Butler County, where she will likely spend several months, said her attorney, Patrick Thomassey.

Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning on Monday granted Mr. Thomassey's request that Ms. Barbieri's bail be lowered so that she can enter the facility, which he called "one of the best."

Ms. Barbieri, formerly a full-time substitute teacher at Pittsburgh's Creative and Performing Arts high school, told police her expensive heroin habit drove her to the crimes. Police said she helped her live-in boyfriend, Alvin Carter III, 28, rob the Fifth Third Bank in East Liberty on April 15 in desperate pursuit of rent money. Since then, she has been charged with stealing more than $22,500 in laptop computers from CAPA and with twice breaking into an apartment directly below hers on Marchand Street. Police said she and Mr. Carter, who is charged only with the bank heist, stole a flat-screen TV and a Nintendo Wii, electronics they promptly sold to buy heroin.

"It's all a result of trying to get money to feed her habit," Mr. Thomassey said. "Addiction is a horrible thing. A person who would never think about violating the law, it just grabs hold of them."

He said narcotic painkillers prescribed to Ms. Barbieri by a Florida physician were her gateway to heroin, a drug she told police she and Mr. Carter had been using heavily for about six months.

Mr. Carter is being represented by a public defender, court records show. He and Ms. Barbieri told police they had developed a "bundle-a-day" heroin habit; a bundle consists of 10 "stamp bags" of heroin and is worth about $100 each on the street.

Preliminary hearings for both are scheduled for today.

Stays at Gaiser last up to 90 days and generally involve treatment from both counselors and doctors, who craft an individualized plan for each patient. Mr. Thomassey said he did not know when Ms. Barbieri would begin treatment, but he hoped it would set her on the right track. Her bail will be readdressed after treatment.

How old is this coin . . . ?

I found this penny among my spare change. It is so old and/or worn down that you cannot even read the year.

Monday, April 25, 2011

And in case you hadn't heard, executives at Transocean (the folks who built the great blown-out well under the sea) received bonuses at the end of 2010 for what the company called their safest operating year ever. True story.

Disaster Cash
Friday, April 22, 2011 09:44 AM
Written by Rob Rogers

BP is suing for damages over their massive oil spill. Wow. That takes a lot of chutzpah! I have no love for Halliburton or Transocean, but it doesn't make BP look good.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Hmm. Now, let's see. You seem to be about the right height for the job."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

“The more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.”

Mahatma Ghandi

Friday, April 22, 2011

12-year-old trades pot for candy outside school
Friday, April 22, 2011
The Associated Press

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Police have charged a 12-year-old boy with trading marijuana for candy outside a school.

New Castle police say the sixth-grader was spotted dealing drugs outside George Washington Intermediate School by classmates, who alerted administrators.

Investigators say when they confronted the boy, he admitted stealing the marijuana from his stepfather and using it to get candy. They say the boy faces juvenile charges and his stepfather will face felony drug charges.

The boy was also suspended from school.
DAVE: MLB is taking control of the Dodgers. Now, I don't ever want to hear again the excuse that MLB can't take control of the Pirates for the good of baseball.

JIM: Two entirely different situations there.

DAVE: Really? Under Kevin McClatchy, the Pirates had to give away Aramis Ramirez in order to comply with the same strict financial guidelines that the Dodgers are being accused of not being able to meet (although Frank McCourt denies this). MLB could have and should have stepped in right then and taken control of the Pirates, as giving away Ramirez was definitely the beginning of the end for the franchise.

JIM: Why don't you wait and see how it works out for the Dodgers? Be careful what you wish for.

DAVE: It worked out pretty well for the Expos/Nationals. They got Stephen Strasburg. And Adam LaRoche.

JIM: Adam Laroche is still an overpaid strikeout machine. And Strasburg wouldn't be the first guy whose career was over before it began because of Tommy John surgery.

If having LaRoche is a good thing, I'll remind you that the Pirates had LaRocheX2 and didn't need MLB to be in charge of the team for them to do that.

DAVE: Fucking LaRoche Brothers.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bradford County shale well spews fluids
Thursday, April 21, 2011
By Sean D. Hamill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

An equipment failure on a Marcellus Shale natural gas well in northeastern Pennsylvania late Tuesday night caused a blowout, allowing thousands of gallons of chemically laced hydraulic fracturing fluid to flow from the site for at least half a day.

More than 16 hours after the blowout began at 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, frack fluid was still spewing out of the Chesapeake Energy well in Bradford County, county and state officials said.

Seven families who live adjacent to the site in Leroy were evacuated as a precaution, and a local farmer was told to not let his cows drink surface water on his farm, officials said.

The first sign of a problem Tuesday night was that the well lost pressure, which "means something broke," said Francis Roupp, deputy director of Bradford County Emergency Management, which was assisting the response.

The company began drilling this well Dec. 22, 2010, and it could be one of six wells on this well site, according to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection records.

Subcontractors for Chesapeake, one of the state's larger Marcellus Shale drillers, were in the midst of "well completion," the company said.

After the lost pressure, thousands of gallons of fracturing fluid began bubbling up from the well, though it was never a geyser, said DEP spokeswoman Katy Gresh.

The company said no one was injured and no natural gas had been emitted.

Exactly what caused the blowout won't be known until it is stopped and investigators can check out the well, Ms. Gresh said.

In hydraulic fracturing, up to 5 million gallons of fluid is injected into the well to help fracture the shale rock a mile below the surface, releasing the natural gas inside the rock.

Ninety-nine percent of the fluid is typically sand and water, with less than 1 percent of it made up of a cocktail of potentially hazardous chemicals that help in the fracturing process -- though with 5 million gallons, 1 percent could be as much as 50,000 gallons of chemicals.

Companies are required to notify state and local officials immediately of accidents such as this, but Ms. Gresh said DEP was not notified about the problem until 1:10 a.m., and Mr. Roupp said Bradford County didn't get a call until almost 2 a.m.

Chesapeake released only a written statement Wednesday and did not respond to interview requests.

Ms. Gresh said it took till mid-afternoon Wednesday for Chesapeake's crews to stop the fracturing fluid from running into a nearby tributary of Towanda Creek -- a state-designated trout stock fishery that eventually flows into the Susquehanna River.

DEP staffers were on the scene all day Wednesday testing the unnamed tributary and looking for environmental impacts.

"So far there's no evidence of an aquatic life kill," she said.

Chesapeake's crews eventually used heavy machinery to contain the spill and direct the continual flow into a large impoundment, Ms. Gresh said.

The company said it had hired Houston-based Boots & Coots well control specialists to come out and "respond if necessary."

DEP records show that Chesapeake has been fined seven times for a total of $61,101 over the last three years -- which makes it tied with Range Resources for the second-highest number of fines in the state next to Chief Oil & Gas, which had nine.

Five of Chesapeake's seven fines were for problems at wells in Bradford County, three of which were for different types of spills on well sites.

Despite that, Leroy officials said Chesapeake has been a responsive company when there have been problems there.

"Chesapeake has been pretty good," said Harold Shedden Jr., a township supervisor who also works part time grading the township's dirt roads. "If something goes wrong, they fix it. They broke our roads and they fixed it."

He said from what he has been told about Tuesday's blowout, "I don't think it will really do any damage, other than pollute the stream."

Despite Chesapeake's responsiveness, he said the influx of Marcellus Shale drillers -- he said there are at least eight well sites within four miles of his home -- has been a double-edged sword.

"Everything has gone up [in price] since they moved in here, gas, gravel, food. And no normal person could afford to rent a house up here now," he said. "So, in a way it has helped and in a way it hasn't."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Photo: Doug Oster/Post-Gazette
The Strube Stink Bug Trap hangs in a small bathroom in Doug Oster's Ross home. The first night the trap caught 10 bugs.

Stink bug traps lure buyers and bugs
Saturday, April 16, 2011
By Doug Oster, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When 36-year-old Andy Strube lost his job and had to sell his house, he never could have imagined it was a good thing. He used his equity to rent a house for himself and his three children in Columbia, Lancaster County.

He found out quickly the place was crawling with thousands of stink bugs.

"The house was so infested we had entomologists from Penn State University taking bags of stink bugs out to analyze," he said.

He couldn't sit down to dinner without the bugs landing on his plate, and at night they would drop on his face while he was trying to sleep.

The pests actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Mr. Strube. When he couldn't find an effective control, he decided to invent something. He tested all sorts of different ways in his home, starting by trying to get the bugs to crawl onto a sticky substance. Through trial and error he realized the secret was to get the stink bug to take flight and land on the trap. He hung a coffee can covered in glue next to a lamp and that's when he realized they were drawn to light.

He began to refine the idea and, using skills from his former job in aircraft maintenance, he designed and built different traps. Each version caught more bugs.

Mr. Strube continued to study the insects, keeping a colony in an aquarium and researching things that attracted them. He discovered they couldn't resist a cocktail he created of peppers and squash and put the mixture in an interchangeable cartridge inside the trap. When the fluorescent light heats up the cartridge, it releases the odor which humans can barely smell, but the bugs long for.

Friends who visited the house saw the traps and asked for one. As they reported back their successes, a business was born.

The Strube Stink Bug Trap is $50; a replacement cartridge is $20. Each cartridge will last about a month and is meant to catch hundreds of stink bugs. The traps are being sold at hardware stores near his home and can be found online. Since he began offering them online, he's sold hundreds that have caught tens of thousands of bugs, he says. Mr. Strube adds that a good portion of his business comes from the Pittsburgh area.

After I wrote about his invention, he sent me one to test on my minimal stink bug problem. I only see one or two a week. Inside the package was a flier warning that the glue is extremely sticky. I found that to be very true as I managed to get some cardboard, the power cord and the rope that hangs the trap stuck in it.

I installed it in an upstairs bathroom, where I know many of the bugs enter the house. I caught 10 bugs the first night, and the trap continues to lure the insects. The company's Facebook page is filled with photos of traps littered with dead stink bugs.

But not everyone has been as lucky. Since I first wrote about the traps, I've heard from three people who have not had success. Mr. Strube has also talked to a couple.

He offers some tips to get the most out of the trap. The warmer the area, the more active the bugs will be, he said. That means upper floors and attics, where heat collects are most conducive to catching stink bugs. Leaving the trap in one place and letting it run all night are essential to catching stink bugs. Turn off any other lights in the room. The trap needs to be the primary light source.

Mr. Strube has been swamped with orders. His family and friends are helping him keep up, but he's sleeping just a couple of hours a night between shifts building traps. He's hoping to strike a deal with a bigger company soon to increase production. He's also working on setting up summer trials outdoors to improve the trap's efficiency in the field, and he hopes his trap will help farmers and gardeners this season.

Moving into a house infested with stink bugs might not be everyone's idea of a good thing, but for Mr. Strube and his family it's turned his life around.

"This has been a godsend to us," he said. "It's unimaginable. It's just so awesome to be able to help people. It's a feeling I really can't explain."

For information about the Strube Stink Bug Trap: or 1-717-449-3015.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Missing bull semen package located
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The Associated Press

COUDERSPORT, Pa. -- Police in north central Pennsylvania say they've solved the case of the missing bull semen.

Police in Sweden Township, near Coudersport, Potter County, say the package containing liquid nitrogen and 1,770 units of the bull semen were reported missing from a residence where it was to be delivered on April 2.

Police now tell the Bradford Era newspaper that the items were never stolen. Rather, a United Parcel Service driver left the package at the home, then went back and retrieved it after realizing it shouldn't have been delivered without someone signing for the package.

Township police Chief Bryan Phelps says the package was located in a UPS warehouse and has since been redelivered to the residence. The chief says the package is valuable for agricultural purposes.

The township is about 140 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I have two things to share with my vast and loyal readership this morning. The second thing is the story posted below this post. The first thing is this: The grand jury trial of Barry Bonds for perjury and other charges cost the federal government over $75 million. That's FIVE times more than the federal government spent on the investigation into how 9/11 happened.
This story is just totally fucked up. And it all took place in my neighborhood.

School teacher, boyfriend charged in bank robbery
Saturday, April 16, 2011
By Michael A. Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A Shadyside woman charged with her live-in boyfriend in the robbery an East Liberty bank Friday is a suspended Pittsburgh Public Schools teacher who already was being investigated for the theft of $21,000 in school computer equipment.

The teacher, Philicia Barbieri, 24, and her boyfriend, Alvin Carter III, 28, both of Marchand Street, were quickly apprehended by Pittsburgh police following the 10:15 a.m. robbery at Fifth-Third Bank in the 6000 block of Penn Circle South.

In affidavits supporting charges of robbery and conspiracy against the couple, police said both suspects told them they were desperate for money after their landlord came seeking rent Friday morning. Police said Mr. Carter further told them that he and Ms. Barbieri have a bundle-a-day heroin addiction and were months behind in their rent.

Ms. Barbieri told police that she and Mr. Carter had been a couple for four or five years and they only started using heroin about six months ago.

Ms. Barbieri, whose Facebook page said she is a 2008 graduate of Chatham University, was suspended from her job as a full-time substitute science teacher at the Pittsburgh School for the Creative and Performing Arts on March 29.

Pittsburgh police said she is under investigation for the theft of laptop computers from CAPA. No charges have been filed as the probe continues but Pittsburgh police Lt. Kevin Kraus said there is a possibility Ms. Barbieri will be arrested in that case, too.

As for the bank robbery, police said both Mr. Carter and Ms. Barbieri were seen outside the bank by a teller who recognized both of them because they had a joint account there until closing it in May. The teller even waved to Mr. Carter as he walked by but she said he did not see her.

Within five minutes, Mr. Carter, wearing a gray coat, gray skull cap and dark sunglasses, entered the bank and handed a different teller a handwritten note that read "GIVE ME $2,000 OR I'LL SHOOT YOU NO DYE PACKS." The phrase "I'll shoot you" was underlined twice, police said. The teller who knows Mr. Carter thought he was suspiciously dressed and saw him pass the note, police said.

The teller handed over $3,640 and Mr. Carter left the bank through a rear door, police said.

The bank retrieved for police account information for Mr. Carter and Ms. Barbieri which included photo identification.

Shortly after the robbery, Pittsburgh police Sgt. Ray Rippole and Officer Clarence Ford stopped the couple in the parking lot of the Pittsburgh Obama School at 129 Denniston Ave.

In Ms. Barbieri's purse, police found $1,440, they said. Mr. Carter told them he had handed her that money as they were fleeing and stuffed the other $2,200 in his coat, which he was not wearing when he was taken into custody.

Mr. Carter said he inadvertently left the missing money in the coat when he discarded it as he fled along with the other attire he wore during the robbery, the cap and the sunglasses.

The coat was discarded in a high traffic area and was not recovered, police said.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Where is Elisabeth Shue when you need her . . . ?

Actor Nicolas Cage arrested in New Orleans
Associated Press
Apr 16, 5:25 PM EDT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Actor Nicolas Cage was arrested after he got drunk in the city's French Quarter and argued in the street with his wife over whether a house they were in front of was theirs, police said Saturday.

The couple was in front of a home that Cage insisted they were renting, police said. When she said it wasn't theirs, Cage grabbed her arm, according to a police news release.

Cage started hitting vehicles and tried to get into a taxi, police said. An officer saw that Cage was drunk and told him to get out of the cab. Cage then started yelling at the officer.

The actor has been booked on charges of domestic abuse battery, disturbing the peace and public drunkenness. He was released on $11,000 bond Saturday.

Representatives for Cage could not immediately be reached Saturday.

Cage has been a frequent visitor to New Orleans, where he has owned property and shot movies. He has also had financial troubles, despite being one of the highest-paid stars in Hollywood.

He had been behind on taxes and has said he's had to sell numerous assets because of his finances. He sued his former business manager in October 2009 for $20 million, claiming the man's advice led him to financial ruin.

Cage won an Academy Award for his performance in 1995's "Leaving Las Vegas."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tax Day
Friday, April 15, 2011 09:09 AM
Written by Rob Rogers

I hope that Americans preparing their tax returns this year will think of General Electric. According to reports (and there have been conflicting and confusing accounts on this) GE managed to avoid paying 2010 taxes by using available loopholes in the tax code. This isn't illegal but it does raise eyebrows. The average person has to work hard and pay his taxes while wealthy people and corporations end up not paying their fair share. It's time to fix the tax code so it is more fair for the poor, elderly and future generations.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


What have I chosen to write about in Post Number 1000? Why, it's Pittsburgh, so the weather, of course.

I have heard a lot of people in Pittsburgh lately complaining about how this year, the cold, rainy, gray skies, dreary winter weather has continued into April, and this appears to be wearing on some people. Yesterday, on another of a seemingly endless supply of gray days, I happened to have a phone conversation with a man who is probably about my age about how, although originally from Pittsburgh, he moved away to Arizona, but has returned recently to be close to his aging parents. He said that he still has a house in Arizona that he has every intention of returning to some day. He said that Arizona has 327 days of sunshine per year, versus Pittsburgh's 57.


Now, even as someone who abhors the gray weather in Pittsburgh, I couldn't believe that the number was only 57. I bought Arizona at 327. But not so much the 57. So, as a constant seeker of the truth, I Googled it. Just a couple of links led me to the answer that I was seeking. And a story not so different from my own.

The Next Page: On the sunny side of the street
Sunday, January 07, 2007
How do I know? I counted them.

By Brett Yasko
(Brett Yasko is a designer living in the Strip.)

Jim has been my best friend for the past 20 years. We grew up here. We both moved away for college and the start of our careers. I came back. He didn’t. The December before last, during one of his visits from Maryland, Jim and I sat at my dining room table, talking about what most best friends who haven’t seen each other in months talk about — the weather.

“Man, it’s gray today,” I said, looking out as a soft drizzle coated the asphalt of Smallman Street.

Jim smiled. “Well, you know,” he said, “Pittsburgh gets only 59 sunny days a year, so …”

Huh? What was that? “Fifty-nine? That doesn’t sound right to me,” I replied.

Jim nodded. “It’s true. Look it up sometime.”

After he left, I went straight to my computer for a Google search. Fifty-nine sunny days? No way. That’s only five sunny days a month. There’s no way that can be true. I typed “number of sunny days in Pittsburgh” and hit return. People would be jumping out of buildings. They’d be leaving faster than they already …

There it was in tiny black-and-white pixels: “Average number of sunny days a year in Pittsburgh: 59.” This was followed by more sites declaring the same thing: 59. 59. 60 (they rounded up, I guess). 59. 59. And to make matters worse, mixed in with the statistics were links to articles (several by this fine newspaper) quoting various people complaining about our gray weather and referencing that magic 59. And the majority of those quoted actually live here!

I was flummoxed. Surely I’m missing something. I mean, this isn’t Miami Beach, but 59 sunny days a year? I think I would have noticed. So I decided to do what any true Pittsburgher does — deny the data.

“I don’t believe these Web sites,” I e-mailed Jim that night. “There has to be some sort of conspiracy going on here.”

A week later he e-mailed me an online conversation he had with a real-life meteorologist from WPXI-TV (Jim just loves being right). She confirmed the 59 from someplace called the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. They have been compiling weather data for the past 50 years. Still sounded bogus to me.

But I humored Jim and read the attached report. Looking more closely at the fine print, it hit me: They say 59 clear days. Not “sunny” but “clear.” And, as I read further, a “clear” day is defined by the NCDC as a day with “zero to 3/10 average sky cover.”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a day in Pittsburgh that had zero clouds and I don’t know how to gauge what “3/10” means without ever taking my eyes off the sky. But I do know that there are many days here where a mass of clouds will blow in, sit for a bit and then blow on by. And you’ll still go to sleep thinking to yourself, “It was a pretty nice day out today.”

And now it starts to make sense. Semantics strike again. People who live here and people who have never even been here see that 59 in isolation, with no indication of the parameters, and just assume that Pittsburgh is dreary.

It’s a lot like when people see the mill footage right after commercial breaks of Steelers games or remember their grade school history books and assume that smoke-belching steel plants still line our rivers. As with a lot of things in this town, “truth” lies somewhere in the perception. And, indeed, there is often a fine line between “sunny” and “gray” here — literally and figuratively.

So when the first of the year rolled around, I decided to do my own independent research. I would officially record the Sunny Days in Pittsburgh for 2006.

Now, I don’t claim to be the National Climatic Data Center. I have no high-tech gizmos and apparatuses. I do it the old-fashioned way: I look out the window or go outside and walk around. If it was sunny, I circled the day in my notebook.

A sunny day, by my definition, doesn’t need to be clear for the entire daylight hours. Clouds can be good every now and again. They break up the monotony and even cool things down for a spell. But if the sky is blue for a good part of the day and you can feel some warmth on your face — well, my friends, that’s a sunny day in my book. (Disclaimer: On the few days I was out of town, I called my sister and asked for her reading, strictly abiding by the above criteria.)

So, according to my calculations, the actual number of sunny days in Pittsburgh last year was 145.

Further observations about 2006 can be gleaned from the data I collected:

• May, October and November each had brutal stretches of gray.
• April and August were glorious.
• When Pittsburgh was on the national stage for the All-Star Game (July 8-11), the sun barely came out for any of it.
• We averaged 12 sunny days a month and 18 gray ones.
• The longest stretch of sunny days was seven (Dec. 9-15). And the longest stretch of gray was 13 (Aug. 24 to Sept. 5).
• There were only nine times when we had a sunny weekend (Saturday and Sunday). And only six times when we had sun from a Friday to a Sunday.
• We had 18 sunny Sundays, 19 sunny Mondays, 19 sunny Tuesdays, 21 sunny Wednesdays, 23 sunny Thursdays, 23 sunny Fridays and 22 sunny Saturdays.
• I have way too much free time on my hands.

But the most important observation is that when you’re talking about sunny days, 145 sure beats 59. And here’s to even more in 2007.

In the meantime, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve started keeping track of how much snow we have this winter. The 43 inches they say we usually get just doesn’t sound right to me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why do republicans hate Planned Parenthood? I mean, I don't hate them and I'm a man who once applied for a job there, and rather than interview me, they reopened their candidate search after they didn't find their "man."

GOP Rescue
Sunday, April 10, 2011 09:25 AM
Written by Rob Rogers

Everyone agrees that the deficits and spending need to be brought under control. But in any civilized society, there is an important balance between slashing spending and maintaining programs that help people survive. It makes me physically ill [Dave, too] to think that republicans can be so heartless when it comes to the needs of the poor and elderly and yet won't touch the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Then there are the social conservatives who want to tie issues like abortion and climate change to balancing the budget. They would go as far as shutting down the government before allowing money to go to health care programs for women or environmental protection. Thankfully, the budget deal was reached without bowing to these ludicrous demands, but rest assured, the attacks on Planned Parenthood will continue.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Survey: Pittsburgh top city of future
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
By Ann Belser, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Lately it seems Pittsburgh is the city every other city wants to be.

The latest list to put Pittsburgh at the top is fDi Magazine's North American Cities of the Future survey, which has Pittsburgh as the top city with a population between 250,000 and 750,000. Halifax, Nova Scotia, came in second in the category.

Sure, Pittsburgh is no New York City. That's because the largest cities, ranked as "major" cities with populations of more than 750,000, had their own category.

This most recent ranking is important because it goes out to an international audience, said Dewitt Peart, the president of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance. FDi Magazine is a division of the London-based Financial Times.

"The people who read and subscribe [to fDi Magazine] are those who are making site selections," Mr. Peart said. "Those readers want to know what places are hot, if you will."

The magazine asked locally based organizations to fill out a survey about their cities. Mr. Peart said the regional alliance, which filled out the information for Pittsburgh, spent somewhere between 20 and 30 work hours answering survey questions such as "Please name any key initiatives you are implementing to attract more investment" and "Please list the any [sic] major infrastructure and urban planning projects."

The survey also asks the average price for a three-bedroom house, average salaries for unskilled workers and the cost of electricity.

Mr. Peart said the magazine independently verifies information submitted.

Making the grade through the many independent measures of the region's successes tends to improve the image of the city in the world, like a constant marketing message.

The Allegheny Conference on Community Development has tracked other notable rankings:

• Most Livable City (ranked first 2010 by

• Best Cities for Recent College Graduates (ranked second 2010 by The Huffington Post)

• Most Charity-Conscious Cities in America (ranked first 2010 by Charity Navigator)

• Most Affordable City to Date (ranked first 2009 by

• Best Arts Destination (ranked third 2009 by American Style)

• Most Literate Cities (ranked fourth 2009 by Central Connecticut State University)

Then there are those rankings that the Allegheny Conference tracks, but does not exactly crow about.

For instance, ranked Pittsburgh first as the most misspelled city in America. That 2001 ranking put Pittsburgh above Tucson (No. 2), Cincinnati (3) and, yes, the City of Brotherly Love (if your brother can't spell) Philadelphia (12).

And in 2010 the city was named 17th on the list for Riskiest Cities for Cybercrime by Sperling's Best Places.
DAVE: I don't own one Apple product.

JIM: I don't know why most people think that when it comes to Apple, you have to either love them or hate them and there's no in-between. I've never quite gotten that.

I have the original iPod Shuffle, and my wife has a later (current?) version. My kids each have an iPod Touch. They are all awesome, high-quality products that come as advertised and are very user-friendly. Most important of all, we all use our Apple iPods a lot, so they are not one of those things that you get because it's the newest, coolest thing and then after you have it for a week or two, it just sits around gathering dust.

DAVE: I have nothing against Apple. I'm sure their products are great. I just think that they're overpriced. At least they're just too expensive for me.

I watched "Love and Other Drugs" the other day. There was A LOT of Anne Hathaway to be seen in the movie. I think she's very attractive, but her skin is too pale for my taste.

JIM: She is very pale. Her and Anne Heche. What is it about the name Anne that turns women's' skin so pale?

Dude, $49 for an iPod Shuffle. And they are awesome.

DAVE: Women in general with "those kinds" of names. Helen, Emily, Laura, Megan. Evelyn. English-y names. All pale.

For $35, I got a really nice mp3 player from Samsung that has a screen, shuffle or not shuffle, and a bunch of functions that I don't use.

JIM: You left out Emma. She is also very pale. But I still love her.

DAVE: I guess if I had to pick a pale-y, I would take Anne Hathaway. She's come a long way from that Disney movie. She has a nice body. As seen almost completely in LAOD.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Obama 2012
Friday, April 08, 2011 09:10 AM
Written by Rob Rogers

Obama has officially launched his 2012 campaign. Conservatives are complaining that his timing is political (isn't everything a president does political?) Liberals have different complaints. They are disappointed in Obama because of unfulfilled campaign promises and the fact that he is a lot more conservative/moderate than he led them to believe.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

One of the reasons why I love dogs so much is because they love us humans so much. Good dogs want nothing more in life than to please their masters. Unconditionally.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Breaking News: Manny Ramirez retired . . .

DAVE: Manny retired. I TOLD you he was done.

JIM: No way. I am shocked.

And at this point, I didn't think there was anything left that Manny could do to shock people.

That was a most excellent observation by you.
DAVE: As for the Rays, I thought they lost WAY too much in the off-season to be competitive in that division, but they may challenge the Pirates for who has the better record at season's end. Langoria is all they have, and he can't carry the team. The Rays are the 1993 Pirates.

JIM: Who was Manny's equivalent on the 1993 Pirates?

DAVE: Al Martin.

JIM: Not Chico Lind?

DAVE: It may surprise you to know (as it did me to be reminded) that Lind was traded to the Royals (I think) after the 1992 season and was replaced at second by Carlos Garcia.

Further internet research has turned up three other candidates for the Manny Ramirez on the 1993 Pirates: Lonnie Smith (yes, THAT Lonnie Smith), Glenn Wilson, or Lloyd fucking McClendon.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

You know those black, snug-fitting, stretchy pants that have become so popular on the young (and not so young) women of the East End? On women with the right figure, those pants look great for going running, or working out, or going to the grocery store. On women without the right figure, those pants should not be worn outside of the home.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Brewed On Grant: Suffering Fans
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 09:32 AM
Written by Rob Rogers

Tomorrow is opening day at PNC Park. Will it be another year of disappointment, pain and suffering for Pirates fans? Will it be another record-breaking consecutive losing season (I think we are up to 18) ... or will the new regime (Hurdle) finally break the streak? Let's Go Bucs!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

JIM: By the way, it was Sports Illustrated recently who wrote the article where they ranked Philadelphia Eagles fans as the "Worst" in professional sports and ranked Philadelphia Phillies fans as second-worst, right? Yeah, all they do is show up and sell out every single game and cheer for their teams. I could name about 20 cities just off the top of my head whose fans show no support whether their teams are good or not and don't deserve to have teams. And then there are fans like this:

Not an isolated incident among fans in that area either. Last year, a fan was killed during a fight at an Angels game on opening day. But Phillies and Eagles fans are the worst fans in professional sports.

DAVE: East Coast bias.

JIM: You are missing out on a good start by the Pirates. Neil Walker is hitting .412 and leading the league in RBIs!

DAVE: Actually, it's rather nice just hearing about the Pirates, not seeing them. I will say this: Neil Walker is the kind of player who could ignite a young team and cause them to rally as the perennial underdog. Being from Pittsburgh gives him that extra motivation to work and play hard everyday. But they're still the Pirates.

Monday, April 4, 2011

DAVE: The last time I went to Uncle Sam's, a regular cheesesteak was $6.37. I made an extremely rare trip during the school year into Oakland this evening [Thursday] for a cheesesteak. $6.79. Prices keep going up at a much faster rate than my pay. I think I may be poor.

JIM: There was a front page story in yesterday's [Thursday] paper that the CEO of Wal-Mart says that there is going to be significant inflation soon. Prices of basic necessities are going to start going up for consumers. Going up big time.

DAVE: I think the CEO of Walmart is correct.

For the first time, maybe ever, I did not watch one Opening Day baseball game yesterday. Not one. I really think that my relationship with baseball has deteriorated so much that my interest level is not very high. My "goal" for this season is to not watch one Pirate game on TV. I know that I'm not going to be going to any games. But this season, I am going to try and avoid even watching them at all.

JIM: I did not watch one Opening Day baseball game yesterday either. And, I didn't even miss the games because I was playing basketball, which is my normal Thursday night activity. I stayed home from playing hoops to spend a little extra time with the kids before leaving for the weekend. Then, after they were in bed, I sat down and watched Grey's Anatomy with my wife. The worst hour of television I've ever seen in my life. It was a musical episode where all of the characters sang sappy songs instead of speaking their lines. Unbelievably horrible. And I watched that instead of baseball.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Rather out of nowhere, I am reminded that yesterday, April 1, was the birthday of my former high school law teacher, Terrence Muncie. I hope it was a good one, Mr. Muncie. You're not still driving that little red Fiero, are you?