Archive for December, 2006

A Tradition and a Thank You
December 22, 2006

Before I start blogging, I’m going to turn over the keyboard to my wife, Sharon, who wants to share a few thoughts with you regarding my last blog. Honey …

I wanted to thank everyone who has responded to Andrew’s recent blog
about my smoking addition. I am completely overwhelmed with the number
of emails expressing empathy and encouragement. Most of the comments
are from former smokers-and they know that of which they speak. It has
been really inspirational to hear from the many of the Pittsburgh Channel
readers and I want them all to know how grateful I am for their
heartfelt support. When I feel like I’m stumbling, I’ll make sure to
re-read the many emails of encouragement. Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Thanks, honey. Now, let me tell you about a holiday tradition Sharon and I will be enjoying. Saturday afternoon will be the 18th annual “Shopping Day” and it will take place at a local bar which will remained unnamed. It began when a couple of law school buddies I know had to do some 11th hour Christmas shopping and decided to meet at a local bar, grab some catalogues and order presents by phone.

Let’s just say they never got to actually ordering presents.

Since then, it has become a chance to get together with friends, family and people you don’t see all year and celebrate the season. What started with a couple of guys and a bartender has become 50-people plus and includes kids and extended family. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy the holidays – and avoid the holiday rush – then “Shopping Day”.

Finally, before I depart for the holidays, I want to right a wrong. In my November 17th blog, I showed a photo and failed to attribute to the proper source. It came from blogger Mike Woycheck. Mike, thanks for reminding me the same rules that apply in journalism, apply in cyberspace.

I’m off on vacation and will be back blogging in 2007! Thanks for reading and responding.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS — MERRY CHRISTMAS — AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Fighting an addiction
December 19, 2006

Sorry folks. I did not realize it’s been so long since my last blog entry. Thanks to everyone who responded so strongly and positively to my last blog about saying “Merry Christmas”.

Onto my latest adventures and I have to admit, while I have used this blog to discuss matters of a personal nature I have not written much about Mrs. Stockey. I don’t know if it’s because some things I prefer to keep private – like my marriage – or it’s because our marriage is so boring there is nothing to talk about. Then again, there is something worthy of comment I would like to tell you about.

My wife is addicted. Hooked on the strongest drug known to man – nicotine. She is a smoker. This has always struck me as odd since I told everyone I knew growing up that I would marry just about anyone who loved me – except a smoker. Of course, when we first met, Sharon was not a smoker. At least, I didn’t think she was. We met on a blind date in the strip in 1998 and she was a cute looking girl who was obviously intelligent and well-read. It was only months later — when she returned from Paris on vacation — that she started smoking .. again. Turns out, she had always been a smoker and tried to quit. Of course I was upset but as I said to her upon learning of her vice, “Damn! I’m in love with you now”.

Over the years, she has tried quitting but it has been a losing struggle. Despite using the patch, she often falls back into old habits. It’s hard to for her to have a drink and not smoke. When she gets stressed, a cigarette calms her nerves. While she a conscientious smoker and never smokes in the house, it still bothers me and quietly drives me crazy.

I have learned this is not a battle she can win without two things — my support and her own desire. Recently, she decided to use the latter and smoked her last pack of cigarettes. She says she knows she needs to stop but she also knows that it’s an addiction that is not easily overcome. It’s been three days — and she seems to be doing OK.

I share this story because there are many of you out there like me – spouses who watch their husbands and wives fight this uphill battle. I guess my message to you is not to give up hope and be there for the other person. I know Sharon will ultimately be successful and I plan on being there to help her through the hills and valleys. I hope you will do the same for the special person in your life.

Living in the Real World
December 15, 2006

Just marked the sixth month point in my switch from news to sports — and I finally have noticed the biggest difference in covering the two. I would tell you, but let me cite some examples and allow you to make your own conclusion.

1. An employee uses a homophobic slur at work and then fails to apologize to the person he insulted.

2. An employee under contract starts talking to another company about a job – and then shakes you down for a raise – and gets the raise.

3. An employee gets paid millions of dollars and his contract is guaranteed — and he still has the nerve to not attend work unless he gets to renegotiate his contract.

So what would you do as an employer in these cases? If you live in the real world — like me — you would probably fire the offending person in all three examples. But in the world of sports which I covered for a decade, these folks would not only keep their jobs – but likely received no ill will from the organizations that employ them.

Welcome to the fantasy world of pro sports — which offer a fun house mirror of reality. A world where bad behavior is not only tolerated, but often celebrated. Only in pro spots can you give your employer the proverbial finger — and still keep your job. I think I like covering the real world much more.

BTW — the three examples are Joey Porter, Rich Rodriguez and any generic unhappy athlete.

A quick note before I bolt for the weekend:

It’s nice to know we are ahead of the curve in Western Pennsylvania. My blog about using the phrase “Merry Christmas” and politically-correct battle its generated received much buzz and many e-mails from you. Thanks. This morning, it finally made its way onto “Good Morning America” and I think the outcome was pretty much what I told you: If you know the person’s faith, pay homage to it but if I happen to innocently wish you a “Merry Christmas” please don’t get offended. Just enjoy the well wishes for what they are – a chance to spread the joy of the holiday season.

What’s In a Name …
December 8, 2006

… Plenty, if you are trying to wish someone the best during the holidays. In the politically-correct ( PC ) world we live in, the very act of wishing some well during the holidays has become a topic of controversy and conjecture.

You know what I am talking about — the words “Merry Christmas”. A simple and joyous phrase has become the focal point of a national controversy. Prior to this year, some stores would not even let their employees utter these two seemingly innocent words. Fox News calls it a “war of Christmas”. I wouldn’t go that far, but this has gotten a little out of hand — and an example in my office here at channel 4 illustrates this insanity.
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A local newspaper was looking for photos of various channel 4 personalities sitting on Santa’s lap as children for a feature. The memo we received asked for these “Christmas” photos and then, at the end, featured a line that went something like this: If you don’t celebrate Christmas, please forgive me for offending you.

“Offending”? Has it gotten that bad that people cannot make a simple request for a holiday photo without “offending” someone? The same has occurred with other items such as a charity in another state turning down free dolls for kids because some of the dolls were Jesus Christ.

Hey folks, it’s time for a reality check and time to get real. I’m not offended when someone wishes me a “Happy Saint Patty’s Day” and I’m not Irish. I don’t throw a hissy fit when people talk about Mother’s Day — even though I should being that I’m a man. The point is no one is trying to offended Jews, Muslims or any other group when they happen to say “Merry Christmas”.

People who say it are only trying to extend warm wishes and if they have ask what faith you follow before asking, then the spirit of the season seems lost. If I know in advance, of course I will say “Happy Hanukkah” or ” Happy Kwanzaa”. But people, when someone says the “N-word” in my presence, I’m offended. If someone wishes me a “Happy Hanukkah” I understand.

Let’s all lighten up and enjoy the spirit of the season — no matter what faith we follow. Still, so I don’t offend anyone, I wish you and yours a “MerryChristmasHappyHanukkahHappy KwanzaaHappyHolidaysSeasonGreetings”. I think that covers everyone.

Adults Gone Wild
December 5, 2006

Every morning, Kelly and myself present two hours of news in the morning and not a day goes by where there isn’t some story that grabs my attention for its lunacy or insanity. But this morning, there were four stories that absolutely shocked me and had me wondering aloud about the state of parenting in this country.

First up — from our own backyard. This comes from Turtle Creek where a man held a school bus at bay with his handgun. The man allegedly thought the kids in the bus — junior high school basketball players — had nothing better to do than throw stones at his car.

At least those kids walked away unharmed. Not the case in Columbus, Ohio where three teenagers were throwing eggs at passing cars. One of the drivers hit, clearly unhappy that someone ruined his paint job, chased down the children and shot a 14-year-old to death.

While these maybe crazy loners doing these devious deeds, parents are not immune from these incredible acts of stupidity. Case in point in Erie, where a woman attacked her boyfriend –with her baby. Swinging the child like the four-month old was a baseball bat. The child suffered a concussion but will live.

Another parent claims she made a mistake when she poured vodka into her baby’s formula bottle — and served the child her first drink — about 20 years before she’s legally allowed to do so. The result? The baby had an alcohol limit four times the legal limit.

The point is these are four examples of absolute asinine behavior by adults that hurts our most precious commodity — our children. There is no defense for these acts and it makes me sick to tell these stories to you — especially the ones involving parents who should know better. Then again, comedian Dennis Miller once said of parenting “it’s the hardest job in the world, but the easiest one to get. Just screw up once and it’s yours!”.

I can only hope these people — if guilty — are not prosecuted to the letter of the law, but also prevented from ever getting within one mile of a child. There is no excuse for such behavior and this is one of those things for which there is not justifiable defense — not insanity, not a bad day at the office, nothing.
I’ll get off my soapbox – but I had to say something.