Archive for October, 2008

Things That Make You Say ….
October 31, 2008

“What the ….. “!

This is a family blog, so I won’t be using any foul words. Still, when you read today’s entry, you will understand why I am on the verge of saying something naughty.

As I was going through the scripts that were written for the 5pm show, I came across a story about Exxon/Mobil and it’s profits report for the third quarter. Turns out the oil giant did well. Very well.

They made $14.8M during the three month period ending in September. That was not only $3M more than they made during the second quarter and not only made during a time of record-high gas prices, but it was the most money ever made by a company during a three month span – IN AMERICAN HISTORY!!!!

Think about it.

While we were paying nearly four dollars a gallon for gas and millions simply gave up their cars for public transportation, Exxon/Mobil was making a record-setting profit. I’m sorry, but when we as taxpayers are busy bailing out the banks with our tax dollars, it enrages me to know that oil companies are overcharging us. Even worse, according to our station’s economics expert from Duquesne, the oil companies are nailing us again. As prices are dropping, he says the price should be even lower based on supply but the oil companies are keeping them artificially higher – by as much as 80 cents.

It seems the consumer is always under attack, from the cable industry’s small but constant increases to the soon-to-be rocketing costs of home heating oil. At a time when we are being asked to sacrifice and pay our fair share in order to turn the economy around, it makes me angry that corporations like Exxon/Mobil seem destined to squeeze every last penny out of us.

OK, let me take a deep breath here and relax. Sorry to get so fired up, but I’m offended when I hear about company’s laying off people and then you have Exxon/Mobil make millions at a time of crisis.

Sorry for venting …. but at least I caught myself before I sad something naughty.

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A Conversation Over Dinner
October 29, 2008

If someone correctly predicted, back in September, who would win the Super Bowl you would listen to him, right? What if you met a person who told you in the morning what the winning numbers in the lottery would be – and they were right? You would likely listen to what they had to say when it came to the future.

Tonight, I had such an opportunity. Every year for the past four or five years, I have emceed the Just Harvest Celebration Dinner. I was asked to do it back in year one and have kept my relationship with the group whose sole purpose is to feed the hungry. Now I will admit, at times, their annual gathering can get a little political ( often leaning liberal ) and it’s not by accident they hold the dinner so close to the election.

Robert Kuttner: He predicted the economic collapse so what eles does he know about our country’s future?

This year’s speaker was Robert Kuttner. He’s the editor of the liberal political magazine The American Prospect and the author of a few books. In his last book, The Squandering of America he correctly predicted the current economic crisis we are dealing with … and he did this more than a year and a half ago. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone who saw this economic collapse coming. With that as his credential, I thought I would ask him about the future.

I started by asking him who he thought would win this election. I guess I should have looked at his bio. His new book is Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency. So I decided to ask him something different: what did he say as the future of our country when it comes to the economy no matter who wins on Tuesday.

His belief is that amid this great collapse, we have a great opportunity to change the way our economy runs. His premise goes beyond raising and lowering taxes. It’s about investing our dollars not to bail out banks, but to invest in people and homeowners. He believes its about a philosophy where government can do the right thing and admitting markets have gotten it wrong. Most of all, it’s about addressing the inequality that exists between rich and poor, one that has squeezed out the middle class.

Whether you agree or disagree with his premise, it was interesting to hear someone make a well organized and constructed argument. He also made a point – and I’m sure he was envisioning Barack Obama when he said this – that whomever becomes the President will face a crisis not scene since the Great Depression. He says the next President, in this crisis, will come out either being Franklin Roosevelt or Herbert Hoover. That’s quite a statement.

I thought I would share this experience with you because in this campaign where we continue to see people take one side and assume they know the other half of the argument, you can actually learn something by listening to the other side. I’m sure if I had the same conversation with a conservative analyst, I would learn something new as well. Like with Kuttner, I would not accept everything but I would see their side much clearer.

I guess my only regret is that I did niot ask Kuttner who would win this year’s Super Bowl.

Crunch Time on the Campaign Trail
October 28, 2008

After a relatively relatively relaxing weekend, including golf in the rain on Saturday and the wind on Sunday, it was back to work and back into the thick of the campaign craziness. Barack Obama was in town today and I’m sure we’ll see either John McCain or Sarah Palin one more time before we go to the polls next Tuesday.

As much as I am looking forward to seeing this end, from a reporter’s point-of-view, this might be the most exciting race we may ever cover. Let’s be honest with ourselves, no matter who wins, there will be an historic glass-ceiling breaking ending to this year’s race for the White House. As an American, it gives me great pride that another race or gender will occupy one of the two highest offices in the land. I’m also excited to see that our population actually cares this time around. Everything points to a record-turnout for this election.

Monday, October 27, 7:59pm: Channels 11, 4 & 2 in WTAE newsroom

As the days draw near, I find work getting much busier and much more intense. I’m working on some stories for the final week of the election as well as brushing up on some of the local races as I prepare the co-anchor our election night coverage next Tuesday. In the TV news business, this is our Super Bowl. Election night is when stations bring out their big guns and stars are made. I think I prepared well for this opportunity with my trips to Philadelphia back this spring to cover the democratic primaries.

I also have a few events coming up this week involving political leaders and pundits. I’m at an event Wednesday night in which former congressman Melissa Hart will be one of the attendees. Tuesday night, I will once again be serving as emcee of the Just Harvest dinner which oftens has a politcal flair to the proceedings.

I guess amid the political fervor, I wonder what will happen after the election season is over. It’s not as if we are going to Washington to cover the next President … and usually after all the negative campaigns and promises from the candidates, reality sets in and these leaders realize just what they can and cannot do. Also, what will we do without all those politcal commercials? Imagine, the airwaves without the attacks?

Well we won’t have to worry about that world without politics for at least another seven days. Enjoy the final week.

The Damage Has Been Done
October 25, 2008

Judging by the hits on the blog of my fellow reporter, Bob Mayo, the alleged ATM attack in Bloomfield has become part of the national discourse. As of Friday afternoon, Bob’s blog has well over 17,000 hits. It’s because Bob has been following this truly developing story which reached its conclusion today.

Ashley Todd, the 20-year-old volunteer for the McCain campaign, has admitted to police that she did indeed make up the entire attack on her at a Bloomfield ATM. An attack that included her being mugged by a “black man” and then having the letter “B” carved into her face by the man after she said he saw the McCain sticker on her car.

While this hoax won’t go down in the annals of history like the Susan Smith drowning of her two kids in her car or Charles Stuart killing his pregnant wife ( both blamed on “black men” by the way ), it has done some damage. First of all, both campaigns had to address it without the facts being complete. Then, there is the battle going on in the blogosphere; the fiery web debate between Obama and McCain people.

Ashley Todd: Police say she has a history of mental problems. However, she was smart enough to turn up the heat in an already volitile election with her hoax.

The battle continued on this Friday night on CNN … as I watched Larry King use the topic as a launching pad to discuss race and this election. Look, I think what this hoax does is just play into the stereotypes that each side has about the other. For those who want Obama, it leads them to believe that the McCain people are “that desperate” to make sure Obama never becomes President. For McCain backers, it shows them just how unstable Obama’s supporters are … and how, even if their candidate, Obama folk may react with violence.

Ashley Todd was exposed as a fake of the worse kind: a person who not only lied, but also puts the blame on others that feeds to the worse kind of stereotyping. However, Todd’s hoax has accomplished its goal … and that is to plant the seeds of doubt in the minds of the undecided and the fuel the misguided beliefs one side has about the other.

Let me brutally honest.

My biggest fear on election day is not who winds up winning and losing, but our national reaction to the results. I have heard from several people that if their candidate loses, they will move to Canada. I’m sure part of this is just joking, but I am quite sure they will also be upset about the outcome. I also believe some of the more fervent will be so angry that they may never join in the typical post-election unity that takes place.

Whoever wins, it seems to me their greatest challenge won’t be rescuing us from a faltering economy, saving us from terrorism or coming up with a resolution in Iraq. It will be uniting a country that is sure to be fractured what maybe the most devise election in our lifetime.

Too Much Drama, Not Enough Action
October 24, 2008

Having left my sportscasting career behind, I get to look at professional sports from a different angle. No longer following the day-to-day, no longer dealing with the game-by-game twists and turns, I admit I have become a more casual sports fan.

I used to go to every Steeler game. Now I probably see have the games from start to finish, instead choosing to hit the links if the weather is nice on a Sunday afternoon. I attended just two Pirate games this year and sometimes I don’t even hear the Pens score until I get on the set and JB gives it to you during his 11pm sports report.

The reason I bring this up is not to say I don’t care about sports anymore. I do. I always read the websites to catch up on what I miss and still know the players and the history of the teams, sometimes personally. However, when I do watch the games I want to see action and I don’t want to have to hear about all the other “crap” ( pardon my French ).

However, the games have recently been overshadowed by the stuff off the field. Things like Hines Ward being fined for some mystery hit and then he challenges the league on a local radio station. It’s Ben Roethlisberger having a huge game passing against the Browns and then making himself look silly by not even addressing a question about his injury, basically blowing off the reporter.

It’s not just our local teams either. I don’t care who Tony Romo is dating, whether Manny Ramirez is happy or which athlete showed up at a McCain/Palin rally. I don’t want to hear how some player can make $15M and somehow feels “insulted” because someone else in the league is making $1M more. I don’t appreciate athletes who can actually hit women or be arrested and somehow, because they show remorse, be back on the field next week.

Essentially, I’m sick of the drama. Whatever happened to just playing the game to your best you can, shaking hands with your opponent, collecting a paycheck and going home. Now I will admit what has happened to Hines Ward is not his fault and probably the result of an overzealous commissioner. Still, why is another team putting a “bounty” on his head? Isn’t a regular paycheck enough for these guys?

I’m sure the media is part of the reason for this focus on off-the-field “water cooler” subjects, but can we get past this and just enjoy the games people play? Can the athletes actually appreciate where they are and stop acting as if “God” really is pulling for them?

Just a request from a former sportscaster who would like to be a sports fan once again … and doesn’t care if the Phillies-Rays World Series gets high TV ratings. I just like baseball.

Breaking News That Breaks Your Heart
October 23, 2008

A share a little “behind the scenes knowledge” with you.

When we go on the air for a broadcast, we have usually read through most of the scripts written by producers as well as ourselves. We usually know what we are going to say and throw in a little bit of ad-lib to give it the personal touch.

However, what makes TV news so interesting and exciting is the element of “breaking news” which can come at anytime. Often Wendy and I will be told seconds before we read the breaking news story and often given scant details. Sometimes, through experience and years in the business, you can tell what the story will be and how to shape it while looking at the video for the first time.

Sometimes you can’t … and can be just as shocked as the viewer when you’re reading the story for the first time. Such was the case tonight at 6pm.

At the start of our newscast, I was told in my ear by our producer Kevin that there was breaking news about a 17-year-old who’s car hit a retaining wall in Elizabeth Township. I read the story and alerted viewers to stay tuned for the latest developments. The video was of a cleared off crash site and since I had few details, there was no way to know how serious the crash was.

Five minutes later, Kevin cued me again.

Breaking news. Andrew you will read this. It’s an update on the accident in Elizabeth”.

That’s all I knew. Here is what I read as I saw it in the teleprompter for the first time … as I was reading it.

WE HAVE AN UPDATE TO THE BREAKING NEWS OUT OF ELIZABETH FORWARD. THE CORONER CONFIRMS– THE STUDENT INVOLVED IN A CAR CRASH LEAVING THE HIGH SCHOOL HAS DIED. POLICE SAY 17 YEAR OLD JOSEPH FISHER- FROM MONONGAHELA– WAS KILLED AFTER HIS CAR HIT A RETAINING WALL.

That was the copy that I read. It was jarring. It was also difficult to read. No, I did not know the young man and I also did not honestly expect to har the young man would die from his injuries.

Of the course of 90 minutes of news, you go through the series of emotions. Some you are ready for. Some you are not. That’s what makes what we do so exciting, but at times, it also makes it so painful and sad. I just thought I would share with you a moment in time in my world. A moment when the words I read were more than just words.

 

OK, I Give Up! Summer is Over!
October 22, 2008

So when do you finally admit to the end of summer? Is it when school starts for you … or your children? Is it when the calendar tells you it’s officially the end of the warmest time of the year? Perhaps it’s when your local pool closes.

For me, it’s always ended at very unsual times because of my job. When I was a sportscaster here at WTAE, summer was over when Steelers training camp started. Granted it was mid-July, but once the Black and Gold hit the field the summer fun was over for me. I found myself attending practices and pre-season games and working six days a week. While I love Steeler football, I could have used a few more months to lounge around.

Now as a news anchor, I can enjoy a more normal summer … and then some … but today, I finally gave in. On this date, Tuesday October 21st. I finally said goodbye to summer. It was not atmospheric moment that caused me to give up the ghost, but rather than time-honored and labor intensive exercise: the packing away of my summer clothes.

With “Boobaloo” laying on the bed, I finally folded up the summer shorts and golf shirts ( and I have way to many golf shirts ) and brought out the winter sweaters and fleeces. I usually put this off as long as possible and yet when I do make the “seasonal switch”, I discover something very pleasant. As I fold up another shirt, I remember the times I wore it and what I was doing. As I unpack the sweaters, I think back to the last time I wore them as well and always have a smile on my face.

Packing away the summer stuff … and way too many shirts …

 

… and way too many hangers. Even Boo is overwhelmed!

Best of all, I always seem to have more clothes than I think for the coming season when I unpack. In many ways, it’s like Christmas morning when everything seems new. The process was done about 11am this morning and now and I will go with this set of clothing until the next change of season … and trust me, I’m much quicker to say “hello” to my summer wear than I am to my winter wardribe.

Are We Racist?
October 21, 2008

Congressman John Murtha certainly has gotten western Pennsylvania fired up about the Presidential race, hasn’t he? Here we were as a region, relatively quiet as the election draws near. My guess is that most voters in our region had made up their mind about who they were going to choose on November 4th and based on the polling, Obama was going to take Pennsylvania.

Then congressman Murtha called the voters of southwestern Pennsylvania “racist”. Asked the clarify, he told our reporter Jake Ploeger that it was a “redneck culture” which existed here as recently as ten years ago. His belief is there is still much of that culture in place and that local voters, especially older ones, would not vote for a black candidate once they were behind the curtain at their polling place.

Murtha’s comments, which were intended to take race out of the equation may have done anything but, have ignited a conversation that I am sure is going on around the country. Whether behind closed doors or out in the open, we are just two weeks away from the real possibility of electing an African-American as President of the United States. Plus, if you believe the polls, the odds are in Barack Obama’s favor at the moment.

Will racism or reasoning determine our vote on election day? John Murtha raised the question, but it’s up to answer.

Here’s the question: are we ready as a society to look past race and make this decision. Granted, there are a unique set of circumstances that are fueling this suddenly-feasible scenario. You have a very unpopular Republican President and an economy that borders of recession. You have a contender in Obama who has inspired and excited new voters. All you need do is look at the number of democrats registered to vote nationwide and you can see the edge he has there. You have a republican Presidential campaign that is getting criticized from even inside the party for mis-steps in the race for the White House. Sounds more and more like a slam dunk for Obama, right?

Maybe not. The fact is that we do live in a country were racism exists and western Pennsylvania has no reason to feel guilty about it. Racism is everywhere, from Hollywood to the Heart of Dixie. There are people who won’t vote for a black, woman or anyone that is not white. I have traveled the country and I can tell you western PA is no worse than many of the places I have visited.

The issue is whether we are going to let race blind us to the decision as to who will lead this country. I’m not just talking white racism. There is black racism as well. There are those who will vote for Obama because he is black. That’s no good either.

Look, we all have biases. Some maybe racially motivated and some maybe gender-based. I have biases as well. I hate people who do dumb things. It’s a small thing, but it’s one of my biases. However, I’m not going to let those biases prevent me from doing my job or influencing who I will vote for on election day. It should not influence you either.

Whether Murtha is right or wrong is really not the issue. The question we, as a region, need to ask ourselves is if we are going to let whatever racist feelings “some” of us have overwhelm our need for solid reasoning in making the most important decision we will make all year.

Who we choose on election day.

Back From a Well Needed Break
October 20, 2008

Hi everyone!

Sorry I have been gone so long but I took that much needed vacation this past week. While I love Pittsburgh, there are times I get “Pittsburgh fatigue” and need to get away just to see what another city looks like.

I made two quick stops in the space of five days. They are both very special places but for very different reasons and … I warn you in advance … I forgot my camera again. One of these days ….

First stop, Chicago. It’s both my hometown and where most of my family still lives including my mom and dad. While the years have moved on, it’s still the same relationship with my parents. My dad, always the experienced and well-read one, offering advice on everything from marriage to how I should invest my money in this difficult market. My mother is always the quiet one, but has an inner strength that someone I have never been able to find. Together, they are probably more in love now than ever before and it’s nice to see that as they start to enjoy their 70’s.

I also went to see my brother who lives in a part of town called “Wrigleyville”, named for the fabled ballpark which resides four blocks down the street from his place. It seems as the years move forward, we spend more time together than we did during our younger years. We had a nice dinner at Harry Carey’s tavern while we caught up on our lives and I continued to ask the burning question: When are you going to marry your girlfriend and have a child so the pressure can finally be off my back?

Two days in Chicago … which did include shopping on the main strip known as Michigan Avenue … and then it was off to my other haven: Fort Myers, Florida.

I have been going to Florida since my college days, but my second family resides in North Fory Myers: the LaPlantes. Bill and Thea have been like family since 1991. Bill, for lack of a better word, is my agent but I think of him more as my partner as we navigate this crazy industry called TV news. Along the way, we have become more than business partners, we have become good friends. Sharon and his wife, Thea, are good friends and it has been fun to watch their kids grown up … and now start to have kids.

During my stay with the LaPlantes, I got in at least one round of golf, an afternoon of boating on the inter-coastal waterway, and then came the highlight of my trip: We went to game 6 of the Red Sox-Rays championship series in St. Pete. It was a unique experience for me for two reasons. First, it was the first post-season baseball game I had ever attended in person ( Pirate fans can relate ) and, second, I got to pet an actual shark. They have a shark tank in center field for fans to pet “very friendly” sharks.

Getting away for a couple of days is always nice … and it makes the final portion of my trip even more special. That flight home when we hover above the city of Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania as we make our way to the ground. I love trying to guess what town I’m over based upon the markers and buildings and there is nothing like going over downtown from the air.

Well, thanks for indulging me and it’s good to be back … and now I think I’m rested and ready for the fall ahead. I just need to remember my damn camera next time ….

I Have Seen the Future
October 13, 2008

Editor’s note: I know I said I would not blog on vacation, but I saw something that made me want to write … so much so that I left the event early Sunday night to share this with you.

Some say it takes a special power or talent to see into the future, but not for me. I saw the future in the banquet hall at the Churchill Country Club. At least the future I would like to experience.

I was in attendance the Don Bosco Humanitarian Award dinner and the inaugural winner of this honor was none other than our meteorologist emeritus Joe DeNardo. The night was not so much to recognize his work on the air as it was to salute his tireless work on behalf of children through 23 years of Project Bundle-Up and fund-raisers for the Special Olympics.

Forgive me not being able to put up any pictures but our graphic artist is gone for the night, but I can at least paint a picture. About 150 people in the room this night made up of friends, family and dignitaries including Bishop Zubik. A video was shown of Joe’s work in the community and then he was presented the award. Joe is a man of great composure but he began to weep. He told the assembled crowd that rarely are meteorologists ever celebrated. That drew a laugh.

The award was followed by a series of testimonials ( “roasting” as the layman would call it ) from local broadcasting “legends” Adam Lynch, Wayne Van Dine and Sally Wiggin. Each told the audience of the love and passion they have for this man and his work. Finally, Bishop Zubik brought a special honor: a blessing from the Pope himself for Joe.

The reason I share all this is becaused I was moved, in much the same manner Joe was. This was not about Joe’s humanitarian award, it was about Joe’ years of service and selfless work. It was a celebration of his career that stretched over four decades. It was a final tribute to a man who did more than bring us the weather every night.

It’s what I would like to enjoy in 25 years. I know there will never be another Joe DeNardo .. or Sally Wiggin. I would just hoped to be remembered and loved in 25 years for doing something greater than myself for my community. Of course, if I want to win the 25th edition of this humanitarian award in 2003, I need to make it happen … and the best part is that I can. I have seen what the end of the road of good work and I know Joe has left me a blueprint on how to make it happen.

He also left me a quote that I will try to remember:

     ” When much is given, much is expected”.

OK, I’m done now. I’m leaving on vacation. See you in a week.

A Blogger on Vacation
October 10, 2008

It’s been a while since I took a vacation. In fact, the last time I was off I was sleeping in because I was working mornings. Now, I’m back to being a night owl.

I’m going to take the week to get away from the keyboard and relax. I’m going to visit some family and friends and enjoy some down time. I plan to get re-organized and re-energized for rest of the fall and maybe get some new ideas for this blog which has become one of my real joys in life.

However, I will be back Monday October 21st with new stories and new adventures for the blogosphere. So please don’t worry and please don’t forget about this blog. When I come back I will be ready to resume my daily diatribe about the life of a TV anchor, husband, pet owner and golfer in the most livable city in America.

Take care. I’ll see you in a week.

Any Good News Out There?
October 9, 2008

First up, I hope you are getting used to my blogging schedule. I’m writing late night and hoping many of you log on first thing in the morning. Judging by the number of hits my blog got Wednesday, I think the change has been embraced by many long-time faithful readers as well as newcomers.

Now onto today’s adventure in blogging.

I was at the mall between shows looking for a new tie when a gentleman stopped me. It’s not unusual, but he asked me “got any good news for us tonight?”. I’m sure he wasn’t being insulting, but I’m sure he was being serious.

Where is the good news?

Before you say it’s our fault, consider what made “news” today:

* A woman finds a baby on the ground, alive, behind a KFC restaurant.

* The stock market tanks again … and there’s no end in sight.

* A kid from South Fayette tries to kill his family with homemade bombs.

* A local community is on the verge of bankruptcy.

After seeing all these stories to choose from, now wonder the region is so thrilled when the Steelers win a game.

The truth is news is about what’s new and what affects our world that day. While we make an effort to make you smile and share stories of hope and triumph, the truth is that news often is bad because it often changes our lives … and not for the better.

Sure, I would like to tell you about a library opening or a kid doing extraordinary things in his community, but the stories that get your attention are the ones that make you think and hopefully make you act. When a child dies or a teen is killed, it affects all of us. When our finances are in free fall, who doesn’t feel that. When there is a chase that ties up traffic or a bridge on the verge of collapse, it’s important that you know.

I guess I’m writing this because I’m tired of people bashing local TV news as not important or leaning towards the sensational. I’m proud of the work we do and even more proud that people trust us to bring them what’s happening in a timely, concise and ultimately unbiased manner.

So in answer to that gentleman’s question at the mall? Yes, there is good news and plenty of it … and we try to strike a balance. However, it’s the news that touches us, that is out of the ordinary and that is often bad that you depend on us to bring you every day.

Let me get off my soapbox and slowly back away …..

Happy Birthday Michelle!
October 8, 2008

We are co-workers, co-anchor the 6pm edition of Channel 4 Action News and we are blogging rivals. However, today I am one of what I hope will be many that wish Michelle Wright a Happy Birthday on Wednesday.

How old is Michelle? What do you think I am? Stupid? I don’t dare ask that question of any woman. What I do know is that she is old enough to be one of the wisest people I know.

I first got to work with Michelle in 1997 when I was asked to join her as co-spokesperson for the Race for the Cure. What started as just a public appearance has become a Mother’s Day tradition … one that just would not be the same without Michelle. Her enthusiasm and excitement for the project comes through in everything she says and does that day.

Happy Birthday, Michelle. Now I have to figure out what to get you for a gift. Hmmm …..

Michelle is more than a talented journalist. She is the devoted mother of two wonderful children and someone who has fallen in love in the city which she lives. While her roots are in Virginia, her home and her heart are here. She has become popular with viewers because of her no-nonsense style and friendly smile and voice.

Before I moved to 5pm, I co-anchored the broadcast with Michelle for a couple of months while Wendy Bell was on maternity leave. She was great and so inclusive when I came to helping me part of the broadcast. Now, we finally get to work together full-time … and it’s great.

She also has a real subtle sense of humor. When I did a “Test It Tuesday” on a spray that removed dog urine from the carpet, I used a black light to see how much was in the carpet already. Come to find there were very few spots that weren’t yellow in my den. After the story, Michelle simply said in a very deadpan way, “I guess I need to take my shoes off the next time I go to Andrew’s house”. Everyone was in stitches.

With that, join me in wishing Michelle “Happy Birthday”. In fact, stop by her blog and let her know. On this special day, I don’t mind losing to her in the battle to have the most blog readers. However, after Wednesday, it’s back to blogging war!

Our Fascination with Fireworks
October 7, 2008

I had the unique pleasure this weekend of hosting WTAE’s tape-delayed coverage of the PItstburgh 250 Fireworks celebration. It was billed as the largest, most elaborate fireworks show in the history of our country.

As we prepared for the start of the 30 minute show, I was struck at how many people were in town for this. It was as if all of western Pennsylvania had trekked down to the city. Traffic on every street was backed up, the sidewalks were filled with people. It was impossible to find a parking spot and the line to ride the incline from Station Square stretched at least 100 yards.

Then, the fireworks show began. Using 17 different launch points, the fireworks seemed to be coming from every direction around us. As for the people in Point State Park watching with me, they seemed mesmerized by the show of sparks. They were at once both quiet and screaming at the top of their lungs.

Pittsburgh’s skyline lights up with fireworks for its 250th birthday ( Courtesy: Sidney Davis/Tribune-Review )

And what was I thinking during all this?

What is the deal with fireworks and this town?

I know fireworks were invented by the Chinese, but sometimes I wonder the way this city goes absolutely bonkers for the bangs coming from the sky. Whether it’s after a Pirates game, during some city celebration or on the Fourth of July, Pittsburghers will stop what they are doing for a fireworks show.

Think I’m exaggerating? The Pirates haven’t been in contention for the playoffs in August since 1992. Yet, they play to packed crowds for one weekend every year no matter how bad they are or who they are playing. Why? Skyblast: A three-night fireworks tour-de-force that will literally make drivers stop right on the Fort Duquesne Bridge and watch the show.

Look, I’m not a fuddy duddy or someone who thinks he’s superior to other people. I just don’t get the fireworks fascination in this town. Then again, just like the Pittsburgh left turn, it’s uniquely Pittsburgh and perhaps its that quirky characteristic that makes our city one of a kind.

However, it may also be that special event that brings us closer together. As I watched people make their way to their special spots to see the show, I was amazed at how many families were making the pilgrimage. In this day and age where parents and children are often separated by TV, Internet and Ipods, this was probably the once chance for them to do something together … other than having dinner.

OK, while I don’t get it, I can appreciate … and maybe that’s all that fireworks are for. To be appreciated.

“Boobaloo” Goes Blogging
October 3, 2008

Looks like my dog, Boobaloo, found the computer on in my office and I think he started writing in my blog.

Hi everyone!

I saw my dad wasn’t blogging so I thought I would take the keyboard and give it a try. Of course, considering I don’t know a word of english this might be difficult but I will give it a try.

First of all, it’s pretty wild hearing my name on TV, but since I did that “Test It Tuesday” ( and I did not pee on the carpet ) the anchors talk about me all the time on channel 4. Since I don’t understand english all I hear is a bunch of garbled stuff and my name “Boobaloo”. Still, it’s pretty cool to hear my name of TV.

I’m so happy my mom and dad adopted me. They sometimes tell me the story of how they found me. I can’t remember anything, but mom tells me I was chained up behind some house on the city’s North Side and I was not being treated well. She says dad finally came over and took me after she kept crying and weeping for me. I’m glad I don’t remember that.

That’s me sitting on the sofa looking out the window. I like to think of it as my place to sit and ponder the burning questions of the day … or wait for my next doggie treat!

I also know I am among the lucky ones. When I watch my dad on the news, he tells stories that are mistreated every day … or worse … and for no reason at all. It’s so sad and I wish there was something I could do, but I know there are lots of people like my parents who do try to help … and I know that makes my fellow dogs happy.

Now, I have a nice life. A bunch of chew toys, food and water when I want it and doggie treats after my daily walks. The only thing I miss is seeing my mom and dad together. Mommy works during the day and when she comes home, dad is usually at work. When mom goes to work, dad is here by himself. The good news is it means someone is home to hang out with me, but the bad news is that I rarely get to see them together. That makes me sad.

Still, I wanted to let everyone know that a dog’s life is still pretty good … especially when you have two people that love you like my mom and dad. I wouldn’t give that up for anything in the world.

Oops, I hear daddy coming so I better stop typing. I don’t want him to think I can actually do this. He might try to do another story on me … and I don’t know if I want to be any more famous than I already am.

Bye!