Archive for March, 2009

I am back …. and on the run!
March 31, 2009

Let me apologize – profusely – for the last few days. I have been a bad boy and not updated my blog. I have been extremely busy. Believe it or not, we anchors do more than show up and read copy. I would get into details, but I don’t want the competition to know what I am up to.

One thing I have been doing is something I have always hated – until now.

Running.

I started running last winter on a treadmill, but I really picked things up in February when a friend of mine – over drinks – suggested I run the half marathon portion of the Pittsburgh marathon. I guess I had had one too many because I actually agreed to do it.

What was I thinking? I never ran in my life. I had not run any more than a 5K once a year at the Race for the Cure on Mother’s Day. I found running boring and not really much for my health. Then, I started training for the half marathon.

I started with 5K distances, but increased weekly. I filled my iPod with music and started breathing much easier. Today, all the hard work paid off … as I ran the Montour Trail on this warm spring day. When I looked up 90 minutes later, I had run 10 miles! 10 miles! That’s definitely a PB ( personal best for those who don’t speak the runner’s lingo … like me ).

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The Pittsburgh Marathon: My goal …. and the motivation for me to change the way I live my life,

I have found running to be relaxing, theraputic and a chance to escape. I am able to deal with the challenges, both professional and personal, in my life when I am out running on a trail. I feel much more in control and … believe it or not … more confident. All thanks to running.

Then there is great side benefit. I have lost weight. 15 pounds worth over the last month or so. It’s kept my tailor busy … and in a state of shock. Nino keeps asking me what am I doing and I tell him all I’m doing is running. He has hd to take in most of dress pants two inches. To see the change in my waist and on may face makes me want to continue to run … and shrink my waist line. My goal is to get just under 200 pounds … and maintain that weight.

Best of all, I now have a goal in my life. A goal that I must reach in time for the May 3rd race. Making it 13.1 miles in the Pittsburgh marathon. I know its only a half marathon, but for someone who never enjoyed running at any point-in his life, reaching this goal would be one of  the proudest moments of my life.

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The Sole of the City
March 27, 2009

For all the wonderful things about Pittsburgh and its people, the greatest disappointment in our region is just how little we know about it. What I am referring to is the trait unique to this town where folks don’t cross bridges, go through tunnels and travel from one “hills” to another “hills”.

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Sherris Moreira Byers taking visitors on the Design Zone Roam: The Lawrenceville tour offered by Sole City Tours.

Here’s an example. I met a woman at a charity event two weeks ago and we were talking about restaurants. I was telling her about this great place in the South Hills … and she said she would never go. It’s too far away. The woman LIVED IN SQUIRREL HILL!

It’s this desire to get people in Pittsburgh to get to know more than their neighbor — their neighborhood as it were —  that motivated a reporter to become literally a guide to all that is good in our city. Her name is Sherris Moreira Byers and she created Sole City Tours. Her theory is that Pittsburghers can become tourists in their town, learn about their city and maybe become patrons in places they have never visited.

Her tours are more than just walking and talking. Thanks to striking relationships with businesses around town, Sherris’ tour takes people to certain neighborhoods where they meet residents, sample foods and learn such interesting tidbits such as which Lawrenceville school was the first where kids were immunized with Jonas Salk’s famous polio vaccine.

Her tours also take on unique names. There is the Design Zone Roamthrough lower Lawrenceville, the Shadyside Saunter on Ellsworth Avenue and Gallery Galavant on Penn Avenue. Last night, Sherris met me for her “Check It Out” interview at a coffee shop called Inner Vagabond in Lawrenceville. It’s a unique place that looks like what a coffee shop in Cairo might look like, featuring its unique flavors of hummus. So laid back is this place that moms from Mount Lebanon gather at this eclectic place for coffee and conversation.

I encourage you to check out Sole City Tours. The link will take you to the website … and then just follow Sherris on a unique tour. The tours run 3 hours and she tells me its great for birthday and bachelor parties. Just remember this: when you go on a tour, look for the lady in the pink crocs. That’s Sherris.

Are We Really That Different?
March 26, 2009

Hi everybody. I have been busy as heck these last few days and unable to blog. I really should be doing some prep work but I need to write so I can get something off my chest and so I don’t lose you as a loyal reader.

Everyday before Wendy Bell and I anchor Channel 4 Action News at 5, we get to the studio five minutes before airtime. As we wait to go on the air, we usually catch the final 5 minutes of Oprah. Now I will be honest. Oprah is not my thing. It’s a great show and she has many loyal fans, I’m just not a big viewer of the O.

A couple of days ago, Oprah did a show about women trying to meet men and why they can’t find a “good” man. Her relationship expert on this show? It was comedian Steve Harvey who has written a book “explaining” men to women and how to get them into a loving relationship. The book is entitled Act Like a Woman, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy and Commitment.

Where do I start?

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Is this what the pursuit of a relationship has been reduced to: Advice for women about men from a comedian?

Why in the world would I turn to a former sitcom star for advice on the opposite sex? More to the point, what makes him such an expert on men? I’ve been a guy for 40 years and I have no clue why we do the things we do. I do know that we all don’t do the same things and can’t be all lumped into one group.

Why in the world are women turning to professional advice when it comes to meeting a man anyway? Why do you ladies need to spend one single dime to hear from a “so-called expert” on men? I think it’s insulting to any woman that you assume she needs any advice on relationships. Look, we are not that hard to figure out. Feed us and we’ll do just about anything you want. Give us our space to play with our buddies. Trust us and most of the time we will surprise you and do the right thing.

Yes, men and women are different … and not just anatomically. We look at the world differently and we react in different ways to different situations. That being said, we are also the same in many important ways. We want to be loved, we want to be understood and we want to be respected.

Yes, relationships can be frustrating and just finding your soul mate can be a herculean task. However, I don’t think you have to turn to how-to books when it comes to the search for love. I think common sense goes a whole lot further and will allow you to be much more successful. Searching for mate is just like going after anything in life: It takes time, patience and you will fail more than you succeed. However, if you trust yourself and your instincts, it will happen. ( Sorry, that sounded a lot like advice. Then again, I’m not selling some book ).

Let me put it to you this way: You shouldn’t turn to Steve Harvey for advice on meeting men anymore than I need Joan Rivers helping me speak the language of women … unless you are looking for a good laugh and with these two “comedians” even that is up for debate.

Blog Posting No. 500
March 19, 2009

It’s an anniversary or sorts. I have been blogging since June of 2006 when I made the move from news to sports. I started not knowing if anyone would ever read these thoughts. Now, sometimes 500 – 1000 people read my entries every day … and I appreciate it.

This is my 500th blog posting.

This milestone posting is about something I have railed against since I started blogging: the dog and pony show put on my government in the form of congressional hearings.

The latest to come up to Capitol Hill for a tongue lashing was the President of AIG. That’s the financial and insurance company deemed “too big to fail” by the White House and received billions in bailout money to stay afloat. That was already hard enough for John Q. Taxpayer to swallow. Then came word that AIG, which would have failed without taxpayer money, paid out $165 million in bonuses to its executives.

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Before I go any further, let me say that it really upsets me that a company so badly mismanaged but so powerful that we have to bail them out with our money would turn around and pay bonuses to the same folks who nearly caused the company to collapse.

That being said, I don’t blame AIG for this mess. I blame the White House and Congress who put no stipulations on the use of the money and didn’t bother to find out what obligations AIG had before giving them the money. Then, once the bonuses were announced, Congress and the President declared it an “outrage” … and threatened everything from taxing the bonuses down to nothing to legal action.

As expected, they hauled the president of AIG into hearings where each lawmaker essentially scolded the man and expressed rage “on behalf” of the taxpayers of this country. This would have been laughable if it wasn’t so serious.

If you are going to give someone billions as a lifeline, then at least ask how its going to be used. AIG had contractual obligations to pay bonuses just like they were contractually obligated to pay all their debtors. They owed money and pending bills don’t go through a moral litmus test to decide whether they should be paid or not.

Congress looks stupid with these televised hearings in which they take their shots and their best one-liners which will later appear either on TV newscasts or in commercials. Frankly, I found today’s hearings as useless as those which brought baseball players to Congress to discuss steroids.  ( Oh, by the way, has anything changed since those hearings? ).

Look, this whole thing is an absolute mess … but the blame needs to go to Congress and the President which faild to perform due diligence with MY MONEY. What’s the old saying? A fool and his money are soon parted. In the words of Michael Douglas in Wall Street, a fool and his money are lucky to get together in the first place.

On Stage with the Symphony
March 18, 2009

I have never been the musical one in my family or my circle of friends. I played the violin for one year before my parents finally let me given it up. tried the recorder in the grade school and I didn’t get it. Always wanted to play the sax because I thought it was a “sexy” instrument and girls would like me but it never got further than that.

That’s why when I was asked to serve as narrator for Tuesday’s Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra community engagement concert at Wilkinsburg High School, I wanted expecting a memory of a lifetime. I figured I would just come to the school and read off a script. It’s a great event as it has raised $48K over the last six years to aid the Wilkinsburg School District music program.

However, I got quite a suprise when I was asked to show up 9:30 in the morning for a meeting with conductor Daniel Meyer and a rehearsal with the orchestra — at Heinz Hall. Now I have been to a lot of theatres around town, but never Heinz Hall … and never on stage.

When I arrived that morning and walked onto the stage, the symphony was in the midst of “warming up”. Fifty people playing their instrument, just loosening up and not worrying about what the other person was playing. Somehow, it sounded fantastic … as if everyone was on the same page. But that was nothing compared to when the actual performance began.

I was asked to narrate “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra”. a creation that is meant to demonstrate how an orchestra works by intorducing individual instruments and then bring them all together. My job was introduce each instrument and describe what it would do. The conductor was nice enough to cue me as to when I should speak .. and what was coming next. We did it one time … and it was perfect! However, the thing that got me was being on this stage with the world-famous Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall. It was like being in Yankee Stadium and working out with the Bronx Bombers. Ok, maybe not that great but it was a moment I won’t forget and it made the evening’s concert a breeze.

Sharing Words of Wisdom
March 17, 2009

It’s  getting to be that time of year for me. For some reason, spring gets busy when it comes to making public appearances. I like doing charity fundraisers, enjoy trying new things like narrating shows and concerts and I wish I never had to turn down a golf invite.

All that being said, there is no more experience I take more seriously than speaking to young people about careers in broadcast journalism. I think I am often asked to do this because I have this habit of not being able to say “no”. When I was a young person thinking about a career, I met adults who would always take the time to share a couple of words with me. Professionals whom you probably had never heard of … to the more famous ( Roger Ailes, creator of  Fox News, spent some moments with me back when I was in college and he was a political consultant ).

Through all those times I received some nugget of information that would help guide my career path, I learned a valuable lesson: be sure to be as generous with the next generation. I have always done that and tried to take a few minutes to speak with either  a high school or college student about my world. 

The world has changed greatly since I anchored my first sportscast in Hartford, Connecticut since 1991. Back then, there was no internet to speak of and CNN was the only game in town. Most of all, television didn’t have to worry about the economic pressures. That is not the case anymore. Still, I don’t want to dash the hopes of the next generation of journalists. I just want them to know that the playing field has changed and the only way to succeed is to be flexible and adapt to our changing world and business.

I’m heading to Avonworth HS to speak with some students who want to be in this field in the future. I always think hard about what I say and how I say it. I realize that the words I use may have a lasting impact … or maybe not. Still its not a opportunity I take lightly. I always try to put myself in the shoes of these young people and ask myself what they would want to know.

Hopefully, I will be able to impart some wisdom come Thursday.

What Makes A Man Manly?
March 13, 2009

You might have missed this item in the news over the weekend. Sperling’s  Best Places, which ranks cities around the country on everything from pizza to traffic, has now decided to break down the top 50 metropolitan areas of the country – according to their manliness.

OK, there are many ways to rank cities … but manliness? How the heck to you gauge what’s manly and what’s less than manly ( for lack of a better and more politically correct word ). Let me end the suspense right now. Pittsburgh placed 29th, which is going to no doubt upset plenty of people in this so-called “Shot and a Beer Town”. Here’s the top 5:

1. Nashville

2. Charlotte

3. Oklahoma City

4. Cincinnati

5. Denver

So why does Nashville, the town that stomped on the Terrible Towel, take top honors as most macho city in the U.S.? The researches identify its passion for NASCAR, barbeque as well as hunting and fishing. Well, what about us? Is there anything more manly than football? Also, what about a town known as the “Steel City”? Isn’t that the definition of a manly occupation?

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Fishing without a shirt on in the cold. Is that the definition of being a man in today’s society. I think not. ( Courtesy AP Photo )

That got me to thinking about the whole concept of manliness and being a man. It used to be a pretty simple concept. Breadwinner. Patriarch. Macho. Man of the House. Of course, that concept was appropriate — in 1969. Fast forward 40 years and the roles of men and women have not only changed, but virtually have been reversed.

Thanks to the economic downtown, we have about as many women in the workforce as men. Men know longer can walk away from their roles as parent and homemaker. In some families, that is their job. The “boss” at work is just as likely to be a woman as a man.

Then, there are things that “men” do. Watching football? In the city of Pittsburgh, its fair to say as many women enjoy the sport as men. Plus, we don’t just drink beer anymore. We cook, we compose, we shop and we create. We, and I am speaking of men, are no longer defined by a small group of interests shared by our gender but a wide range of interests.

Finally, being a man is about being responsible … as a husband and a father. It’s about owning up to those responsibilities. It’s about sacrificing for the good of the family and its about being true to the people that matters most.

Given that definition of  manliness, I don’t think you can rank cities.  Still, Pittsburgh placed higher than Philadelphia and New York City came in last.

What Travel Ban?
March 11, 2009

I’m beginning to think that all you need to do is tell someone in political office that you can do something … and they won’t do it. This theory comes from a story done by Team 4’s Paul Van Osdol regarding an executive action by Governor Ed Rendell. One that apparently is not being followed by those who state government.

In light of the economic times, as well as the budget shortfall in the  state of Pennsylvania, Governor Rendell banned out-of-state travel by state employees. The move was a smart one: an effort to save the state thousands of dollars. Apparently, either those in power did not get the memo, did not read it or just tossed it aside and did what they want.

Paul’s report – which aired Wednesday night at 5:45 – showed state employees not only traveling, but going to such exotic locales as Florida, Vegas … and Rome on the taxpayer’s dime. If that weren’t enough to upset you as you fill out your state tax form, four state gaming board members went to Rome and stayed at a $434 a night hotel and got as much as $365 a night for meals – and they never had to account for how that meal money was spent.

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Do state taxpayers need to foot the bill for junkets to Rome?

Perhaps the height of  arrogance was courtesy of a former gaming board official who after the ban was announced went to a gaming conference in Vegas … but not before announcing his retirement two weeks earlier. I guess the trip was booked, so why waste money switching or cancelling flights.

Listening to all this probably doesn’t shock anyone. Misuse of public money and misuse of the public trust has been part of politics since biblical times. What is frustrating about this is that all of us have been playing by the rules, paying our taxes in the hope that the money will be used to help Pennsylvania. In this case, it was clearly wasted … and that makes me angry as a citizen and taxpayer of this state.

Their defense? There is no defense for it. The sheer arrogance and brazenness of these violations supersedes the act itself.

It’s digusting and don’t tell me about these trips being used to bring foreign investment and dollars into this state. Last I checked, the only thing that has grown in this state during the recession is the unemployment roles.

A great job by Paul uncovering this story … of state employees watching out for their best interests and not ours.

Why Spend Money on Manners?
March 11, 2009

Everyone is looking to cut costs in this failing economy. Everyone from your neighbor to the federal government says the want to save money and eliminate waste. I tend to believe the average citizen before I believe our government. My lack of confidence in big brother was proven yesterday.

By now, you have probably heard about the state of Pennsylvania’s plan to encourage its employees at the state-run liquor stores to be more customer friendly and courteous. Sounds like a great idea. I’m all for sending out  a letter informing the employees about how to treat customers, perhaps going far as giving them flash cards with talking points like “Thank You”, “Come Again” and “Have a Nice Day”.

But no. The state has decided the best way to make their employees friendlier is to train them. Customer service training is set to begin at Liquor Control Board stores all across this state. The price tag? $173,000.

Let me say that again: $173,000.

 

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( photo courtesy: Associated Press )

The LCB says its all about image, but in this economy, is image really worth $173K if you happen to have no competition and own a virtual monopoly on booze in the Commonwealth? What are they afraid of? State employees being so rude to customers in State College that they are actually going to drive 2 hours south to Maryland in search of booze and a “Thank You”?

In the words of ABC 20/20’s John Stossel, “Give me a break!”.

I’m sure in the grand scheme of things, $173K isn’t going to break the bank or put the state into bankruptcy. However, it look s bad when a state is operating at a deficit and  accepting federal stimulus money while running classes on manners for state employees.

Worst of all, I don’t consider liquor store employees rude. I have been to several different liquor stores in western Pennsylvania ( yes, I enjoy wine and mixed drinks ) and I have yet to have a bad experience with any of the people who work there. When they don’t know something, they are not afraid to ask someone else or just admit they don’t know. I go as far to say that state store employees might be among the most courteous people in the government system. After all their job is to provide a product that actually lifts your spirits.

There are better ways to spend money … and better  things for the state to do than worry about the image of those who sell alcohol. Even if these folks are in a bad mood, they aren’t alone. Seen the economy recently?

A Lesson in Advertising
March 10, 2009

So I’m going through my mail on this Monday when I come across a magazine. Actually, a brochure from Larrimor’s. I bought a couple of ties there once so I guess I’m on their permanent mailing list.

So I’m going through the spring fashion maagzine to see what the stylish man is going to be wearing this season … when I come up on this ….

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 I may not be an advertisiting expert, but I know that seeing a grown man bawling is not going to get me to buy the suit he is wearing no matter how much I like it.

Advertising has kind of gotten away from its basic premise: to show you a product in the most favorale light possible so that you will buy it. That’;s why you see 20-s0mething models pushing age-defying make-up and the skinniest models alive all showing you the benefits of weight loss plans. The aren’t there to show you reality, but rather a skewed sense of reality. It’s  a place where as a man if you wear the right clothes, the right cologne and drive the right car, you can have any woman you want.

However, I aslo saw something about advertisiting today that I had not expected: how one image can play differently depending on who you are. I showed the ad to Michelle Wright and she thought it was a stroke of genius. She saw an attractive man, well-dressed and conflicted. She could see all the possibilities for his grief and could feel his pain.

I took the ad and showed Sally Wiggin and she was also mesmerized by the obviously beauty of this gentleman contrasted with the pain in his face. Both agreed that the ad did something that most ads don’t: It got them to stop and care about something they normally don’t. Mens fashions.

I guess I can see their point. When I saw the image, the first thing I asked myself was he was so sad. Was it the loss of a family member? Did his girlfriend leave him or his wife divorce him? Did he just look at his 401K?

Then again, you are talking to the guy who doesn’t watch Super Bowl commercials because I’m a bottom line guy. Tell me what you are selling and how much it costs. I guess that’s why advertising works with some people, but not others.

Night and the City
March 9, 2009

I’m sitting at my desk in the middle of the newsroom late this Sunday night. There are a few people here getting ready for the 11pm news: Shannon Perrine, Tara Edwards and our veteran 11pm, Connie Stewart.

Yes, I’m the only guy in the room at present.

Theer are seven or eight flat screens above me. Off to the left, I see “Celebrity Apprentice” on NBC, a show that is about the same whether you have the sound up or down. It just looks stupid. In front of me, CNN debating the Obama Stimulus plan for the one millionth time with the self-proclaimed “Best Political Team on Television”. As much into politcs as I am, I’m tired of watching people debate the merits of the plan.

I didn’t sit down to write about my TV habits or to give you a bird’s eye view of the newsroom at 9:46pm on a Sunday. I’m here to blog about what happens after I leave her. I drive home. A trip that talkes me into one of the world’s most beautiful cities at night. That’s right, our own Pittsburgh. As great as it looks in the sunlight, it really shimmers at night.

Then again, I think I would like just about any large metropolitan city at night. It’s funny. As a child, I was afraid of the dark. I had to have a nightlight on at all times or I was afraid something in the dark would come and eat me. As an adult, I love the world at night. Whether it was working the morning show and driving into WTAE at 3am … or coming home now after 11:30pm … I get to see this gem light up at night.

Super Bowl Marketing Pittsburgh

Pittsburghat night: A better view I cannot imagine.

The night has a sound and feeling all its own in a big city. Its mysterious and frightening while at the same time alluring and inviting. It brings out different kinds of creatures than appear in the city during the day. Its about movies and shows, restaurant and bars and, when the weather is nice, couples young and old walking the streets hand in hand.

Sometimes on the way home before I go through the Fort Pitt Tunnels, I will take a detour and drive along the city streets … or maybe head McArdle Roadway and park on Grandview Avenue on Mount Washington. The $64 Billion view from the Mount is hard to beat. Of course, I’m sure because of the economy, that $64 billion view has not been reduced in value to $40 B.

I will also listen to certain types of music to enhance the drive through town at night. As I said before, the city at night has a soundtrack all its own. I’m partial to jazz so it could one of my favorite smooth jazz artists or perhaps something more R&B. The right music enhances a drive down Penn Avenue at night.

I used to live in the city … and I do regret not living there anymore … because this city at night was my backyard. Perhaps someday I will move back there and be able to enjoy more than a short drive through the city every night on the way home.

Escaping to a Virtual World
March 5, 2009

Ever since I was a kid, I have loved our national pastime: baseball. When I was in grade school, I would listen to Red Sox games on the radio in my parent’s radio that I would plug outside on the deck. I would grab some peanuts, still in the shell, and bring out my Red Sox yearbook at listen to the games.

As I got older, it wasn’t enough to just listen. My brother and I would pull out wiffle ball and bat, turn our driveway into Fenway Park and play ball! I would grab my plastic Boston Red Sox batting helmet and use the swing set at the end of the driveway as my makeshift “Green Monster” in left field.

I would not only play, but verbally do the play-by-play while playing the game. I knew all the batting stances of my favorite players as well. For me, it was as close as I could get to being able to immerse myself in Major League Baseball.

That was then …..

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Is that really Josh Beckett pitching at Fenway Park … or just a virtual version from “MLB ’09 The Show”? ( Courtesy: Sony/PS )

Fast forward to 2009 … where kids no longer need to imagine what it must be like to be professional baseball players. All you need do is pop a video game DVD into your Xbox or Playstation, and you can enjoy the virtual world of Major League Baseball.

You might be thinking “Poor Andrew. It’s too bad you the days of video games came to late for you to enjoy”. Think again.

Since I have no kids, and really never grew up, I am enjoying today the technology that did not exist when I was a kid. I recently got “MLB ’09 The Show”, the latest entry into the world of virtual baseball.

I have to tell you, this mature professional becomes a giddy little kid as I am able to be my beloved Red Sox. However, instead of imagining what my favorite players would do on the field, with the push of a control button I cam make David Ortiz swing or Josh Beckett toss a curve ball. I can play them against the Yankees in a stadium that looks so much like Fenway Park, right down to the sponsors on the outfield wall.

I don’t even have to announce my games anymore because there is a virtual announcer calling balls and strikes … and home runs for me.

The reason I share all this is because this is my escape. Playing video games like “MLB 09 The Show”. It’s not because I am an overgrown kid or someone who has never grown up. Quite the opposite. I am someone who has grown up and would like to be a kid every so often. Maybe by enjoying the technological advances today’s children do, perhaps I can be a kid once again … at least when I get home from work lat each night.

Really Dumb … But Really True
March 4, 2009

You don’t see it because we are either in commercial or the video is up and running, but there are stories that simply make me sit and laugh from the sheer stupidity of the people involved.

Where do I begin? How about West Virginia. There is a lawmaker in the state named Jeff Eldridge who actually stood up before the state legislature and proposed a bill to ban sales of …. Barbie!!!! His argument is that the doll provides young girls and warped sense of body and takes away from their intellectual development.

I cannot argue with the reasoning, but I can completely slam this guy’s decision to go before the state legislature and float this idea before them. If you ever wonder why most of America holds politicians in such low esteem, here’s exhibit A.

 

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WV lawmaker and would-be Barbie Banner Jeff Eldridge: Dumb

But it’s not limited to politics. Have you heard of  Bernie Madoff, the investment guru who ran a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme which defrauded everyone from millions to charities out of their cash? That would have been bad enough, except Madoff and his wife have decided to add insult to injury.

They contend that their $6 million condo and $50 million in investments should not be factored in their final punishment because they earned all that “before” they began the Ponzi scheme.

OK.

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Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff: Dumber

For just making that request, Madoff should no longer be under house arrest. He should be sent straight to prison while he awaits his trial. That is dumbest thing I have ever heard. Yeah, we did take all these people’s money but only after we made our fortune so that money should not be factored into any settlement.

Finally, for really stupid things,  I need turn no further than the world of professional sports which has been off its rocket for years. Allow me to introduce Manny Ramirez, late of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now a free agent following a great season in L.A., he and his agent Scott Boros are negotiating for more money. The latest offer from the Dodgers: 2-years, $45 million. Oh, by the way,  that is also the only offer on the table.

Still, that’s not stopping Ramierez and Boros from saying “no” to the offer.

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Manny ” I walked away from $45M” Ramirez: Dumbest

Wait, did he just say no to $23.5 million a year? In this economy? I don’t know if Ramirez speaks English, but the word “recession” translates in any language. What is this fool and his agent waiting for? No one is going offer him close to that. I guess this is what people in baseball refer to as “Manny being Manny”.

As dumb as walking away from $45 million may be, it pales in comparison to the stupidity to come from the Dodgers when they pay Ramirez anyway when he comes back to the bargaining table rather than do what they should: tell Manny and his agent to take a walk and don’t let the door hit them on the way out.

In the news, there are sad situations, tragic occurrences and unfortunate situatons. But then, there are stories that are just plain stupid. Whether it be the people involved, the decisions they make or the excuse for their actions. I just hope that when you hear stories like this, you will think of yourself as smarter because you are.

Is Rush Right?
March 3, 2009

I know I’m going to get some heat for this … but here goes.

Driving around in my car Saturday, I caught radio talk show Rush Limbaugh’s address to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington D.C. Now I normally don’t listen to Rush ( or political talk show hosts for that matter ), but this address captured my attention.

There had been so much said in advance of it and many see Rush as the leader of the conservative movement in this country. Plus, with this part of the political spectrum so opposed to Obama’s plan, I thought it was worth taking a listen … and I have to admit I was surprised.

Stay with me here. If you actually LISTEN to what the man is saying and forget about both the audience and the applause, there are parts that make total sense. Let me give you an example. How many of you want the government taking care of you? Wouldn’t you prefer that you make your own success and not depend on governmental assistance? Wouldn’t you prefer not to have to bail out company’s and homeowners for their own greed when you played by the rules and built your nest egg within the letter fo the law. Of course you would. That’s seems to be the point being made during much of Rush’s speech.

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Rush Limbaugh’s address to CPAC on Saturday. 

As for his statement about WANTING President Obama to fail, why wouldn’t he? Why wouldn’t anyone who opposes the President’s policies. Didn’t Democrats want the same thing during the Bush years? Rush is saying that if Obama fails, the Republicans will get their chance to lead once again. Only he is saying it because he’s not running for political office or currently holds and elected position.

That being said, while Limbaugh delivered the kind of flash and style not seen since … since Barack Obama last Tuesday before  a joint session of Congress … he did not really offer any options. Sure, he did a great job spelling out what conservatism means and what conservatives want, but give me a 10-step alternative to get us out of this mess. That is what I am looking for, regardless of ideology.

Here’s an idea: How about a debate between Limbaugh and Obama. Just from the oratory skills on display, I think it would be compelling television and theatre. On a more practical note, I think such a debate would bring out the best in both sides and perhaps give us something we are sorely lacking in facing this fiscal crisis: a true bi-partisan plan.

Close to Home
March 1, 2009

We had breaking news we reported late Friday night. A mutiple car accident in Ross Township involving three cars … and killing an twelve-year-old boy. Anytime someone is killed in an auto accident, its far from a pleasant thing to report. Little did I realize, though, how this death would hit close to home just days later.

I had Saturday off and did not even pick up a newspaper until Sunday, but once I came into the office I heard the name of the accident victim … and got an e-mail from his mother. The boy’s name was Jacob Snively. His mother’s name is Anne Hiller Snively.

His mother and I lived in the same dorm and became friends in my freshman year of college at Ohio University.

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Jacob Snively ( Courtesy Pittsburgh Tribune-Review )

Tears began to well up in my eyes as my thoughts turned to Anne and her husband James. The grief they must be experiencing is beyond comprehension. Every parent just assumes to their children will outlive them. They just assume their youth is the first stage on life’s journey. No parent can possibly imagine burying their child. My friend from college is going to have to do that on Wednesday.

I often write in this blog about being moved when I read stories about tragedy and pain, but when it hits so close to home it moves you in such a different way. Anne was one of my good friends my freshman summer at school. She was from Pittsburgh and, at the time, I figured once I left college I wouldn’t see her again. However, shortly after coming to WTAE, Anne was visiting our studios and we bumped into each other and renewed acquaintances.

Now, we keep in touch with little notes via e-mail. It was this morning Anne sent me a note about her son’s passing. There was a picture of her son, Jacob. He looks so much like her. Not having children, it’s hard to imagine what such a loss must feel like. I’m near tears and I may have met her son once during his visit to WTAE. I cannot imagine what she and her family must be enduring.

It’s so difficult to see someone you knew so young, before getting married and before becoming a mother, endure such tradgedy and pain. My heart aches for her and her family.

Anne’s note was personal in nature but she did leave me one phrase that I can share with you … and it’s something we should all remember. Something we should all keep in mind and not wait until, God forbid, tragedy strikes:

“Hold on tight to your loved ones”.