Archive for May, 2009

“Geeked” About the G-20
May 29, 2009

OK, my nerdy side is about to come out here.

I was , at first, shocked then fired up about announcement that the G-20 Summit was going to be held in Pittsburgh in September. For those of you who might think this is a new collegiate conference, the G-20 is an informal gathering of 85% of the world’s economic powerhouses to discuss economic policies and practices.  Yes, it sounds kind of dry and laborious, but its an all-star lineup of leaders who will becoming with President Barack Obama being the headliner.

Is the G-20 important? Well, anytime you get leaders of the 19 most prosperous nations in the world together in one place and, add to that, the current economic collapse around the world and the expect thousands who will be protesting in the streets and get the sense this is a little bit bigger than hosting baseball’s All-Star Game … or the U.S. Open.

However, I had to scratch my head when Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s chief of staff Yarone Zober referred to the successful  handling of security at the U.S. Open as great practice for this event. The difference is that two years ago at Oakmont, there was only one Tiger Woods to worry about … not 20 … and there was no one outside Oakmont holding demonstrations.

g-20 photoThis is more than just an event. It has the potential of transforming the city we call home. Think about it. This event has been held in such international cities as Washington D.C. and London – both nation’s capitals. Pittsburgh isn’t even the state capital.

What is Pittsburgh? It’s an example of  city that faced the world economic crisis 25  years before the rest of the world did – and re-invented itself , embracing new technologies and green industries. It’s amazing that a region that does not embrace change easily has become the living symbol of the change that must take place in order for a city to be economically viable.

Talking with a few economic experts tonight, there is a feeling that this could be a pivotal moment for Pittsburgh. As Bill Flanagan of the Allegheny Conference told me, “Pittsburgh has come all the way back” … with this announcement. However, it’s what we do with this moment … and what we do over those two days … that could turn Pittsburgh from a city on the rise to one that becomes significant on the international scene. Imagine, Pittsburgh being named in the same breath as Berlin, Tokyo and London.

Just wondering what kind of  t-shirts will be made by local vendors for G-20.

Editor’s note:  By the way, what was with the White House press corps laughing during the announcement that Pittsburgh was going to host the G-20 Summit? I know that sometimes the press is seen as elitist … and this doesn’t help their standing. At least in Pittsburgh. Hopefully, some in the White House press will take the time to get to know our city and realize its not all Steeler football and I.C. Light. 

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To Hug or Not to Hug?
May 28, 2009

Leave it to the New York Times to bring us these little snippets into the social issues of our day. I was reading the Times today on-line when I waded into the latest controversy separating parents from teens: hugging.

Apparently, the hottest and coolest thing among teens is hugging. Hugging to say “hello”. Hugging to say “goodbye”. Hugging to say “What’s Up?”. Kids have decided human contact has replaced the handshake and the high-five as the way show affection between members of the opposite sex … or the same sex.

What makes this interesting is the reaction of those not of that age – parents and teachers. Those quoted in the article pointed to hugging as a source of “peer pressure”. Its even gone so far as some school districts across the country banning hugging. One teacher in the article actually said “Touching and physical contact is very dangerous territory”.

OK everyone. Let’s take a deep breath.

Are we ready to continue now?

Look, I am not a parent but I have spent enough time around kids during my years of covering high school sports and the like to know that kids hugging is not an evil thing. I would prefer to have boys and girls who date hug rather than the other things they could be doing.

I know my column about saving the sport of kickball did not go over well with everyone, but I see this “hugging” issue as much of the same: political correctness run amok. I know when I was a kid, I used to hug guys and girls as a way of saying that “I’m cool with you”. Even today, I prefer to hug my friends. Obviously, with women it may be a bit more accepted than hugging a guy, but I hug just the same.

I do believe that more often than not, kids needs supervision and guidance and don’t always know best. However, in a world where we have so much hate, violence and antagonism, I think the kids got it right. Maybe we should all throw caution to the wind … and hug.

I know most of us could use one.

So Predictable
May 26, 2009

While we are fired up about the Stanley Cup playoffs in these parts, there was a bigger story playing out in our nation’s capital. President Barack Obama revealed his nominee to replace the retiring David Souter on the Supreme Court.

The pick was — and wasn’t surprising. Sonia Sotomayor is a woman, as expected. She is also a Latino and, if confirmed, would become the first Hispanic member of the High Court. That also surprised few experts. There had been two women on the court prior to the retirement of justice Sandra Day O’Connor … and Obama had been clear on his desire for a more diverse court. Sotomayor’s nomination kills  two birds with one stone.

Also predictable: the reaction to the choice along party lines. Democrats offering support while Republicans planning to grill the nominee. It seems this is always the case, regardless of the nominee. In this case, Obama’s empathetic candidate versus the YouTube video now airing showing Sotomayor years ago saying that a judge’s job was to make law as well as interpret it.

Now I don’t know where you stand on the whole issue. Your decision maybe as simple as whether the candidate is pro-life or pro-choice. Whatever your view, I know one thing: I am sick and tired of these two sides of the aisle always on opposite sides of  any decision.

sotomayor

What happened to this New Washington we heard so much about during the campaign. Whatever happened to Change We Can Believe In? Wait, I know what the Republican and Democratic response will be … and it will be a lot of finger pointing, blaming the other side. All I know is that when you are the minorityparty, you cannot make your living by simply opposing what the party in power is doing. I also know that when you are in power, you can’t just do what you want and not offer an olive branch to the minority party.

All this being said, do not expect an explosive confirmation hearing a la Clarence Thomas some 20 years ago. The Republicans are smart enough to know that opposing an historic nomination – involving a member of the fastest-growing voter block in the county ( Hispanics ) – borders on political suicide. Expect a tough confirmation, but not for the GOP to be seen as the roadblock to her confirmation … and yes, she will be confirmed.

My prediction.

Welcome to the New “Hockeytown”
May 26, 2009

Tuesday night might be both the end and the beginning for hockey fans in two cities. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings are on the verge of eliminating the Carolina Hurricanes and Chicago Blackhawks, respectively, and moving onto hockey’s grandest stage – the Stanley Cup Finals.

It will be the second consecutive year these northern teams will square off for Lord Stanley’s Cup … and it will also pit the two towns against one another for a best-of-seven showdown. While its tough to know who will come out on top in a second straights finals battle between the Pens and Wings, there is little doubt which town loves its hockey more … the title of “Hockeytown” now belongs to Pittsburgh.

This is not hometown pride and passion. This is a completely unbiased view from an observer. While there will always be a debate as to which town loves its football more ( Green Bay or Pittsburgh ), there is no doubt our city has stepped up and embraced the coolest game on ice like never before.

Before I even name the burgh “Hockeytown”, consider the roots of the name. It wasn’t even a tribute, but an advertising  campaign organized by the city  … and the name “Hockeytown” was actually the creation of the brother of a member of our Channel 4 News team, though I’m not going to spill the beans here as to whom that might be. However, as the Wings became more dominant on the ice, Detroit embraced the title off the ice.

hockeytown

However, the Wings winning ways haven’t always translated to success in the stands. Remember, Detroit is dealing with a declining auto industry. Hockey tickets are not cheap and there were plenty of unfilled seats at the “Joe” earlier this year.

Pittsburgh, on the other hand, hasn’t had to worry about filling the seats … or drawing fans. The Pens play in the oldest and more decrepit arena in the NHL, yet they are selling out the place and their fan base is made up of an ever-growing number of young people. That passion for the Penguins reached a never before level last season with the idea of showing playoffs games on the JumboTron ( or the Trib Tron as its now being called ).

You know how it works, but if you are reading this from a different town, let me explain. Essentially, the game is shown on the large screen mounted outside Mellon Arena … and fans sit in lawn chairs and watch the game on TV. Think about it. You could watch the game at home, on your Hi-def screen with booze, a bathroom and a bed nearby. Instead, literally thousands of fans have given up the creature comforts of home to be with their fellow fans. If that’s not devotion, I don’t know what is.

Add to that the growth of youth hockey rinks in the region, as well as the merchandise sales for Pens gear, and you begin to realize hockey is not just something we do in between Steeler seasons. It has become a season unto itself. That’s not even mentioning the young, approachable talent that plays for this hockey team. Oh, if that weren’t enough, you can see the future of Pens hockey rising just across the street at the soon-to-open Consol Energy Center.

I don’t think the Hockeytown label will ever be taken from Detroit. However, its quite clear Pittsburgh has become a “Hockeytown” all to itself. A city and region that supports the game not only in great numbers, but in a unique way.

I will ask Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, should the Pens and Wings meet in the finals again, to challenge the mayor of Detroit. Last year, he wagered that if the Pens won the series that  Detroit would surrender the name “Hockeytown” to Pittsburgh. The mayor of Detroit took a pass.

That’s OK. Pittsburgh has won the title by virtue of its support and its passion. Welcome to the new  version of “Hockeytown”. All we need now — is the cup.

Save Dodgeball!
May 21, 2009

It’s one of the few TV shows I get to watch it its entirety: Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO. It’s Gumbel and some of the best sports journalists in the country taking a serious look at sports … with great profiles and investigations. I never seen an episode where I don’t learn something new.

This week, Bernard Goldberg ( formerly of  CBS News and now an author ) did a piece that I thought was not only interesting, but also maddening at the same time. It was about the effort in schools nationwide to ban dodgeball.

If you can remember, dodgeball was that game in which you were separated into two teams … and the idea was to knock players on each side out of the contest by throwing a rubber ball about the size of a basketball at them. The winner was essentially the last man standing. I thought it was great exercise and a lot of fun.

DODGEBALL 1/3  LONFast forward to the here and now. Listening to some educators, dodgeball is the root of all evil and must be removed from every school system post haste. The feature among these enlightened educators is that dodgeball is a violent game that lowers self-esteem and clearly separates the kids into two groups: winners and losers.

Hello. That is the way of the world. Whether it be sports, politics, tiddlywinks or everyday life, there are winners and losers. You know, this has been tried with other team sports in the past: the concept of playing games without keeping score so no one feels like they have failed. It’s an idea that makes no sense .. and does more to hurt children because they do not face the facts of life until they are too old to really know how to react to them.

Everybody, this is a game, nothing more and nothing less. When those in authority try to place more meaning on these childhood games, that’s when we get into trouble. Dodgeball is a fun sports, like football, figure skating and soccer. All those sports have winners and losers and all those sports have moments where the contestants don’t feel like champions.

If you are wondering why America is sometimes seen as “losing its edge” and perhaps “getting soft”, then look no further than this effortto ban a game that is meant to be nothing more than fun. Look, we all want to protect our children and keep them safe. How about dealing with the real dangers to them first … and allow childhood games to be just that.

Games.

Harrison Says No: How The Story Happened
May 20, 2009

It never ceases to amaze me: how a news story starts and then takes off. Every story that you see on the local TV news, heard on the radio or read about in the newspaper has to start somewhere. Usually, with an announcement of some sort. Sometimes, with a simple exchange between two people.

The latter is how the latest controversy engulfing Steeler Nation began. The news that linebacker James Harrison was not going to the White House and the debate that ensued has been something to see. Whether I watch ESPN, hop on the web or listen to national sports talk radio, it seems everybody has an opinion as to why Harrison is not going to the White House. Some call it political while others think its just stupid. Whatever the reason, it has become a topic de jour that will last through the Steelers Super Bowl visit.

But it began very innocently enough with a conversation. I was at Oakmont Country Club, preparing to host the Legends for Charity Golf Classic. Coaches Dave Wannstedt and Mike Tomlin have put together this event for St. Jude Hospital which does wonders for children with cancer and their families. Each year, Coach Tomlin brings a player along to greet those who have come to support – and this year, it was Super Bowl hero James Harrison.

Seeing James, and having a photographer with me, I thought it would be a good chance to ask James about supporting this event as well as getting ready for the upcoming season. The only reason the White House came up in our discussion was the fact that the team was invited earlier that day.

HARRISON

We talked briefly before going on camera and that is when he told me of his decision. I thought he was kidding but he was dead serious … and even explained why. I said to him would he be willing to go on camera and say this  … and he said yes. What followed was the comment that launched one thousand columns.

I have to tell you, when we ran the story Friday night at 11, we all thought he was kidding and would eventually change his mind. Little did we realize that once our story was put on our website, thepittsburghchannel.com, the world would start to weigh in. It started with stories from the Associated Press, then made sports blogs across the nation. By Sunday, it was in the New York Times and WTAE started getting calls from ABC and CNN wanting the videotape.

By the time Monday rolled around, Iw as sitting on the couch and ESPN was doing the story – and credited WTAE. That’s what made the story so much for me was to see our station getting credit and attribution for this story. While it may not make a difference in Pittsburgh, it makes WTAE important around the country.

Whether he goes or not, the story will certainly be part of the tale of the Super Bowl Champs visit to the White House on Thursday. Meanwhile, back here, I will always wonder: what if James and I had not had that brief conversation? How different his week might have been.

Mixed Emotions on Game Night
May 18, 2009

How about the Pens? For the second straight year, the Penguins are on the verge of playing for Lord Stanley’s Cup, if they can push past the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canes are the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and there is little doubt the Pens are the  favorite.

The series starts tonight … and folks, I have mixed emotions coming into this confrontation. Now before you put me in the same catagory as Bill Cowher for being a traitor and not pulling for the Pens, hear me out.

As a child growing up in Connecticut in the late 70’s, I had two teams I passionately followed in my area: the Boston Red Sox and the New England Whalers. The Whalers were members of the World Hockey Association, founded by former Pens owner Howard Baldwin. Direct competition to the established NHL, they had teams such as the Whalers, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, etc. The Whalers made their name by signing players well past their prime who were guaranteed hall of famers: Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull and John McKenzie.

The Whalers then joined the NHL in the merger of 1980, along with Edmonton, Winnipeg and the Quebec Nordiques The Whalers were nearly and dear to my heart not just because they were the local team, but also they lived in the neighborhood. I went to grade school with the son of the team’s starting goaltender. The Whalers were a community team because they had veterans who had children and had roots in the town of Hartford, Connecticut.

hartford whalers

Tonight, its the Pens against the team formerly known as my Hartford Whalers

It continued that way until the mid-90’s. However, the Whalers never had great teams. Heck, they had a parade in the 1986 when the lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. They also played in an arena which was located in the middle of a shopping center. While the Whale was not an on-ice success, they had a loyal fan base which helped to put people into the Hartford Civic Center.

The Whale was also jinxed by its own staff. Former Pens GM Eddie Johnston was the Whalers GM in the 90’s … and he made a deal with Pittsburgh that sent Ron Francis and Ulf Samuelesson to Pittsburgh and essentially gave the Pens their second Stanley Cup.

However, that was not enough for Peter Karmanos. The greedy owner of the team wanted a new arena, luxury boxes and more parking. He didn’t get it, so he took the Whalers south … to North Carolina where they became the Carolina Hurricanes. Less than 10 years after the move, they won the Stanley Cup. It was difficult to watch because that was my team … and that should have been Hartford’s Stanley Cup.

So now the Canes are taking on the team which I openly root for — the Pens. I am pulling for Pittsburgh because I do not want the franchise formerly known as the Whalers to “steal” another Stanley Cup from my beloved Hartford. Still, when I watch the Canes, I cannot help but think about the team I followed in my youth. Heck, Francis is now an assistant coach … and they have the same play-by-play guy on the radio from when I was working in Hartford.

I do plan to throw on my vintage Whalers jersey, circa 1995, during the game as I pull for the Pens but wish that they were playing my Whalers. At least if it were the Whalers they were playing, instead of  the Canes, I would know hockey lives in on in Hartford, Connecticut.

Reaching the Big 41
May 15, 2009

Birthdays – as you get older – tend to change in their significance. When you are a toddler, you celebrate half-birthdays. When you become more mature, you celebrate each year. Then, when you get to be my age, its all about milestones.

That’s why this particular May16th isn’t quite a big deal. It’s number 41. Last year was huge when I turned 40 and it’s still one of my favorite birthdays because of the different people that wished me all the best that day.

41 is not such a big deal. Of course, anytime you are a year older its time to celebrate. After all, I don’t know ( in golf terms ) whether I’m playing the back nine of my life or not. However, this birthday is worthy of more reflection that celebration.

It’s been quite a year of change in my life. Professionally, I am involved in the greatest challenge and thrill of my career as I anchor the 5, 6 & 11pm newscasts. It’s challenging because these shows are among our most-watched and most pressure packed. It’s thrilling because it’s something new and everyday is a learning experience. I have been witness to some amazing events this year: the Inauguration and the Super Bowl. I have also had a front row seat to the greatest of human tragedies: the shootings in Stanton Heights.

Personally, my life has also seen much change and it’s really no secret. If you have read my blog for any length or time, you know there is something – or rather someone – missing. All I will say is that it’s forced me to take a harder look at my life and what will make me happy.

During this year of self-reflection, I have done things I thought I would never do: ran a half-marathon, finished a year-long class about the city in which we live, joined a couple of non-profit boards and taken every opportunity I have been given to speak in public. Whether it be a commencement address or just a group of school kids, I have welcomed a chance to engage in conversation.

Now, as 41 is about to hit, I look at the future with more optimism than I have in quite a while. I guess because truly age is a number. Physically, I have not felt better. I run every other day and plan to run a couple more half- marathons before going for the “Full Monty” at next year’s Pittsburgh Marathon. I plan to continue to challenge myself at work and I hope to improve upon the areas of my life where I have failed in the past.

I plan to spend my 41st birthday quietly celebrating, pleased in the knowledge that I still have much to learn and much to achieve. Most of all, I hope that #41 isn’t on the back nine but perhaps I’m at least playing the 9th hole and not quite ready to make the turn.

Missing the Mark
May 13, 2009

It’s obvious no one in any position of authority reads my blog. If they did, I would soon run out of material because they would realize how silly and stupid some of the things that pass for popular culture and political discussion really are.

Case in point, the on-going Miss California “scandal” in which Carrie Prejean apparently lost her shot at the crown when one of the judges asked her  a question about gay marriage. Her answer was honest. She said she believed marriage was only between a man and a woman.

Since that statement, she has been trounced on in blogs, been put in the middle of  a national culture war, become the spokesperson for a pro-heterosexual marrigae group and now, the latest foil for Donald Trump who today “decided” she should keep her Miss California crown. ( By the way, Ms Prejean came in second in the Miss USA Pageant. Does anybody remember who won? There’s another casualty in all this. )

This controversy is not only silly, but also  inherently sexist. Do you really think this woman would have been given the national spotlight if she expressed her opinion anywhere other than during the final segment of a  beauty pageant following the bikini competition? After all, the  only video I ever see when commentators talk about  Ms. Prejean is from that swimsuit competition.

trump-and-miss-california-usa-5-12

Donald Trump listens to Miss California, Carrie Prejean, during a Tuesday press conference in which he “let” her keep her crown. The circus atmosphere  distracts from the real problem with marriage.

This whole thing came back into my train of thought as I was scanning the cable channels tonight and fell on … of all shows … Lou Dobbs on CNN. The poor man’s Bill O’Reilly, Dobbs tries this populist approach on his show and it comes across as less than exciting. However, he made a point tonight that perhaps hits the nail on the head when it comes to all this controversy.

He said something that stuck with me: Is same sex marriage the greatest threat to heterosexual marriage? I would go one step further and say its not even in the top ten of threats to the institution of marriage. Whether you believe in same sex marriages or not, I don’t think anyone has to fear gay couples are breaking into the homes of  heterosexual couples nationwide trying to destroy their marriages.

The greatest threats to the union of man and a woman come from drug use, alcoholism, spousal abuse, infidelity, childrens issues  and financial problems. These are the things that have destroyed marriages almost half the time in this country. These causes are insidious and slowly eat away at the fiber of a union between a man and a woman.

It’s a shame this whole thing with Miss California, whose only crime was speaking her mind, is taking our eyes off  the bigger problem. A battle between the left and right over gay marriage will not save heterosexual marriage. In fact, it will continue to destroy it because we are focusing so much on that issue while the institution of marriage between a man and a woman continues to suffer.

It’s my fear that in our country’s continued push to make everything either left or right of the political spectrum, those that live in the middle are not having their problems addressed … and often those are the problems that will ultimately affect us all.

The Light Goes On
May 12, 2009

I wouldn’t call it an epiphany, but when I mentioned the thought on my Facebook page, a friend said an intervention might be in order.

I’m speaking about the realization that I might actually enjoy running more than I enjoy golf. Let me say that again. I might actually enjoy running more than I enjoy golf.

I’m not sure when the moment struck me, but I’m quite sure it had something to do with Mother’s Day when I took part in the running portion of the Race for the Cure. As you know its one of my favorite events as well as something near and dear to my heart. The inspiration from seeing the survivors on the course might be what drives me to run as fast as I can.

I ran the 5K in 25:48, not a great time but after doing the Pittsburgh Half Marathon I was not even winded after the 5K and felt it was one of my best efforts ever. Later Sunday, I played golf and after shanking three straight balls on the fourth hole I tossed my club 50 yards down the fairway and said something that I cannot put into words on this blog. Then, I picked up my club, drove back to the clubhouse and threw my clubs in the trunk.

I got up this morning and ran another 6 miles.

hawaii trip 015

Is Andrew Stockey ready to hang up the clubs and run?

The point is running did not frustrate me. It did not send me into a rage in which I found myself tossing my shoes as fast as I had tossed my clubs. It was therapeutic and relaxing. It allowed me to both think and forget. In short, less brain power was needed and I felt like a new man afterwards. Perhaps I have become a new man, at least a new man minus the 23 pounds I was carrying before I started running in March.

Now I know I still like golf, still like watching golf and still like the comraderie of the game. However, it doesn’t hold the same grip on me it once did. Instead of looking at courses to play, I’m looking at races to run. There’s a half marathon I just signed up for in August in my hometown of Chicago.

Maybe its not so much a realization about golf and running as it is a realization that as we get older, our interests and passions change. When I was in my 20’s, it was all about baseball. Then, into my 30’s, golf was king. Now as I start my 40’s, I’m ready to run like the wind.

Can’t wait to see what excites me in my 50’s. I trust it will be the feeling of being able to do something and not be in pain the next morning.

Editor’s note:I must say something about my fellow co-anchor Michelle Wright’s blog. Michelle seems never to be at a loss for material, mainly because of yours truly. The latest is her posted video of myself taking part in the giant pre-race warm-up. This year, it was Zumba. If you have ever done this, you realize its more of an expressive dance than a stretch.

Of course, since I was the rookie in the group on stage doing this, I looked more like cheesy club dancer than an athlete. Michelle has been laughing all day as have most of you. All I can say is “Michelle, why do you tease me so?”. Then I say to myself, if not for my antics what would she blog about?

Worth the Ride?
May 9, 2009

the moment the story began rolling.unil Friday. I had not seen the actual video pkmWendy Bell and myself introduced Janelle Hall’s story at 5:15

I was aghast.
12-year-old Ashley Ames of Venango County was sitting in a bed at Children’s Hospital – her hair parted — by what looked to be hundreds of stitches closing a huge gash that went the from the front of her skull to the back. Her face was swollen. Her memory was somwhat spotty of the incident.

She fractured her skull after falling off her All Terrain Vehicle ( ATV ) without  a helmet. She not only survived, but is going home just in time for Mother’s Day. It’s a happy ending to a story that just as easily could have taken a turn for the worst.

 

atv rider

Ashley  Ames of Oil City: A lucky girl because she survived an ATV accident without a helmet. A brave girl because she recovered faster than doctors predicted.

However, I am quite sure it will not be the last time we report a story on a childen being injured, possibly killed, riding an ATV. According to statistics, 250 children die in ATV accidents. Another 65,000 are injured. In a great many of these cases, the children are not wearing their helmets. In Ashley’s case, her father takes responsibility for not making sure she had a helmet on.

While I applaud the father for realizing his mistake … and the young girl for wanting to tell other children about the fate you tempt when you don’t wear a helmet … I am left asking one question.

Why are children even riding ATV?

I know I’m going to get raked over the coals for this, but I just don’t understand why children are even riding these vehicles in the first place. We are talking about motorized vehicles which are every bit as dangerous as cars. I know many children feel completely at ease on these vehicles and many of them do wear their helmets, but youth and inexperience can only tempt fate for so long.

Truthfully, I think you should be 16 to ride any motorized vehicle – be it a car, an ATV or a moped. Just because children aren’t riding these ATV’s in the streets, doesn;t mean they aren’t in danger. In fact, they may be in more danger because I doubt the rules of the road apply to a track of dirt and mud.

Look, there are so many dangers for our children to deal with on a daily basis , not to mention all the trouble they can get into whether it be drugs, alcohol or something even worse. I just think not allowing them to ride ATV’s is one less obstacle to them escaping childhood with all their body parts intact.

 Please feel free to disagree … and I’m sure many of you ( parents and children ) will. I know you will point to safety courses many riders take and that is often a family activity with adult supervision in many cases. Also, I’m sure many of you will cite the fact the overwhelming majority of young riders do wear helmets. I understand all those arguments.  It just doesn’t make much sense to me and I’m not going to apologize for wanting tio put out of  the reach of our children one more possible deathtrap.

I am so happy that Ashley survived the accident and wants to teach her fellow classmates about ATV safety. However, I would rather have them learn about safety at an older age … when they would be permitted to ride these vehicles and I think 16 is that age.

Battling Over Beer
May 6, 2009

What was the single most difficult transition when I came to western Pennsylvania 14 years ago? That’s easy.

I went to get some beer at the store .. and found out you could not buy beer at the store. Come to find out you could not buy it at  a drug store, a convenience store or a gas station. You could not buy it in a boat, you could not by it in a moat, you could not buy it with some ham, you could not buy it Sam I am ( Sorry, I went off on a Dr. Suess frenzy there ).

The bottom line is you could not buy beer in the places you could buy beer all over this country. Heck, you could not buy beer and wine in the same place. What is up with that?

14 years later, I still have no idea why this state treats alcohol like plutonium though I sense  I would have an easier time purchasing this radioactive material to make bombs than to buy beer.

I’m not sure where this puritanical feeling about alcohol in this state began, but you know its getting out of hand when the local Giant Eagle is attempting to make history and become the first grocery store in western Pennsylvania to sell beer. Of course, even that bit of history is somewhat convoluted. Under the plan approved by the supervisors of Pine Township where the Giant Eagle is located, the store would sell on two six packs per person at a time. As you might imagine if you have ever hand a Super Bowl party, two six packs is not going to cut it with your guests.

giant-eagle

Even with this caveat, we actually found people who thought the idea of selling beer at Giant Eagle is a BAD idea. One person said it would encourage drinking among young people because the beer is so accessible. Hello? If a young person wants to get beer, I doubt they are going to go to a Giant Eagle to pick it up … and I sincerely doubt anyone is going to want to drink because they happen to see beer while they are shopping groceries. I would think among young people the I.C. Light spot running on all three local newscasts would do more to inspire me to drink than seeing the King of Beers are the supermarket.

I just feel the state should get over this feeling that alcohol is something that should be regulated beyond keeping it out of the hands of people who are under the age of 21. Pennsylvania hardly leads the nation in fewest traffic fatalities.

I have lived in other states and have found that convenient places to buy alcohol fails to make people drink more. If anything, I would assume the inverse is true. The more you try to limit access to something, the more people will want it because of the mystery behind it all.

Pennsylvania, please join the 21st century and allow supermarkets and convenient stores to sell beer and wine … make sure each establishment cards those purchasing alcohol … and don’t sell it after 8pm.

Problem solved.

My Inspiration … and My Motivation
May 5, 2009

What a great event on Sunday. The Pittsburgh Marathon should make our city and our region proud. Despite the weather, which was wet but cool by running standards, over ten thousand ran through the city streets while thousands watched and cheered along every inch of the race route.

A big shout out to all of you who cheered the runners on to victory. You energized those runners and made the 26.2 mile full marathon or the 13.1 mile half-marathon seem much shorter. I know all about this because I was one of those runners who laced up the sneakers and ran.

Two months ago, the Pittsburgh marathon was the farthest thing from my mind. Weighing 225,  I would go to the gym and run five miles on the treadmill ( never losing any weight ) but never envisioned that I would have the stamina and fortitude to take part in a half-marathon.

However, someone did. Lisa is a friend of  mine from football tailgating season – and a devoted runner. She’s done half-marathons before and could see that perhaps that kind of challenge would be good for me. She talked me into it … and I think it was the fear of letting her down and being a “wuss” that made me go from the treadmill to the Montour Trail every other day for two months.

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My running partnr, Lisa Flynn, an myself with Tim Lunardi. He’s the owner of Lunardi’s Restaurant in Beechview. We had a pre-race pasta dinner before Sunday’s event.

By raceday, her motivation moved me to start running … and really never stop. We ran together through the Strip, the North Side and the South Side. By the time we reached the finish line 13.1 miles later, we held hands and crossed together!

If Lisa was my motivation, when I did start to tire on the course, a young girl from Greene County was my inspiration. Her name is Chrissy Lahew and I have told you about her before. We met at the Greene County Relay for Life. She was just six years old at the time and battling luekemia. However, you could not tell her struggles when you saw her smile and heard her laugh. We started a conversation … that became a friendship … that lasted for 10 years.

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With Chrissy Lahew at the Greene County Relay for Life at Waynesburg Central HS. We met 10 years ago when she was battling cancer. Ten years later, the event has become out annual chance to renew our friendship … and watch her grow up.

I saw her at the Relay for Life at Waynesburg High School the day before the marathon. She is now beautiful young woman about to get her learner’s permit to drive … and planning to study forensic science. She has a boyfriend and a firm grasp on her future. However, Chrissy is still the sweet little girl with the winning smile who has overcome on the greatest killers known to man. If she can stare cancer in the face and beat it, why can’t I run 13 miles?

My Inspiration and my Motivation combined to help take me somewhere I had never been before … and to a point in my life I could not have imagined. I’m more fit, in better shape and happier than I have been in years … and I owe it to two very talented young women who have moved mountains by just being themselves.

Ladies … thank you!