Archive for September, 2009

The Ring Is the Thing
September 30, 2009

The championship trophy matters more in hockey than any other sport. From the league’s advertising campaign to its post-series celebration, the Cup has become the living symbol of hockey. Once they win it, the players toss it in their pools, kiss it, sleep with it and often use it to drink everything from milk to mixed drinks.

So where does the ring fit into the post-championship celebration? Tonight, I got to experience it first-hand at LeMont restaurant on Mount Washington. There, the Pens held a private dinner and ceremony to celebrate the season and hand out the last piece of hardware – the Rings.

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Just the size of this “bling” will take your breath away. While it’s not as large as the gaudy Steeler Super Bowl ring, its large enough. As Bill Guerin said, reflecting on his relatively average-size ring from his 1995 championship run with the Devils, “in this day and age, size matters”.

Its got 167 diamonds and enough gold to get your attention. It also has one shank with the three Stanley Cups won by the franchise. While its something each player can gaze into and reflect on the championship season, Guerin says the Stanley Cup is “eternal” and your name will always be there, long after they “pull the ring off your finger”.

So how long with the Pens wear their rings since they just got them tonight? Sidney Crosby tells me that he would wear his tonight and then put it away. He’s got a game that counts Friday and needs to work on getting another ring.

I would at least wear it until morning. That way, when you wake up, it won’t feel like just a dream. You will know your dreams can come true. It might also be good to keep the ring close by, just in case they find themselves in 10th place in February.

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Final Dispatch from G-20
September 29, 2009

I would have written this on Friday but I, like everyone else in this newsroom, was exhausted from three days of work following our world leaders around town and documenting their every move.

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Police officers: Ready for any trouble during the “People’s March”. There was none to speak of.

Well, I have to say while I am glad we “welcomed the world”, I glad that Pittsburgh is back to normal. As I mentioned last week, I spent enough time in a downtown devoid of people to realize that it’s the people that give the city its character and personality. It’s great to see this city if you are a foreign leader, but it would be better to meet the folks that built this place.

Speaking of which, there was a hot rumor that Obama ducked out before his address Friday to the media to grab some Primanti’s sandwiches for the White House press corps: the same group that laughed when they heard Pittsburgh was going to host the Summit. They did not get any.

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Chinese protestors: Silent, but speaking volumes

For me, Friday was once again spent field anchoring from the North Shore which wound up being the perfect spot to get a front row view of the “People’s March”. The biggest protest of G20 began in Oakland, made its way through downtown before crossing the 7th street bridge. After Thursday’s violent outburst, Friday’s protest was much more orderly, calm and ultimately successful in getting its message across in my opinion.

That didn’t mean there were some things that left me scratching my head. I have some female protestor tell me how this was the media’s fault and we were the root of all evil. I appreciate the commentary. Then, there was the college kid on the bike who was wondering what a “sports” guy was doing out at the parade. 

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Then, there was the woman and her high school age son from Slippery Rock. She told me she wanted her son to see the protest, hopefully open his mind to the world around him. She had been involved in protests as a young person and wanted her son to see this first-hand. I think the young man gained a better understanding of  political discourse in this country.

Perhaps no group was more powerful in the march than a group of Chinese citizens holding banners opposing the denial of human rights. While other marchers yelled, chanted and shouted, they quietly held their signs and marched in silence. You got the feeling these were not young people who had chosen a cause, you sensed these folks may have been intimately involved and perhaps had a family member suffer at the hands of their alleged oppressor.

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Protestors taking aim at what they call the “Police State”

As powerful and moving as Friday’ s march was – even though more than one protestor told me it was kind of boring – that is how disappointing Friday’s events in Oakland were. What took place on the Pitt campus showed how what began as a first amendment right exercise turned into just a bad scene that could have gotten easily out of hand. Already, there have been charges that police used excessive force … and video of  “protestors” taunting officers.

What I think we did learn during the G20 protests is that the first amendment is not always easy to defend – or easy to use. However, its the basis for our democracy and must always be defended – even if we don’t agree with how its being used. At the same time, it really shouldn’t be abused. Just because you can protest doesn’t mean you should. If you have a legitimate cause, get out there and defend it. But if you are just there to cause chaos, go home and destroy your own house. In the end, violence only drowns out everyone’s message.

G-20: Images & Observations from Downtown
September 25, 2009

This summit is allowing Channel 4 Action News reporters to see how a single event can change an entire region — visually. Case in point, my trip to downtown Pittsburgh early this afternoon.

Before the protests, before the President arrived, I parked my car on the North Shore and walked across the Rachel Carson bridge into the city. I have made this walk before, but it never looked like this.

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A strange combination: A military vehicle just a block away from the entrance to PNC Park. Our city really did have a different and strange feel.

There were fences on the roads, creating barricades which kept you out of certain portions of the city. There were military vehicles all over downtown. There were personnel dressed in fatigues. Most of all, there was a quiet where the city should be bustling during midday on a Thursday.

There were also people: more people than I expected to see. Most were not there to work. They were armed with cameras, set to capture a day unlike any other in downtown Pittsburgh. They took pictures of the barricades, the military presence and the choppers encircling the city of  Pittsburgh.

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A military presence at the 9th street bridge as you enter the city.

There were also people sitting outside Tambellini’s and Bossa Nova. Sitting in tables enjoying lunch or maybe they were employees waiting to serve someone lunch. However, the usual lunchtime crowd was nowhere to be found.

Waking back, I went across the Clemente Bridge to PNC Park. There, the Pirates and Reds had a mid-day game that drew less than 4,000. That’s a small crowd, even for the Pirates who chose to close down the upper deck. However, I think those in attendance had little problem getting to the game and parking. Frankly, the G20 city shutdown did little to affect those wanting to go the ballpark. I did see protestors at the ballpark. Abortion protestors. They were displaying those very graphic giant pictures of dead fetuses.

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Ran into city councilman Bruce Krauss ( left ) and a viewer. They were like many who came downtown Thursday: there to see what would happen.

Finally, while the march from Lawrenceville was the most demonstrative of the protests, the most effective might have been next to our broadcast location. NBC Nightly News was broadcasting from the North Shore Riverwalk, a group of protestors armed with a megaphone almost commandeered the broadcast. As soon as anchor Brian Williams went on the air, you could hear the protestors shouting “The G20 is a fraud”. The megaphone was so overwhelming, you could not hear Williams during a good part of the first few minutes.

Yes, this was a day like no other in the city of Pittsburgh. Who knows what G20 Friday will bring.

View from Across the River
September 24, 2009

As you have probably discovered bynow, my location for the G-20 Summit is on the banks of the Allegheny. I’m on the north shore Riverwalk, just across from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. While it’s not inside the facility, there are plenty of things that I have witnessed that Pittsburgh has never seen.

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To begin with, the number of vessels on the waters. The U.S. Coast Guard is only the beginning. I understand 23 different security ships will be heading up and down the Allegheny on patrol during the G20. To be sure, they are all packing heat.

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The next thing I witnessed but fail to get a picture of is the number of helicopter circling the Convention Center. Some with one propeller and some with a couple on top. The flew in formation all afternoon, keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings.

Of course, all this was going on all afternoon before a single dignitary showed up. However, we think we caught the motorcade of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia coming late in the afternoon.

That got me to thinking: OK, this going to sound stupid but if there are multiple world leaders staying at a single hotel, which one gets the Presidential suite?

Just wondering.

By the way, I will also be twittering while at the G20 Summit, offering details on everything from traffic to people watching. You can follow my tweets at: http://twitter.com/astockey

 

 

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A Salute to Spider
September 23, 2009

You know Patrick Swayze. You likely know Randy Pausch. You probably have no clue who John Fortney is. However, all three are tied together by a common bond, Sadly, a fatal bond. All three died of  pancreatic cancer.

While diseases like breast cancer are very well known, few people knew what pancreatic cancer was prior to a couple of years ago. Fewer still knew it was a virtual death sentence since it has the lowest survival rate of all the major cancers.

However, in recent years with Randy Pausch of CMU and actor Patrick Swayze being honest and open about their struggles, they have given this condition a face and a sympathetic one at that. John Fortney may not be a Hollywood star or a college professor who’s “Last Lecture” went viral, but he has made a difference in making this disease public and making survival more likely.

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A salute to “Spider”: Everyone dressed in light blue golf shirts in honor of John Fortney ( courtesy: Jeremiah Watson )

I met John during a round of golf a few years ago hosted by a good friend of mine, Bob Duchen. Both belong to the Greensburg Country Club and it was there I learned “Spider” ( as his good friends call hom ) had been battling pancreatic cancer for some time. Diagnosed in 2006, he knew that even with surgery his chances of survival were not good.

Rather than just accept his fate, “Spider” chose to fight the only way he knew how: he formed the John Fortney Charitable Pancreatic Cancer Research Group. His event over three years has raised thousands for the efforts of Dr. A. James Moser at the UPMC Pancreatic Cancer Center. He’s the same physician who treated Dr. Randy Pausch.

“Spider” died in August of 2008. Not long enough to see how his fund-raising efforts have made a difference. Dr. Moser has a patient that has survived two years … and another that has survived ten. The two-year survivor spoke at the major fund-raising event for the research group: a golf tournament at Greensburg Country Club.

This year, thousands were raised and, in tribute to “Spider”, we all wore light blue golf shirts with a spider silhouette on the back. A show of support for a man who believed he could help others even as he was dying.

G20: Being a Good Host
September 22, 2009

As we prepare to welcome the world this week, there are many disappointed they won’t be able to get close the leaders of the world due to restrictions, protests, etc. However, for those who will interact with the leaders – or really anyone from these countries – there is a protocol involved.

Visit Pittsburgh has come up with a rather interesting read on how to interact with our guests, some of whom have never been to our country. The guide  “Pittsburgh Welcomes the World” is a hospitality guide to not only make our visitors feel welcome, but makes us feel comfortable as well.

After going through the book, I found the most interesting part was the rundown of the 19 countries in the G20 was the country-by-country breakdown of  Customs and Courtesies, including what is “accepted” and what is considered “offensive” in that country. By far, what was “offensive” really got my attention. Let me share with you the things you should probably not do when speaking or interacting with someone from a G20 country. My commentary in italics.

Argentina: Backing away from an Argentine who stands too close to you or puts his hand on your shoulder during conversation. Why would you? If someone feels that close to you, that’s a good thing.

Australia: Raising one or two fingers in the air; it is considered rude.

Brazil: Referring to the U.S. as “America” ( Brazilians consider themselves “Americans” ). Remember, North and South America were once known as “The Americas”. We don’t have the exclusive on that term.

China: Putting a business care in your back pocket, even if your wallet is there. That would be rude in any country as far as I am concerned.

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France: Giving the North American “OK” sign; it means “zero” in France.

Germany: Speaking with your hands in your pockets.  

India: Touching anything or anyone with your left hand ( the left hand is considered unclean ). Certainly makes life difficult for left-handers offering to shake hands.

Indonesia: Touching anyone’s head; the head is considered the seat of the soul. I don’t know why you haven any occasion to touch anyone’s head during a conversation.

Italy: Stroking your finger tips under your chin and thrusting forward; considered vulgar.

Japan: Touching other men ( if you are male ). ’nuff said.

Korea: Blowing your nose in public. I tend to think the alternative is a whole lot worse.

Saudi Arabia: Inquiring about the health of Saudi’s wife or daughter. Keeping things on a professional level is probably the best plan.

Spain: Judging bullfighting – its seen as an art; derogatory marks are inappropriate. No, I’m not kidding. This is written on the list of offensive things.

South Africa: Saying anything derogatory about rugby, the most popular sport among white South Africans. Keep this is mind, Steeler fans.

Turkey: Crossing your legs while facing another person – of you are a woman.

United Kingdom: Considering the British as European.

Well, as you can seen, one man’s nose blowing is another man’s offensive gesture. That got me to thinking. When people around the world meet an American, how are they told to act — or rather not to act. Here’s what the hospitality guide says about how to handle us:

Offensive:

* Responding to the rhetorical question “How are you?” with a detailed answer.

* Being within two feet of someone’s personal space.

* Discussion religion, finances, politics, abortion and race. Now I see why small talk was invented in this country.

I’ll be sure to keep my guide close to me. It seems after reading this, maybe the only thing I can do and not offend anyone is shake hands with someone – with my right hand. Then again, I think during a week like this we all are given a little slack. Believe me, if people from around the world were this touchy, we wouldn’t get anything done.

Just hope one of our world leaders doesn’t give out an impromptu backrub to another leader ( remember a few years back when President Bush gave one to German Chancellor Angela Merkel ).

G20: Taking the People’s Pulse
September 19, 2009

It’s called “Man on the Street”. That’s the technical term in the TV biz for on-camera reaction from everyday people to a topic. I decided with G20 getting near, I thought I would ask my own men ( and women ) on the street for their thoughts on this events which will no doubt affect everyone who lives or works in this city.

I turned to Facebook Nation.

I think most people know by now I have a Facebook page. Some may think its goofy and others might see it as self-serving. From time to time, I think it’s the perfect place get a feel for the conversation concerning any topic. Nothing scientific, but it’s always interesting.

I like to share some them with you … without telling you exactly who said what. You have to become my Facebook friend to do that  and I can tell you its a grueling process.

Let’s begin with some local folks who clearly are focusing on the headaches that will come with meeting of the powerful leaders of the world:

Renee: “Too much of an inconvenience.”

 Denise:  “I have a daughter who works in town and they have to go in and I am a little nervous for her …”

Laurie: “My husband works downtown and I am concerned about the safety of the people who have to be there.”

Sarah: “Very happy I don’t have to go to Pittsburgh on business!”
 
Of course, some feel the traffic restriction are only the beginning. In fact, they are starting to feel the fatigue from all things G20.
 
Ryan: “I’m sorry to feel this way but I’m going to be very glad when this is over, I’ve been tired of hearing about this, from the funding  for the conference to the protesters petitioning for demonstration space, to the transportation plans and restrictions, JUST TIRED OF IT!!!”
 
However, there are those for whom the positives outweigh the prospect and the triumph of the moment is greater than the trouble we might see.
 
Heather: “I think it is a complete honor that it is being held in Pittsburgh.”
 
Amy:  “We are a city struggling to meet the budget without having the extra financial stresses.”
 
Jill:“Like anything of this magnitude, there are positive and negative aspects. I hope we Pittsburghers will deal with them graciously.”
 
Gina: “I think it’s a tremendous economic boost for the city…and it will give us great publicity.”
 
 A lot of people comments to me on Facebook that they did not understand why there were so many protestors were coming or what exactly they were protesting. However, I think the following comment best sums up the feeling of many who call this region home. It can be summed up in two words: cautious optimism.
 
Melanie: “At first I thought it would be a positive. (exposing Pittsburgh to the world) Then when you hear about all the protesting and businesses having to close, I am apprehensive. We shall see. This is definitely history in the making.”
 
As for me, I agree it will be history in the making. Pittsburgh may never host an event of  such international importance. Then again, if all goes well and the world is impressed with what they see, maybe the G20 is only the beginning on what western Pennsylvania is capable of doing.

The Secret of Our Success
September 18, 2009

Can you hold you breath for 2 days?

As we count down to the G-20 summit, residents I have spoken with in recent days are expressing a mix of excitement and apprehension.  Displaying a sense of both fear and anticipation.

As the days go by, we hear  about the city’s plans to keep G-20 safe. We have heard about the closing of the downtown area, you see the jersey barriers on the side streets and you hear more and more about the protestors and what they may or may not do.

Seems the prevailing wisdom from those who live and work around town is to close the doors and leave for a two-day vacation … hoping they return to a city that looks much the same as it did when they leave.

However, in making way for G-20 wave, I fear we might deny the world leaders and their entourage perhaps the greatest part of the story of Pittsburgh: its people. Sure, President Obama will want to share the achievements of Pittsburgh, it’s transformation from “Steel Town” to “Green Town”. He and wife Michelle will host world leaders and show them Phipps Conservatory and the Convention Center. But will these world leaders get to see the people of Pittsburgh.

I’m not talking about the mayor and government leaders and I’m not talking about local protestors. I’m speaking of the everyday people who call Pittsburgh home. Those that serve food in our diverse restaurants and stores. Those people who walk through our parks and neighborhoods. I’m referring those folks who are the muscle behind the city that moved from an industry in decline to a city on the rise. I’m talking about Pittsburghers.

g20If I had the President’s ear, I would tell him into include in his two day field trip a jaunt with the world’s heavyweights to the Strip District. I would encourage them to browse the shops and speak with the vendors … and then head to Primanti’s for the most interesting sandwich on Earth and an Iron City beer. In this local, they would hear the story of Pittsburgh from those that lived it.

I’m dreaming of course but I know once this summit is done, there will be people from other countries – powerful people – who may take me up on this offer. They will do it because I think they will be impressed with the city … and want to learn more in a less chaotic environment.

It will be a week to remember for Pittsburgh. I just hope the lasting memory for those coming to Pittsburgh for the summit won’t be just the buildings, the skyline and the high-end parties. I hope it will also be the people … if those people stick around and have the chance to talk to those who move the world.

Civilization’s Lack of Civility
September 16, 2009

I would have blogged about this yesterday but I thought the pictures from my vacation was much more pleasant a topic than the last week of uncivil behavior in this country.

Columnists all over the country, including western Pennsylvania are up in arms about the recent rash of uncivil moments. The Post-Gazette even made the latest three signs of this rash of rudeness a front page story.

I think the rude behavior of Kanye West, Serena Williams and Rep. Joe  Wilson is especially striking to me personally because I spent the previous week in Sidney Crosby’s home region of Nova Scotia. In this coastal region, the people could not be nicer and more civil in their behavior – WITH COMPLETE STRANGERS! They say “hello”. They talk to you and even make pleasant small talk.

I come back across the border to the lower 48 and witness three acts of rude, lewd and socially unacceptable behavior.

You know what I’m talking about. South Carolina representative shouting “”You Lie” at the President of the United States during his address to a joint session of Congress. Days later, Serena Williams did more than  whine about a bad call at the U.S. Open. She threatened to take her tennis ball and, in very descriptive and profane terms, make it a permanent part of the official’s anatomy. Then, since these things normally happen in threes, Kanye West decided to make the stage at the VMA awards his personal sounding board. Taking the mike from award-winner Taylor Swift and essentially saying the honor should have gone to Beyonce.

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Joe Wilson, Serena Williams and Kanye West. This trio has America, and yours truly, wondering, where did civility go? ( Courtesy: AP Photo )

The truth these latest examples aren’t the start of incivility in this country, they are the apex of the problem that has grown over time. I don’t know who is to blame and who is at fault, but no children as well as parents are guilty of this “anything goes” mentality.

While I don’t know where this all began, I know where it all needs to end – at home. As a child, I was taught how to act when around my elders, around woman and around people in general. I learned that even if I don’t agree with the speaker ( representative Wilson ), I allow the person to have their say uninterrupted, especially if that speaker is the leader of the free world.

Hey Serena, when I was an athlete I was passionate about winning and did not take losing well. However, I never threatened to use a piece of sports equipment as a weapon and curse out the person who made a call I felt was incorrect. Finally Kanye, I know your girl did not win best music video. Still, could you stay in your seat and politely listen to the woman who did win enjoy her moment in the sun?

I guess this all becomes even more glaring because we have coming up, in our city, what might possibly be the greatest show of incivility this year. The G-20. There is a possibility of clashes between law enforcement and protestors both verbal and physical. Wouldn’t it be great if somehow the G-20 Summit was more civil than the three individuals I have just mentioned? Wouldn’t it be something if protestors and police could both do their jobs without incident?

OK, I might be dreaming but civil behavior has to return to the national scene sometime. Why not right here in Pittsburgh? We are told we are a model for everything else. Why not have the nation follow us on the path to polite behavior as well?

Vacationing in Mr. Crosby’s Neighborhood
September 15, 2009

I have never been the adventurous vacation type. A trip to a museum was about as sophisticated as I would get … and that’s assuming there a golf course nearby. However, an invitation from a friend and business relationship seemed like the perfect getaway. A week by the waters of the North Atlantic in Nova Scotia.

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My friend and business partner, Bill LaPlante, hosted me in Nova Scotia

There will be plenty of pictures, but let me try and describe some parts of my week-long stay on what’s known as the Maritimes. Its the coastal waters where fishing communities exist just 90 minutes east of Halifax. Upon arriving, my first journey was a brief jaunt through Cole Harbour, home to Sidney Crosby. While they are proud of their native son, there are no “Sidney Crosby” signs as far as I could tell.

I also visited the Keith Brewery in Downtown Halifax, home to the famed beer which is brewed and available only in Canada. After sampling some, I can see why our neighbors to the north do not share.

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Fishing on the Sheet Harbor Passage. I caught my first mackerel.

However, the story was my stay at the home of Bill LaPlante, a business partner and friend of nearly 20 years. He and his mom have a pretty, but modest home on an island known as Sober Island ( insert your joke here ). There might be 10-15 homes on this island and maybe 50-60 people. Its a small place where neighbors know each other even though they may live a mile from one another.

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Along the Atlantic. Incredibly clear water and undisturbed coastline.

The island is along the Sheet Harbor passage and the view we had was spectacular as you can see from the pictures. The water was clear and it was so quiet, you could hear the water hit the rocks. The view from the house was of the other islands, islands with virtually no development on them. Unlike coastal towns and resorts, there are no high rises and no luxury condos and mansions. Just small cottages and makeshift marinas.

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A view of Bill’s house on Sober Island from the waters

I spent my mornings running along the coastline. When you have the view of the sea I did as I worked out, you forget how far you have run. No wonder it was the best week of training I ever had ( and maybe that’s why I turned in my best time ever in a half-marathon I ran back in Robinson Township on Saturday. Of course, the good work I did on the two-lane roads in the morning was often defeated by the eating I did that night. However, how could I not eat? The mussels came out of the water that morning. I had scallops plucked from the passage that day. All prepared with skill and love by Bill’s mother.

During the week, I lived a different life. I went fishing on a boat, played horseshoes and a game called “washers” with the locals and enjoyed conversations with people that really had no other meaning that just to pass the time and exchange pleasantries. I wore jeans every day and t-shirts. I woke up some mornings in time to see the sun emerge from the ocean and other times slept for 12 straight hours.

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Sunrise from the deck of Bill’s house. Takes your breath away!

But most of all, I walked down to the beach and along the rocks. Sometimes I went down there with a book ( The Sea Wolf  by Jack London ) and other times I went with just my thoughts. I forgot where I was from and what I did for a living. I never wore my watch. I didn’t pick up my Blackberry for the first four days.

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Fisherman out on the water pulling up scallop traps. They were tasty!

Most of all, I found a place to relax. It was a magical place, untouched by time where people knew their neighbors. They worked hard and played hard and enjoyed a simple life. It’s a place where people still hang their laundry out to dry. It was a place to get away. Of course, words fail me as will these pictures. Just know I’m, recharged and reinvigorated by a place that took me back to a simpler place and time.

A Final Thought Before the Break
September 5, 2009

I’m going on blogging break and taking some time off. I’ll have more thoughts and ideas, opinions and express when I return. However, before I put the keyboard away, a brief comment on a subject that shows just how much we have changed as a nation.

President Barack Obama plans to address students across the nation with a “back to school” speech. In essence, a pep talk for the nation’s school kids. However, opponents have called it “propaganda”, labeling the address as political. Some parents  have become outraged that their children should have to watch and listen to the President during the school day, calling it “disruptive”.

The controversy has school administrations right in the middle. They have right to decide whether to show the speech or not, air it live or show it at a later time. No matter what they decide, it will likely not make everyone in that district happy.

Given all this controversy, you would think this is the first time a President has address the nation’s school children. You would be wrong. President Bush ( the first one ) did ethe same thing, telling kids not let those who believe school is not cool influence them. President Regan also spoke to the nation’s children.

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I have not seen the President’s address script and I doubt his opponents have either. By the nature of  their comments, their opposition seems to be based on the concept, not a specific part of the speech. I sense this whole debate is less about the speech and more about the divisive nature of politics in our country.

More and more, there is no middle ground on the political spectrum. It’s either left or right, Democrat or Republican for the majority of Americans and the speech has become just another field of play for these two ideologies to wage a verbal war of words.

The head of the National PTA calls the whole episode “sad”. The sad thing here is that children are exposed to so many more dangerous influences every time they turn on television, go to the movies of hop onto the Internet. I doubt anything the leader of the free world will say at 9am on a school day will permanently scar these children. At the same time, should a President who has already has been overexposed without the help of the White House PR machine be allowed into public schools anytime he wants to? Remember, we live in the YouTube world. If kids want to see it, they don’t have to be in school to do so.

It’s an interesting controversy and one that will not end with this “school pep talk”.   As long as we know the controversy seems to be less about our children than it is about the never-ending battle between political ideologies which only seem to drift further apart from one another.

Pursuing Her Dream
September 2, 2009

Meeting inspiring people. It’s something I get to do every day in my job. Some I work with. Some of them I interview. Others I meet at charitable events. The latter was the source for an introduction to an unlikely publisher who got her inspiration from her late mother.

While serving as emcee for the Dress for Success fashion show in Uniontown, I met Andrea Patrick Forte. I thought her name sounded familiar. Turns out, she was already a Facebook friend but what made her so interesting was the story behind the picture.

For years, this Fayette county native made her fortune in the hills of Hollywood as a modeling agent, representing some of the most beautiful young women in the business. She married a star of stage and screen and seemed to have it all. Then, her hometown called her back. More to the point, her mom.

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With the publisher and her creation: a monthly tribute to her mother.

Andrea came home to attend to her ailing mother Gladys. She died, leaving Andrea without of the inspirations of her life. However, the inspiration her mother left behind was still there. It moved Andrea, who had zero publishing experience, to publish a magazine. A publication about fashion, beauty tips and style. But most of all, about things that inspire women to be all they can be. In her words and printed on the cover “a magazine dedicated to anyone who has been inspired to pursue their dreams by someone they love”.

The name of Andrea’s magazine? What else? Gladys.

In a very short period of time, her local publication is gaining some national notoriety and look for bigger things to come from a woman who now resides in Fayette county once again. Also, look for her magazine on local news stands and bookstores. It’s a good read.