One-On-One With The New Gov

January 13, 2011 - Comments Off on One-On-One With The New Gov

A Western PA resident is about to take over the top job in the state. Attorney General Tom Corbett is set to be sworn-in Tuesday as the 46th Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Many of you want to know what he has planned for the next four years. What will his election mean for your family, your pocketbook and your community?

Well, Channel 4 has the answers .. because I went one-on-one with the Governor elect. An exclusive half-hour discussion on several topics of interest to you. It’s the only interview the Governor-elect gave before his inauguration. Look for it – when we come to you live from Harrisburg for inauguration activities – starting Monday on Channel 4 Action News at 5.

Sitting down in Harrisburg with Governor-elect Tom Corbett in his only pre-inauguration interview

Corbett was candid about the state’s future and his plans. He also surprised us, giving us a guided tour of the state capitol building  including areas that are not part of the public tour. I think you will find in interesting and informative.

Also, keep checking back here Monday and Tuesday. I’ll be blogging on the events happening in Harrisburg during the two-day inaugural celebration. I’ll let you know who’s out here and what they are saying. Our coverage starts Monday on Channel 4 Action News at 5 … and here at WTAE.com

2010: A Year of Incredible Young People

January 1, 2011 - Comments Off on 2010: A Year of Incredible Young People

We knew it was going to be hard for Pittsburgh to top 2009 when it came to news, It was a year of extreme highs ( Super Bowl and Stanley Cup Championships) to excruciating lows (  the deaths of 3 city police officers and the shooting of 3 women at a locla fitness center ). We even became a player on the world stage by hosting the G-20 Summit.

All these events were defined by the men who played key roles … be they heroes or villains. They were men who made the impact on the year’s biggest stories. In 2010, we didn’t make such grand headlines as a region ( unless you count “snowmaggeddon” ) but we did move the world with individual stories. In particular, the stories of  three young women.

Those were the stories that moved me because it was more than just their stories, it was them. There were young women I got to know as newsmakers and people, because I was allowed into their homes and got to know them behind-the-scenes.

The first young women to impress the world were sisters from Ben Avon, Jamie and Ali McMutrie. Both in their 20’s, they had dedicated themselves and their lives to helping orphans in Haiti. Its volunteer work that might have gone unnoticed if not for a deadly earthquake which rocked the country .. and turned these young girls into young heroes.

With Ali McMutrie and her adopted brother Jamie months after the earthquake ordeal in Haiti.

They were suddenly charged with 150 orphaned children with no place to house them, no place to shelter them and very little to feed them. It was their bravery and refusal to leave Haiti without the children that forced the hand of political leaders in this country. They became national celebrities, but when I visited Jamie and Ali at home with their family, there was nothing to indicate that they were super-human. Other than the presence of their adopted brother Fredo, there was no indication of their commitment to Haiti — a commitment that  continues with the effort to build their own orphanage in Haiti.

The other young woman the world got to know so well was introduced to me in 2009.

I met Jackie Evancho while serving as emcee at a fund-raising event in November of that year. I introduced the then 9-year-old, expecting her to sing like someone her age. Then she began to sing … and I was in awe. She has the look of a child but the voice of someone well beyond her years. I introduced her to Pittsburgh in a story that ran Christmas eve of 2009.

Who could have imagined the ride Jackie would take in 2010. She got on a national television show … and almost won a competition to get her own show on the Las Vegas strip. She didn’t get Vegas, but does anybody remember the last time you saw the winner of that show perform on stage?

Introducing Jackie Evancho at Variety Childrens Gala in November 2009. Who could have known that night how her star would rise well beyond the borders of Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, Jackie’s star has risen. A new holiday album. A new CD on the way. Performances in Rockerfeller Center and for the President at the White House. Saturday, 65,000 will fill her hometown stadium to watch her belt out the national anthem before the Winter Classic.

All the while, I have spent time with Jackie and her family and she could not be anymore down to earth and childlike. She is one of four children and, in my visits with her, she is treated and acts like any other child in her family. Sure, she is talented and destined for great things, but her parents have always stressed in our interviews the desire to keep her life normal.

Jamie and Ali McMutrie … and Jackie Evancho. This was their year. They showed the world that ordinary people can do extraordinary things with both talent and tenacity. Its been a pleasure getting to know these amazing females … and will be even more enjoyable to see what the future holds for this trio.

Happy New Year!

Christmas in the City

December 27, 2010 - Comments Off on Christmas in the City

Television news is a unique fast-paced business that is never boring and never dull. It gives you an adrenaline rush and becomes less of a job and more of a passion as you get deeper into your career. That being said, there are sacrifices you have to make. Working weekends and holidays … and for me, since my folks are in Chicago … that means Christmas in Pittsburgh. Still after anchoring the late news on Christmas eve, I was able to enjoy a unique Christmas celebration … and a creative one too.

The first skaters on the ice at the Winter Classic community rink

While most kids couldn’t wait to rush downstairs and open all the presents Santa had brought, I couldn’t wait until noon Christmas day to rush down … to Heinz Field. I knew with the all the excitement over the Winter Classic, there would be very little time to actually skate on the community rink without drawing a crowd. So I got there, paid my $7, laced up my skates for the first time in 2 years and hit the ice with downtown Pittsburgh providing the postcard background.

The Whale lives … at the Winter Classic Community rink … with Joe Fishel from Butler

Now, I’m not a great skater, but I did manage to make it 40 minutes and not fall. It was fun watching the little kids in their Pens jerseys skate around the rink located just across from Heinz Field. I talked with families, posed for some pictures with the kids and even met Joe Fishel from Butler wearing the jersey of my childhood team, the Hartford Whalers.

My new young friends, including the well-dressed younger version of me, at a Christmas eve party

There were also holiday parties to attend. One of the best is hosted by the woman who runs La Peri Dolce, a wonderful East Hills bakery. She has brought some of her delights to WTAE, so I knew the food would be good. What I didn’t expect was her little nephew Jaxon. He came to the door dressed just like me: dark suit, red tie. He had that anchor look … and he apparently likes to imitate me when he’s watching the news. That was fun.

Nothing like a little “retail therapy” to wash away those winter blues!

Christmas is really for the children. For adults like me, the real gift giving comes after Christmas at those post-holiday sales. I got up bright and early Sunday and ventured north to Ross Park Mall. I managed to get there without dealing with any traffic. In fact, I was there two hours and never hd to wait in line. I was done by ten and made it home without so much as a stop light. Wendy likes to call me “Mr Full Price” because she thinks I’m not a sales guy. I can say without hesitation that I did quite well when it came to saving money … thought I did do some damage with the plastic as the picture shows.

All in all, it was a wonderful holiday, filled with friends, food and fun … and I got a nice little surprise at the end. Word that my brother had proposed to his girlfriend AND SHE SAID YES.

A Merry Christmas indeed.

“Immaculate Reception” at 38

December 23, 2010 - Comments Off on “Immaculate Reception” at 38

It’s the single greatest play in Steeler history. It’s the single greatest play in NFL history. It may be the single most important event in Pittsburgh history.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on a good bounce and a great catch by Franco Harris.

Still, the importance of the “Immaculate Reception” cannot be underestimated. It’s the official day “Steeler Mania” was born. The Steeler franchise, which had not won so much as a play-off game, went onto win six super bowl titles and a world-wide following.

I spoke to Franco Harris today, 38 years after his play turned the tide for the team, the city and its fans. He told me Iw as the first media person to call him today. I guess with time, it only becomes a big deal on the 30th, 40th and 50th anniversaries. Franco told me Joe Greene did call to wish him a “happy anniversary”, but thought it was 28 years, not 38.

From his office at his business “Super Bakery”, Franco told me how the playoff game itself was a turning point for the franchise. His Steelers went 11-3 and were playing the kind of ball that would be the launching pad for 4 Super Bowl titles in 6 years but the team needed a signature moment to start the run.

He says the fans that day were fired up like he had never seen them in 1972, perhaps sensing greatness was within their reach. The Steelers trailed the mighty Oakland Raiders late in that game when the moment happened – a moment witnessed only by those inside Three Rivers Stadium because the game was blacked out.

The play itself was more of desperate heave than a well-conceived execution … and that brings up the only mystery. Did John “Frenchy” Fuqua touch the ball on the collision with Jack Tatum that allowed the ball to wind up in Franco’s hands. If Fuqua touched it, by 1972 rules the play would have been whistled dead because the ball could not be advanced from one offensive player to another. 

Franco told me that Frenchy wasn’t saying and neither was he. In his words, let’s keep it “Immaculate”.

“Dear Lexa”

December 14, 2010 - Comments Off on “Dear Lexa”

There’s no story that touches those of us that work in TV news more deeply than the death of a child. Whether it be by accident or something more sinister way, it’s never easy to talk about and the shock and suddenness of it all can leave a family and a community stunned. Such was the case of Lexa Cleland. The seven-year-old was recently killed in an auto accident.

Her death left all who call the community of South Park in a state of mourning. However, like all things, the initial grief dissipates and life does go forward. It often leave only the family and close friends to continue to mourn and to remember. However, this is not the case in South PArk. That is where Lexa’s memory is being kept alive … by a somewhat surprising group of people.

Lexa  would have entered South Park high school in the late stages of  this decade. Now, a school which she will never attend is paying tribute to her … and helping her family. South Park student Katrina Lenhart, with the help of  her fellow student Nicolette Kalafatis came up with something they call “Dear Lexa”. Nicolette explains the concept to me during a visit to the scool Monday night. The idea is quite simple. Raise money to donate to the Cleland Family fund which is in Lexa’s name. From passing around the donation jar at Monday’s girls basketball game to planning a fun night for the students at Lexa’s elementary school, the girls and their fellow students are on a mission to not only raise money but keep her memory alive.

They have even started a Facebook page ebpage which is gaining more and more members every day. It’s quite an effort for young people who didn’t know the little girl, but know what her death means to her family and community. It’s not only selfless, but it’s also inspiring to see young people think and act beyond themselves.

The kind of thing I’m sure Lexa Cleland would have done for someone else.

Reading Day

December 8, 2010 - Comments Off on Reading Day

Its something we all like to do at  Channel 4 Action News. We enjoy taking the time to read to children. Whether it be those of us with children, or those without, all of us like to take the time and read to our youngest residents. These children are the future and the time you spend with them can do wonders … well beyond their grade school years.

As you can see from the picture, I spent the day with the first graders at Trinity West elementary in Washington. I read two books: “The Three Snow Bears” and “Snow”. Even those these are children’s’ books, I enjoy reading them as much as they enjoy listening.

I’m the big kid amongst these first graders at Trinty West Elementary School in Washington

Maybe because it takes me back to a place in my past when I didn’t read for work or for business. I read to learn and to explore. As a child, my favorite books were the “Clifford” series. The big red dog who always found trouble captured my young imagination. I still miss reading those stories.

Thanks to all my new friends at Trinity West and thanks for the ties. I wore the pink and blue on at 6pm. I save the black and gold for a Steelers Sunday.

A Home For the Holidays

December 7, 2010 - Comments Off on A Home For the Holidays

How can anyone so “no” to an adorable puppy?

Sadly, thousands of people do. Each year, thousands of dogs and cats are abused and abandoned. Some left to die. Its heartbreaking and that’s what makes the work of animal friends so important. They not only nurture and care for those animals, they also work to find homes for them. However, they can’t do it alone.

This time of year, there are more animals than cages which makes it hard for them to save many. So, in order to make space to save our furry but forgotten friends, Animals Friends runs a foster care program. It’s essentially a temporary home for dogs like “Burgh” to enjoy a family. These foster families care for so many different types of animals: expectant moms, orphaned babies, those animals that need hospice and those that need special behavioral training.

Meet “Burgh”. He can be your guest this holiday season thanks to the Foster Care program at Animal Friends

Animal Friends covers all costs associated with the animals, they just need your help. They just need you to open your homes for a short time and your heart forever. You can contact Animals Friends on our website, thepittsburghchannel.com. This link will take you to their site and show you how to become a foster parent. 

It’s also a great experience if you have never had a pet and are thinking about getting one. This will allow you to experience what it’s like to have a pet in your life. Who knows, you may even keep your new friend.

Holiday Celebrations: City and County

December 5, 2010 - Comments Off on Holiday Celebrations: City and County

The hardest part about the holiday season? Finding time to get out and shop between all those holiday gathering. Seems every weekend, someone is having a holiday celebration of some sort. This Saturday, I got to sample two holiday celebrations. Very different in execution, but similar in sentiment and in spreading holiday cheer.

Saturday morning, it was off to Wilknsburg. WTAE is in Wilkinsburg and each year, the community has asked us to come and celebrate both the season …. and the pride of the community. Mayor John Thompson has played in a key role in making this more about the coming of Christmas. It’s a chance for Wilkinsburg’s youngest to shine. From the youth choir to the Wilkinsburg high school band, young people play a big part in the celebration.

The Wilknisburg  High School makes its way past the reviewing stand at the Saturday’s holiday parade

I rode along as a representative of WTAE as we made our way through the streets of the community. It was cold and there were not throngs of people in the crowd, but the message was unmistakable: Wilkinsburg is proud of where its been and where its going. It’s a community which has seen hard times and now believes brighter days are ahead.

Thanks to the parade committee for allowing me to be part of the action for a third straight year .. and a nice plaque.

That night, my travels took me to New Alexandria, Westmoreland county and the home of Dale and Darlene Lattimer. They welcome the holidays with a private get-together of well over one hundred friends and family. However, instead of hosting the festivities inside, the party was outdoors under the stars. Yes, it was cold and there were rooms to head inside and get warm.

Fireworks show over New Alexandria, Westmoreland County to ring in holiday season.

While the food and beverages were inside, the real action was outside. A giant Christmas tree lighting … and then, fireworks! Yes, a Pittsburgh favorite usually reserved for July 4th, Memorial Day and the occasional Pirate home run was the capper to this chilly evening. A 20-minute fireworks display lit up the Westmoreland county sky. It was not only spectacular, but also one of the holiday celebration I had ever witnessed. So in case you live out that way and was wondering what the explosions were, mystery solved.

Check It Out

December 3, 2010 - Comments Off on Check It Out

The first weekend of December brings a trio of cool spots to check out. Assuming you can get it.

Stage AE is the much-anticipated indoor-outdoor amphitheatre on the North Shore. The venue really lived up to the billing and beyond. It’s an intimate stage with standing room on the lower floor for patrons. On the upper floor, seats for those who pay a bit more. Just behind both viewing locations, there are bars serving all sorts of beverages and foods. There is even a private club for some patrons. And wait, it gets better. Wait until it warms up and they raise the garage door turning it into an outdoor venue.

The indoor stage at Stage AE. The floor in front is meant for patrons to stand, dance and enjoy

BRGR is just a play on the name of an American classic. The burger, served up with attitude, is th staple of the East Liberty location. We stopped in last night and found the place packed with people at 8:30pm on a Thursday. Inside, it has more of a lounge feel with big comfy chairs next to the tables used for dining. The crowd? A definite mix of people. We saw families and couples. People from age seven to seventy. Chef Brian Picarsic loves the fact that they can put different spins on the burger and served it up with what they call a spiked milk shake. ( No I didn’t try it. I was working ).

The dining floor at Salt of the Earth in Bloomfield. Communal dining

Last stop, Salt of the Earth. If you blink, you might miss the Penn Avenue location in Bloomfield. If not for the many cars parked out front and the small NACL logo lit outside, you wouldn’t even know it was a restaurant. Chef Kevin Sousa and company did this by design. They want a basic place to wine and dine, and thus the name. Inside, the menu is on a chalkboard on the side of the wall. There is not separation between the kitchen and the dining area. As for the seating, full house on this night with communal tables and benches. The idea is for diners to get to know one another while eating.

The food? Fresh, local and ever-changing. Frankly its tough to describe because it’s always changing and often you will find influences from different countries in a single dish.

Just three choices for your weekend that we think are worth “Checking Out”! For more choices, go to the “Community” page of  our website and see this weekend’s calendar of events.

Taking Action For You: Fire Sprinklers

November 30, 2010 - Comments Off on Taking Action For You: Fire Sprinklers

Get ready would-be home builders.

Come the first of the year, along with all the other costs associated with building a home, you are going to have to install a sprinkler system inside your home. Its becoming the law because Pennsylvania has adopted all addition to the Uniform Construction Code. In 2009, that included making fire sprinklers mandatory.

It will finally become the law of the Commonwealth in 2011.

As you might imagine, it’s the result of a battle between two opposing forces, There’s the building industry which does not want this to be mandated, lest the industry slows down as it tries to recover from a crippling recession. Then, there are the fire safety experts, like Pittsburgh Deputy Chief Colleen Walz, who believes you cannot put a price on safety and saving the lives of  residents and firefighters.

Well, actually you can put a price on it. The Pittsburgh Home Builders association estimates these things can run around $8000. The Fire Sprinkler industry says the builders could do it for a whole lot less, like $3000 for a 2000 square-foot home. Regardless of who’s right or who’s wrong, you have to foot the bill.

That’s the dilemma facing Steven Frye and Rebecca Nicol of Blairsville. They were in my story about this issue. They are about to be married and plan to build a modest home on the family farm. The house is under $100K but since they live in a rural area, the additional equipment to make this work would cost them, by the estimates they have received, close to $30K.

I doubt anybody would argue fire sprinklers do make a difference and make a home not only safer, but give you a better chance of escaping in the event of a fire. The issue here is whether they should be mandated. Deputy chief Walz says yes, like a beam that’s used to give support to the roof. The builders say consumers should not have to pay for anything they don’t want.

The issue will likely be brought up again in the legislature next year when two state senators propose a bill to either delay and outright drop the provision. House majority leader Mike Turzai assures me the matter will also be brought up next year. As for Rebecca and Steve, we have put them in touch with a regional building contractor who plans to help them construct their sprinkler system …. for less than the $30K they have been quoted. We’ll keep you posted.

We invite you to contact us if there are stories, issues that in which we can take action for you, let us know. E-mail me at astockey@ hearst.com. You will also find me on twitter at astockey.

Braving Black Friday

November 29, 2010 - Comments Off on Braving Black Friday

If you haven’;t guesses from my banter with Wendy and Michelle, I’m not much of a shopper. In fact, Wendy referred to me as “full price”. Funny, but nothing could be further from the truth. I am very much cost-conscious shopper,. From the clothes I wear to the food I eat, I have begun trying to save and earn discounts when and where I can. That includes braving the greatest saving experience in the world of shopping: Black Friday.

However, instead of going to the local mall to see what the experience was like, I journeyed into my parents home of Chicago and brave the greatest single shopping stretch in the midwest: Michigan Avenue. Better known as the “Miracle Mile”. On this strip of ten blocks is every store known to man, H&M, Hugo Boss, Disney, Nieman Marcus, Nordstrom. You name it. It’s there.

The unique view of downtown Chicago from the “big egg” in Grant Park.  A peaceful place in a chaotic Black Friday in the Windy City.

I got there late in the shopping day, noon, but noticed the see of people crowding the sidewalks. There was virtually no store that wasn’t filled with long lines waiting for the cash register. There were people not only shopping, but more important to the economy they were spending. I keep hearing about difficult economic times but I couldn’t tell judging by the way people were whipping out the plastic … and carrying bags of goodies out of stores.

As for me, what began as a gung-ho trip in search of bargains turned into being overwhelmed by all the choices. I bought a couple of clothing items but truthfully, between all the “sale” signs and the massive amounts of people, it turned into shopping overload. The biggest savings I enjoyed all weekend I did while I was on the train headed into the city. I bought three dress shirts on-line from an English company. They usually go for $100 each. I got all three for $100.

Who says I don’t look for bargains? Take that Wendy and Michelle.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

November 23, 2010 - Comments Off on Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Quick! How many of us really know our neighbors. If we are honest about it, few of us really get to know our neighbors intimately. Sure, say hello and have friendly conversations. Maybe our kids play together. Perhaps we share yard work along the borders of our properties.

However, I have never seen neighbors like the ones  I met today. Sarah Phillips and Richard McCord have lived next door to each other in Penn Hills for five years. It began with Richard, in addition to being married and raising a budding football player, taking time to do small things around Sarah’s house. Small things like cutting the grass and doing things for Sarah without her asking. Perhaps nothing was more generous that shoveling her out from “snowmageddon” last February.

Sarah,w ho deals with physical issues, is not without the ability to give back. Sometimes its as simple as offering Richard a cup of coffee or lunch, Together, they watch out for each other and they have become fats friends. So much so, Sarah wrote Oprah about her friend that made a difference in her life. Little did she realize what that small letter would bring.

Neighbors Sarah Phillips and Richard McCord showing off the kets to their new 2012 VW cars,  a very generous gift from “The Oprah Winfrey Show”.

“Oprah” invited Sarah and Richard to Chicago for a taping of the show. They thought it would be a discussion of people who made a difference. Instead, it was a front row seat to the final installment ever of “Oprah’s Favorite Things”. That’s when Oprah basically gives the audience everything she loves. In this case, it was iPads, jewelry, cookware, luggage.

Even a new 2012 Volkswagon bug!

Yes, Sarah and Richard went through the experience of  a lifetime: meeting Oprah and enjoying enough gifts for the next ten Christmases. They say while they are richer materially for the experience, they are also richer in spirit and in friendship. They know now their friendship has reached a new level, but they also know that what makes this friendship so special will never change: the ability to be kind, concerned and friendly neighbors. We could also use neighbors like that.

If you haven’t, pop over and get to know your neighbor.

Shhhh! Max Is Making A Difference

November 20, 2010 - Comments Off on Shhhh! Max Is Making A Difference

Before I start blogging, let me  tell you this will be my 666th post. But the subject is nothing but heavenly.

Shhhh! Max Talbot is making a difference,.

The popular Penguin who has a habit of quieting the opposing crowd, had everyone cheering Thursday night at Bossa Nova nightclub in the Cultural District. Talbot hosted the inaugural fundraiser for his non-profit, the Max Talbot foundation.

The goal is simply to raise funds for children in orphanages in Haiti. Max, Mike Rupp and former Pirate Sean Casey made the trek to Haiti to see the poverty and devastation first-hand. For Max, this was more than just an appearance for appearance sake, it was a mission with meaning.

Max Talbot bringing his love of hockey to the children of Haiti this summer.

I sat down with Max for an interview during the benefit. Still sporting stitches above his eye from an on-ice incident, the sharply dressed skater talked passionately about wanting to give back to the city he believes has given him so much. Talbot truly believes that athletes have a responsibility to give back. That means doing more than just showing up and signing a few autographs.

For Max, that meant working with people to start a foundation and working with people to raise money. That means asking people directly for funds. It also means supporting fellow athletes in their charitable endeavors. For Max, that means a working relationship with Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch. When Charlie needs auction items for his events,  he contacts Max and when Max needs stuff, he calls Charlie.

What struck me in talking with Max is his passion for Pittsburgh and its people. Sure, he has the means to do it but very few people are willing to put their money where their mouth is. Max has.

That’s something worth shouting about.

Jackie’s New Adventure

November 16, 2010 - Comments Off on Jackie’s New Adventure

Jackie Evancho has become a star in a very short period of time. Today, she and the rest of the nation will find out if that star power can turn into money. The 10-year-old’s newest CD “O Holy Night” hits stores across the country. According to her father mIke, pre-sales have already exceeded expectations. Even Jackie, who I spoke with by phone last night in New York, says she is extremely excited to see how many CDs are sold on this first day.

I’ve been on the “Jackie Evancho” beat since I first met this young girl as a 9-year-old performing at the Variety Childrens Charity gala at the William Penn Hotel ballroom last November. A little more than a year ago, I introduced this singer to a crowd of about 250 in the ballroom. Like everyone in that room, my jaw hit the floor when I heard her sing. I was dumbfounded. How in the world could such a mature voice come from a such a young person?

Jackie Evancho’s newest CD – “O Holy Night” hits stores nationwide Tuesday.

She has been turning heads and shocking doubters ever since. Last night, she told me there were people in the audience for her performance on ABC’s “The View” that doubted she could sing. They were quickly reformed when she broke out in song.

Now she tells me she is excited about her next big public appearances. At the end of this month, she will be part of an all-star cast that will take part in the lighting of the tree in Rockerfeller Center. Jackie will join Susan Boyle, Sheryl Crow and Josh Groban for the event. Then, on December 9th, she will experience the highlight for any performer. As the President and the first family lights the national tree in DC, Jackie will provide the music.

Its heady stuff for someone so young, but when I speak with her she strikes the perfect tone of excitement and cautious maturity. She is truly an amazing young individual and I’m sure she will be doing even greater things in the years to come. I know I will be following her progress …. as both a fan and as a friend.

Sad Ending and Happy Birthday

November 15, 2010 - Comments Off on Sad Ending and Happy Birthday

Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first.

The Steelers were decisively beaten by the Patriots. I went to the game and I can tell you it look as bad in person as it did on TV. However, before we run Jeff Reed out of town or, as some of my friends on Twitter suggested, pass on the playoffs let’s remember there is a reason the Steelers have beaten Tom Brady only once in seven tries. New England is a better team and knows how to play the Steelers. There is a reason they throw the ball 75% of the time against Pittsburgh and 60% against everyone else.

Now Sunday wasn’t a total loss. Before the game, I was able to spend time with good friends at the pre-game tailgate. That’s really what football is all about for me: Spending time with friends and enjoying good times and good food. Winning what you want the Steelers to do, but I will have fun win, lose or draw.

Now, my Monday was probably more upbeat than most of yours … because today is my father’s birthday. Wilson Stockey turned 73. It’s easy for me to say that my dad is the best … because every child feels that way about his/her father. However, my dad is more than that. He is my inspiration. He is what I strive to be everyday.

My dad went to school and earned a degree at a time when it was still a challenge for African-Americans to do so. He went onto a very successful career with the Internal Revenue Service. He always put his family first in his career … and his travels.

My father has always been curious. When he wanted to learn how suspension bridges work, he didn’t hop onto the internet. There was no internet back then. He simply read a lot of books. That natural curiosity to learn how things work brought him to read books and build his own model train set in the basement.

My father has always been a great public speaker. He could walk up to a podium and knock out a 20-minute speech about anything. It was a gift that my father left me and while I do communicate for a living, I still have miles to go before I’m as natural and talented at the microphone as he was.

With my mom and dad during the 2008 Race for the Cure in Schenley Park

Now, my dad is turning 73. Gone are the days when he would take my brother and I to the park to play ball. However, the lessons from playing catch and spending time stay with me. The desire to give back to my community, like he did, is part of me. My natural curiosity comes from him.

Happy birthday Dad!