Monday, January 31, 2022

Pittsburgh Bridge Collapse

A friend of my parents refused to ride over the George Westinghouse Bridge in North Versailles. For my non-Pittsburgh friends, Versailles is not pronounced like the palace in France. It's Ver-sails (like he sails the seven seas). Ah, I miss  the pronunciations of Western Pennsylvania. Anyway, she had a dream that the bridge collapsed when she was on it and found routes to completely avoid the bridge. I always thought this was a little ridiculous.

Of course, most people who read this blog know that the Fern Hollow Bridge, only 6 miles away from the Westinghouse Bridge, collapsed on Friday. This bridge goes over Frick Park and links Point Breeze and Regent Square to Squirrel Hill. Again, for my non-Pittsburgh friends, this bridge is at the start of Forbes Avenue, one of Pittsburgh's most essential streets, which goes through Squirrel Hill, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, and into downtown. As another reference, this bridge is about 2 miles from the Tree of Life synagogue. And I've gone over the Fern Hollow Bridge hundreds of times.

Amazingly, there were no casualties or even serious injuries. While four people went to the hospital, this could have been disastrous. A lot of talk is naturally going to be about infrastructure. And it should be. The fact that more than $4 billion in PennDOT revenues from the state's Motor License Fund was "diverted to other areas of state government, including  $2.45 billion to the Pennsylvania State Police to help subsidize police coverage in communities without local law enforcement" is certainly problematic. Pennsylvania has one the highest gas taxes in the country, and the turnpike brings in millions (if not billions) in revenue each year. That money is supposed to go to roads and bridges. Overall, I really hope that states do some serious review of their infrastructure. I guess the federal government actually gets some credit for doing something in passing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. That money needs to turn into action.

Photos by Gene J. Puskar/AP and Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive

Friday, January 28, 2022

3OH!3 Cameo

In honor of the 17th anniversary of Sean's Ramblings, I decided to do something special. I considered buying a yacht or taking a trip to Australia, but that didn't seem feasible. Maybe next year when my blog turns 18. Instead, I went to Cameo. 

I wrote about Cameo a few years ago. It truly is a magical place where you can spend hours searching for all levels of celebrities. For my anniversary, I knew exactly who I wanted to contact. Sean Foreman and his band 3OH!3! First, great name. Second, 3OH!3 is doing something very cool where proceeds of all of their videos go to the Sierra Club.

So with all that, here is the Cameo from Sean Foreman of 3OH!3. Oh, there's one NSFW word at the end which comes from the group's hit song "Don't Trust Me." Enjoy!

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Mission Impossible: Tooth Fairy Edition

The Moose (age 10) lost a tooth the other night. This fact alone isn't worthy of a blog post, but what happened next, well, might not be either, but I still want to share the story.

Several years ago, my sister-in-law bought very cool personalized tooth pillows for my older kids. I write "older kids" since Luigi wasn't around yet. He can borrow one from his brothers when he starts losing teeth. Anyway, when the kids lose a tooth, they place it in the pillow pocket, which is a perfect fit for teeth and cash.

So The Moose put his tooth in a Ziploc bag, placed it in his pillow, and went to sleep. Hours later, I entered his bedroom to perform the tooth fairy duties. I should probably mention that The Moose shares a room and bunk bed with his brother, Pedro Tulo. There is definitely a higher degree of difficulty in the tooth to money exchange on a top bunk! 

I found the tooth pillow, but the Ziploc was gone. While I put $2 in the pocket, the tooth wasn't there. After less than a minute of unsuccessfully trying to quietly and quickly locate the bag, The Moose woke up. He was drowsy, delirious, and wondered why I was there. My cover story was to make sure that he had covers and blankets on top of him because it's cold. Then, like the Jordan Peele movie with Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams where a character yelled GET OUT, I did GET OUT as quickly as I could. I think the movie was called The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down. 

Fortunately, he didn't remember any of our interaction the next morning. If The Moose did, he didn't mention it. Before leaving for school, he found the tooth which fell below next to his brother's bed. My response was "That's strange." I did not elaborate. So at this point, the tooth fairy isn't coming back to take the tooth. She did her job and rewarded The Moose with $2. I guess he'll get to keep both the money and the tooth.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The 25 Year-Old Paper

I recently found several papers that I wrote in college including one from an Introduction to Theatre class. I'd like to think that my writing is gooder now than it was then but maybe not. For this paper, which I included below, my assignment was essentially to write a performance review of the play A Shayna Maidel. This was essentially great practice for writing my blog. While I planned on simply sharing the paper itself (since I got an A!), I decided to see where the three actors I mentioned in the paper are today.

Michelle Federer - She was the star of the play and still acts today. According to her IMDB page, Federer has had a recurring role on the television show New Amsterdam and also appeared in Smash, Marvel's The Defenders, Blue Bloods, Rachel Getting Married, and Law and Order: Criminal Intent among other roles. She spent several years in Wicked as the original Nessarose on Broadway too. Looks like she's going to be in the upcoming Better Nate Than Ever on Disney+ with Lisa Kudrow and her husband, Norbert Leo Butz. Side note: Federer's brother lived next door to me for two years. I don't believe that my relationship with him had any impact on my review, but this certainly seems like a conflict of interest. 

Stacie Lewis - It appears that her professional stage name is Stacie Morgan Lewis. Like Federer, Lewis also spent significant time on Broadway most notably in Wicked. She co-wrote the children's album Harmonize and is involved in the Westport County Playhouse in Westport, Connecticut

Jonathan Ave -  I was critical of his stage performance, so perhaps that's why I can't find anything about him online. There's a very, very brief IMDB page for him, but otherwise, all I can find are various streets named Jonathan Ave.

And now, here's the paper. You really don't have to read it except for the A at the end!

This might be the shortest paper I wrote in college. I had multiple papers that were 10+ pages...especially when I adjusted margins and font size!

Photo by Joan Marcus. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

State of the Ramblings: Edge of Seventeen

Sean's Ramblings is officially 17 years old. I think that's about 214 in blog years! It's been an odd year. When I wrote the State of Ramblings in January 2021, my kids were still attending school from home virtually, vaccines were only beginning to roll out, and my work-life balance of working from home with everyone here was a disaster. I mean, although everything got done, it came at the expense of sleep and my writing. The beginning of the year on the blog focused on things at home. I watched the Biden inauguration, played Just Dance with my kids, and attempted to potty train Luigi.

Then, things started to open up. The older two kids went back to school and all of the kids went to camp this summer. We drove thousands of miles on I-95 for vacation, everyone returned to school/preschool and work this fall, and the kids played organized baseball and soccer. I also went to Nashville where I shared an elevator with Robert Plant and visited the Grand Ole Opry.

I wrote a lot about anniversaries this past year. The 20th anniversary of 9/11, the 20th anniversary of my less than 24-hour trip to see the Pittsburgh Penguins face the Buffalo Sabres in a game 7 playoff game, and the one-year anniversary of my dad's passing.

I started a brand new series called "Hills I'm willing to die on." I wrote two whole posts, so apparently there aren't many hills that I'm willing to die on. Hopefully, I'll find more hills in 2022.  

I still like pretending that I'm a sports blogger sometimes. My 2021 Pirates predections post was quite thorough and included a fantastic group of contributors. I also continued to write draft recaps of the Pirates and Steelers, which are always fun.

My favorite posts may have been the ultimate list of famous Ithaca College grads and an interview with Jake Rosenberg of the Israeli national baseball team.

Overall, I wrote 100 posts in 2021. That's the first time I've reached triple digits in blog posts since 2016. For 2022, I want to do something big. I don't know what that is yet. I've talked about covering the Oscars or Emmys or even a sporting event but that seems unlikely thanks to COVID. (And the fact that the Academy Awards people have not sent me an acceptance or denial response for this year's ceremonies. When I applied, they said I would receive a reply in 2 business days. It's now been almost two months. Maybe they're waiting to give me the VIP media credential!)  Anyway, I have an idea for a huge interview which probably has a 2% chance of happening. That might be high. We'll see.

Thanks to all of you for reading my blog and for your support over the years. I have no idea how I've written this for 17 years!

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

If A Tree Falls And No One Hears It

After a two-week winter break with a COVID close contact causing us to cancel several activities and basically spend most of the time at home, we were excited to get the kids back to school. The kids were excited to return too. And then winter happened. We got about 6-7 inches of snow on Monday morning causing schools to be closed Monday, Tuesday, and now Wednesday. Although there's been sun causing some (but not much) snow to melt, the cold temperatures at night have resulted in plenty of ice. Many neighborhood roads are still a mess, and there have been numerous power outages. Even if you're not in the DC area and living with this, you probably heard about drivers, including Senator Tim Kaine, getting stuck on I-95 for many, many hours.

I'm sure that you're thinking, Sean, why are you writing a blog post about the weather? It's January and there's snow. Not exactly covering new ground here. Well, this is certainly different.

Yes, those are downed branches from the tree in front of my house. Although several branches snapped, they didn't fall completely. Because of this, we were very fortunate that there was no damage to the car. We managed to clear the garage and squeeze the car into it, but the car wasn't going to get out. And I couldn't get out of the driver's side!

We made calls to several tree removal companies who were all celebrating the increased business from downed trees and branches in the area. Seriously, the amount of business they've had this week might fund them for the year! Several hundred dollars later, the tree is about half of its previous size, but we can get out of the driveway and not worry about falling branches.

Now if we can only get the kids back to school! (Of course, there's more snow in the forecast Thursday and Friday.)