Friday, May 27, 2016

Afternoon Commute

A long time ago, in a part of my life far far away, I dated a guy who would pretend that his car was a convertible by putting all four windows down and opening the sunroof. It's a funny little thing that I still laugh about; it's also something that I do all of the time in the summer. And you know what complements driving around with the "top down"? A mixtape playlist. So today, put your tops down and enjoy a little of what's been playing on heavy rotation in my car (a.k.a. Vega$... because what happens in there, stays in there); don't read too much into why I like certain lyrics, as sometimes my appreciation of them is purely poetic. 



Song: "Capsize" 
Artist: Frenship w/ Emily Warren 
Favorite lyric: "And three words have never come easy/ Cause you're more than they ever could be."



Song: "Fakin It"
Artist: Kaskade & Feliz Cartal featuring Ofelia K.
Favorite lyric: "Maybe it’s ok to be lost in your backyard/ Ok to wonder what’s in the dark/ Lonely, little terrified hearts/ Are we all just fakin’ it?"



Song: "DOPE" 
Artist: TI featuring Marsha Ambrosius 
Favorite lyric: "And disrespect is not an option in my neighborhood/ So watch how you talking to me."



Song: "Dearly Departed"
Artist: Shakey Graves 
Favorite lyric: "Even when one is dead and gone/ It still takes two to make a house a home."


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Guest Blog Post: Peduto Through The Eyes Of A Sixth Grader

Editor's Note: Grace Randall is a sixth grader from Highland Park (this of course is hard for me to believe because it doesn't seem that long ago that were were celebrating her seventh birthday*). She has interviewed YA authors Gregory Maguire, Rainbow Rowell, and Kate DiCamillo, among others; most recently, she interviewed literary prize winner and Pittsburgh native, Stewart O'Nan on his newly released book, City of Secrets. Two weeks ago, Grace met with Pittsburgh's Mayor, Bill Peduto. She took the opportunity to speak with the Mayor and re-wrote his online biography for a middle grade audience. You can read more of her writing at whatgracerandallwrites.tumblr.com. Enjoy! 

Biography of Pittsburgh’s Mayor Bill Peduto For Middle Grades

Bill Peduto has been the mayor of Pittsburgh since January of 2014. Before that he worked for nineteen years on the Pittsburgh City Council during the terms of Mayor Tom Murphy, Mayor Bob O’Connor, and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. On the City Council, he was a staff member for seven years, then for twelve more on the Council as the representative for District 8, which encompasses North Squirrel Hill, North and West Oakland, Point Breeze, Bloomfield, parts of East Liberty, Friendship, and Shadyside. While on the Council, he improved and wrote many new laws. He made it so that people running for a government office could only accept a certain amount of money from outside parties, and that those who were lobbying for certain companies had to register as lobbyists and to tell people who they represented. Also, he let people get opportunities to get contracts with the city. Mayor Peduto has worked to keep Pittsburgh the innovative city that it is. He has remained accountable, open to the community’s ideas, and he is a supporter of environmentally friendly plans.

With a commitment to modernizing Pittsburgh’s government, Mayor Peduto has enacted plans that make his administration more efficient, effective, and accountable to Pittsburgh’s citizens. He has reorganized the Department of Permits, Licenses & Inspections, the section of the government in charge of approving permits for buildings. He developed a long-term investment and upkeep plan for the city’s assets, like parks and warehouses. Many services are now available on an App called Myburgh, such as a Snowplow GPS tracker, and a place for citizens to list services they would like to see performed. One of Mayor Peduto's goals is to strengthen Pittsburgh’s 90 neighborhoods as communities, and he started the Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment to help them do so. Another project is the Rental Registration program, which would require rental property owners to register with the city, and pay a fee. This program has not yet been put into action.

Mayor Peduto has an ongoing dedication to making Pittsburgh a major 21st Century city. To help with this, he has collaborated with the White House on numerous projects. From there, he has gotten federal assistance with things like affordable housing, energy efficiency, and technology. As Pittsburgh begins to grow as a community, under Mayor Peduto, it has become active in many nationwide initiatives, in organizations such as the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. This past year, Pittsburgh became one of the Rockefeller Foundation network’s 100 Resilient Cities, an association that helps cities improve their resilience, fixing tomorrow’s problems today. Mayor Peduto made an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy that will make Pittsburgh one of the greenest energy producers worldwide. He is one of the founding members of the MetroLab Network, which helps cities across the country improve urban assets through partnerships with universities. Also, Pittsburgh is one of seven cities being considered for the Smart City challenge, a contest by the U.S. Department of Transportation to see what city can design the model of a 21st Century city.

Mayor Peduto lives in Point Breeze. He is self-described as, “the biggest Penguins fan in the city,” and has had partial or full season tickets for many years. He also plays hockey, and learned to skate at the age of seven.





*For the record, it was an epic Harry Potter party; I was dressed as Professor McGonagle and served as the master of ceremonies. The guests got sorted (into Gryffindor, of course); told the Fat Lady the password to get into the Gryffindor common room; got wands and robes, took Divination, Herbology, and Potions classes; and partied in the Hogwarts Great Hall with Butterbeer, pumpkin juice, and other magical sweet treats.    


Friday, May 20, 2016

20

Twenty thoughts and ideas for the twentieth of May...

  1. The Pitt script logo is back! Just one more thing that gives me the strength to go on. 
  2. I am addicted to Skyrobics at Skyzone. If anyone would like to join me, I can promise you a few things: you will laugh, you will get a low-impact full body workout, and [if you are female] you will pee yourself. I go on Tuesdays or Thursdays at 7 p.m. 
  3. There are sixteen days left in my school year! And then it's vacation. Just kidding. I work all summer. Like a poor adult. I don't vacation. 
  4. Corona Light is my new favorite beer. 
  5. I never thought that I could be pushed to the point where I want to cut all communication with some people; but alas, there are a few that currently have a toxic status and are truly challenging any remaining shreds of patience, compassion, and empathy that I have left. They know who and how they are. Oh? And if there's a problem with what I just wrote, that's really too bad. I didn't start this blog five years ago to bite my tongue all of the time. 
  6. The Toms Stucco Suede Perforated Women's Majorca Peep Toe Booties are one of the best pairs of shoes that I've purchased in a very long time. Comfortable and versatile, they are rarely off of my feet. Oh, and I used a Nordstrom gift card (thanks to my Swimming & Diving team!) because otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to work them into my budget. Don't judge me.  
  7. Let's go Pens!  
  8. The season finales of Empire, Quantico, Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and The Family were not disappointing; ironically, the finale of The Family was my favorite of the crop, and ABC cancelled the show. In my Stephanie Tanner voice, "How rude!"
  9. I am selling raffle tickets for a trip for two to Hawaii! They benefit the National Aviary, and the winners will be drawn on July 9 at the awesome Night in the Tropics event! Tickets are 1 for $10 and $3 for $25. Winners need not be present to win; the grand prize includes a flight on Delta Airlines and a six night stay at the Aston Waikiki in Honolulu. Please send me a message if you are interested in purchasing any. Thanks! 
  10. When you buy someone a birthday present that is particularly thoughtful (i.e. not a re-gifted candle), and that person doesn't write a thank you note or even send a simple text (not to mention that s/he is on their phone constantly and aggressively)... Bye.   
  11. There's a 100% chance that I am going to see The Nice Guys this weekend, most likely by myself. Recently I discovered that most dates are better if I am actually alone. Someday I will write about it. Click here for the trailer if you are unfamiliar. 
  12. Last year, I wrote about Bill's Bar and Burger in this post. Since then, the restaurant has earned both positive and negative reviews from bloggers, critics, and Yelpers. With the vision of a new CEO and a new chef (Michael Vignola), Bill's has revised its Pittsburgh approach with a new beer garden and an updated menu. I had the opportunity to try some of the local beers on tap (like Tröegs, East End, Fat Head's, and Church Brew Works) as well as some fresh menu items, and I was very impressed.  
  13. Pittsburgh Magazine's Best Restaurants 2016 list is out. Congratulations to Curtis Gamble for making it! His restaurant, Station (4744 Liberty Avenue, 15224) is my favorite spot on the East end of tahn. No doubt.  
  14. This is an interesting read: "Donald Trump's Emerging Higher-Ed Platform." 
  15. I need to try this.  
  16. I need to make these.  
  17. The new entrance to Noah's Ark at Kennywood is downright fantastic. Actually, all of the updates to this iconic ride are on point. I know this because I went through it three times on Sunday.  
  18. Speaking of Kennywood, I now know what it's like for a parent to take a child on a roller coaster for the first time. It was a completely invaluable experience and I am not sure who enjoyed it more, me or her!  
  19. Some prom dress humor... that isn't racist. #dresseption 
  20. On Monday at Round Corner Cantina (3720 Butler Street, 15201), there's a pretty great event happening to benefit the DePaul School for Hearing & Speech. Here's the deal: Natrona Bottling Company is gathering twelve of the finest bartenders in the 'Burgh and challenging them to create a cocktail based on twelve of Natrona Bottling's delicious pops. The catch is that each bartender won't know which pop they have to incorporate into their cocktail until the moment when they step behind the bar. See yinz there! 

Friday, May 13, 2016

FYI, "...it might be too late to recover."

Editor's Note: First of all, if I get an email from someone by the name of "Promise," how can I not read it in its entirety with my undivided attention? Second, if the email references a "bible" and speaks about how someone might "loose their soul," I believe that it must be legitimate. All I need to do is send $120 to someone named "Alex Oniya" and I will earn $1.5 million, spread over time with daily payments of $4500. Seems easy enough. Lastly, if you have the ambiguous job title of "Foreign Operation Manager," you are most definitely not suspicious. As always, what you see below is an unedited version of this spam folder gem. Let me know if you think I should go ahead and proceed with this plan. 

From: MR. PROMISE PAUL <www.@wish.ocn.ne.jp>
Subject: Your Payment 

ATTENTION,

I know it is because of your past expenses that make you not to believe me but I told you before that I cannot deceive you because my bible says what shall it profit a man to gain material things and loose your soul, any way their is good news now, i raised some money to help you out and make sure that your payment will be release to you the same day you send the $120.00 as well. I borrowed money yesterday after service from my Pastor, then you have to send the remain balance now only $120.00 but i don't see the reason why you have keep silent on me not to respond back, honestly I am just disappointed at your behaviors before because you know that I cannot deceive you, Just pay the $120.00 and leave rest for me watching me if I am telling you lies or not.

Your payments is already approval today for you to receive it but the management here says that you must pay $120.00 for the Stamp and activation charge before you can receive the payment today, please send the charge through western union immediately, i have assured you a time without number that this is genuine and legitimate. I swear If I fail to release your payment after you send the $120.00 as I promise don't count on me again, I cannot fail you, I promise you, don’t fear as soon as you send the $120.00 today please leave the rest to me and see if I am lie to you because I can not use my life swear because of $120.00, how can I swear against my life because of this small amount? it is to show you that I am telling you the truth.

You have an assurance of receiving your payment once this is settled and whatever that arises next shall be taking care of by this our head office, but i swear nothing is going to come up again after this and i will make sure you start receiving your funds immediately or i will write a petition against our headquarter office and they will have whatever you have spent on your funds sent it back to you first thing tomorrow. Just try and understand because i do not want you to loose your funds that you have spent so much on now you have only one step to receiving your funds. Do not allow the devil to turn your mind against this because by the time you realize you have a mistake, it might be too late to recover.

I will guarantee you 100% sure that you will not pay any more money after you send this fee because you will pick up your first payment within 45minutes after receiving the last fee from you and I will bear the cost of the fee if it is any other fee but I believer that no any fee we will ask you to pay again I am makes sure that I must put smile on your face in next 45 minutes I am waiting for your payment because this transaction has taken so long and I don't want you to lose this fund at the end This are your funds which is already in our system to transfer to you and it will be release to you as soon as you pay the (A.R.O) Authorization Release Order fees of $120.00 USD.

Please do not send any more money again now for you to know that we are 100% sure that this fee is only money you will send in this office here is your western union information you will use to pick up your first payment is out already now and your total amount is $1.5Million the each payment you will receice per day is $4,500 everyday.

HERE IS THE INFORMATION TO SEND THE MONEY TO WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER OR MONEY GRAM BELOW:

Receiver Name :::::::: ALEX ONYIA
Country :::::::: Benin Republic
City :::::::: Parakun
Question :::::::: color
Answer :::::::: Blue
Amount :::::::: $120.00

Money Transfer Control Number :::::::: (M.T.C.N)
Sender's name ::::::::
Sender's Direct Telephone::::::::::

I promise you as soon as we hear from you with the payment of $120.00 Today we shall send your pick up information the same day you send the $120.00 I swear.

Yours Sincerely


Mr. Promise Paul
Foreign Operation Manager
E-Mail: owgdsd@gmail.com
Telephone 00229 984 92 822

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

10

Ten thoughts and ideas on the tenth of May...
  1. Yesterday the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that PA Representative Rick Saccone wants to pass a law that would encourage, but not enforce schools to post the national motto, "In God We Trust" along with the Bill of Rights in their buildings. Okay. Whatever. It seems harmless, albeit rather frivolous considering the slew of other important issues in public education. But then he is quoted as saying, “We’re seeing cursive disappear from our schools, so the kids don’t get to read the actual script of the Constitution... There are so many things being done that are making it more difficult for our children to understand our history in the context of the contemporaries of the time." Um, Rick? Have you seen the education budget in our state? It's kind of a bigger deal than this. Oh, and have you heard of this little musical called Hamilton? It's pretty darn good at bringing our history into context. Oh, and Dr. P.O. Peterson (you know, the guy who practically invented the quintessential cursive handwriting curriculum over 100 years ago) would probably argue that your argument is more flawed than a capital cursive Q. Last time I checked, no one writes in the cursive styles similar to those of our founding fathers'. Not to mention the fact that a Civics textbook might have a picture of the Constitution, but everything else is typed in like Times New Roman or Helvetica. But okay. If this is the hill that you want to die on, then who am I (a public school teacher) to stop you? 
  2. KFC is marketing flavored nail polish in Hong Kong. Coming in both Original and Hot & Spicy versions, this is a whole new way to give folks a "finger lickin' good" experience. I cannot pretend that I don't want to try it. If this works, think of the possibilities! Can you say GRILLED CHEESE NAIL POLISH?!?!?
  3. [saying this as I grit my teeth] I am sick of the word grit. It might be the most overused word of  the past twelve months. 
  4. The Talbots Dalton pant is the miracle pant for your professional wardrobe. Trust me. 
  5. The finales of Grey's Anatomy, ScandalQuantico, and The Family are quickly approaching, which shall push me into the depths of dramatic despair. The doors of Shondaland shall shutter for the summer/early fall and I will be roaming around aimlessly looking for something to occupy my small screen. Quick! Get me some of Mellie Grant's 'shine and a beautiful closet in which to weep... or Meredith's tequila and a bar across from a hospital filled with beautiful doctors.  
  6. As an adult professional, one should know that the title of a novel doesn't go in quotation marks; rather, it goes in italics. Click here for more information. You're welcome.  
  7. This speech is everything. It may have restored some of my faith in humanity. Loretta Lynch should be Hillary's running mate. You heard it here first. 
  8. Whitfield (at Ace Hotel) makes a fantastic Bloody Mary.  
  9. I am selling raffle tickets for a trip for two to Hawaii! They benefit the National Aviary, and the winners will be drawn on July 9 at the awesome Night in the Tropics event! Tickets are 1 for $10 and $3 for $25. Winners need not be present to win; the grand prize includes a flight on Delta Airlines and a six night stay at the Aston Waikiki in Honolulu. Please send me a message if you are interested in purchasing any. Thanks! 
  10. If you're a foodie and you love to support a good cause, I believe that you should consider the 11th Annual Savor Pittsburgh event, which is a true celebration of cuisine with delicious appetizers, small plates, and desserts from the best of Pittsburgh's restaurant scene, as well as great music from No Bad Juju and dancing! Savor Pittsburgh supports the Magee-Women's Research Institute & Foundation; tickets are available at an early bird rate from now though June 30, and you won't want to miss this! And if you still aren't convinced, I will be there wearing my "food blogger" hat! Click here for more information!