Another Busy Day

June 24, 2009

Not much time to add anything today.

My bride is chomping at the bit to finish the kitchen.

Yes. I thought it was finished weeks ago, but she thought ceramic tiles would make it look much nicer. It will give it a ‘richer’ look considering how much those tiles, the adhesive, the grouting, the stain finish, and the hours of labor will cost.

Of course, we can’t do the tile until we put proper frames around the windows.

At this point, we are in the process of borrowing two saws – one to cut tile and one to cut miter joints.

We still have work to do outside, but the threat of afternoon thunder showers gives me a good excuse to leave the paint cans in the garage.

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I find it interesting that I occasionally write something about the madmen of the world and the political climate of the U.S. in relationship to Iran and North Korea… and yet most of the people who visit my blog are more interested in Kennywood Park and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Go figure!


Is Three Possible?

June 14, 2009

In January of 1979, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 35-31, to win Super Bowl XIII. On October 17th of that same year, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles in game 7 of the World Series.

The December 24, 1979 issue of Sports Illustrated pictured Terry Bradshaw and Willie Stargell – co-winners of the magazines “Sportsman of the Year” award. They had each been named MVP of their respective championship games.

If we fast forward to 2009. The December issue of Sports Illustrated could include Santonio Holmes and Evgeni Malkin… but wouldn’t it be great if they were joined by a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates?

Impossible! Anyone in his right mind would agree the Pirates haven’t a ghost of a chance. The Pirates current record is 28 wins and 33 losses. They are six games out of first place in their division.

Earlier this year, the Penguins’ chances of making the playoffs were very questionable. Somehow, they pulled themselves together and moved up to a position that gave them the opportunity to make it to the finals. Suddenly they became the first team to twice be down two games to none and win the seven game series. They quietly knocked the ‘im’ off the word and made it possible.

Then again, the Pirates simply don’t have the athletes to make a serious run for the pennant.

I don’t buy that. I’m convinced that all professional sports teams are basically equal when it comes to talent. There may be a few super-stars out there, but by and large, rosters are fairly well balanced.

The thing that makes the difference between the first and last place teams is desire.

The pitcher who has an earned run average of 5.78 often goes out and pitches a shutout against the team that traded him. Why? Because he desires to show them they made a mistake when they gave up on him.

Batters often do similar things when facing their old teammates.

If the Pirate organization can get their players to focus and recognize that they can win a lot of games if they treat every game as if winning it can put them in the World Series, they might just find themselves there.

Too often, players and coaches approach games as if ‘it’s just one of many’ and winning or losing isn’t all that important.

In football, we quite often hear two phrases: “Play them one game at a time” and “On any given Sunday”.

Every game should be played as if it counted more than any other, and any team is capable of winning on any given day.

I may be a dreamer, but I’m hoping someone lights a fire under the Bucs. Maybe the ghost of Bob Prince will start attending the games and wave the green weenie at the opponents.

Boston has professional teams in four major sports – baseball, football, basketball, and hockey. Have they ever won three championships in one year?

This could be a first for Pittsburgh. You people who still live in Pittsburgh – get off your butts and get to the games. Give them the same kind of support you’ve been giving to the Steelers and Penguins.

It CAN happen!


Facebook – Great for Reunions

April 20, 2009

My middle son, Kenn, recently received an email from one of the web sites that tries to help old classmates find each other. For a small fee, he could enter his own information and use their database to track down his old friends.

Faced with such a wonderful opportunity, he asked himself a simple question: “Can’t I do the same thing on Facebook for free?”

Indeed he can, and many people are doing just that. In fact, within the last hour, I made contact with Claude Ricks, a fellow employee of IBM in Pittsburgh. When I was promoted to Atlanta, I recommended Claude as my replacement. He was promoted to my old position and his career took off from there.

Claude is now a Steelers fan living in the land of the Arizona Cardinals, but he seems to be enjoying life. If I know Claude, he is doing his gloating in private.

Yesterday I connected wtih Andy Ferguson. Before that, I located John Diggs. Who knows, by the end of the year, I may have tracked down everyone I’ve ever known.

And it won’t cost me a dime.


Not the Same Old Steelers

February 5, 2009

Yesterday I received word that a ‘journalist’ (term used very loosely here) in Arizona had written an article that was terribly demeaning to Pittsburgh and the Steelers fans. I tracked it down and read it.

The language used by the writer and the misinformation concerning Western Pennsylvania and the people who live there was deplorable. He claimed to be a former Cleveland Browns fan, but most cities and teams should be ashamed to have his name associated with any of them. I don’t blame the Cardinals nor Arizona for the actions of the man, but I do question the editors who allowed his piece to be published.

A couple of years ago I attended an Atlanta Falcons football game. Their opponent that day was the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was difficult to tell which team was the home team… half of the crowd as wearing red while the other half wore the black and gold.

Because the Steelers fans bought whatever tickets were available, their seats were totally intermingled with the Falcons fans. In the area where I was sitting, the entire game was filled with good natured teasing as each team scored. The game went into overtime and was eventually won by the Falcons.

During almost five quarters of football, there were no heated arguments and no fights. Steelers fans, for the most part, are like that – as are the Falcons fans. Everyone wants to see their team do well and will gladly yell and scream and make fools of themselves by painting their faces and wearing silly hats. But, deep inside, they know it is just a game… a diversion to get their minds off the problems of day-to-day life.

Younger Steelers fans are probably unaware of what we older fans suffered through. My first memories of the Steelers had a lineup that included the likes of Elbie Nickel, Lynn Chandnois, Jim Finks, and Ernie Stautner. I heard these names on radio station WWSW as Joe Tucker relayed the play-by-play action to us. Other names from the past included Jack Butler, Brady Keys, and George Tarasovic; but Ernie Stautner was the only one who didn’t have to pay admission to enter the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. In fact, he’s the only member of the Steelers to have had his number retired.

Ernie was a defensive end who weighed less than two hundred fifteen pounds. Considering the size of today’s linemen, it’s hard to believe he is still considered one of the best of all time.

The thing I remember most about Brady Keys was the time the opposing team attempted a field goal near the end of the game. The Steelers were leading by a point or two; a field goal would mean a loss for Pittsburgh’s squad.

In those days, the goal posts were on the goal line, which meant wide receivers and defensive backs often ran into them at full speed. It was funny to watch, but painful to the unfortunate players.

In any case, Brady Keys was standing in front of the goal post ready to run back the kick if it should fall short of the mark. The kick was indeed short and would have fallen harmlessly between Brady’s head and the crossbar. However, Brady misjudged the distance and, believing the ball would make it over the bar, jumped in an attempt to block it with his hands. In so doing, he succeeded in knocking the ball higher… just high enough to cross over the goal post and ensure another loss for the Steelers.

In fairness to Brady, it should be pointed out that he played eight years in the NFL and was a pro-bowl caliber player. With seed money borrowed from Art Rooney, he started a restaurant chain and eventually became a successful business man.

Those were the days of SOS in Pittsburgh… the Same Old Steelers. They always seemed to find a way to snap defeat out of the jaws of victory.

Today’s Steelers do a wonderful job of drafting and picking up free agents. Yesterday’s Steelers had a lot to learn in those areas.

For instance, in 1957, the Steelers had the fifth overall pick in the draft. They selected Lenny Dawson. The Cleveland Browns, picking sixth, took Jim Brown.

Lenny Dawson was very much like Bret Favre who was drafted by Atlanta and showed no signs of becoming a Hall of Fame quarterback. The Falcons traded Favre to Green Bay. The Steelers traded Lenny to Cleveland where he was equally unimpressive. After a total of five years in the league, Dawson had completed just 21 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns.

After he was released by Cleveland, he joined the Dallas Texans of the floundering American Football League. As they say, the rest is history.

As for free agency, there was no such thing back then. However, the Steelers were involved in numerous trades. That’s how they picked up Bobby Lane and Gene “Big Daddy” Lipscomb.

With Buddy Parker at the helm, the Steelers made their first post-season appearance in 1962. With a record of 9-5 they finished in second place and qualified to play in the ‘runner up’ bowl, which they lost.

As for the current stability – three head coaches in forty years – that all started in 1969 with the hiring of Chuck Noll. In the years prior to that, the Steelers had four head coaches in fourteen years. That stint was begun with Walt Keisliing who was filling that slot for the third time. Shades of Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner!

So things have not always been a bed of roses for Steelers fans. Success did not happen overnight. Hopefully, the nightmares that came with the Same Old Steelers in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, and 60s can remain long forgotten.

Perhaps the younger fans can see SOS with a certain amount of giddiness and glee!

In the meantime, that guy in Arizona should realize that knocking Western Pennsylvania and the Steelers Nation is worse than stomping on the Terrible Towel.


Giddy and Gleeful

February 2, 2009
Pittsburgh Art

Pittsburgh Art

Bob Prince, a long time announcer for the Pittsburgh Pirates, often ended games by saying, “We had them all the way!” This was especially absurd when the Pirates won only because of a late inning come-back

Yet those words came to my mind as I was finally able to relax and watch Ben Roethlisberger take a knee to end one of the best Super Bowl games ever.

I’m still rather numb over the outcome. The road to Super Bowl victory number six was anything but easy. The Steelers began the season facing the most difficult schedule in the NFL and somehow managed to complete the season at 12-4. Then they had to beat the Baltimore Ravens for the third time in one year to get to Tampa.

After the first quarter, the folks we were watching the game with began to think the game was going to be a runaway. I wanted that to be true, but knew better.

As the Cardinals scored to take the lead with just over two minutes remaining, Dick Kornewald made the truest statement of the evening, “They scored too fast!”

Over the course of the season – and his career – Ben Roethlisberger has proven that he’s at his best when the Steelers are losing and the game is coming to an end. Once more he rallied the troops and moved the team down the field for the winning score.

I’d been asked many times over the last few days if I thought Pittsburgh would win the game. I always answered, “I hope they do.” but I knew it wouldn’t be easy… and I knew I wouldn’t be able to relax until Ben took a knee to end the game. Ben did that with five seconds remaining.

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By the way, the host of the party we attended was pulling for the Cardinals. I’m not sure if he is truly a Cardinals fan or was simply taking the opportunity to give me a hard time. Many of my friends have been known to so such a thing.

In any case, at one time he snatched my Terrible Towel from me and stomped on it. I tried to be gentle, but did tell him of the curse that goes with such actions. Recall that one of the Tennessee Titans stomped on a Terrible Towel late in the season. Although they had the best regular season record, they went down to defeat in the playoffs.

The Terrible Towel is a symbol – much like the ‘Green Weenie” was during the Pirates race to the World Series Championship in 1960. I don’t know if there’s a web site devoted to Bob Prince’s gimmick, but there is a place where you can read about Myron Cope’s Terrible Towel and how much good it has done over the years.

Check out the article in the New York Times to learn about Myron Cope and his trademark Terrible Towel.


Cheesy Light Fixtures

February 1, 2009
Standard Manufactured Home Fixture

Standard Manufactured Home Fixture

HERE WE GO STEELERS, HERE WE GO!!!

You must admit that is one cheesy light fixture. I’m convinced the manufactured home builders of America got such a great deal on these things that they’ll continue to put them in their homes for the next hundred years.

For the newbies to my blog, I was divorced from my first wife in 1993. I then purchased an acre of land and a single-wide trailer. The land was probably worth more than the trailer, but I loved the location.

I had been living in an apartment, which I hated, and always wanted to live in a rural area. The purchase of the trailer solved both problems. However, I soon discovered there was a litany of things I didn’t like about a trailer.

For example, my single-wide had metal siding. Not being able to afford cable television, I was limited to what my set could receive using rabbit ears. The metal siding limited my selection to zero. Thus, I had to find a simple, inexpensive solution.

I bought a length of antenna wire and some duct tape. I taped the rabbit ears to the railing of my front porch and used the wire to connect the gizmo to my TV. All of a sudden, I was picking up all the Atlanta channels as well as a channel from Rome, Georgia and one from Chattanooga. The pictures weren’t crystal clear and I had to go outside when I switched channels, but it worked reasonably well.

Aside from my television problems, the two things I hated most about my single-wide were the light fixtures and the strips between the wall panels.

Cheaper than mud

Cheaper than mud

Every room of the single-wide had those strips. When we purchased our new home, we were able to eliminate them in most rooms by paying extra for dry wall (‘sheet rock’ in the south).

We had a choice of dining room chandeliers, but otherwise we’d get the cheesy fixtures in every room. We avoided that to some extent by getting ceiling fans in most rooms.

The only cheesy fixtures left were the ones in the bathrooms, one in the kitchen, and one in the hallway.

Here’s what we put in the bathrooms – although I would’ve never given a thought to replacing any of them had we not been in Home Depot and Lowes looking at kitchen cabinets and flooring.

Nicer and brighter

Nicer and brighter

Don’t it always seem that one thing easily leads to another. That’s how I ended up having to repair the dish washer. But that’s a story for another time.

GO STEELERS!

Did I mention that I’m a Steelers fan living in the Steelers Nation that covers most of the U.S. and many other countries?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go paint my face and start waving my Terrible Towel.


Another Busy Weekend

January 31, 2009

HERE WE GO STEELERS, HERE WE GO!!!

This weekend is shaping up to be another busy one. We’ve finally removed the last of the old cabinetry and counters/bars and have begun preparing the walls for the new paint.

I realize the builders of manufactured homes do things to speed up the process to save as much money as possible, but their methods have often led to my madness.

Let me remind everyone – including me – why we chose a manufactured home. $109,000 to remodel the home we were in; over $150,000 to build a home from scratch on our property; $65,000 for a 2,000 square foot manufactured home.

When we bought the home, we paid extra to have sheet rock (dry wall) installed in as many rooms as possible. We didn’t want the less expensive paneling that comes with cheesy looking strips covering up each seam. The manufacturer refused to give us sheet rock in the areas they labeled as ‘wet’ rooms – the kitchen and the two bathrooms.

Part of our plan has been to remove the cheesy strips and fill the gaps with dry wall mud to give us a nice smooth surface. We’ve done that, which required us to sand those areas, which we did last night, which left a blanket of white dust over everything in the house.

Today we’ll paint the walls… except where the new cabinets will go.

We’ll also pick up a helping hand later this morning when our granddaughter Emma comes to spend the night with us. She’s very artisitic and sure to point out every spot we miss.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the cheesy light fixtures they put in manufactured homes and how much it cost me to look around when we went in to buy cabinets, flooring, and counter-tops.

Of course, I won’t say much. My mind will be on a football game to be played tomorrow afternoon.

HERE WE GO STEELERS, HERE WE GO!!!!