Pittsburgh to me; “Slow down.”


So this morning when trying to get to church, we had an adventure.  We cross the city to go there, because it feels like home when we do make it, and it is where I grew up going.  Generally, it’s not a bad drive on a Sunday morning.

This morning, we left a little later than we like to because… we have two small children.

I knew that there was some sort of work in the Fort Pitt Tunnel this weekend, so I decided to take the Liberty Tubes instead.  Why?  No respectful yinzer takes the posted detour, and it was going west when I wanted to go east.

No work in the tubes, or even on the Liberty Bridge… except when we got to the ramp for the Blvd. of the Allies and we couldn’t go towards Monroeville.

Up Bigelow Blvd. to Craig St. through Oakland to try to get to Forbes Ave. and get on the Parkway in Squirrel Hill, and we ran into this along the way:

Lady Pittsburgh

Lady Pittsburgh

I have no idea what this was.  She was oblivious to the world around her, happily rolling down the middle of the street on her scooter with absolutely no regard for safety or traffic laws.  She eventually got on to the sidewalk, but she was rolling along at about a ½ mile per hour when I pulled up behind her.  All I could do was start a “What the…” phrase that I couldn’t finish with children in the car and laugh.  We laughed for the rest of the ride to church, and we weren’t done with the obstacles.

Apparently, Forbes was closed off right after the CMU campus for a race today.  Out & around to the Edgewood/Swissvale on-ramp to the parkway it was.

Seriously though, I know I’m not a resident of Pittsburgh proper, but I am a resident of Allegheny County.  Can we pass some sort of local ordinance that you can’t work on or around two major through-ways to the city at the same damn time?

We got there, and were only a little bit late.  The universe was testing my patience today.  I hope I passed.

 

We finally hung the sign on our #BeanHouse. 🌱


Did you read about our #BeanHouse?

I was able to get some matte clear-coat spray this week and hit the sign a few times, although this stuff seemed to soak up the paint like a sponge.  We just used some particleboard from an old dresser drawer.  It was the perfect size.  I did the marker & colored the beans, the rest was all Molly.

Molly also got a tomato plant  from her Grandma BB, so we planted it right out front.  We tried the fork trick there too to deter bunnies, but if I remember right they’re not huge fans of tomatoes.  You never know what else is out & around either.

We also put out some organic bloodmeal to provide nutrients and hopefully deter critters.   Molly reminded me to put down grass clippings because they hold moisture.

I was thinking about putting out some cinnamon to keep the rabbits away too.  I just saw that coffee grounds keep away snails.  Do you have any other tips & tricks that seem to have worked for you in the past?  We did use garlic clips last year.  They seemed to work, but we did have a few incidents of snacking on our peppers.

No beans sprouting yet, but our Spanish onions just popped from seeds we planted a while ago.

Star Wars Songs – Post your favorites in the comments! #MayThe4thBeWithYou!


Songs about Star Wars are almost as cool as the songs in Star Wars! Post your favorites in the comments!

 

Outdoor Gardening Fun With a #BeanHouse. 🌱


So, I dig gardening. (Get it?)  I have passed that on (so far) to my oldest child, and the little one really likes playing in the dirt.  I also enjoy doing things with the kids that are not only fun, but that allow me to sneak in some learning.

Today we set up a Bean House.  What’s a bean house?  I don’t know. That’s what my daughter wanted to call it & it’s really the most appropriate title.  We got the idea from a friend’s Facebook wall with instructions for a bean den and a willow den.

Basically, we built a play house that will act as a trellis for a (hopefully) vining bean plant.  I started with an area that had already been cleared thanks to a pile of brush that was recently removed.  Speaking of that brush that I have recently cleared form our jungle of a back yard; I grabbed 4 rather large branches with a “Y” shape, cut them to roughly the same length with the chainsaw, and sharpened the bottoms.  I dug some holes with a small gardening shovel and drove the posts in as far as I could, mounding up some dirt around each pole.  I used some gardening wire to secure four branches across the top for a nice little cube-ish frame.

Then, I let the munchkins “help” while I secured several smaller sticks across the top, down along the sides, and across the sides.  At one point we ran low on sticks, so I used some old wooden and bamboo tomato stakes.  The wooden stakes seemed to really help make the rest of the structure stable because I could really pound them into the ground well.  To secure everything, I used some newly purchased garden wire, and whatever twine and garden wire that we had leftover from previous years’ gardening adventures.

The top is a thatched mess of “wonky” branches that are woven together to provide slightly more shade than the sides, but will still be open for the growing vines.  My shelter would probably make Survivorman Les Stroud hang his head in shame, but it’s better than most of the shelters on Naked and Afraid.

The wife and little guy helped water the mounds so I could pack them down, and then I mounded dirt all around every post & they helped do the same.  Then we mulched the mound with grass clippings & packed it down again.

Finally I dug some holes for the pre-soaked Kentucky Wonder green bean seeds (beans?) around the base of the entire structure, and the whole family helped put in the seed-starter potting soil mix, the seeds, and some more dirt & mulch in place.  We placed some plastic forks facing outward all around the seeds at the base of the thing to hopefully help ward off the local overpopulation of rabbits.  I may try some additional deterrent like bloodmeal.

Later indoors, we found some other stuff and made a sign to hang once I get a coat or two of clear coat on it.

While we put it up, we talked about enjoying outside, building things, growing things, recycling and up-cycling, sunshine, water, and everything.  We talked about how grass clippings act like a mulch that holds moisture for the plants.  We talked about how the fertilizer and Miracle-Gro in the water acts like vitamins for the plants… vitamins like the one’s we’ll get from eating the beans.  I’m sure we’ll have discussions in the future about patience, including our little brother, and not knocking the bean house over.

My wife and I have always tried to talk to the kids with the same respect we’d give other adults.  We don’t use small words.  We explain things as best we can, encourage and answer questions.  I’m continually amazed at the observations that our daughter makes in conversation, and through our son’s actions that show an understanding of exactly what is going on.

If you’re reading this and are a parent, I ask you to narrate to your kids what you’re doing & why when you do an activity together.  You may think they’re too little to get it, but they’re constantly absorbing what you’re doing.

This is a great way to get into all kinds of stuff like gardening, up-cycling/recycling, food not lawns, urban farming, and striving to pass on the importance of such things as knowing how to grow food to your kids.  I’m excited to plant some tomatoes, peppers, and try a few new things this year.  I love going outside and seeing vegetable plants in the summer.  I love the smell of the dirt and growing plants.  I hope to pass this on and that the kids love it too.

All-in, I paid around $10 for the seeds, wire, & fertilizer.  Everything else we had here on hand or could have probably found easily for free.

Please, enjoy some photos and share some in the comments if you build your own!

At my signal, unleash a $3 VHS cassette.


So, browsing one of the local flea-market/yard-sale type groups on Facebook, I discovered this post…

Gladiator on VHS for sale. Only $3.00 American!

Gladiator on VHS for sale. Only $3.00 American!

As you can imagine because I’m blogging about it, many questions came to mind.  It’s hard to even know where to begin.

We’ll start with the obvious.  Who would pay $3 for a VHS cassette of any movie, let alone this movie?  I mean Gladiator was a good film… but here is a shortlist of better values available online…

This is just for physical media.  I didn’t even look into streaming.  I get that not everyone is set up to stream and that some people (myself included) like to put their hands on physical tangible media.

Who has a working VCR?  OK.  I do, but I’m odd.  It’s a VCR/DVD-recorder, and someday I will transfer all of my VHS tapes to DVD (which is already a dead format).  Who is still watching video tapes?  I mean, watching the old 4:3 aspect ratio drives me nuts these days.

The other side of this… who goes through their stuff, decides they can part with this, and assigns a $3 value to it?  I mean, I could see if this was a collector’s item.  I have Star Wars on VHS and I’ll probably have it forever, but The Gladiator?   Sure, it was a good movie… but not that good. Why were they even still making video tapes in the year 2000?

What do you need that badly that costs $3?  This wouldn’t be worth the gas money or the bus fair to meet someone to make the sale.

I have been strapped for cash, but never would think to list what essentially amounts to garbage for a negligible value on a Facebook flea market group.  If this sells, I really have a lot of stuff that I need to be listing for under $5 amounts.

Let’s start some #AxlRumors:


So, Axl is everywhere in the rock media world again and 15 year old me reads every stupid article like those it’s those goofy gossip columns in Rip or Metal Edge that used to be one sentence stories with bold rock star names jammed into one long nonsensical paragraph.  I’m actually excited to maybe try & see whatever version of Guns N’ Roses eventually ends up in Pittsburgh (if it makes it that long).

#AxlRumors

#AxlRumors

I even made a parody news article with my last post that fell super flat with no reads or comments.  Oh well, my bad.

I know I broke the one rule of blogging by never having regular steady content any more, but work with me here.  I want some interaction.  Maybe no one cares.  I guess we’ll see.

Let’s start some Axl Rose rumors.  Use the hashtag #AxlRumors on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or newer cooler social media platforms that I am wholly unaware of but still use hashtags.

You can post the url to your rumor(s) here in the comments, and we’ll see if it gets beyond this little corner of the internet, and if anyone finds their way back here.

Kapish?

I’ll start:

Now you.

⚠ Go! ⚠

(Don’t forget the #AxlRumors hashtag!)

Axl ‘Leaks’ Possible New GN’R Tunes


Recent reports have surfaced that Guns N’ Roses’ sole founding member and self-proclaimed demigod Axl Rose may have literally leaked tunes to the upcoming GN’R “reunion” album. TMZ has posted but since redacted an audio clip of Axl Rose passing gas taken via iPhone by a fan in an adjacent restroom stall at a roadside rest stop in Tennessee. Lucky listeners may note that the flatulence has a powerful sound that when transcribed as musical notes or tablature would make an incredible guitar riff hearkening back to the Appetite era, and sounds light years heavier anything on Chinese Democracy.

Axl squeezing one out on stage.

Axl squeezing one out on stage.

The fan asked Rose to autograph a sanitary toilet seat cover, but Rose declined stating that his new boss, Angus, wouldn’t allow it. Further investigation showed that someone had ripped the dispenser off the wall and urinated all over it anyway.

When Ultimate-Guitar.com reached out to Dave Mustaine for comment, Dave enlightened the all of rock and metal fandom…

“Axl and I had the same voice coach right around the time that I was kicked out of Metallica for writing better riffs than Jaymz and being a bigger douche than Lars. I’m great friends with Slash since we used to do heroin together, but I have to say that Axl’s farts make better riffs than the too-low-in-the-mix guitars the last Velvet Revolver album, whatever it was called.”

Dave went on to tell everyone that he wrote all of the essential building blocks for Metallica’s albums up until the black one, and that he could play all of the Metallica Metallica riffs and solos in his sleep with his balls on a Hello Kitty ukulele.

Izzy Stradlin recently came out of his hole, saw his shadow, and asked Blabbermouth.net to get off of his lawn.

Sebastian Bach tweeted about the news, adding that Axl’s farts not only sound great, but that they smell like fresh roses and have since 1997. He wishes he could maximize his own lower orifice potential and maybe that would finally convince the other guys in Skid Row to take him back.

Slash and Duff McKagan could not be reached for comment. Dizzy Reed and Gilby Clarke tried to comment, but no one would listen. Steven Alder has an upcoming exclusive interview with the every-other-week best-sale-ever flyer from Guitar Center, keep reading with us for updates when we steal that story before doing any fact-checking.

Matt Sorum still wants to punch Axl in the face, but would take the gig with Axl/DC if the current drummer tries to kill anyone.  He has been asking Rush if he can join their band.

Axl has also been rumored to be singing for Queen (to be billed as Rocket Queen), and for Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, & Jason Bonham in a project billed as Red Zeppelin since Robert Plant won’t return any of their calls.  Rose’s trash collector’s brother denies rumors of Axl fronting a Dio-era Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell tribute tour which may or may not include Bill Ward.

In related news, a special episode of ABC’s Celebrity Wife Swap will have Joe Perry and Slash trade places for a week to see how the other guy deals with each other’s wives & bands for two weeks on tour.

Discovering New Music?


Ask A Pittsburgh Expert: Best Ways To Discover New Music

Ask A Pittsburgh Expert: Best Ways To Discover New Music

I was recently asked to put together some thoughts on discovering new music for an article on CBS Local Pittsburgh.  The article is now up!

Please take the time to check out the article by local blogger Jennifer Stockdale and share your thoughts here (or on the Facebook link) on how you discover new music:

Comments aren’t available on the CBS Local article for some reason, but please share your ways of discovering new music here, or share a link to the main article on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, or whatever to start your own discussion amongst your friends and peers.

Most importantly, the take-away is that I may now be considered an expert for all of your musical discovery needs.

#MeatballSub #Recipe


So, I’ve been hungry for meatball subs.  They’re so simple to make, but we just never seem to do it at home.  I shared the photo on social media, because I’m weird like that and it annoys people, and some people seemed to dig it.  wanted to share how easy it was with a minimal amount of effort.

#MeatballSubs make a good lunch after playing in the snow! ❄

A photo posted by Eric Carroll (@aixelsyd13) on

So, the wife got a pound of ground meat from Aldi the other day, and I picked up the rest of the stuff that we didn’t already have at Giant Eagle on my way home from work.  I probably could have gotten all of this from Aldi.

So this is what I used…

  • 1 lb. of ground beef
  • a handful or two of finely shredded fancy 6 cheese “Italian” stuff – I started with a 2 cup bag.  We always have this or something similar around.
  • Whatever “shake cheese” you put on spaghetti. I have Parmigiano-Reggiano because they think it needs to sound fancy.
  • A handful of crackers.  We had “club” crackers from Aldi
  • Italian Dressing (we seem to really dig Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian)
  • A jar of cheap-ass pizza sauce  (I probably should have used some better marinara sauce)
  • Spices (Season All, cracked black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, Italian seasoning, paprika …whatever floats your boat.)
  • Brown sugar
  • Sub buns (I like the Cellone’s or bakery ones, but I was being cheap this shopping trip and got some weird mass-produced ones.)
  • EVOO
  • Butter

And this is what I did…

Meatball Subs

MEAT.

Turn the oven on first so you don’t have to worry about it later.  Put it on 375° because that’s always what they seem to say to put it on.  I don’t know why.  I don’t even know who they are.

I made some meatballs with the meat, some hand-crushed crackers, a dash of the pizza sauce, a dash of Italian dressing, a dash of whatever spices I grabbed off the rack (probably pepper, season all, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika), a bit of the Parmesan shake cheese and the mysterious “six cheese Italian” stuff.

I put some spices on the outside because why not, and tossed them into a frying pan with EVOO and a small pat of butter on the bottom.  I pre-heated it to high, then turned it to 6 before I tossed in the balls.  6 is at about 6:00 on my stupid electric stove top.

I melted a bit of butter in the microwave.  I quickly cut open the buns, put them on a baking sheet, spread on some melted butter with a brush and added… garlic powder, onion powder, a dash of shake cheese, and “Italian seasoning” to the buns.  No Italian seasoning for my wife, and no garlic powder for my 2½ year old.  I popped them in the 375° oven on the middle rack for a bit.

I used tongs to turn the meatballs over & popped a lid on the pan.

I dumped the remaining pizza sauce into a soup cup (it was a little jar), and added a sprinkle of brown sugar.  I nuked it for 45 seconds or so.  Why?  I like sweet sauce, and grandma always said “it cuts the acid.”

I turned the meatballs on to an undone side, and got the sub rolls out of the oven.  I knew they were done because… I didn’t even look at them.  I just took them out.  They looked fine.  Plus, we’re not totally finished.  I added some pizza sauce and some of the finely shredded awkwardly named cheese to the buns.

I made sure the meatballs weren’t going to kill us with the food thermometer.  They weren’t.  I put those on the buns and added more sauce, shredded cheese, and shake cheese.

I set some meatballs aside for my 10 month old.  The sandwich was a little much for him, but he will eat just about anything you put in front of him.  Seriously.  even if it’s not edible.

I put the now built subs into the oven and cranked the knob to 400° because I am impatient and my 2½ year old kept asking if lunch was ready.  I turned the light on in the oven and watched the cheese melt.  Not only was that fun, I could also make sure I wasn’t going to burn the bejesus out of things.  I didn’t.  I took it out in time.

Well, some of the cheese that fell on to the baking sheet burned, because I made a mess.  Oh well.

These were pretty good, although next time I will use different/better sauce.  That squeeze stuff isn’t bad.  Maybe I can make a simple marinara.  Also, homemade-ish deli rolls or Cellone’s are worth it… and I would cut a little triangle out of the top like Subway used to, before we were over-saturated with them and they started to serve terrible cream-of-deathfish.

At any rate.  This is easy to do.  You could buy your own meatballs or bake your own bread or use cheese slices to make this as easy or as difficult as you like.  I cut my 2½ year old’s into 3 sections so she had sliders.  I cut my wife’s in 2.  I ate the whole thing in one big sandwich like a hungry hungry pig.  I refuse to apologize.

Share photos of yours or links to your own blogged recipe in the comments!

 

( °) Pointless Arguing. |-o-| [-o-] |-o-|


One thing people seem to be good at is arguing over texts.  We can argue different points about the same information.  How many interpretations are there for the constitution?  And that’s just one language.  Hit up the Torah, Bible, or Koran that’s been translated into different languages a few times and it’s absolute chaos.  People seem to focus on minutiae instead of the big picture.

image

I can easily imagine a post-apocalyptic dystopian future where the Star Wars films have become the basis for religion. People will subscribe to their own versions of the Jedi and Sith philosophies and have an overall high regard for the force. Some people will say it’s all fiction. Magicians will use levitation and spoon-bending illusions to “prove” that the force is real.

imageI can imagine sects breaking out of each group of trilogies, finding their own interpretations of the overall themes to be the only correct way to see things.

Some will say Anakin/Vader brought balance to the force. Some will say it was Luke. Some may focus on the new characters to come. Some cults will say you have to go to the dark side before you can be redeemed by the light and that is the only true path to Jedi salvation.

Some will argue that the original films unedited are the only true word. Some will argue that the standalone films and animated series are like the apocrypha, and can’t be true canon.

Monasteries will open and instead of vows of silence, they will talk like Yoda.

Books will be written trying to prove that the holiday special did in fact exist.

People will kill each other arguing over who shot first.

image

I think you now have a script for Idiocracy 2: Idiocracier.