You love me, you really love me!


Pittsburgh’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011

Pittsburgh’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011

So, this thing happened…

CBS Pittsburgh’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011

There was blogging, there was voting.  There was certainly some goofiness.  I still haven’t been contacted by anyone at CBS.  I know other bloggers have.  Just so they know, the contact form on my blog works quite well.  There was something about prizes, but the rules detailing how one could claim a prize are gone.  I really thought I had no chance of winning, as there are so many cool blogs out there.  I’m not sure what kind of bragging rights this gives me.  Do I get a T-shirt or stickers or something?  “Hey, I’m annoying and goofy on the internet!”

It’s good to know that I’m the people’s choice, and not the editor’s choice.  I blog for the people, not for the editors.  I bet I won begrudgingly.  Ha ha.  They were probably all like “Oh crap, not that one!”.  I have to say thank you to whoever nominated me, and thank you for all my friends & family (& readers – who most likely fall into one of the aforementioned groups) who voted!

Here are the results…

Dining and Entertainment

Local Affairs

Sports

Health, Fitness and Medical

Lifestyle and Family

Everything Else

I call shenanigans on Only In Pittsburgh & Beyond Willpower not winning at least one “choice” in their respective categories.  It’s also odd that some of the people’s choice & editor’s choice were the same thing…  Why not spread the love?  I will go all mushy on you now, & say that everyone wins here, because we all got some exposure & hopefully traffic to our blogs that we might not have had before.  I’ve even added a few of these to my WordPress reader/feed.  Go check out all the blogs and their descriptions, and see if there’s something that piques your interest!

Some of the ones I dig:

Hopefully we all say “yinz” without noticing and with pride.  Thanks CBS & Pittsburgh!  And, of course, thanks to these guys & gals for letting me know what’s up!

Thanks Peeps!

Thanks Peeps!

CBSPittsburgh.com’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011

CBSPittsburgh.com’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011

EAT MOR CHIKIN? My pleasure.


I hate to sound like a commercial, and I know I’ve gone on & on about this before; but Chick-fil-A is consistently the best fast food chain around, without fail. I signed up for the Chick-fil-A of South Hills mailing list a while ago, and I’m always getting coupons and emails about specials and post-cards in the mail. One great recent one was that if you went in on Tax Day (April 15th for those anarchists out there) & saved your receipt, you could get the same meal for free on any day in May just by handing over the receipt! How cool is that?

The most recent cool promotion is that I got an invite in my email to request an invitation to try their new spicy chicken sandwich before it’s widely available next week. (The invites seemed to pop up all over Twitter & Facebook too, so they were readily available if you knew where to look!) I made the reservation, and printed an invitation with a custom barcode. I signed the wife up, so we could both enjoy a new sandwich.

Tonight we went & redeemed the coupons in the midst of some other errands, and the sandwiches were excellent… but the service (as always) was top notch. It was busy, but we were in & out of line quite quickly. We were greeted with a smile by the young girl at the cash register even though it was obviously a crazy work night. We even received beaded necklaces with a hot chili pepper charm to go along with our sandwiches. Of course, it’s always “my pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome” when you thank them for anything. Our food was out in a reasonably quick time, and seconds after we seated ourselves another young man in the dining area politely asked if we had everything that we needed.

About halfway through our meal, another young man came out with an envelope, on it was handwritten “Eric and Bethany Carroll”, and inside was this…

Thank you for coming to the Spicy Premiere Week!

Chick-fil-A | Thank you for coming to the Spicy Premiere Week!

Spicy Premiere Week - Free Milkshake

Free Hand Spun Milkshake

…yeah, it looks like the employees on duty tonight actually signed the postcard/coupon thing!

Apparently, it’s working because I’m blogging about it, and spreading the word, and I’ll be talking about it, and I’ll be crazy by working it in when anything remotely related comes up in conversation.

Before I was halfway to the garbage can on our way out this evening, the young man from the dining room took my tray & dumped it, this is usually a regular occurrence here too… just imagine it happening at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC, or Taco Bell. You can’t, can you?

These guys know how to get me to keep coming back, and how to get me to talk about them. Genius, I tell you. So if you’re into Spicy Chicken, try the new sandwich out. If not, check out Chick-fil-A anyway, for the best fast food experience you’ve had in a long time.

So I’m not completely biased… Chick-fil-A, if you’re listening, add baked potatoes to the menu! That’s the one thing you’re missing. I know I had one at a CFA in Florida… we want them in PA too!

Parking …what?


Some people will do anything to save a parking space…

Move this!

The Parking Walker in Morningside


So, the parking walker has taken root in other neighborhoods. Perhaps this will one day replace that parking chair. I certainly would have an easier time moving a chair than a walker if it came down to it. This was sent to me by my friend Jason that lives over in Morningside, it was around the corner from his place.

By the way, I did see the parking chair pile as was threatened to happen by the Dormont police. We drove by too fast to snap a photo… but I’ll try to get back there before it’s gone. No word if any walkers made it into the pile.

Dormont cracks down on the parking chair


I don’t know why, but I find these stories highly amusing.

From: http://www.wpxi.com/news/22718732/detail.html

WPXI.com wrote:

Dormont Police Tagging, Seizing Parking Spot Holders

Posted: 3:31 pm EST March 2,2010Updated: 8:31 am EST March 3,2010

DORMONT, Pa. — Using chairs to save parking spots on streets might be a Pittsburgh-area tradition, but one municipality has had enough.

Dormont police will no longer tolerate chairs on streets.

The police department on Tuesday began tagging chairs residents left to save parking spaces. Chairs that remain on the streets will be removed Wednesday and taken to the Dumpster at Banksville Plaza, police said.

Because of the recent heavy snow, the borough had tolerated residents using chairs to save parking spots, police Chief Phil Ross said.

However, when officers recently went around and put the chairs on the sidewalks, residents promptly put the furniture back on the streets, he said.

From: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_669619.html?source=rss&feed=7

PittsburghLive.com wrote:

Dormont begins campaign against chairs for parking spaces

FOR THE PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dormont’s police department has declared war on chairs.

Dormont residents who are leaving chairs to ensure parking spaces are saved will find their chairs tagged today and picked up Wednesday, Police Chief Phil Ross said.

“I understand if you spent four hours digging yourself out you tend to get a little possessive,” said Ross, appearing at Monday’s council meeting. He said the department has been tolerant during the past three weeks due to the severe weather conditions. Recently, however, when officers put the chairs on the sidewalk, the residents later stuck the chairs back in the parking spaces.

“Maybe they thought kids were doing it,” Ross said. “The parking spaces belong to everybody and nobody.”

After the pick-up, the chairs will be left near the Dumpster by the salt pile at Banksville Plaza.

The parking chair saga continues, despite the guilt put forth by the parking walker.

Dethlehem Photos – Hard Rock Cafe (X Winter Rock Showcase) Thu. Feb. 18th, 2010


Got some cool photos of Dethlehem last night during the X Winter Rock Showcase IV at the Hard Rock Cafe.  If you haven’t checked these cats out, you need to drop whatever you’re doing and get to their next show.  I’m serious.  They’ll blow you away, and maybe even slay that troll that’s been living under your bridge.

They rocked the house last night, and the place was packed for a Thursday night.  The crowd was really digging them.  Sadly… they didn’t go on to the next round, but I really don’t think that’s a big deal to them.

I hate all of them for their respective “mad skillz”… Playing crazy fast beats in a giant metal helmet, fretboard acrobatics at lightning speed, and growling like the demons that they have sworn to battle.  Yet, I watch & listen in awe each time… and it helps that they’re cool guys while they’re not slaying dragons, rescuing maidens in distress, or wandering aimlessly around the halls of madness.

And, thanks to the guys for the warrior swag!

If you just want to check out the album on Photobucket, you can do that too… normal view or slideshow.

DETHLEHEM LOGO

More Snowpocalypse / Snowmageddon / snOMG Photos


In the days since the great 2010 Snowpocalypse, I managed to get some more photos.

My favorites  are of the ice shaped like the brickwork pulling away form my neighbor’s house… and the walker/parking chair.

It’s the #parkingchair with a side of guilt…


Really, who’s gonna move a walker? This territory marker up the street wins at the #parkingchair game.

More & more blogs keep popping up!

The venerated Yinzer parking chair.


If you live or work in the ‘Burgh, I’m sure you’ve seen it; The lonely lawn chair sitting in the middle of a parking space.  I always thought this was a phenomenon used most heavily on the South Side… but as time goes on, I realize that it’s all over the city… Especially when we have ridiculously snowy weather.  I’m sure other cities have this phenomenon… but I’m just talking about Pittsburgh.

Looks like they even have a Wikipedia entry, and a Google search pulls up a lot of seemingly relevant links.

As you can see from andybotpgh on Twitter, the “parking chair” can be anything that takes up a space that you labored to liberate from piles of snow.  By the way, the #parkingchair hashtag is genius.

While the parking chair is certainly visible throughout the year, my focus will be in the winter months, and well, really during the last couple of days… during the Snowpocalypse 2010 storm.

Like most of you, my wife & I labored for many hours on Saturday & Sunday to clear our sidewalk, steps, and to dig out our cars from the mess that is on-street parking in Dormont.  We cleared the sidewalk, only to have a place to put the snow from on top of & around our cars, then to shovel the sidewalk again… lifting snow on to the now approximately six foot high pile of frozen white pain in the ass from above in our tiny front yard.

To appreciate the insanity that surrounded or cars…

Snowpocalypse 2010 Car Un-Burial

It was chaos.  If you’re interested, check out the more photos of the surrounding neighborhood & nearby park here.

To put the ensuing rant in perspective… I fully realize that this is not a life-threatening problem, and that I’m not the only one with storm related issues.  There were and are a bunch of people in Southwestern PA without power for extended amounts of time.  They have problems.  This is just a slightly more than mild annoyance.

It was about three hours of work shoveling the cars out on Sunday.  It was quite labor intensive… but if it wasn’t done, the cars were obviously not going anywhere.  Well, mine might have broken out thanks to the AWD… but I risked damaging those around me, so I decided to shovel.

Of course, work was to be attended on Monday.  I had stuff that needed to leave that day, so I needed to be there.  I drove Bethany to work, & then went on to my job.  After normal working hours, I drove to pick up Bethany who had made it to the nearby Giant Eagle to do some grocery shopping.  After we rounded out the last few items, checked out, and headed home… we arrived to find a white Toyota SUV parked in the spot that took about an hour and a half of hard manual labor to clear.

As you can imagine, I was angry.  I don’t get angry all that often.  I’m generally a pretty mellow guy.  I was quiet angry.  Quiet angry isn’t good… just ask my wife.

After circling the block, it was evident that there was nowhere else safe to park.  Of the spots that had been shoveled-out, they were all filled.  Some spots hadn’t been shoveled, but they were filled with about 3 feet of snow, in a pile about as big as a small car… or with the car still under the pile.  Apparently not everyone had to be somewhere yesterday.

There were some other factors that added to my anger.  If the Toyota who had parked in my space backed up about 3 feet (which there was plenty of room to do), we could have pulled Bethany’s car up, and had plenty of room to park my car.  In my house, we call this (excuse the language) “asshole-parking”.  Really, there is no more apt a description.  There are no lines on the road, so your only hope is to park relative to the other vehicles.  Some people ignore this, and park with a half a space in front of and behind their vehicle.  Perhaps this is because they’re not good at parallel parking, or perhaps it’s becuase they don’t want anyone bumping into their precious automobile.  Either way, they’re still an asshole.  A typical conversation would go like this… after I walk in the door visibly winded…

Bethany, “Wow, were you running?  Do you have to pee or something?”

Me: “No, they’re all asshole-parked out there.  I had to go to the bottom of the hill & park.”

The bottom of the hill?  What’s this, you ask?  Well, there’s a little parking lot on the cross street at the bottom of our block that belongs to the park.  People use it for overflow parking in the neighborhood… because there never seems to be enough space to park.

Why not just park there last night?  Well, for one, it wasn’t plowed out properly… and by “not … properly”, I mean not at all.  It wasn’t even attempted.  The people parked there are in their own separate snow bunkers, not near any of the other cars at all, and one winner even parked in the entrance lane to the parking lot… effectively stranding everyone in the second row of the normally 3-row lot.

I dropped Bethany & the groceries off at the house, then circled the block a few more times… fuming the entire time.  I finally settled into a space on the cross-street at the bottom of the hill that no one had bothered to shovel.  There was about a car-length of snow about a foot high, so I went for it.  The Subaru handled it without a problem, and I got a little rush from driving in the snow.

I didn’t like parking where I finally ended up, because I was the first object on the side of the road road after coming down a poorly plowed and salted hill.  I might as well have painted a bulls-eye on the back & side of the wagon.

But, my thoughts were focused on that damn white Toyota SUV that was asshole-parked in the spot in which I spent hours clearing.  I wanted to write a passive aggressive note.  Something to the effect of…  “I’m glad you were able to use the space that it took three hours of shoveling to clear”.  I even thought of typing it, and including a photo above.  Seriously.  These thoughts went through my head.  I thought of piling snow on the car, buckets of water… all the tricks.  Bethany posted her frustrations on Facebook, and it was instantly echoed by many sharing in our anger and frustration, suggesting what we ought to do to the offender… and even to the extent of  my friend Dave saying he’d come over and take care of the problem.

I noticed a bunch of parking chairs stools, and even a saw-horse on the next street over as I circled the block.  Why hadn’t I thought of that?  Again, Facebook being a great tool for the need at hand, I asked for some thoughts.

The problem is that we don’t own the street in front of the house (and neither does the landlord).  I understand this.  It’s public on-street parking, and even we need a permit to park there during certain hours, and we have a visitor’s parking pass.  This is the other problem… the Toyota had said pass for our zone, so technically, they had just as much right to that space as I do… even if it is directly in front of my residence, and we spent time maintaining it due to weather issues.

Still, on a karma level, it’s a bitch.  The general consensus is that it’s not a nice thing to do… but still, it happens.  Some people out there are only concerned with themselves.  They needed a spot, they took it… end of thought process.  Perhaps they didn’t consider that it was hand-shoveled and that I was coming home from a long day with a car full of groceries?  Perhaps they did, and still didn’t care.

Here’s where the “what about me” kicks in…  Why didn’t I put out a parking chair?  Other people do it.  It’s a known and oddly respected practice in neighborhoods all around the ‘Burgh, and apparently even on the next street over.  Or is it respected?  I don’t think I’d park in a chaired space… simply for fear of what may happen to my vehicle.  Surely though, if a situation escalated to the point where a chair was removed, the space occupied, and there was some sort of retaliation… the chair placing retaliator would surely be at fault.

Do you respect the chair?  Do you use one?  Do you move them and park in the space knowing the law is on your side?

Mellon Arena – Customer Service WIN.


I guess saying something does get you somewhere (other than the satisfaction of venting) sometimes.  I’m sure you read my email to Mellon Arena about the tickets we had purchased for Star Wars: In Concert… and if not, read it now!

Interestingly, in frustration, I copied my email to a few news outlets… and it had an every so slightly different subject line.  The reply that I got from Mr. Scalzott (Mellon Arena Event Coordinator) had the same subject line as the email that I sent to the news outlets… so he had to obtain the message from someone other than me.

  • To Mellon Arena Directly: Horrible seats for Star Wars: In Concert
  • To The News Outlets: Horrible seats for Star Wars: In Concert @ Mellon Arena

At any rate, a positive reply is a positive reply… so I’m happy with the outcome.  And, hopefully it’s as interesting/entertaining to you as it is to me.

There’s actually a few exchanges here, so provided you’ve read the 1st one, these should all make sense.  I’ll start with the initial reply:

From: Derek Scalzott  DScalzott@mellonarena.com
To: me@myemailaddre.ss
Sent: Tue, December 1, 2009 2:52:23 PM
Subject: RE: Horrible seats for Star Wars: In Concert @ Mellon Arena

Hi, Eric –

I would like to take the time to discuss your seating situation over the phone.  Is there a number at which I may reach you?

Thank you,

Derek Scalzott
Event Coordinator
Mellon Arena
66 Mario Lemieux Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
email: dscalzott@mellonarena.com
phone: 412.642.2189
fax: 412.642.1905

The phone?  Ah!  My secondary response…

From: Eric Carroll  me@myemailaddre.ss
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 4:07 PM
To: Derek Scalzott  DScalzott@mellonarena.com
Subject: Re: Horrible seats for Star Wars: In Concert @ Mellon Arena

Hello Derek,

Thank you for taking the time to read my message & initiate a response.  I’m not much one for phone conversations, and I’m not sure if I really have anything else to say other than what I’ve already written.  I just felt the need to express my disappointment, and that it was echoed by several other concert-goers around me.  I understand that viewpoints and seating have become an issue over the years, and that it will be (hopefully) fixed by the creation of the new building.  I’m sure that you & your staff have nothing but the best intentions when hosting an event… but sometimes things like this seem large enough to not be overlooked.

I would look forward to any comments that you may have on the matter.

Thank you,
-Eric

…And we have a coherent, intelligent, apologetic and gracious reply:

From: Derek Scalzott  DScalzott@mellonarena.com
To: me@myemailaddre.ss
Sent: Tue, December 1, 2009 4:57:12 PM
Subject: RE: Horrible seats for Star Wars: In Concert @ Mellon Arena

Eric,

First, I thank you for taking the time to express your disappointment and, furthermore, to articulate it so clearly.  Sometimes, though it is unfortunate for both us and the occasional guest in your shoes, it takes a patron’s voice to point out an oversight on our end.

I’d like to first attempt to explain part of our procedure in order to clue you in on what happened for your own reference, elaborate on what I would have hoped to have had happen, and, then, explore our next step.

During a normal concert, one more typical than this Star Wars production, our box office works to pinpoint every seat in the house that is anything less than full-view.  Normally, a limited-view seat is one that has an obstructed view of the stage itself.  The same was done for this Star Wars show, but because the screen played an integral role in the production, the box office had to dilligently account for both the stage and screen in deciphering full-view seats from limited-view seats.  However, certain areas including your section were mistakenly labeled full-view because the stage itself was completely visible.

In an attempt to best serve our guests, we hold back a small number of tickets so that we can remedy any seating issues like this one.  Ideally, your situation would have been brought to the attention of management on the spot.  I only wish now that we would have had the opportunity to relocate you upon your discovery of the frustrating seat location.  I understand that patrons often question confronting event staff with problems, but I would certainly encourage you to feel free to voice your concerns in any building in the future!  It only helps us to make your stay better, which is our goal in the end!

Regardless, I understand that the show has come and gone and that the experience cannot be reclaimed.  Unfortunately, I am unable to refund your money for the Star Wars tickets since it has been passed along to their organization.  However, I wish to try and compensate you by inviting you back to another non-hockey event at Mellon Arena compliments of us (we do not control Pittsburgh Penguins tickets).  I am happy to offer (4) four tickets to Harlem Globetrotters, Sesame Street Live, Shrine Circus, or Disney On Ice, for example.  Please let me know if you have any interest and we will look forward to better serving you on your next visit.

Again, Eric, I apologize for the less-than-desired experience and I hope to have the opportunity to provide a better experience in the future.

Sincerely,
Derek Scalzott
Event Coordinator
Mellon Arena
66 Mario Lemieux Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
email: dscalzott@mellonarena.com
phone: 412.642.2189
fax: 412.642.1905

Well, I think you’ll agree that’s an awesome reply, no?  Not only does he acknowledge the problem, but explains where & how the error occurred, and how I could have perhaps handled the situation on the spot.

Sadly by the time we realized that our view was so bad, I didn’t think we had the time to remedy the situation before missing out on any of the music.  This will be a lesson to me though in how these things work.  Address the issue immediately, get immediate results.  It’s interesting to me that no money for a show can be refunded once it’s passed on to George Lucas and friends.  Ha ha ha.  Not that I was looking for monetary compensation.

Offering us 4 tickets to an upcoming event (albeit not for a hockey game which would be sweet) is over-compensating.  I didn’t do this for a refund or free stuff. I did it because I just felt that someone needed to know.  Not that I’d insult the man by turning him down…  but I don’t think the circus is coming any time soon, and it’s about the only thing on that list I’d be interested in.  The Globetrotters might be cool…  I saw those guys when I was a little kid.  Remember how they were all over Scooby-Doo back in the day?

Oh well, I’ll send off a reply and let you know what happens!