Archive for January, 2007

Father Snake Oil

I recently had opportunity and reason to visit the chapel of St. Anthony of Padua, a little church in Troy Hill. It was built in the late 19th century by a rich and eccentric priest named Suitbert Mollinger, pictured above.

There is a knowlegeable nun who hangs around there and is happy to tell you about the place, although she is not great about answering questions, possibly because she is hard of hearing, possibly because she does not care to hear. It is difficult to tell.

In any case, the reason you might be inclined to stop by there to hear what Sister Margaret has to say is because Father Mollinger spent his vast fortune to bring an incredibly varied collection of bits of dead people in gold and crystal boxes into one place (and also to build himself the most opulent rectory I have ever seen: Sister Margaret might show you that too if you ask nicely).

Yup, relics: they aren’t just for the middle ages any more. There are over five thousand of them, of different varieties, from a whole skeleton to skulls to bits of bone to threads of cloth. Also, a sliver of the true cross or two.

They used to say that there were enough bits of the true cross to build Noah’s Ark: the church long ago explained that the power of Christ multiplied them, so the salvation could be spread around most effectively. The medeval church was excellent at these sorts of non-intuitive theological explanations: they also outlawed gambling because it forced God to make trivial decisions. This only applied to things like dice and cards, of course: gambling on sports would be just fine, as I always tell my bookie.

Apparently Fr. Mollinger used to use a combination of the relics and some sort of patent medicine that he cooked up in the rectory to cure all variety of invalids and cripples. You can even stop in across the street at the Mollinger Museum and check out some of the crutches the decrippleized left behind, alongside a photocopy of a newspaper ad for the hirsute padre’s healing concoction.

Father Mollinger died during one of his “healing services” (Sister Margaret’s words), proving, I suppose, there was a limit to his healing prowess.

The chapel is open to visits from both the faithful and the curious on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Here the chapel is from space.

Sean & John, get your hands off my Yuengling

Just as Pennsylvania was about to quietly let us buy beer in a few grocery stores, two state senators have gotten their panties in a bunch about the prospect. Does one get campaign funds from a beer distributor? You betcha.

According to the Post-Gazette, Sean Logan and John Rafferty say they are concerned about possible liquor sales to minors. Which hasn’t stopped 49 other states from allowing their residents to pick up a bottle of wine with their spaghetti, or a six pack with their burgers and buns.

There are only a few supermarkets — those with sit-down cafes — that would even qualify to sell beer and wine. Sean, John, could you get out of the way and let it happen?

Urban Parking Karma

Today is a good day. It started out pretty good and it just got much better. I have found my 2nd broken meter today! It is such a find. On Monday, i received a ticket for parking in an alley in Shadyside. So today I figured I would be better off parking on the street. I think that the ticket for an expired meter is much less than the ticket for parking in the residential area. But I pulled up to 2 empty meters and I almost took the closest one, but I backed up to see if there was anytime on it. Instead of time, I got that magical broken message. It is just amazing how that little error message can improve my day.
I am even more excited about thisbroken meter, because I have been ultra lucky in the parking department this month. The meter directly, i mean the closest spot you could get to my office, has been broken, AND no one ever parks there. Ok, sometimes people park there, but I get that spot most of the time. The only issue is that I have to move the car by 4pm. Which isn’t so bad, because at that time the parking spots on the side street are open.
I just have good parking karma, but it is only urban parking karma. On the rare, very rare, occasion I go to a mall or some other non urban destination, I am always parking somewhere that is not convenient to the door.

Stahl to Motz: Quit’cher yappin!

“We certainly have very important issues that we need to discuss, and the blogosphere is not, in my opinion, the best avenue to do that.”

It never is. It seems Motz’ attempt to help his buddy Lil’ Lukey have backfired. Next time, maybe he’ll try for more thinkin’, less kickin’.

What we don’t learn here is whether Motz will continue blogging on other subjects. I, for one, would love to see some cute cat photos. Alternately, if we flood Lil’ Lukey with requests, maybe he’ll remove the Motzmuzzle. Call the Mayor’s 311 tip line, or send him a message on MySpace, where Pittsburgh’s youngest mayor has the internet’s most nauseating page design.

A former partner in Dewey, Cheetham and Howe?

Usage note

For some reason, one of our newspapers of record has decided that an online publication like this one is to be called a “Web blog.” Luckily Wired hadn’t read that when they named us one of their ten top tech towns.

Nobody wants to think about it

Yeah, the Super Bowl is about to be played between two teams no one cares about. On the upside, a Pittsburgh city councilman has decided to start making a regular ass of himself on the internet.

It reminds me of the People Magazine “Celebrities: They’re just like us!” feature, in which you get to see pictures of Jude Law picking out avocados.

Motznik seems to have decided that he will be calling his readers “MotzYappers”, which is strange, what with his weblog not having a comment feature, thus cutting down on an possible “yapping” to the “Motz”.

Snow day? or not…


I can remember being a kid and watching the school district cancellation notices scroll across the local television news. You’d watch for your school, trying not to get distracted or you’d have to sit through the list all over again. The web has changed the rhythm of snow holiday rituals. No more watching the anchor read the list aloud, while you root for your own particular section of the alphabet. You go online, pick a site, and keep hitting the “reload” button. You can even arrange to have the closings and delays sent to you via email…

Until a couple of years ago, snow days were a binary call in the city. Pittsburgh Public Schools had either school or no school – no half measures. However, the district has now switched to a policy of announcing a two-hour delay, which may or may not escalate into a full holiday, depending on conditions. And other schools in the district (independent, charter, and parochial) follow the city’s lead, as they share transportation. Sleeping in on a delay day is not nearly as much fun as a full holiday – for one thing, you have the suspense continue as you hope for the rest of the day off, and that makes it harder to luxuriate in the found time.

Still, two unexpected hours is a gift, and we enjoyed that last Friday.

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