Archive for September, 2010

Big brother is watching

Protest outside the Federal Building, taken from the bus.  “Big Brother is Watching” was the only sign I could read as we went past, although some people were clapping, so apparently someone was speaking.

Last days to help Conflict Kitchen

There are just a few days left to help Conflict Kitchen reach their goal to open Bolani Pazi.  It’s a great project, one that I wish I could write more eloquently about.  But since I can’t, I’ll let Kristen take it:

Yet, that’s just what we do. We demonize the citizens of countries the United States is in conflict with.

We act as if people don’t have families they love, jobs to go to, hobbies and interests just the way we do.

We act as if the Russians-Iranians-Syrians-Afghanis, (and the list goes on,) DON’T love their children, too.

And think about doing something to change the world we live in today. In a small way. By acknowledging the humanity of someone you’ve never met. By tasting the world they live in.

World Peace isn’t some amorphous, impossible thing. World Peace is all of us, doing something, even something small, to make it happen.

Find out more about Conflict Kitchen here, and chip in a few bucks over at Kickstarter here.

Update: Thanks for everyone’s help, Conflict Kitchen reached it’s goal and will be funded!  You can still chip in some money (and get some cool gifts in return).

Last weekend for the Ren Fest

Time seems to really fly, and I was too busy to go this year, but if you’re looking for something to do this weekend, it’s your last chance to check out the Ren Fest until next year.

Cast in bronze is an awesome performance, and the Washing Wenches were a lot of fun (and strangely not too bad for children while still entertaining enough for the adults).  If you see the joust, either see all the performances throughout the day, or just go to the last one.  Just seeing the middle joust was disappointing.  I didn’t get to see Flourish and Fool last year, but their act looks really good.

And of course, the food.  Soup in a breadbowl is awesome, especially if there is a chill in the air.  Turkey legs are also awesome, and last year and ate in a Pirates Pub area, a new addition since I had been there about eight years before.

So check it out, parking is free, it’s easy to get to, and is a lot of fun.  There might even still be discount ticket coupons available at some 7-11′s.

Second Season of “Coffee & Fellowship”

A favorite web series of mine is coming back for a second season:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZ8Fin9VIpk[/youtube]

PATransit Tuesdays: Wedding Edition

I’m calling this The Wedding edition, make sure to read while listening to Pachelbel’s cannon.  The TDP changes finally his my routes, and all kinds of upheaval followed.

  • Something Old

Old buses!  The changes may have happened, but we have the same buses we always have.  It does seem though, that with this round of changes, the signs have been up to date.  When the first two rounds of bus changes went through, it was more common to see the old route names than the new, so it is nice to see this working in the rider’s favors.

  • Something New

The routes of course.  I’ve lost service to my neighborhood, but I’m adjusting to the Park ‘n Ride live (more on that in the next section as well).  Part of me likes it, I have more options to get home (now that the buses are showing up when they are supposed to, thanks @PGHtransit) and if I need to run out after work, I’m more prone to get things done since I’m at my car already.

The new routes however, came at a time which has really messed some things up downtown.  With the construction at Penn Station, riders who normally use those stops are now crowded onto Grant Street.  This minor change has created some big problems.  I don’t know if it is a combination of the displaced riders, or a change in the EBO/EBA/EBS schedule, but I feel for those riders.  They need more buses, badly.  We’ll watch three buses in a row go past on their way out of town, filled to the brim and unable to pick anyone else up.  And just in case PAT is reading, from my unscientific observations, we need more G buses as well.

  • Something Borrowed

Information.  Not was I was expecting to write for this section at all.  Before my bus route disappeared I tried to find out about the Park ‘n Ride I would be using.  It was already pretty full to begin with, and then with the consolidation of three routes, including one very popular, but very unofficial Park ‘N Ride, I knew we would be spilling out of the spaces marked for us.

I tried contacting PAT, which offered up no response, although one of my drivers said to park wherever, it didn’t really matter (he was fairly accurate).  So instead, I called the mall, where, completely unexpected, I received a call back from the General Manager.  He was curious about the changes and I explained what was going to happen, and he very calmly suggested that we use the rows nearby, stating the only time we should have a problem was Christmas.  Having worked at Monroeville Mall through 7 years (and Christmas seasons) in high school and college breaks, I knew to expect that though.

So a huge thank you to the staff and management of Monroeville Mall, you came through when PAT didn’t!

  • Something Blue

Stranded riders.  The first couple days, driving back from the Park ‘n Ride, seeing passengers waiting at bus stop signs for buses that will never come, it was sad.  The only phrase I could think of is “The bus doesn’t come here any more.”  I guess I never realized how many stops people used.

I’ve seen some of the people from my old route on the bus now, some I know take a different route altogether.  It’s nice to see a familiar face, and we can smile knowingly at each other, understanding that this isn’t the best outcome, but at least it’s something.  It’s nice that the “Survivors” can still find each other.

Two Park ‘n Rides closed in Monroeville, and that is sad as well.  I don’t have much to add, but felt it should be mentioned.

Have the changes been all bad?  No, but they have been far from perfect.  I still find it hard to believe that the company that did the research for the new routes really did much work.  The outcry from the lack of service on the West Busway turned out to be a foreshadow to what would happen to the East Busway.  My route is overflowing, I normally stand on my way home now.  Whoever PAT hired, they spent too much money, guess that doesn’t help their current financial situation either.

Programming Note

Just a quick programming note for everyone, I will be helping to run an event for 10,000 people this weekend, so I’ll be on location most of this week and part of next week (that is the current thinking at least).

I have a few posts that are scheduled to appear as the week goes on.  If something major happens in town, it’s not that I don’t want to cover it, it’s that I can’t (even though it appears I’ll still be writing).  This will be the last huge event for me for a while and I get back to a normal schedule.

Have a great one, and I’ll catch you soon!

G-20 Plummet

Franktuary is unveiling a new dog this week, the G-20 Plummet:

In honor of this debacle, Franktuary has created the G-20 Plummet.  During the Plummet the restaurant will offer its Pittsburgh frank, buried under 20 additional condiments.  Franktuary publicist Frida Marquetza states, “The extra condiments represent the insensitive visitors who disrupted Pittsburgh’s tranquil and prosperous everyday life.  The suffocated pierogie symbolizes our city’s immobilized economy.”

I have a hard time thinking of 20 appropriate condiments to go on one hot dog, let alone how I would even eat it.  However, everything that I’ve ever tasted from Franktuary has been amazing, so I’m sure if anyone can pull it off, they can.

They are doing an online scavenger hunt all this week to commemorate the launch.  Check out their blog and twitter feed for more info and for more clues.

Conflict Kitchen needs your help

Conflict Kitchen, the discussion-starting cafe run by The Waffle Shop is working to open their next incarnation, Bolani Pazi, featuring Afghan take out.  I love the Waffle Shop, and love the premise of Conflict Kitchen:

It is easy to forget that behind all of the government conflicts there are people and a culture. When this personal connection is lost, things become dangerous. Conflict Kitchen creates a public forum and space for discussions that might not normally take place, mediated by food.

And previously-unknown to me, Conflict Kitchen ran some awesome programs, just like Waffle Shop does:

Conflict Kitchen also programs public events to more directly connect everyday Americans with everyday people from the country of focus. For example, Kubideh Kitchen brought together members of the public for a live Skype meal between Tehran and Pittsburgh, during which groups in both countries shared the same meal on a virtually connected table: an inter-continental dinner party.

That Skype meal with a citizen of the country Conflict Kitchen is featuring sounds really cool, right?  Well, now’s your chance.  Conflict Kitchen has a campaign going on on Kickstarter, and depending on how much you give, you could have your very own Skype meal.  Even if you can’t give at that level, every little bit helps.

Please consider giving to Conflict Kitchen, and don’t forget to stop by!

Waiting to get on the LST 325

The gargoyles at Phipps

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