This is a sign that one passes on the way from State College to Pittsburgh. Every time I pass it, I have to fight to resist the urge to drive off the highway and run it over, for using the wrong slash and doing it in such a large typeface.
I came across this sweet panorama photo of CMU on Wikipedia. Makes me miss Pittsburgh!
Well we’ve moved out of our first home together and back to the eastern side of Pennsylvania.
There was a brown boxer that lived across the street from us, who was tied on a 4-foot leash on the tiny concrete stoop in front of his house for what seemed like 24 hours a day. Even though he had 4 feet of leash, he only ever stood in one spot: directly in front of the door, wanting to be let inside. Whenever we’d leave the house he would turn his head away from the door to look over at us, and it was the saddest thing. I so wish we had gotten a photo of him, but I guess this will have to do:
I’m going to miss Pittsburgh a lot. There is so much to love about that city: it’s cozy and inviting, yet big enough to have lots of separate districts and a real skyline. The downtown ("dahntahn") area is situated at the meeting-point of 3 big rivers, and on the other sides of the rivers are small mountains, so leaving downtown you often cross a really cool bridge and then go through a really cool tunnel.
That’s what you had to do to get to our house: you crossed the Liberty Bridge and then went through the Liberty Tunnel and then came out on the South Side. Another awesome thing about where we lived in Beechview was that it was totally residential/suburban: we lived in a nice little neighborhood with trees and a (small) yard and kids who played baseball in the streets, yet it was only a 7-minute drive to downtown.
One thing I’m really going to miss is Molly’s Cheese Sticks from Adrian’s Pizza. They’re not unlike cheese sticks from other pizza places: basically a 12-inch pizza with some garlic, no sauce, and cut into rectangular strips. But something about them was different and just perfect.
And I couldn’t believe the letter we got from Verizon the week before we moved out: they are now rolling out their FIOS (sickeningly fast fiber-optic) internet service in Pittsburgh. Doh!
Of course I’m waxing sentimental here; it wasn’t all rosy out in the ’burgh. Sure, we lived there during Superbowl XL which the Pittsburgh Steelers won, which was cool... but we also had to put up with insanely obnoxious fans. The tunnels are really cool, but whenever people approach them, for no good reason they cut their speed in half. It’s so bad that they actually have to roll out these big blinking construction signs that say "MAINTAIN SPEED THRU TUNNEL." Pittsburgh is probably the only city in the world where the road signs encourage you to go faster.
Another thing I won’t miss is the rarity of Turkey Hill Iced Tea in Pittsburgh. You could get it at some Shop ’n Save locations, but no where else, and even there they often failed to store it cold; for anyone who knows anything about real iced tea -- or anyone who can read the label on the container -- you know that if you let it get warm at any point, it goes bad. But the thing is, it doesn’t go so bad that it’s like rotten milk (unless you let it get warm for a really long time, which I’ve only ever experienced one time); it only goes bad enough that it tastes gross, and if you didn’t normally drink it, you’d just think it was a crappy brand of iced tea. The bottom line is that the dairy managers at these grocery stores seem to be clueless about this so it’s really hard to find unspoiled Turkey Hill Iced Tea.
And that’s one more thing I won’t miss about Pgh: the crappy grocery stores. Basically your only choices are Shop ’n Save or Giant Eagle, both of which are pretty sad. OK, they are getting better, but still sad; nothing like a Wegmans or a Giant.
To close this marathon post, I want to thank everyone who helped in our colossal moving effort. Rolly flew out to
help us load the truck load the truck and to drive the truck across the state; Brian helped with the unloading; Tasha and Dan let us use their basement to store some lots of stuff for a few months; and the parents Allen helped with the unloading, driving the truck for the last leg, and providing a place for us to stay for a while.
No thanks to U-Haul for selling us a reservation for a 19-foot truck, then telling us there is no such thing as a 19-foot U-Haul when we tried to pick it up; for not renting their vans for one-way moves; and for refusing to rent trailers to anyone who drives a Ford Explorer. Also for just being generally annoying and shady, like claiming that a truck with a 14-foot bed is a 17-foot truck because of the tiny "Mom’s Attic" space above the cab, and then simultaneously referring to the Mom’s Attic as "Extra Space!!1!" in their advertising.
The Value of a Picture Never Taken
On the way home tonight as I drove across the Liberty Bridge, I saw a coal barge in the river. They carry what look like open-topped railroad car containers full of coal, and they sit really low in the water. The engine is in the back -- if it’s even attached at all, that is; I think the little boat just pushes the huge raft of coal-cars from behind.
It’s fairly common to see one of these barges during the day, but I’ve never seen one moving at night before. It was really cool to see, because it was coming towards the bridge I was on, and it had two very bright spotlights on the top of the boat (at the rear of the whole operation) and they were shooting light forward, but not straight forward, rather off to the sides a little. I guess the combination of its extremely slow speed and massive capacity and the lights beaming through the fog made it seem really neat.
I then saw two teenage girls walking down the dark street, and this is around 1 AM. I thought that that doesn’t seem like a very good idea, but it’s actually fairly common around here. I wondered about where Pittsburgh stands in those "safest cities" surveys that you hear about every once in a while. And then I thought, releasing those surveys is actually pretty dumb, because what better way for a criminal to decide where to set up his operations than the cities whose citizens aren’t careful because their city is ranked very safe?
As I typed that last line, one of those freakish zillion-leggers zipped through my peripheral vision. I smashed him to bits though, don’t worry.
The Downfall of Western Civilization
What do you get when you take a person with no patience, cross him with someone with no manners, throw in a dash of probably-didn’t-graduate-high-school, and top it off with having eaten mostly Twinkies for about 30 years?
You get this:
On Monday night I’m driving home, it’s about midnight, and I stop for gas. The BP that I frequent isn’t open at this hour, so I have to go to 7-11 where there are only 4 pumps, one of which is diesel. I have to wait a few minutes while the person currently at the pump finishes up.
As I pull up and begin fueling, a little sea-green Geo Metro (or equivalent) comes up behind me, waiting for me to finish. When I do, I get into my car and then write my mileage down on the receipt, as I always do. This takes 30 seconds tops; the pen is in my center console, the receipt is already in my hand, and the light from the gas station is enough that I don’t have to turn on my lights or anything like that.
I put the receipt into my wallet, and as I’m putting my wallet into my pocket, I see the little Metro is now approaching me from the front, and it comes up right next to my door, so the driver is right next to me. He seems to want to say something to me so I roll down my window.
Me: (rolling down window, about 25% complete)
The jerk: what the f--- is your problem? You see I’m f---in’ waiting for you!
Me: I was... (here the jerk instantly cuts me off; my statement was going to be "I was writing down my mileage on my receipt")
The jerk: you want to go? (from the jerk’s tone it’s clear that this means, "do you want to fight?")
Me: (flabbergasted and trying to stifle a laugh along with my disbelief) No.
The jerk: you want to go right now?
Me: No? (I begin to drive away)
The jerk: yeah, mother f---er, you’re a f---in’ a--hole.
This guy was seriously angry. He was yelling, and he cut me off literally every time I tried to respond to his idiotic statements, including my two terse "no" responses. The first time he asked me if I wanted "to go," he seemed to be starting to open his car door, but he had pulled up in the tiny space between my car and the street so there was maybe 18" between our cars -- not nearly enough for a normal person to open a car door and fit through, let alone this beastly lunatic.
In retrospect the whole episode was pretty funny, but at the time, he was making me really angry. That anyone could be so freaking stupid and impatient and rude made me mad, but the fact that he kept cutting me off REALLY frustrated me. I didn’t have 3 seconds to even attempt to say anything.
The Man, Always Holdin' You Down
Living in the city is a fun new adventure, but I’m definitely missing some things about country living. Like cold tap water for example. City water doesn’t get cold at all (except in the winter of course). Growing up, I always lived in places that had water wells and thus cold (and clean and tasty) water; I never knew anything different.
More Pgh News
That’s right, Pgh.
After ranting the other day about not being able to find Crest’s Icy Mint Striped flavor of toothpaste anywhere for a month, I found it at a Shop ’n Save the very next day. That’s still the only place I’ve seen it in, including two other Shop ’n Save locations, in the past month.
There are two snacks that I really want that I can’t find anywhere though: one is Golden Krackle, which is a Greek/Mediterranean flour-based chip, and is sold at Giant (not to be confused with Giant Eagle) and Wegmans back east. I love the Garlic and the Cheese & Oregano flavors. They’re sold in thin white cardboard boxes that are about one foot square and 1.5 inches deep, and they can be hard to find even in stores that do carry them; they’re usually not with normal chips/snacks, but rather by the deli or produce areas. The second snack is Utz Pub Mix, which I’ve ranted about before, and can’t seem to find anywhere anymore :(
But on a happier note, Kim and I bought an old-fashioned push lawn mower, the kind with no motor, that instead has a set of curved blades that spin when you push the thing. It’s really fun to use, though probably not as much fun if you have a big yard. The only drawback is that it doesn’t mulch the clippings, but if you go over the lawn a second time, mowing over the trails of clippings, that mulches them pretty well.
Sorry for the lull around here lately. I’ve moved to Pittsburgh and am quite busy with unpacking and getting appliances and job-hunting and myriad other such goodies.
I could say a lot about how cool it is here, and I probably will as time goes on. For now though, I’ll just say that it’s a very un-citylike city. It’s nothing at all like Philadelphia, for instance. I suppose the main reason is that it’s tiny by comparison; it has only one-fifth the population and certainly looks very small and non-intimidating compared to Philly.
Pittsburgh does have a real-city skyline though, and so far that’s one of my favorite features. It’s really cool to be on the south side of the Liberty Tunnel (oh yeah, the tunnels, another cool thing), where it’s very rural/suburban, and then drive through the tunnel to see the beautiful skyline towering directly in front of you. And that’s doubly cool at night. I hope to get some good photos of the city from up on Mount Washington soon. (Mount Washington is a small town within Pittsburgh that has quite a bit of elevation, and it sits pretty much directly above center city with some great overlooks.)
In closing, let me just say that the abbreviation for Pittsburgh is "Pgh." I think we can all agree that as far as abbreviations go, that’s about as unstoppable as it gets.
home : )
Anthony and I took some portraits and some photos of our soon-to-be home this weekend. It was really cool, because the couple renting the house was super helpful. They even told us what roads get really icy in the winter! We’re really excited, so I wanted to share the pictures. Anthony was going to post these photos on his own site, but I beat him to the punch. wahahahaha. I win. : )
Image at top of your page
Where is the image at the top of your page taken? I’m guessing French Creek but I have the distinct feeling that I’m incredibly wrong.