Larkins Way Fire!

I live at the very end of Larkins Way, an alleyway between two major streets in the Southside (between Sarah and Jane). Because this is a dead end alleyway, we actually have a nice little pocket of neighborhood that's quiet and where all of us who live on the street know each other. I really love it!

Sadly, one of the houses on the street burned last night, taking two more roofs with it.

But, I should back up a bit, because there's a story here.
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So, lesson learned: Turn off your ceiling fans when you are not home, or you could come home to this.

From Larkins Way Fire

Gay Marriage Saves Lives!

Recently, I've seen a number of references to Iowa Family Policy Center saying that gay marriage is “more dangerous for individuals who engage in it than is smoking,” because of a recent CDC publication of statistics showing homosexual men having higher rates of AIDS and Syphillis. IFPC maintains, "Because of these figures, if the state allows gay men to get married they are 'sanctioning self destructive behavior.'"

OK, so, in the style of Saturday Night Live's "REALLY?" skit:

REALLY? Are you REALLY saying that marriage is EVER sanctioning self destructive behavior? Is that REALLY upholding your family values? REALLY?

REALLY? So, do you REALLY think that unmarried men are encouraged to not spread their obviously gotten-out-of-wedlock-sex STDs by remaining unmarried? REALLY?

REALLY? So if they marry a woman, it's OK to spread that disease to her? REALLY????

The complete and utter fail of this line of argument should be apparent to just about anyone. Seriously, if you take the stance that marriage is all about commitment and partnership, as it's traditionally viewed, you'd think that marriage is a SOLUTION to the increased rates of STDs. Sure, you can argue that there are men who don't believe in monogamy in marriage (shock: there are women who believe that too), but if you're advocating traditional values, then you should assume that your marriage ideal is that of traditional commitment.

So, showing how bad your argument is, a proof:

Assumption: Traditional Marriage is a committed partnership between One Man and One Woman.
Assumption: Homosexual men have higher instances of these STDs.
Assumption: Women, as a whole, have lower instances of these STDs.
Assumption: Men marrying men increases the risk of STDs to the general populace, which is a "secondhand danger".

Thus: Men should not marry other men.
Thus: Men should marry only women.
Thus: Homosexual men, who have higher instances of STDs, should marry women, who have lower instances of STDs.
Thus: Women become more infected with these STDs, as a result of marrying infected men.
Thus: The general populace becomes more infected as a result of requiring "Traditional Marriage".
Thus: The general populace has more "secondhand danger" when "Traditional Marriage" is required.

So, in fact, this argument actually leads to the opposite of your claim. Perhaps we should use this on the pro-gay marriage side of the fence! Gay marriage saves lives!!!!

Dear iPhone App developers..

I may not be the most typical user of the iPhone*, I suspect most people don't put a pterm (putty) app on their phone in the first day so that they are sure they can get SSH access to their UNIX servers. However, I do suspect I have a lot in common with most iPhone users in what I consider to be the primary uses for it:

1) This is my primary, and perhaps only, phone. (This one does not apply to the iPod Touch users.)
2) This is my PDA (Personal Digital Assistant); I depend on my calendaring app, and I also use the notes and other life-utility apps frequently to keep my life in order.
3) This is my music player. I also listen to podcasts on this.

Given these three primary uses, I often go through apps in an almost ADD fashion as I need them. I might also be in the middle of using an app when I receive a phone call... or perhaps just a need to check on something more important than what I'm doing right then ("Am I late for my dentist appointment?")
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* Please note that I also mean the iPod Touch, I did start out with one myself! However, I am not going to laboriously list it explicitly in every sentence. Consider this justice for your eyes!

"But I'm from where there's REAL snow! You wimps!"

I've lived in Utah and California, to be on either extreme of this discussion.

In Utah, the snow started in October, and by December the roads were made from indentations in the snow. Driving was somewhat like skiing. I actually learned how to drive while in Utah, so I got a very good primer on snow driving.

In California, if snow is witnessed in the sky, there's a cold panic. Er, no pun intended.

Now I'm back in Pittsburgh, and I remember the Utahns who'd lived in Pittsburgh making fun of our lack of driving skills in snow. I also know that the Yinzers make fun of California, Atlanta, etc for shutting down if snow is even mentioned. It's a wonderful chain of superiority complexes.

But, allow me to point out: snow begets snow preparedness. We are prepared for the average amount of snow that we get, for any location that we live in. Trying to compare Utah to California is just insane; and it's just as insane to compare Pittsburgh to either, or even to Erie.


1) Money. Why buy too much salt? More plows than we need? Over-employ people to plow? We could, of course, stay prepared for the worst case scenario... but then we'd be paying for it the rest of the year. I'm pretty sure that if we *were* to do this, everyone in Pittsburgh would complain about their taxes going up.

2) Test cases. OK, so we're making a lot of fun of the Mayor for not having a good plan for snow removal. I will grant you that I don't think much of him, but I am willing to forgive him in this case. Realize that he was given a plan frought with nepotism (Murphy had scheduled the main plowing for his home district), decided after the last disastor two years ago to change it, and until now his new plan has worked reasonably well... but no storm has been close to this magnitude in that time either. How, really, do you build plans without the ability to test them?

3) Preparation. In Utah, everyone knew it'd snow all winter, so they owned vehicles that were built for this. Everyone either had a truck, early SUV prototype (yes, it was that long ago), or kept chains in their cars. I even remember when Pittsburgh got snow more consistently, we also kept chains for the tires, and bricks for the weight. In Utah, you also kept a shovel in the car in case you had to dig out some traction for the tires. How many of you yinzers have any of these now? Hell, I didn't even have a snow shovel for my walk.

4) Experience. We aren't driving in snow that much these days, so we forget how. We also forget our limitations (that steep hill covered in snow and ice and our honda civic with summer tires? Yah, perhaps we shouldn't go up it). We forget how to handle the car when it does start to slide around. We forget that traction involves keeping the tires moving slowly over the snow, not causing them to spin. So people are doing things they probably shouldn't, and getting their cars stuck all over... which is making it harder for the plows/emergency vehicles/buses/etc to do their jobs.

So, really, please keep your egotism about where you're from out of my snow emergency. Where you're from had a different set of needs, and your bragging is actually harming our needs by encouraging people to prove they're better than that ... and then getting their unprepared car stuck on a hill.

It snowed in Pittsburgh...

The weather reports predicted 10-12" of snow for Pittsburgh yesterday. Because most recent predictions of dire snow have turned up about half the predicted snowfall, many disbelieved. We ended up getting 21.5" in the city (some areas reported up to 30", even). Needless to say, we were all quite unprepared for this.
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The full set of the pictures (there are many of them!) are here. Enjoy!