Tube City Almanac

January 24, 2008

A Handbasket Full of Blahjs

Category: Mon Valley Miscellany || By

A few months ago, I heard a local radio preacher railing against the Internet. "Don't read those blogs," he kept saying, but he was pronouncing the "g" like a "j," so it came out "blahj."

"Don't give into modernism and humanism!" he kept saying. "Don't read those blahjs! Read your King James Bible!"

"Blahjs" sound like some sort of Eastern European food that you might buy at International Village. "Can I have a couple of blahjs?" "Sure. With sauerkraut or sour cream?"

Luckily for you, as a Mary-worshiping papist my eternal soul is already condemned, so I scan blahjs for mentions of Our Fair City.

Grab your flame-retardant Rosary, climb into the handbasket, and down we go:

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About-PittsburghPa: Sorry I didn't notice this earlier; apparently there was an all-night dance party called "Linear!!" at The Palisades on Saturday, Dec. 29: "70's style meets intergalactic! With a great lineup of djs and a dance floor that claims to be the biggest in Southwestern Pennsylvania, come dressed up in your finest space age/disco gear and get ready to dance all night!"

Scheduled DJs included Kevin James, Craig Kavasia, "Transender," "DJ Donkey Punch," Mikey Shanley (formerly "DJ Sirius"), Jae Illa and "MC Akira," Dave Breakwell, "Naoko," and "DVS."

Not exactly my style --- I'm happy to listen to my scratchy Fats Domino 45s, thank you --- but it shows that we're not all nostalgia-sodden geriatrics around here. I would have given it a shout-out ahead of time; mea culpa.

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Ride for Skip Viragh: Cyclists from around the country are planning to pedal from McKeesport to Washington, D.C., to raise money for Make-a-Wish Foundation on behalf of the late Skip Viragh, founder of Washington-based Rydex Investments. Over the past three years, they've raised $85,000:

Mark Hornbaker will be joined by George Andrews and Paul Barrett as the riders will ride 320 miles from McKeesport, Pennsylvania to Washington D.C. in four days. The riders will start off on the Great Allegheny Trail the first two days of the ride. On the third day of the ride the riders will start on the C&O Canal Towpath at Cumberland, Maryland and will ride 100 miles. The fourth day of the ride will have the riders start off at mile post 84 on the C&O Canal Towpath.

More details at the Ride for Skip Viragh blog.

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McKeesport: Here's a blog that's full of vintage photos, a few beauty shots of the area, and pictures from recent McKeesport High School reunions.

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Nanowerk: A press release posted here notes that Steel City Products, based along Center Street in the RIDC industrial park, has been named a master distributor for Green Earth Technologies, a company in Menlo Park, Calif., that manufactures cleaners and other products sold through auto parts stores and supermarkets.

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Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyer Blog: According to this blog maintained by Dr. Leon Aussprung, a real "Philadelphia lawyer," a local man is suing the VA Medical Center in Oakland for operating on the wrong foot. "No explanation for the medical error has been reported to my knowledge," Aussprung writes. "The patient had no prior problems with his right foot, which was improperly operated on."

Ouch! Reminds me of the morning I pulled into the old Atlantic station on Liberty Way, back when they used to pump your gas, and asked one of the two owners why he was limping. "Did you hurt your foot?" I asked.

I guess I was about the 99th person to say the same thing that day. "No," he snapped, "I've got a toothache but I was afraid no one would mention it."

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Problem Exists Between Chair and Computer: Are you the guy or gal who's been visiting the blog maintained by Andy Cooper, deputy director of TRIPIL in Washington County? Well, 'fess up already.

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Cousin Connect: Here's a "Painter baby" born Jan. 27, 1948 (happy birthday, by the way) who was put up for adoption. This person is currently trying to locate his real family:

The attorney who handled the adoption was Ray A. Liddle, 202 National Bank Bldg., McKeesport, Pa. I've been told by family since the death of both of my adoptive parents that my birth mother's name was Violet Pickens. She was a friend of Anna Williams, a friend of my adoptive father's mother, Rose Brakeall.

I was told that my birth mother had dark hair, fair skin and was tall. Family has also told me that my birth mother was married to a Greek man who did not believe that I was his child and made her give me up for adoption. Pickens would be her maiden name.

Get in touch through the Cousin Connect website if you can help.

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Peak Direction: Here's a relatively new blog about public transit in Western Pennsylvania. As someone who's waited for buses on Lysle Boulevard more than I care to remember, I find this description of the "McKeesport Transportation Center" sadly accurate:

It's a Kiss-And-Ride, meaning that there are spaces for idling cars but not commuters.

It's also a modern look on how Port Authority has failed. It used to be a train station for the PATrain, commuter service between McKeesport and Pittsburgh. More info from a model rail fan here. Now it's a starting place for 15 or so bus lines. I believe there's a driver's lounge on the second floor, since I've seen drivers go up there between routes.

The first floor is obviously a former waiting room and ticket office. Now it's just an empty box that the door sometimes keeps warm. That 2001 article describes a vending machine and fountain that are now gone. It also describes availability of schedules, which is also gone. They can't even use Port Authority owned land to tell people about their services. Oh well.

Amen, amen, amen. The Almanac is already on record as saying the Lysle Boulevard parking garage should be taken over by Port Authority as a "park-and-ride" center.

As for the bus depot on Lysle, heaven forbid that Port Authority actually put a timetable rack there, or maybe a coffee shop. (Couldn't that space be rented out for a convenience store?) Heck, someone might actually want to take the bus, instead of being forced to take the bus.

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Digital Library Center Blog: And finally, a librarian at the University of Florida notes that wartime employee records from U.S. Steel's National Works are available through Pitt's website. She suggests they could be incorporated into a virtual reality game:

Augment or alternative reality games combine the digital and the physical to create innovative and interactive games. Notable examples could include geocaching games, and games where players decode information on websites to find information on other websites, call or email the "decrypted" phone numbers or email addresses, or any one of many other activities based on the information learned from the digital site. The real play of ARGs comes through in the back-and-forth from digital to non-digital and in the gaming communities these types of games create. While I'm familiar with ARGs from game studies, it seems like some library and archival materials almost invoke the concept with as oddities that seem to need to be used in some way.

The card almost calls out to be used in a game that requires additional research, making it perfect fodder or inspiration for an ARG.

I'm not so sure I want my grandma or grandpa impersonated in a role-playing game on the Internet. On the other hand, designing the scenarios might be interesting: "Work back-to-back eight-hour shifts. Shower in locker room, pack work clothes into Balsamo's bag. Stop at tavern for an Imp and an Iron."

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Got any blahjs about the Mon-Yough area that I've missed? Point 'em out in the comments.

Your Comments are Welcome!

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