Sunday, August 15, 2010

US Airways to Oz

One thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is to see what I can do to get to London next. On this day I was poking around the US Airways website looking to see what they were offering for this coming November. I have no money to go right now but that is a secondary issue. I have always wanted to be in London for Thanksgiving and pretended to make reservations for Monday, the 22nd to Monday the 29th. US Airways as well as most others are coming in between $500 and $600 for an economy round-trip flight. As you cannot get a direct flight from Pittsburgh anymore at least one stop is required. Airlines usually give you a number of flights out and back to choose from but one outgoing flight caught my eye.

They actually recommended a flight to hell. First let me set the stage as to what should be expected. A flight from Pittsburgh to Charlotte or Philadelphia is short. The flight to London takes off that evening and eight hours latter you are in Piccadilly. A combination of flights for 22 November exceeded two days. Here is how it was scheduled.






Pittsburgh to Philly

8:45pm – 9:56pm

1 h 11 m

Same Day Layover

0 h 54 m


Philly to LaGuardia

10:50pm – 11:40pm

0 h 50 m

Overnight Layover

7 h 20 m


LaGuardia to Boston

7:00am – 8:05am

1 h 05 m

Same Day Layover

1 h 25 m


Boston to Charlotte

9:30am – 11:58am

2 h 28 m

Same Day Layover

6 h 22 m


Charlotte to Gatwick

6:20pm – 7:20am

8 h 00 m

29 h 35 m

Total transit time: 2 days, 5 hours, 35 minutes.

7:20 am in London would be 2:20 am on the east coast.

Good-God. Four layovers and one of which is overnight for over 7 hours. You actually leave Pittsburgh on Monday but don’t leave Charlotte until Tuesday and when you land in London is it on a Wednesday morning. You would think that with all of this free time one of the planes would fly past Oz and pick up Dorothy and her little dog, too.

The flight to London is only scheduled for 8 hours but the total flight time is 13 hours and 34 minutes. All this for only one easy payment of $275. The flight back to Charlotte and Pittsburgh is only $276. (Only one dollar more?) And let us not loose focus on that 7-hour layover in Boston. What does one do at that time of the night? One question that will never get an answer to is how do they know they know when they are losing money? When? Any day they operate a flight! I know that the above schedule was computer generated. I am just glad they still have pilots on board and not computer driven craft. As I have always said (if you ever listen to me) is that just because they can get you there does not mean you should take the flight. Fifty-four minute layover in Philly to get to New York; I would rather take my chances in Vegas.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chestnut Ale from Mississippi

I was in Fat Head’s South Shore Saloon (Pittsburgh) on Friday, 6 August. My intention was stay home and finish painting my hallway baseboards but I quickly came to my senses and scurried down to the bar. It turned out to be a smart move. First I was sitting next to a pretty girl and was served good beer by more pretty girls. Then I met a dude. In this case it was ok as he is a beer salesman for Frank Fuhrer Beer Distributors on the South Side. As they sell Sierra Nevada Pale Ale they are tops in my book. Anyway I started taking to the dude; Simmons was his name, and he told me about a new beer he brought in from Mississippi: Lady Magnolia Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale.

This was an excellent beer. It had a pleasant aroma with a hint of pecans and as it was in the English style, it was not sweet. Some beers can be too sweet making drinking a pint a struggle. Some of us regulars were able to sample a bottle from the upstairs take-a-way shop. If I had to compare it with another beer I would say that it is similar to Newcastle Brown but the pecans give it a distinct quality. Coming in just under 6% and being lightly hopped, it gives me inspiration to make this a session beer. Beer Advocate gives the alcohol at 4.25%ABV and I think that is right. It is believed that this is the only beer made with pecans. I am just thinking out loud, but I wonder how this will go with pecan ice cream? I don’t know if and when this will come in on draft but I will be in line when it does. Look for me sitting nest to a pretty girl.

Here is the link to the brewery in Kiln, Mississippi. I don’t know about you guys but I just love typing Mississippi. The Magnolia website shows a nice range of brews and I am hoping they all make it to Pennsylvania. Here is a nice Wiki article about the brewery as well: This story gives some incite how they started the business and the problems they encountered: That’s it. I am done. Just let me type Mississippi one more time: Mississippi. Sorry, that was twice. Oh well, let’s go for three Mississippi’s.

Piper's Pub Good Hot Food

I stopped in Piper’s Pub the other day (Wednesday 4 August) for a beer and a bite to eat. I spotted an interesting item on the menu that I just had to have: Lamb and Chestnut Sheppard’s Pie. As Piper’s does food right I never expected a bad meal but when the server brought my plate she said what servers say across the country; the plate is hot. That was the understatement of the year. Not only was the plate hot, my food was hot for hours. That was ok because I could not eat it anyways. My fork was also hot. How hot was it? Too hot to handle, it was. Fortunately I had a beer at the ready and that saved my mouth. If you remember Matthew Modine in the movie, Full Metal Jacket, he thought the south was so hot it was Africa hot. I say that it would have been arctic cold compared to my plate that evening. Yes, they do food right and hot food is hot. Little did I know tat this would be the week of nuts, as I would be drinking a Pecan beer from Mississippi. That is in my next post above.

A buddy of mine from work finally made it down to Piper’s. He is from Kentucky and is of Scottish-Irish decent. I don’t remember exactly, but I know he loves Scotch Eggs. Piper’s has the best and he couldn’t wait to try some. His verdict was two thumbs up. Alas, he had them sans Colman’s Mustard, but there is always another visit.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Accused of Drinking - Don't do it

This story came out a few days ago and I can’t believe what I read. Some of the statements are so unbelievable that I have to comment. A woman, Cynthia Angel, on a Delta flight thought she smelled alcohol on the pilot when he talked to her and three other passengers. This concerned their delay in departure. After the pilot walked away the four passengers all thought he had an alcoholic odor. The woman told a flight attendant about this and as none of the other passengers spoke up or defended this woman all that she said was hearsay evidence. But the pilot was checked and found to be safe. Staff talked to the woman but not to the others. Why they were not approached is not surprising, as you can’t ask someone what they may have said to others. But none of then ever offered testimony. The woman was eventually asked to leave the plane and take another flight. Apparently the pilot, who was also the captain order her off the plane. She claims that she was told that Delta takes these accusations seriously.

Attorney Mark Silverman was interviewed by NBC for their report and he said: "She was just trying to be a good citizen. You'd think Delta would thank her for her concern," What he said seems like a common sense reply to what occurred.

What Mr. Ross Aimer, CEO of Aviation Experts said was bull-crap. "Making drinking accusations against pilots is a serious matter," Yes it is. "If you think someone is drunk, you owe it to yourself, your loved ones and other passengers to report it," (Yes you do) said Aimer, who is also a retired United Airlines captain. "However, in this case, because the captain had not been drinking, Delta made the right decision by asking her to leave the plane." Bull-Crap. Mr. Angel had good intentions. It is not like she pretended to have a bomb in her purse.

Let’s look at it this way. Who in his or her right mind would ever accuse anyone in an airline uniform of being drunk? If Ms. Angel did the right thing why was she reprimanded? The pilot being proven not to be drunk is not the issue. The issue is that someone saw something that could have led to a bad event and did something about it. I don’t think she out and out accused the pilot of being drunk. She thought something was suspicious. I know that I am mincing words here but the flight attendant could have said talked to the pilot and determined if there was an alcohol smell. I would like to say that if he made it on the plane he was ok. But I have seen in the news how drunken pilots have been taken off of planes. You don’t retaliate against someone based on the outcome of an investigation like this occurrence.

Let me just say this; if I ever see a drunk speeding through a school zone at 3 pm, don’t expect me to call the police. I wouldn’t want to get myself in trouble. After all, drinking and driving is a serious matter. I may have my license suspended if I am wrong.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

South Side Drinking Problems

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette ran this story in the Sunday edition concerning the drinking problem on Pittsburgh’s South Side. This August 1, 2010 article looked at how some bar owners are trying to “solve” the problem. Owners are aware that patrons and non patrons alike are causing problems for residents who are at their whit’s end. Mr. Adam DeSimone, owner of Diesel Club Lounge was interviewed by Joe Smydo of the Post and was quoted several times for the story. I would like to add me 2 shots to the discussion.

The South Side

The South Side is a residential area that has a large business and commercial district that has co-existed for decades. In the 1980’s after the mills shut down the stores on Carson Street closed and we became a dust bowl community. Efforts were made to revitalize the area and it was successful, depending on your point of view. The old furniture stores, grocers and butchers never came back but bars and restaurants did. With them came people from outside the community who brought their cars. Parking became a problem and although there were some other problems this was the major concern in the 1980’s.

This has manifested into epic proportions as the older residents moved or died and their home sold to developers. As property values were inexpensive at the time homes became apartments. This attracted students who now make a major component of residents. With them came their cars and what was a big problem became even bigger. Still, the South Side has long-term families with children and an assortment of multi-legged pets.

The List of Problems

Mr. DeSimone acknowledged that there are problems, BUT (are you reading this Jim Quinn?) "I think there are fewer problems than what has been reported." Retort from Ed: Bull Shit. There are many problems that never make it to the papers. Parking not withstanding, there is the breaking of car windows and mirrors, Keying of cars, breaking of house windows, electric meters pulled from walls, trees and plants being up-rooted, blocking driveways, fire hydrants and stop signs crosswalks. Men and women doing No. 1 and No. 2 in the streets is probably equal the purging of stomach contents. I can see this in the gutter but why would you do this on somebody’s front steps? Steps are a favorite spot to place empty bottles and broken glass, by-the-way. The list can go one and I have not even touched the noise made at three in the morning. But my favorite social activity is watching girls change tampons in the street. Yes Mr. DeSimone, this is not reported because it is not supposed to be. Note to Post Gazette; why not publish the name and offence of those arrested in your “police blotter” that you have done in the past?

Many people, including some police officers have said it residents who obey the law (we) do not like what those who disobey the law (them) do in their (we = our) community then we should move. That is morally and intellectually empty. If a meth lab opens for business next to an elementary school, should (a) the neighbors move, (b) try and get rid of the lab or (c) not report it in the news and pretend it is not a big problem? Do I really need to give you the correct answer?

Bar Owners

I can’t say that I hold bar owners responsible for our problems. They don’t want problems in their bars and they can’t control people outside on public ways. I also think it is unfair to blame others for the actions of people actually doing something wrong. Who is responsible when people get drunk at sports events and do damage on their way home? Who is responsible when a fleeing bank robber crashes into parked cars? Actually the police did tell me it was my responsibility. People should be held accountable for their own actions. But getting back to bar owners. Despite the fact that they no longer live here they do have to contend with us and it is better to work on friendly terms. The story in the paper said that eleven bars and clubs are putting in $60,000 for added police presence and weekend clean-up duty. This is good. There are other bars currently cleaning beyond their front door and many other shop owners clean their property as well. The problem is that there is just too much litter and not all of it from the night crowd. I see people at all hours of the day simply toss trash on the street like yesterday’s news. Sorry about that Post; figure of speech. So no, not all of the problems are bar-generated. This brings us to the students.

The Students

Many of the people causing problems here are not students. Many of the students living here are respectful people and are trying to fit in to the community in which they live. As renters they do not have pride of ownership and that could be a problem but by and large I think students may be taking a bigger hit than they should. They have added to the population of the South Side and they brought a lot more cars than we had in the past BUT (forgive me Mr. Quinn) they have that right. Some young people do indeed cause problems but just like everyone they need to be held accountable.


Mr. DeSimone said in the Post article that if the neighborhood isn't safe, no one's going to come. What does this have to do with the story about cleanup? It is still perceived that the South Side is safe. To some degree it is but late at night the crime rate has changed since I was a young lad. It was the low crime rate and the ease of walking Carson Street that made bar hopping popular in the first place. People could park and walk for blocks with little to fear. It is still this way for small groups of people but single people do make an easy target. As the popularity of the nightlife brings in more people with spending money so follows the rouges with raccoon masks.


For whatever reason it is a known fact that you cannot get a ticket for parking next to fire hydrants, stop signs, crosswalks, fire breaks or on sidewalks on a weekend or Monday thru Thursday night. One solution that may be illegal in Arizona is to just ticket cars until the city runs out of them. Then maybe people will begin to play nice and actually respect the law and others. They may also stay away, but I know that is heresy to a bar owner. I am glad that DeSimone and others like him are try to help. The problems are many and solutions are not easy to come by. Aggressively going after the problem people and the illegal activity is a good step to take. When people know that they can get away with funny business they lose fear of authority. The overall solution may require small steps but we need to enforce the rules more. They cleaned-up Times Square we should be able to do the same to Carson Street and the South Side.