Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Midterm Exam


Ok boys and girls, it is time for your midterm exam. Get your pencils sharpened and answer the following questions:


1) How long did the Hundred Years' War Last?
a. 100 years
b. 200 years
c. 116 years
d. 101 years

2) Which country makes Panama hats?
a. Costa Rica
b. Panama
c. China
d. Ecuador

3) From which animals do we get cat gut?
a. Cats and rats
b. Sheep and horses
c. Gutter snipes
d. Catamarans

4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
a. Januariski
b. Februarski
c. Octoberski
d. Novemberski

5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?
a. Horse tail
b. Armpit hair
c. Camel’s mane
d. Squirrel fur

6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?
a. Canary
b. Dog
c. Yellowtail Tuna
d. Cannery Row

6) What was King George VI's first name?
a. King
b. George
c. Henry
d. Albert

8) What color is a purple finch?
a. Puce
b. Crimson
c. Magenta
d. Purple

9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
a. China
b. Australia
c. New Zealand
d. Viet Nam

10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?
a. Orange
b. Red
c. Black
d. Charcoal

Answers: C,D,B,D,D,B,D,B,C,A


1. The baby boom is best exemplified by:
a. California Octuplet Mom
b. Lady who lived in a shoe
c. Bill Clinton
d. Governor of Alaska

2. Most famous African-American/French restaurant in New Orelans:
a. Louis and DaJaun’s
b. Ce est Collard Green
c. Chez What?

3. The porn industry has lobbied hardest for:
a. Less censorship
b. Skimpier outfits
c. A stimulus bill

4. The most fawned after person this week was:
a. Brad Pitt
b. Kate Winslett
c. Hugh Jackman
d. Barack Obama

5. During his trip to Canada, President Obama’s primary topic was:
a. The budget
b. Foreign relations
d. Canadian Geese

That’s your midterm quiz for today boys and girls. Remember the freshman mantra: “The more you study the more you learn. The more you learn the more you know. The more you know the more you forget. The more you forget the stupider you are. Conclusion: Studying makes you stupid.”

A little blogging Maestro… “What’s Goin On?,” by Marvin Gaye.

Dr. Forgot

Sunday, February 22, 2009

ALS Revisited


To bring you up to date: Last September we wrote a blog post on ALS. The acronym stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It is a motor neuron disease, first identified in 1869 by the noted French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. Although the cause of ALS is not completely understood, the 1990's have brought a wealth of new scientific understanding about the physiology of this disease. Superstar baseball player Lou Gehrig brought national and international attention to ALS when he suddenly retired from baseball after being diagnosed with ALS.

Although the disease is often called “Lou Gehrig’s disease” it has affected many notable individuals including Hall of Fame Pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter, Senator Jacob Javits, actors Michael Zaslow and David Niven, creator of Sesame Street Jon Stone, television producer Scott Brazil, boxing champion Ezzard Charles, NBA Hall of Fame basketball player George Yardley, pro football player Glenn Montgomery, golfer Jeff Julian, golf caddie Bruce Edwards, musician Lead Belly (Huddie Ledbetter), and photographer Eddie Adams. Most recently, in my sphere of friends and family it has stricken Brian Nikolich.

Brian is a Hokie – not that I hold that against him. The Virginia Tech grad is in his mid-thirties with a loving wife and two beautiful kiddies. He is a Licensed Civil Engineer living in South Carolina who first had a hint of symptoms about 2 years ago. His blog can be read at He can be found on Myspace, Linkedin and Facebook.

Brian is a gifted young man who, along with his wife Jameela, is very active in ALS advocacy. They celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary in Washington, D.C., at The Association’s National ALS Advocacy Day and Public Policy Conference. The two also have participated in numerous other advocacy activities. Their Walk to Defeat ALS team, “Brian's Blarney Bokes,” raised more than $14,000 in 2008. The Walk to Defeat ALS is coming up again in April and as usual Brian is busy organizing for the fundraiser. This year his team is “Brian’s Blokes,” no Blarney. Or maybe there will be some Blarney this year - read the blog to find out.

About the Association: The ALS Association is the only non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease on every front. By leading the way in global research, providing assistance for people with ALS through a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships, The Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure.

Each year, the Walk to Defeat ALSTM brings communities together in the fight against Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Though people walk for various reasons, they are united in the quest to find a cure for ALS.

About Brian’s Chapter: The South Carolina Chapter was founded in February 2006 to serve the needs of those living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and their caregivers. The ALS Association is the only national not-for-profit health organization dedicated solely to the fight against ALS. ALSA covers all the bases — research, patient and community services, public education, and advocacy — in providing help and hope to those facing the disease.
The ALS Association (National Office and the South Carolina Chapter) operates under a shared mission: to lead the fight to cure and treat ALS through global, cutting-edge research, and to empower people with Lou Gehrig’s disease and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support.

They work together to accomplish the mission. The South Carolina Chapter focuses primarily on helping local patients and families live with ALS while the National Office focuses primarily on research and advocacy. The Chapter supports the National Office through revenue sharing and research contributions. The National Office supports the Chapters by providing up-to-date information and materials.
Their accomplishments are made possible by the generosity of others. From the smallest donation to the largest gift, donors touch the ALS community with hope for the future.

Upstate Walk: Brian's Blarney Blokes. Brian writes, “Thank you for helping us reach our fund raising goal! Together we can make a difference in the lives of those affected by Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Our team is committed to raising money to support people in our community with ALS and spread awareness of the urgency to find treatment and a cure. Please consider joining our team in the Walk to Defeat ALS™ or choose a team member from the list and donate to our cause."

Why We Need Your Help: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe. The life expectancy of an ALS patient averages 2 to 5 years from the time of diagnosis.

Every 90 minutes a person in this country is diagnosed with ALS and every 90 minutes another person will lose their battle against this disease. ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic boundaries.

This crippling disease can strike anyone. Presently there is no known cause of the disease yet it still costs loved ones an average of $200,000 a year to provide the care ALS patients need. Help make a difference and donate or join a walk today.

Also :

To Register:

In the spirit of full disclosure Brian is the son of my first cousin, Peter. But that does not make him or his fantastic wife Jameela any less special. Please join the walk either in person or virtually. Lave a comment if you need more information and I’ll forward it.

A little blogging Maestro… “We Are the World,” written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Rithie, conducted by Quincy Jones, and recorded by a group of superstars.

Dr. Forgot

A Nation of Snipers


What’s wrong with America: We have become a nation of snipers, whiners, and bellyachers. How quickly we have fallen from the America that stood together as one after the 9/11 attacks on our country. We stood tall in that great time of crisis with strangers helping strangers and the good of the country placed ahead of the need of individuals. Heroes came forward on some of the doomed flights and on the ground. We helped our neighbors who were harmed or even inconvenienced by the tragedy. We rallied behind our president and leaders. Before that during the 1950s we banded together to become the champions of the world in everything. Seems that everybody with any entrepreneurial spirit fought, clawed, or swam their way to the greatest country in the world.

Before that it was the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that awakened that giant of American knowhow summed up in the Navy Seabees motto, “Can do.” But that was before cable television, and talk radio and Rupert Murdoch style journalism that discovered the disease of “demean and attack and they (listeners and viewers) will come.” Examples of what is wrong with America are legion.

Strasburg, Illinois: Strasburg has been hit hard by the recent economic turmoil. So when their school district needed a new electric sign the booster club raised funds to buy it and local volunteers erected it at no cost to the school district. So why is that wrong? Seems the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) are charged with enforcing the state’s Prevailing Wage Act which states, “laborers, workers and mechanics employed on public works construction projects [must be paid] no less than the general prevailing rate of wages (consisting of hourly cash wages plus fringe benefits) for work of a similar character in the county where the work is performed.” That means those who volunteered their time, including members of the sign company, were lawbreakers? Makes one wonder how the volunteer programs that are part of President Obama’s recovery plan will work in Illinois.

The opinions expressed here…: From the floor of the stock exchange CNBC reporter Rick Santelli went on a rant that included the following statements, “The government is promoting bad behavior,” as well as “How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills?” This was followed by a floor trader who yelled, “How 'bout we all stop paying our mortgage? It's a moral hazard.”

Talk show host Rush Limbaugh recently stated, “Trying to understand (a member from the opposing party) is like trying to understand a murderer or rapist.” Time’s magazine listed 25 people to blame for the Financial Crisis.” Columnist Ann Coulter stated that talk show host Chris Matthews, “…wants to have sex with (President) Obama.” Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann claimed that Barack Obama and his wife Michelle held anti-American views and couldn't be trusted in the White House.

Right to free speech: Of course the very rants, raves, off-the-wall expressions, and hate comments expressed above, along with hundreds of others are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution and that is how it should be. Thus my opinion that we have become a nation of crybabies and whiners, ala Sean Hanity and his ilk, and bullies, ala Bill O’Reilly and his ilk, is equally protected. It is not even that those mentioned above say the things they do, as much of it is shtick and designed to gain market share among listeners. But what concerns me is the million of sheep-like followers who proudly, as in the case of Limbaugh, even refer to themselves as “Dittoheads.” In other words, they do not bother thinking for themselves, but simply parrot the words of the loudest, most outrageous comments made by their icon. As an undergraduate student at one of America’s most conservative universities nearly a half century ago I used to listen in amazement as we were repeatedly told that “There will be wars and rumors of wars…” (Okay, that is so at any period in history and in any country in the world, so that was an easy one), and “…the constitution will hang by a thread,” (I’m still not sure what that one means), and “…the country will collapse without a shot being fired,” (that one seems to be the scariest of the homilies).

What’s right with America: One of the very liberties that we enjoy in this country, perhaps the one I hold most dear, is our right to free expression. So unlike those on the far right of the political continuum I count freedom of speech and expression as two of the most sacred issues that are among those that are right with America. In my previous post I cited areas in which the U.S. of A. is not the champion of the world. But despite the economic collapse – which is worldwide, not just within our chores, our economy is almost as big as the next four largest economies on Earth - Japan, Germany, China and Great Britain combined! If California were a country, its economy would rival that of France. Illinois has the same GDP as all of Mexico. New York matches the entire GDP of Brazil. Florida's economy is as large as South Korea's. Texas has a GDP roughly equal to Canada's. Michigan's economy is as large as the entire country of Argentina.

Many of our colleges and universities have open enrollment and others offer scholarships for the best and brightest. Political connections are not required. We spend more on health care per person than Switzerland, Germany, or Canada. Peaceful transfer of power is what is right about America. In January 2009, Barack Hussein Obama became the 44th president of the United States. Essayist Michael Lind opines, “Barring catastrophes, the US in 2050 will be much more racially integrated; will remain culturally and linguistically quite homogeneous; and will be much richer, easily able to afford to pay for social security and decent healthcare. And partly as a result of this unity and prosperity, the US will continue to be a major power, though not a solitary hegemon.”

So What is an American to do?: We can disagree without being disagreeable. The genius of our founding fathers is that they set up a government that allowed for healthy debate. Challenge what sounds off key to you but draw your own conclusions – don’t blindly follow the loudest voice and don’t quake with fear at the most intimidating voice. If a view or philosophy differs from your own challenge the philosophy. Don’t simply echo. Don’t simply take opposition because an opinion was voiced from the other party. Don’t blindly follow simply because the position stated was a member of your own team.

Our leaders are fallible. To blindly follow means to also be fallible. That includes blindly forwarding hate emails without first checking out their veracity. To blindly follow is to also become fallible. Challenge but think.

A little blogging Maestro… “Thinking Man” by Eddie Cash

Dr. Forgot

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

By the Numbers

We’re #1!

When you’re number’s up: We as Americans are like no other country when it comes to lists. We’re number one! Of course, if one wishes to be scatological about the whole list thing, they might think it is number 2. (If you didn’t get it, think of a first grade teacher asking if a child needs to leave for #1 or #2).

But seriously, we are #1, right?: So many Americans, especially those who have never been outside our borders, or are "Hilton Travelers," and travel but never leave their comfort zone are quick to say, "...yeah, but the good old USA is the best country in the world." And I don't want any of you right wing nuts to say, "Well, if you don't like it here, leave." I am reminded of the Viet Nam era bumper sticker that said, "America, Love it or Leave it," and the answer bumper sticker that read, "America, Change it or Lose it."

I have compiled several top 10 lists from various sources to see just how well my country stacks up. Some of what I discovered was…. Well, you might say it knocked me down a few pegs.

Where we stand: Did you realize, Canada is bigger than we are? CANADA for crying out loud! Many of their residents can't even speak English! We're third in car production, just ahead of FRANCE, the country that brought us that kiddie car, the Smart. We don't even make the top 10 in cleanest countries, life expectancy, honeymoon destinations, or coffee drinking per capita despite our love affair with Starbucks, and we're number 10 in chocolate consumption. Our workforce is half the size of India's and a quarter the size of China's. Our cattle count is behind that of China, Brazil, and India where cows are supposed to be sacred. Our Mighty Mississippi doesn't even rank among the top 10 longest rivers. But take heart, we do rank #1 in ice cream consumption.

Now we’re getting somewhere: We rank third in divorce rates behind only Maldives (which has maybe a dozen permanent residents) and Belarus (which sounds like some sort of walrus), but we make the top 10 list in number of births per year and that is without the Octuplet Mom figured in - better living through welfare I guess. I'm not too sure how smart we are as a country but among the top 10 most intelligent dogs you can find a German, French Poodle nad even an Australian, there is no breed among the smart barkers with American in its name.

There's much to be proud of in America but we're just not #1 in everything.

Top ten of everything. Read and Learn:

Longest Rivers:

1. Nile Africa 4,180
2. Amazon South America 3,912
3. Mississippi-Missouri-Red Rock United States 3,710
4. Chang Jiang (Yangtze) China 3,602
5. Ob Russia 3,459
6. Huang Ho (Yellow) China 2,900
7. Yenisei Russia 2,800
8. Parana South America 2,795
9. Irtish Russia 2,758
10. Zaire (Congo) Congo 2,716

Largest countries, area and population:

Country Area in
Square Miles Population Country Population Area in
Square Miles
1 Russia 6.59 million 143 million 1 China 1,306 M 3.70
2 Canada 3.86 million 33 million 2 India 1,080 M 1.15
3 China 3.70 million 1,306 million 3 United States 296 M 3.71

4 U S 3.71 million 296 million 4 Indonesia 242 0.74
5 Brazil 3.27 million 186 million 5 Brazil 186 M 3.27 M

6 Aus. 2.94 million 20 million 6 Pakistan 162 M 0.31
7 India 1.15 million 1,080 million 7 Bangladesh 144 M 0.06

8 Argentina 1.06 million 40 million 8 Russia 143 M 6.59
9 Kazakhstan 1.05 million 15 million 9 Nigeria 129 0.36 M
10 Algeria 0.919 million 32 million 10 Japan 127 M 0.14

Top 10 Cleanest Countries:
1. Finland
2. Norway
3. Canada
4. Sweden
5. Switzerland
6. New Zealand
7. Australia
8. Austria
9. Iceland
10. Denmark

Hardest Working Countries (hrs. per worker per year)
1. Korea (2,357)
2. Greece (2,052)
3. Czech Republic (1,997)
4. Hungary (1,989)
5. Poland (1,985)
6. Turkey (1,918)
7. Mexico (1,883)
8. Italy (1,800)
9. United States (1,797)
10. Iceland (1,794)

Countries with the largest workforce:
1. China – 780 million
2. India – 502 million
3. USA – 145 million
4. Indonesia – 102 million
5. Brazil – 79 million
6. Russia – 78 million
7. Bangladesh – 69 million
8. Japan – 68 million
9. Pakistan – 52 million
10. Nigeria – 45 million

Countries with the highest life expectancy
1. Andorra- 83.51
2. San Marino- 81.71
3. Singapore- 81.71
4. Japan- 81.25
5. Sweden- 80.51
6. Switzerland-80.51
7. Australia- 80.50
8. Iceland- 80.31
9. Canada- 80.22
10. Italy- 79.81

World Top 10 - Countries by Highest Divorce Rate:
Country Divorce Rate Per 1000
Maldives 10.97
Belarus 4.65
USA 4.19
Panama 3.82
Russia 3.66
Estonia 3.65
Puerto Rico 3.61
Ukraine 3.59
Costa Rica 3.58
Cuba 3.54

Top 10 Best Selling Cars
1. Ford F-Series: 515,513
2. Chevy Silverado: 465,065
3. Toyota Camry: 436,617
4. Honda Accord: 372,789
5. Toyota Corolla: 351,007
6. Honda Civic: 339,289
7. Nissan Altima: 269,668
8. Chevy Impala: 265,840
9. Dodge Ram: 245,840
10. Honda CR-V: 197,279

Top 10 Countries with the Biggest Car Production

1. Japan
2. Germany
3. United States
4. France
5. Korea
6. Spain
7. United Kingdom
8. Brazil
9. Canada
10. Italy

Top 10 Coffee Drinking Nations

1. Finland – 1.686 cups per capita
2. Denmark – 1.374 cups per capita
3. Norway – 1.372 cups per capita
4. Belgium – 1.354 cups per capita
5. Sweden – 1.249 cups per capita
6. Austria – 1.065 cups per capita
7. Switzerland – 1.017 cups per capita
8. Germany – 988 cups per capita
9. Netherland – 915 cups per capita
10. France – 831 cups per capita

Top 10 Ice Cream Consuming Countries in the World

1) United States

2) New Zealand

3) Denmark

4) Australia

5) Belgium / Luxembourg

6) Sweden

7) Canada

8) Norway

9) Ireland

10) Switzerland

The Top Chocolate Loving Nations are (lbs/yr):
1. Switzerland 22.36
2. Austria 20.13
3. Ireland 19.47
4. Germany 18.04
5. Norway 17.9
6. Britain 8.5
7. Denmark 8.2
8. Sweden 8.2
9. Belgium 6.8
10. U.S.A 5.3

Countries which has most number of Cows
1. India
2. Brazil
3. China
4. USA
5. Argentina
6. Sudan
7. Ethiopia
8. Mexico
9. Australia
10. Russia

Ten Smartest Dog Breeds:

1 Border Collie

2 French Poodle

3 German Shepherd

4 Golden Retriever

5 Doberman Pinscher

6 Shetland Sheepdog

7 Labrador Retriever

8 Mexican Chihuahua Papillon

9 Rottweiler

10 Australian Cattle Dog

A little blogging music Maestro: The top 10 songs of all time...
1. Like a Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan
2. Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones
3. Imagine, John Lennon
4. What's Going On, Marvin Gaye
5. Respect, Aretha Franklin
6. Good Vibrations, The Beach Boys
7. Johnny B. Goode, Chuck Berry
8. Hey Jude, The Beatles
9. Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana
10. What'd I Say, Ray Charles

Dr. Forgot

Monday, February 16, 2009

Little Town to Big World


Past Glory: Clairton, PA used to be a pleasant little mill town of about 20,000 souls. It was what I would call middle class prosperous. The steel mills and coke works paid the bulk of taxes for the city and the first generation middle European American immigrants and their offspring worked side-by-side with Anglos, Germans, African Americans, and much of the post-World War II melting pot that made up industrial America. With the death of the steel industry in America Clairton fell into a similar fiscal malaise that much of the rest of the country faces today. Home values plummeted and jobs were lost. The younger generation went to college and often did not return. The older generation, frugal sons and daughters of the Great Depression had paid off their home mortgages and were unwilling or unable to move. But from the glory days, and from that city of 20,000 or so came an unusually large number of people who made their mark on the American scene. I asked fellow Clairtonians to send me examples of some and I will chronicle some success stories in this post. Below are some of the responses.

The Smartest Girl in Clairton: Nancy Bekavac was the daughter of Tony Bekavac and Patti Yavor Bekavac. Her Dad owned the local funeral home. The descendent of Slavic immigrants was a super student at Clairton High School and graduated at the top of her class. During her undergraduate studies at Swarthmore College she was captain of the team that defeated five other teams on consecutive weeks during the highly successful run of the TV game show “College Bowl.” Nancy graduated Phi Beta Kappa and moved on to Yale Law where she formed a long-lasting friendship with two other students – Bill and Hillary Clinton. After college Nancy practiced law in Los Angeles, then returned east and entered higher education as a counselor to the president of Dartmouth. In 1990 she began a 17-year career as president of Scripps College in Claremont, CA. During her tenure she quadrupled the Scripps endowment fund and opened a new art center, dining commons, residence hall, and many other improvements to the prestigious college. Nancy Bekavac, Clairton girl.

Home of the Brave: Reggie Desiderio grew up in the Woodland Terrace section of Clairton, a housing project where many families of modest means called home. Reggie joined the Army and rose to the rank of Captain during the Korean War. The following citation that accompanied the posthumous awarding of the Congressional Medal of Honor describes his heroism: DESIDERIO, REGINALD B.
Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Army, commanding officer, Company E, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Ipsok, Korea, 27 November 1950. Entered service at: Gilroy, Calif. Born: 12 September 1918, Clairton, Pa. G.O. No.: 58, 2 August 1951. Citation: Capt. Desiderio distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the repeated risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. His company was given the mission of defending the command post of a task force against an enemy breakthrough. After personal reconnaissance during darkness and under intense enemy fire, he placed his men in defensive positions to repel an attack. Early in the action he was wounded, but refused evacuation and despite enemy fire continued to move among his men checking their positions and making sure that each element was prepared to receive the next attack. Again wounded, he continued to direct his men. By his inspiring leadership he encouraged them to hold their position. In the subsequent fighting when the fanatical enemy succeeded in penetrating the position, he personally charged them with carbine, rifle, and grenades, inflicting many casualties until he himself was mortally wounded. His men, spurred on by his intrepid example, repelled this final attack. Capt. Desiderio's heroic leadership, courageous and loyal devotion to duty, and his complete disregard for personal safety reflect the highest honor on him and are in keeping with the esteemed traditions of the U.S. Army. Reggie Desiderio, Clairton boy.

The Little General: Woodland Terrace was also home to the Lancaster family and their 12 children. Their eldest, Ron, was a star quarterback at Clairton High School but at 5’5” tall he was too small to play major college football so he attended Wittenburg College in Ohio, where he won “Little All American” recognition. Again, too small for the NFL he moved to Canada to play professional football. After leading his team to a stunning victory in the Grey Cup, Canadian football’s equivalent to the Super Bowl, he earned the nickname, “The Little General.” Ron spent the next 48 years as a Canadian football legend as a player, coach, and sportscaster. He still holds many records long after his 16-year playing career ended, and he is in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. After beating cancer twice, The Little General succumbed to a heart attack last September. Ron Lancaster, Clairton boy.

Mayor of the City: Donna Lancianese Lajack was another daughter of Clairton’s rich culture of immigrant families. Her move was to Loveland, OH, a small city with many similar attributes to Clairton. Her interest in civic activities led her to run successfully for the city council twice, and then serve as the city’s third female mayor since 1876. During her tenure as mayor Donna served on committees and projects with mayors from JeSu City, Korea and Barcelona, Spain and villages in Africa. Of course, Donna became active with the U.S. Mayors Conference and took part in activities ranging from assisting with the opening of the Madison, WI Flower Garden replete with a red and gold pagoda, a gift from the King of Thailand, to meetings in Detroit where she helped rededicate the Fox Theater with a gala dinner in the lobby and afterward enjoyed a concert by the Four Tops. Donna Lancianese Lajak, Clairton girl.

Everybody’s All American: Jim Kelly hailed from a section of Clairton called Wilson Newtown. He was every girl’s heartthrob as a Clairton High School Prom King and football All American hero. Awards night at Clairton High School probably should have been called “Jim Kelly Night” as he garnered nearly every leadership, academic, and sports award available. Scores of universities sought his services but Jim chose Notre Dame, as might be expected of a fine young man named Kelly. There he became an All American tight end catching passes from Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte. Oh, and by the way, when not leading the team in catches, Jim also played defense and made 21 tackles and broke up 2 passes during his senior year. Jim was drafted first in the second round by the Steelers and played there until traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. Jim Kelly, Clairton Boy.

Words in Season: Joan Cutuly lived on Constitution Circle in Clairton. Her father was a doctor and her mother a scientist so it was logical that she would become… a writer and teacher. After a stellar high school career Joan went to college just a few miles downriver at Pitt. She dabbled at several careers ranging from selling insurance to teaching college English. But she really hit her stride when she moved to Las Vegas to teach English at the inner-city Las Vegas High School. It was from that experience that she wrote, “Home of the Wildcats; Perils of an English Teacher.” The book, an iconoclastic look at the education system, brought not only fame but infamy, particularly from the school administration. Joan moved on and currently resides in a bucolic Oregon village where she still writes. Her most recent book, “Prisoner of the Second Grade” is a wildly funny and tragic book about life. Score another point for the intellect of those who spent their childhood inhaling quencher. Joan Cutuly, Clairton girl.

Author’s Note: Clairton, PA, the little village that could; City of Prayer, setting for the movie “The Deer Hunter,” and birthplace of mayors, poets, educators, athletes, and civic leaders. I would like to hear about other Clairtonians who have made an impact on the world. By the way, all Clairtonians were not pristine citizens – one of my neighbors growing up gained fame as a bank robber, a relative did time for scamming the government and another became a doctor before going off the deep end and doing time in a mental institution. Please comment below and send information about other Clairtonians whom I’ll feature in future blog posts.

A little blogging Maestro… “My Little Town” by Simon and Garfunkle

Dr. Forgot

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Don't Worry, Be Happy


From my two good California College friends comes the following advice:


1. Drink plenty of water.

2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.

3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.

4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.

5. Make time to practice meditation, yoga, and prayer.

6. Play more games.

7. Read more books than you did in 2008.

8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.

9. Sleep for 7 hours.

10. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile.


11. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

12. Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.

13. Don't overdo. Keep your limits.

14. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

15. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.

16. Dream more while you are awake.

17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

18. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.

19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.

20. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.

21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

23. Smile and laugh more.

24. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.


25. Call your family often.

26. Each day give something good to others.

27. Forgive everyone for everything.

28. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.

29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.

30. What other people think of you is none of your business..

31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.


32. Do the right thing!

33. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

34. Faith heals everything.

35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

37. The best is yet to come.

38. When you awake alive in the morning, be grateful for it.

39. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

Last but not the least:

40. Don’t take life too seriously… you’ll never get out alive anyhow.

A little blogging Maestro… “What a Beautiful Day” by Chris Cagle

Dr. Forgot

Monday, February 9, 2009

Once More For the Super World Champs

By Gene Wojciechowski

TAMPA, Fla. -- I don't know if the Pittsburgh Steelers are America's Team, but Sunday night at Heinz Field South, they were Raymond James Stadium's team. They were President Obama's team. Most of all, they were the Vince Lombardi Trophy's team.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to win a Super Bowl? The Steelers have now won a record-breaking six of them, two in the past four years. Fifteen of the NFL's 32 franchises have never won one. Five have never even advanced to the game. So trying to put an Iron City six-pack into perspective is like trying to comprehend Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel or Rod Blagojevich's hair. Some things are beyond explanation.

But I know this: Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, who played this game on a knee and a half ("I can't even describe the pain," Ward said), had to squeeze away tears when talking about team owner Dan Rooney. You think Terrell Owens would get teary-eyed about Jerry Jones? "I saw Mr. Rooney today and I just broke down,'' said Ward, who started to cry again as he remembered the meeting with the 76-year-old owner.

Safety Troy Polamalu, holding his infant son on his knee, said the Steelers call Rooney " Pops." Turns out Pops makes sure all of his players have his cell phone number -- just in case they ever need him for something. Imagine that.

This is why the Steelers are unlike any other professional sports franchise. They win in ways you can respect. They beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in arguably the best Super Bowl game ever, and the Steelers spend the postgame complimenting the other team as much as they compliment their own.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found Cardinals QB Kurt Warner on the field and told him, "It was an honor to play against you." Little-known fact: The first sports autobiography Roethlisberger ever read was Warner's book.

Roethlisberger arrived at the postgame interview room holding the football he used during the final kneel-down of the game. In 2005, when the Steelers won Super Bowl XL, Roethlisberger gave the game ball to teammate Jerome Bettis.

"I'll hold on to this one," Roethlisberger said this time. Can you blame him? Unlike the 2005 championship, when he played in full upchuck mode (9-of-21 for 123 yards and two interceptions), Roethlisberger distinguished himself in XLIII with a game-winning, last-minute touchdown pass to Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes. Perfect throw. Perfect catch. Asked to describe the play, Roethlisberger kept it simple.

"Scramble right. Scramble left. Find somebody open,'' he said. "Somebody got open."


If America is looking for a team, this is it. What's not to like? The Steelers have won those six Super Bowls with three different coaches. Unlike the Cowboys, the Rooneys don't give their ATM password to big-name free agents. Instead, they draft well (Holmes and Roethlisberger were first-rounders). They sign undrafted free agents well (NFL defensive MVP James Harrison). They hire coaches well (Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin in the past 40 years). And they never, ever pretend they invented the game. "I think what makes America's Team is that anywhere you go in America, that's your home stadium,'' said safety Ryan Clark. "It's called Steelers Nation for a reason.. The Cowboys may be called 'America's Team' because they have reality shows. They like to be in the headlines, things like that. … But it felt like we were in Pittsburgh tonight.''

I'd be stunned if Tomlin and the Rooneys ever let a "Hard Knocks" film crew into their training camp. They don't need the attention. They don't need to grow their "brand." Winning Super Bowls, not being on HBO, is what grows a franchise.

There were no in-betweens in Sunday evening's game.. It was a strange combination of penalties (18 total) and hair-on-fire moments.

Harrison, cut four different times during his seven-year career, delivered the most amazing play in Super Bowl history -- better than David Tyree's ball-on-helmet catch of a year ago. Harrison's 100-yard, get-me-an-oxygen-tank interception return in the waning seconds of the first half proved to be a 14-point swing: as many as seven lost points for the Cardinals (who had first-and-goal at the Steelers' 1 with 18 seconds remaining) and seven found points for Pittsburgh. An exhausted Harrison collapsed in the end zone after the runback.

"I probably shouldn't have chased him so far trying to block, because I couldn't breathe,'' Clark said. "I wanted to lay down next to him, but I figured since I didn't score, nobody was going to give me any sympathy."

There was Warner completing 31 of 43 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns, including a 64-yarder to the amazing Larry Fitzgerald with 2:37 left to play. That put the Cardinals ahead 23-20. You could almost feel 70,774 people in the stadium inch toward their seat edges.

And then there was Roethlisberger and Holmes on the final Steelers scoring drive. Earlier Sunday morning, Ward had told Holmes that it was games like this in which players made names for themselves. Ward would know; he was the MVP of Super Bowl XL.

Roethlisberger threw eight passes on the drive, four of them to Holmes. Of the 78 yards covered on the drive, Holmes caught 73 yards' worth. But it was his final catch -- that 6-yarder in the corner of the end zone, where his toes somehow stayed put on the turf -- that won him the MVP, and the Steelers their sixth Super Bowl.

"Where is the celebration?'' Clark shouted after the game. "I am done being dumbfounded that we won."

The celebration will be in Pittsburgh. America's Parade Route.

A little blogging music Maestro... Haggard, "The Final Victory."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How 'bout dem Stillers!!!


Much has been written about the Pittsburgh Steelers since their Super Bowl victory. The best one I've seen came from the New York Times Freakonomics blog. Read and enjoy:

Ten Reasons to Like the Pittsburgh Steelers
By Stephen J. Dubner
After the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York, a lot of people wrote or called to ask if my family and I were O.K. Some of these people were casual acquaintances at best but, for many of them, I was the only person they knew who lived in New York. Their concern was extremely moving even if, at first, a bit surprising.

I’ve been reminded of this outpouring over the past two weeks, as I’ve fielded e-mails and calls from people congratulating me on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ making it back to the Super Bowl. I figure that, once again, for many of these people I am the only Steelers fan they know.

I feel sheepish accepting congratulations for an accomplishment as weak as this — simply rooting for a team that happens to win a bunch of football games. Plainly I can claim no credit. While it is true that I have brought my young son, a devout fan, to Pittsburgh for a game in each of the past three seasons, the Steelers lost all three games! Considering that their overall home record during that period was 13-6, I am obviously no good-luck charm.

But with great fortune comes great responsibility, and so, in return for this great fortune, let me accept the responsibility of laying out a few reasons to like the Steelers. I am not trying to convert anyone here; I’m only dispensing some ammunition for the undecided.

1. While the Steelers are attempting to win their record sixth Super Bowl, they were for the first 40 years of their existence almost incomparably bad. So whether you gravitate toward prolific winners or lovable losers, the Steelers can satisfy your needs. Back in the 1930’s, they paid big money to sign the college star Byron “Whizzer” White. He played wonderfully but stayed only one season; he went on to a slightly more impressive career as a U. S. Supreme Court Justice.

2. The Steelers have been majority-owned by the same family, the Rooneys, since the team’s founding in 1933. The story goes that Art Rooney bought the team for $2,500 with the winnings of a great day at Saratoga Racetrack — he was a vigorous gambler and a beloved rogue — but that is probably apocryphal. The team is now onto its third generation of family management and, as families go, the Rooneys are pretty exemplary: honorable, charitable, humble, and more. (If you are pleased with Barack Obama, you have extra reason to like them. Dan Rooney, the team’s 76-year-old chairman, is a lifelong Republican who last year got behind Obama early and campaigned hard throughout Pennsylvania. It’d be a stretch to say that Rooney pushed the election toward Obama, but there are few brands in the state as strong as the Steelers, so it certainly didn’t hurt.) The family prides itself on running a football team that reflects its values; the Steelers are known as a “character” team. Which makes it interesting to see what happens when a player exhibits some bad character. Earlier this season, when starting wide receiver Santonio Holmes was pulled over by the police for marijuana possession,the team suspended him for a week. This was hardly mandatory; Holmes hadn’t even been arrested. But it sends a signal.

Meanwhile, a starting wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers, Vincent Jackson, was arrested for suspicion of drunk driving a few days before the Chargers recently came to Pittsburgh for a playoff game. The Chargers issued one of those pro forma “we-will-monitor-the-situation” press releases, and Jackson played as usual.

3. Myron Cope. He was a talented writer who became a Steelers broadcaster despite having a voice that sounded like gravel and Yiddish tossed in a blender. He was relentlessly unique; among his on-air exhortations: “Yoi!” or, if something really exciting happened, “Double Yoi!” (Cope died last year.) He deftly blended boosterism with realism, which made him an institution in Pittsburgh. But the accomplishment for which he’ll remain best-known is inventing the Terrible Towel, a Steelers-gold terry cloth rag that will be widely seen, waving madly in the Tampa sunshine, on Sunday. Many other teams have copied the Towel, but nowhere does it have such resonance as in Pittsburgh — in part because Cope donated the considerable profits to the Allegheny School, a home for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, whose residents include Cope’s own son.

4. The fan diaspora. Even though Pittsburgh has transformed itself nicely from a manufacturing town to a service town, it has lost about half its population in the last few decades. This has created a diaspora of fans all over the country and beyond, Steelers lovers who had to leave the ‘Burgh for better jobs and who then taught their kids to be Steelers lovers even though they lived in Arizona or Florida or Alaska. As a result, there’s a “Steelers bar” — a place to watch the game on Sundays with like-minded folks — in just about any good-sized city in America. The Steelers may not be “America’s Team,” as the Cowboys claim, but perhaps they should be.

5. Franco Harris. One of the most interesting and enigmatic football players in history, so much so that somebody even wrote a book about his strange appeal. Franco was also, of course, the star of the football miracle known as the immaculate reception (whose name was popularized, naturally, by Cope). Also, his teammate Mean Joe Greene was the star of one of the best TV commercials ever - which is being remade this year with the extrordinarily appealing Troy Polamalu in the lead.

6. The Steelers are good assessors of talent, both seen and unseen. Consider their first-round draft picks since 2000: Plaxico Burress*, Casey Hampton, Kendall Simmons, Troy Polamalu, Ben Roethlisberger, Heath Miller, Santonio Holmes, Lawrence Timmons, and Rashard Mendenhall. Aside from Burress, all but two are valuable Steelers starters. Timmons is on the verge of being a valuable starter and it’s too early to tell about Mendenhall, the rookie whose shoulder was broken in mid-season by Ray Lewis. And, even more impressively, consider the fact that two of their very best players, Willie Parker and James Harrison, were undrafted.

Harrison, recently named the league’s defensive M.V.P., is the only undrafted player in history to have won this award. (Granted, the Steelers’ opponents in the Super Bowl, the Arizona Cardinals, are quarterbacked by Kurt Warner, a potential Hall of Famer who was bagging groceries for a living before he made it as a football player.)

7. The Steelers are a small-market team (Pittsburgh’s population is less than 350,000) that manages to always play big. Compare them to Pittsburgh’s baseball team, the Pirates, which hadn't had a winning season in fifteen years. True, small-market teams have an easier time in football than in baseball because of the N.F.L.’s revenue sharing policy, but it’s also true that the Steelers are a fiscally prudent organization. This can especially be seen in their willingness to let their own high-priced free agents go (Alan Faneca, Joey Porter, and Plaxico Burress are recent examples). Nor do they purchase the rights of aging superstars who won’t fit their team anyway.

8. Especially when compared to baseball, there is a real paucity of great books about football. One of the very best, however, Roy Blount Jr.’s "About Three Bricks Shy of a Load," is about the Steelers.

9. Mike Tomlin, the current head coach, is a young and impressive man brimming with smarts, balance, dignity, and surprise. (At the press conference immediately after the Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens to gain the Super Bowl, he quoted Robert Frost.) Tomlin was hired just two years ago. The Steelers’ previous two head coaches, Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher, lasted a combined 37 years. These days, N.F.L. coaches are chewed up and spat out with abandon, often within two or three years, but I have a feeling Tomlin may end up threatening Cowher and Noll for longevity awards.

10. The Steelers are one of the few pro sports teams named after what their respective cities actually do or did. Pittsburgh made steel just as Green Bay packed meat; the cardinal, meanwhile, is a perfectly nice bird, but it doesn’t do squat for Arizona (nor did it previously for St. Louis). Furthermore, the Steelers’ logo isn’t a cartoonish bird or patronizingly noble “redskin”; it is the actual mark of steelmaking — a trio of red, blue, and yellow hypocycloids in a black circle. Plus, the Steelers wear it only on one side of their helmets. Legend holds this is because the team was so frugal that it didn’t want to use up two decals on each helmet.

You are free, of course, to ignore all of the above and root for the Cardinals (a team that happens to comprise a bunch of former Steelers coaches, players, and even a onetime ball boy). But if you do choose to cheer on the Steelers, know that there are some good reasons for doing so.

Note: Dubner's blog can be found at

A little blogging music Maestro, anything from

Dr. Forgot