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Cops N Coffee

December 10, 2016 Leave a comment

SWBSoStupidHow did “Cops N Coffee” and up in “so stupid it could actually happen”?

Well, read on ….

But, let me bore you first by filling you in on a little bit about the writer (me): First, I was never military or a copy, or basically anything of legal authority recognized by a uniform. I did grow up for over twenty years next door to the Deputy Sheriff of Allegheny County and his sons. Some of his children became local officers and mayors of our community. The community I grew up in was Brentwood, similar to the one I live in now (Glen Osborne / Sewickley Area). Originally my wife and I did a little stint in Leetsdale after we were married, but opted to move into the Glen Osborne / Sewickley community next to us – not for status, but simply it reminded me of my old neighborhood (many people knew each other, the law enforcement and people in the local government were integral parts of the community, and it was a safe place where you want to raise a family … whether you owned a mansion or BMW or a small house and a Dodge {BTW, a little trivia note — there were more BMWs in the Brentwood/Whitehall area than in the Sewickley area when I grew up}).

Again …. I love my community because it was safe, the same as I love the one I live in now.

I also respected the police officers and other officials not because of uniform, but because they were tightly integrated with the community – there were no false arrests, or brutality, or abuse from police officers or other government officials towards people in the community … incidentally, the people in the community rarely ever had run ins with the law or otherwise.

So why did this work out so well?

Community … the officers were your friend’s dads or moms, your parents friends, your friends, your neighbors – yes, even the ones that lived outside of the community became part of it. The most effective safety system in a community is everyone in that community becoming an integral part of it and accessible in it – this it most critical with government representatives and officers of the law.

Why the long-winded explanation?

When I look at a community and see the local cops congregating at a local diner, convenience store, coffee shop, etc it communicates one thing to me … this place is safe – I would raise my family here.  Why? They are completely accessible to the members of their community, of which most communicate with them daily. This also shows me the connection created hampers things like police brutality (ie. why would you harass your neighbor if you just had Christmas dinner with them or simply shared conversation over coffee?), government corruption, etc. When I see officials from the local government hanging out in the local places being accessible, it lets me know I really can have a voice in the community (and a better chance to have their actions in governing reflect what the community really wants). When I watched this disappear from other communities I’ve lived in I’ve watch crime, police brutality, and political corruption become rampant and take over those communities … some being very well established, very wealthy communities. I not longer live in them because I no longer feel safe in them. Many left those communities feeling the same.

Why did this happen?

Complaints: “The cops aren’t doing their jobs because they are hanging out drinking coffee and eating donuts”, “The government officials aren’t doing their jobs because their hanging out talking to people in the communities”, “They should be out fighting crime (even when there isn’t any)”, “They should be cutting costs – not sipping coffee”, etc.

The summary after all of the boring rant:

When your community is safe because your police officers and government representatives are hanging out in your local businesses you don’t complain about their presence or the $3.00 they spend on a cup of coffee or take up parking spaces when these actions bring complete accessibility in your community simply because this brings to them the knowledge of the people they are protecting and representing – this is a gift, not a liability, nor an expense.

For the simple:  You don’t hinder your officers, borough managers, mayors, clerks, etc from hanging out together in your local businesses … because them being on the community’s payroll isn’t what makes your community safe – it’s those people becoming an effective, integral, and accessible part of it that makes your community safe.

Share this out if you support your local police offices, local government officials, and local government workers hanging out in the community and becoming part of it instead of folks you know see in the papers or on the news. In other words, share this out if you want “Cops N Coffee” to continue in your community or start in it.

So, why did this make “So Stupid It Could Actually Happen?” …. simply because it does, and then people in communities wonder why the cops can get away with abuse of power, local government clerks can steal, mayors can waste a community’s money …. all because those people that were initially accessible in the community are eventually pushed out of it into inaccessible offices and cars.

-LC

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The Friday that is a Monday

September 21, 2012 Leave a comment

See the fog in the picture?  No, it’s not a photoshopped image of how Pittsburgh was supposed to look 30 to 40 years ago.  It’s how my head feels. Because of that, it feels like Monday.

… and for some reason the line in the coffee shop is never ending today, when normally at this time nobody besides the local police are hanging out here (not that it’s a bad place, they just like the coffee – although a little action would be entertaining in the morning).

It’s a great morning {note the sarcasm here} … I can’t get the new caulking around the bathtub to cure well, the kid was whining about not having pop-tarts for breakfast (possibly the most unhealthy thing there is first thing in the morning), the garage door is breaking, and our school board gods are starting to think they are actually god – I had to read about that in the local paper because obviously it was a sucky news day.

I’m sure some idiot will cut me off on the way to work, and my coffee will spill in the car again avoiding him.

The only perks I’ll get today is the view of the city driving into work, preceded by the aroma of Alcosan on the way.  You know your life is on the down side when you look forward to the aroma of Alcosan.

-SWB

Happy Friday

Enter The Weather

September 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Got a great raised garden started this year …

Veggies grew fast, flower buds abound …

Then …

The bees left, the critters ate the flower buds, and my new raised garden slowly became a wilting weed box due to the drought.

So, what happens now, you ask????

Rain …. lots of it.  Right at the end of the garden growing season that allotted me two tomatoes, one green pepper, and five micro-miniature carrots (think eating with tweezers).

So, WTF?

I mean I realize I live in Pittsburgh, but I’m a descendent of Italian and German immigrants that farmed any of the land in Pittsburgh they set foot on and usually ended up having way to much to eat (which became compost for next years crop).

A few peppers, tomatoes, and some carrots …. that’s what I got. Now I have to go buy my crap.  I feel cheated, my ancestors owe me at least a few bushels of veggies.

…. and enter the weather … rain … can’t even cut the grass (which was dead most of the summer).

-SWB

P.S. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…….

Construction Season Is Here … WoooooHooooo!!!

September 17, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s the time of year you’ve been waiting for ….. road construction season!

Wait ….

School has started …..construction should be over, because by some unwritten, but highly understood law – road construction only takes place during summer vacation season to fully enhance automobile driver road-rage.

But it’s still around …

Where have we found to be one of the bigger bottlenecks?

The parallel work on Rt65 and Beaver Street near Sewickley and Edgeworth.

I realize there has always been a ridiculous competitive spirit in Edgeworth to be better than everyone else … but now they are competing with PennDot. Go Figure!

Here is the main problems of the Edgeworth Road Crew competing with PennDOT:

1. They ALL WORKED …. the whole road crew worked.  If you are going to compete with PennDOT there are rules!!!

  • At least six supervisors doing nothing. Edgworth appeared to only have one supervisor, actually supervising.
  • Shovel leaners …… no less than 5.  Edgeworth had none.
  • Only one laborer actually working …. Edgworth had at least 10 to 12 people actually working on the project.
  • The path through the road construction should be clearly confusing to the point where you feel you are either going to go head in to another car or end up driving through a guard rail.  Edgeworth’s direction was well laid out.

Get the idea …… there are rules to this road work stuff.

What did they get right?  At least one thing:

  • Obstructions – Edgeworth did well, and obviously learned from PennDOT in this area.  The main road work is around the elementary school and was started (good timing learned from PennDOT here) right when the school year started. Well done, this is where Edgworth gave PennDOT some competition in the way proper road construction is to be done.

As far as Rt65 in Pittsburgh …. that ramp is completed – but we, here at SWB still take the detour, as it doesn’t feel right in PA at any point to get a straight shot to where we are traveling without at least 20 minutes minimum of detours.

-SWB

Out Of A Coma

September 17, 2012 Leave a comment

We’re back …. or at least out of a coma.

Slightly after our little stint of “help” from the folks at Sophisticated Pittsburgh on upping our number of blog writers, they in fact lost many of theirs.  In other words people got real jobs, go married, or just disappeared of the face of the earth at SP.  As a result, we are coming back to our original self.

So, about our original self. The blog experimentally started in 2005, and was moved to .mac via the Apple iWeb.  We started writing around the time that PittGirl, CafeWitness, and others started and gained one of the top growing blog rankings ending up with 2000 readers per day, across 15 countries while on the .mac site.

That actually scared us, considering the amount of vomit we spewed out in those days along with the other rant blogs.  I’m not sure we’ll be as harsh these days, but we’ll try.

BTW – while we were hosting on .mac, Apple kindly asked us to move our site due to their product not being originally made for the amount of throughput we were getting.

So, around Spring of 2008 we moved to WordPress.

The Weasel is back, and we will be blowing word chunks as far as possible.

Cheers

-SWB

PowerUp Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Jobs

October 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Here we go again …. another program destined to make Pittsburgh great.

PowerUp Pittsburgh (click here to learn more from the Post-Gazette article), will supposedly spider out the successes of the technology and health industries in Oakland.  Some of that has already happened, but PowerUp is supposed to help fill in dying area (where businesses have moved out, etc).  We encourage you to really read the article as it explains the project much better than SWB possibly could.

We are not going to bash the program at all, but in fact we are going to thank Mayor Luke and all involved to get this ball rolling.

Why are we thanking them?  Well, it’s because they aren’t starting with a completely written-in-stone plan.

Why is this good? Because Pittsburgh residents and workers (or more likely ex-workers) still have the time to try and influence it.

So why should ‘Burghers think about trying to influence the program and why did we initially say “Here We Go Again” like we were going to blast the program? One simple reason … we’ve done this before and by the definition of those programs they’ve been wildly successful.

For example, programs to bring industries into Pittsburgh have brought companies like Google, Seagate (now gone, but they came), and other prestigious names into the area … but there is one problem with the available jobs from those companies – they require a Masters or Phd.  So basically the people in the that have lost jobs in Pittsburgh cannot re-acquire employment with the education and skills that they already have because they don’t have that new shiny piece of paper.  Keep in mind many of these people are like me and have 25 years of tech experience with up to date technologies and have massive management and professional skills gained over 25 years of employment.  What people like me don’t have is another $100k to land an entry level position for about $40k.  If you want a decent job today, you are looking at $120k to possibly $250k by the graduation time.  Do the math on that one.  If you gain a decent job (even $50k/yr starting) once you subtract your financial aid payments, you are lucky to make rent payments in a low income housing project (but you aren’t allowed to live there because you now have a good job making $50k/yr).  The chances you have of making a life event remotely close to the quality of the one your parents had is slim and next to nil. Even with the great education … that is until your schooling is paid off, around the age of 65.  So what’s left if you can’t affored the re-ed? … the $8 to $12/hr jobs that still leave you homeless, but with enough money to at least buy clothes so you don’t get arrested for lewdness when you are dumpster-diving at your local McD’s because you can’t even afford to eat there.  So let’s get to your children’s education … it ain’t gonna happen.  Even if you wanted them to go to college you’ve already blown their higher education savings for yourself so you can get back to work.  Nothing left …. sorry kid.

So why do we rant about the above …. isn’t any jobs coming in good jobs?  Yes, and don’t stop supporting the programs that get in place and attract jobs, everything helps.  What people do need to do though is remind those doing the programs that they need to remember those skills already in the area (not the skills they want to attract to the area) so that the people already losing homes, families, and hope can get back to work and recover.  It’s great when new things appear (I lived in SouthSide Words when it was being built, and then the Cork Factory) and that was a wonderful experience.  but now, like many others in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas we watch program after program that helps people come into the city, gain skills, and take them back out … but programs continually totally forget those skills already in place.

I no longer live in the new places because we all forgot to fight to keep our jobs here, and allowed greed to move them out. There is this new re-outsourcing thing.  India, Russia, and others are so overloaded with tech jobs that they no longer have enough skilled persons to do them that they are bringing the jobs back to the US … at their pay levels.  So that job you were paid $30/hr for is not at a rate of about $11 to $13 per hour.  Most of those jobs were illegal to obtain by foreigners that moved to the US, unless there were no US citizens to do them.  So we forgot about our own, and never did any of these new programs address that.

The one key thing that all these wonderful programs forget is that this city at one time was made into and international wonder simply because everyone here supported each other and didn’t forget where we came from.

We’re forgetting … and we are allowing those running programs to forget also.

Don’t let them forget why Pittsburgh was what it was and could be greater if we once again rely on that key thing … building each other up.

Why was Steve Jobs so revered?  He never forgot, and he never stopped pushing those below him to be as passionate as he was.  We need to relearn that.

-SWB

Forgetfulness and Steel – History Repeats Itself

August 9, 2011 Leave a comment

“Forget history and you guarantee it will happen again” … I hated my high school history teacher because he made a vow to fail us all (not a challenge, mind you, an actual vow) … but the above was his favorite quote, and it’s the one critical piece of life that I learned from him.  Unfortunately our country and our government is proving that taking on this attitude about history is really one of the keys to sustainability and survival.

The situation that lead to the current financial crater that is wall street can be blamed on ignoring the “forget history and you will guarantee it will happen again” advice.  Our current situation is eerily similar to one not too long ago … the plight of the steelworker.  You had two groups, both hard working, strong, and carrying large egos.  Neither would give in, neither would compromise … both had a fight until the end attitude.  Some say that represents honor. Some say that represents stupidity.

The end result was many losing homes, life long possessions, families, and what defined them as a human …. the steel industry. A few mentioned over the years that it wasn’t that compromise would not happen that made the steel industry fade away as we know it, but how long it took to get to a point where compromise could or would happen. By the time it progressed to the point of possible compromise, other countries took advantage of the opportunity to wedge into the steel industry, and quickly separated the bulk of the US steel mills from it.

It’s not that our financial situation as a country cannot be fixed, it’s that the egos of the politicians took so long to get to any kind of initial compromise that sever damage was done, leading way to loss of everything for those just hanging on, and loss of part of what defines us as a country.  So the question is, are our politicians going to wait long enough that our country going into sheriff’s sale and gets divvied up by the other entities of the world … or will they actually defend us, instead of their egos, and restore America where the dream of raising a family is possible?

Few people realize, much of wall street is now owned by outside investors, so defending American is really not in it’s top interested …….. making the bottom line, or at least cutting losses for it’s foreign investors is.  Main Street is no longer in a position to be helped by Wall Street, because we have some of the same interests … the only protection we can gain at the wall street level is from our politicians having enough pride in their country to protect it’s residents … but it seems that if they win and are rewarded with the right to say “I was right!” it’s OK if the American Dream is reduced to finding a better dumpster to dive into for dinner tonight.

“Forget history and you guarantee it will happen again” ….

Translation: “Stupid is what stupid is”

-SWB