I’m back (again)…

August 1, 2011

I’m planning on starting to blog again. I’m sure if any of you are reading this you are skeptical of this, and I can’t blame you, but I want to try, and see what happens.

So, here I go again…


Snow rest for the weary…

February 22, 2011
Snow on Grant Street in Pittsburgh

Photo Credit: John Heller - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

So for those of you in the Pittsburgh area, you are well aware that we got another “blast” of winter weather last night.  This one was particularly frustrating since just a few days ago it was 65 degrees.  Alas, by this morning close to 9″ of snow had fallen in the Pittsburgh area, and as is the case around this area, panic ensued.  Cars were abandoned, the parkways were gridlocked until late into the night, and today everyone is pointing the fingers at who is to blame for this mess.  Weather forecasters had to play “catch-up” with their predictions as the snow came earlier and heavier than forecasted.  Road crews fought to keep up with the snow, but they were at an early disadvantage due to the worst of the storm moving in at rush hour.

Read more about this round of winter weather here, here, or here

It’s a bit funny, because when I moved to Pittsburgh, I was told that while it snows in Pittsburgh, it typically isn’t that bad.  The average winter here in the city yields around 40.3 inches of snow.  Compared to the 84″ that South Bend averages, I figured 40″ would be a cakewalk.  However, the past 2 winters have been anything but average.  Here’s some fun facts:

  • Last winter Pittsburgh saw 77.4″ of snow.  This is 36.8″ above average.
  • 48.7″ fell in February 2010, 21″ of which fell in just 2 days (2/5-2/6)
  • This winter we have seen 50″ so far, which is 20.6″ above average as of today.
  • From late Fall of 2009 through today, the city is 57.4″ above average

So basically, In the past 15 months, Pittsburgh has seen nearly 3 and a half winters worth of snow.  Add to that the fact that Pittsburgh is one of the most hilly cities in America, and you get a whole lot of spinning tires, slide offs, and just general chaos.  See exhibit A below for a video of what a “minor” ice storm this winter combined with the hilly streets of Pittsburgh can look like

Oh Winter… you so crazy.

Personally, I blame this guy:

The Weather Rodent

And maybe this guy:

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (not Snoop Dogg)

But certainly not this guy:

I make the weather! All of this moisture coming up out of the Gulf is gonna push off to the east and hit Altoona.

Spring has to come eventually, right?

Concert Review: Jimmy Eat World

February 15, 2011

Jimmy Eat World
February 14th
Club Zoo, Pittsburgh, PA

Well, it was a night of firsts.  It was the first time I was able to see Jimmy Eat World live, and it was also the first time I’ve ever seen a concert at Club Zoo.  I arrived in the Strip District around 6:30 to see a line down the street and around the block.  I figured I would pick up my Will Call tickets and then hang out around the Strip until closer to showtime.  Unfortunately, the Will Call table is inside the venue and tickets are not available until the doors open for the night.  Instead of waiting in the rain/snow/sleet/misery mix that was pouring from the sky at the time, I decided to meet up with some friends at Rolands in the Strip for some food and pre-show libations.  Finally, at around 8, we headed back to the venue to find a spot and catch a bit of the opening band before Jimmy took the stage.

We got our tickets, and entered the Club, and instantly I knew it was going to be a “difficult” venue.  The place was already jammed back to the doors and the sight lines were terrible.  If you’ve never been to Club Zoo before, it’s obvious that it’s a club first, concert venue second.  The main floor is quite small and cramped, and outside of that, viewing options are limited to various balconies on the second floor.  Speaking of the balconies, despite already paying 30 dollars a ticket, if you wanted to go upstairs to watch the show, it was an additional 10 dollars for the “VIP level”.  Seeing that we weren’t going to see or hear much on the first level, we paid the extra cash and headed upstairs.  The sight lines upstairs were not much better as the prime viewing spots were already well picked over.  The one major benefit was that the crowds were much lighter upstairs and it was much easier to move around.  My only complaint about the upstairs level is the lack of restrooms.  In order to use the restroom, you had to go back downstairs and fight through a very tightly packed crowd to the one set of restrooms on the other side of the venue.

Ok, enough about the venue.  Let’s get to the music.  I must admit, I didn’t hear much of the opener, David Bazan.  What I heard wasn’t bad, but I can’t give a firm opinion.  (EDIT:  My friend Nate just reminded me that Bazan founded Pedro The Lion, a band I used to be into several years ago… I never made the connection last night.  Whoops)  When we first walked in, he was doing a duet with the lead singer of Jimmy Eat World, and the harmonies sounded solid, but again, I can’t say too much as we were working our way around the maze of Club Zoo at the time looking for a spot for the main act.  And what a main act it was.  I have been a fan of Jimmy for well over 10 years.  I started listening to them when Clarity was released, and have been a fan since then.  I just have never had the opportunity to see them live.   Luckily, that changed last night.

The set kicked off with A Praise Chorus from Bleed American and then went directly into My Best Theory from their newest album Invented.  Both these songs are full of energy and were a great start to the show.  From there the set spanned nearly the entire Jimmy Eat World discography.   Songs were played from 6 of the band’s 7 releases.  The only album not represented was their 1994 self-titled record.  The band kept up great energy from front to back, despite the crowd being rather mild mannered throughout the entire show.  The highlights for me were Big Casino, Evidence, Pain, Goodbye Sky Harbor, and of course the encore-ending The Middle and Sweetness.

The sound, while a bit quiet in the venue, was excellent.  The band is still spot on with their harmonies, and lead singer, Jim Adkins, has as powerful of a voice as ever.  The instrument blend was good, and I never felt like the band overpowered the vocals.  Courtney Marie Andrews, who appears on the band’s newest album, provided a nice female counterpart on several songs and just added to the full sound that the band already has.

In conclusion, the concert was excellent.  Jimmy Eat World is still going strong, and musically left nothing to be desired at the end of the night.  They played their hearts out, and everyone who I spoke to were ecstatic about the song choices and energy of the show.  Unfortunately, the venue they played left me feeling frustrated that I couldn’t enjoy the show more.  Despite that, I am still incredibly glad that I finally got the chance to see them live.  I only took one picture during the concert and I had to hold the camera precariously above my head and use 3x zoom to get a decent frame on the stage.  So please, forgive the graininess.  Try to think of it as a “rock and roll” feel to the picture.

Jimmy Eat World performing at Club Zoo

A Praise Chorus
My Best Theory
Coffee and Cigarettes
Lucky Denver Mint
Let It Happen
Thinking, That’s All
Big Casino
Action Needs An Audience
For Me This Is Heaven
Hear You Me
Goodbye Sky Harbor

The Middle

The Rhythm Of Life…

February 15, 2011

I have always loved music.  Anyone who has spent any time of my 27 year existence with me knows this.  At any point in my life, I can find a song or band that has propelled me through that moment.  When finding words to describe my feelings fail me, music has always been there.

These past 6 months have been no different.  Unfortunately, due to life circumstances the music that has carried me through this time is certainly not the most uplifting, happy music you have ever heard.  In fact, it’s quite the contrary.  There have been plenty of minor chords and angst filled lyrics that have littered the road I have walked over the past half of a year.

I must admit that I feel bad for many of my Pittsburgh friends who have met, and got to know me over the past few months.  You have seen a very different person than I would like to present to the world.  I’m sure you may have found traits that you find enjoyable, or things we have in common, but to be honest, I haven’t felt like myself in a very long time.  I have used a lot of distractions to keep my mind off of the life I am facing.  Some have been harmless, but others have been a bit more detrimental.  Several mornings have come where the memories of the previous night were all but a blur.  It’s in these moments that I realize that these temporary fixes aren’t bringing me a permanent solution to the problem.  I have been searching for anything to numb the pain of the reality of starting life over.  While some of these methods may “work” for a time, the damage they cause under the surface is much greater. The heart begins to harden, and the vibrant personality that lives underneath it all becomes callous and mundane.

Many of you have asked me lately why I’m not around as much.  First, please know it’s not because I don’t care about you (yinz). You have all been so supportive of me through all of this, and I am so thankful to you all.  The reality is, for several months, I lost track of the “music” of life.  Life used to be a brilliant symphony for me… lately, it has fallen into the faint sound of a child banging on a piano, desperately trying to put together a melody of any kind.

Over the past 2 weeks, I have begun to feel a passion for a full life once again.  A life that breaks the status quo.  One where I can break the ritual of a 24 hour carbon copy day that looks just like the last.  A life that is exciting, and has more for me than I could have ever imagined.  It will certainly take time to find my “symphony” again, and I am only finding the melody a day at a time.  There are still so many parts and intricate harmony lines to be found.  Hopefully I can discover this life with all of you, whom I care about so much.  I certainly can’t do it alone.

Luckily, that’s the beauty of a symphony.  One instrument can not play the entire piece.  Every part plays an important role.  To be honest, my faith teaches this very same thing about how we should all live and work together for a more perfect love and a greater life, but there’s no need to worry, I’m not going to start preaching right now.  As opposed to preaching from a “pulpit”, I’d rather live my life as the “instrument” that I feel I should be in this time and in this moment.  Perhaps in the chaos of life, some of you have lost track of what it means to join in this symphony of life. Perhaps the hurts and pains that life has dealt you have left you feeling rusty and meaningless.  If that is the case, I can only hope that perhaps my brief rambling tonight will ignite a desire to clean up your instrument a bit and join the wonderful music we can all make together.

And if you don’t like analogies… then first, I apologize for having to read through this all, second, have you considered that you possibly hate music? And finally, let me put it to you this way:

Thank you all for loving and caring for me through this very, VERY, difficult time.  I couldn’t do it without all of you, and I can’t do life from this point without you all either.  I hope we can all continue to walk through life together… wherever it may lead us all.

Going Through Changes…

October 25, 2010

The last you heard from me, I was getting ready to participate in Coasting for Kids at Cedar Point for Give Kids The World.  I am happy to say that the event was a huge success!  Nationwide, the event raised over 40,000 dollars for this great organization!  For all of you that were able to donate, thank you so much!  I am looking forward to participating again next year!

Now I realize it’s been several months since I’ve posted.  If you’ve followed my blogging in the past, you will realize this is not surprising.  I am awful at keeping up with blogging, and with several changes that have been going on in my life, it’s been even more difficult to find time to put my thoughts on a screen.  But, that’s what brings me back here today.

To be honest, I am in the midst of the darkest season that I have faced in my relatively young life…  Growing up, we all have an idea of how we want things to turn out as our life progresses.  We may not have an exact idea of how things will turn out, but most of us tend to have a framework that we try to build our life upon.  Even if we don’t have a full knowledge of what will transpire, nearly everyone has specific things that they hope/believe will never happen to them.  These are the things that redden your eyes with tears, that keep you awake at night, and radically change the course of life that you have followed thus far.  These events have the potential to tear down all you have built so far, and leave you back at square one.  These events shake you to your very core, and make you question what could have possibly brought you to this place.  As devastating as these moments are, they also are pivotal in that they can either destroy you, or build you into a stronger, better person than you were before.

So that is where I stand right now… Facing one of the things that I never thought would ever happen to me.  This is my reality.  The frail hope that this is a very long bad dream has faded, and I am now just trying to figure out where to go from here.

Some of you reading this blog know what it is that I am facing, while others are completely clueless.  I am sorry that I am being vague right now, but I really don’t feel like publishing my entire personal life on the internet.  Rather, I look to process through some of the things I am feeling right now, and attempt to find healing through writing.  I have always loved writing, and find it to be very therapeutic, but I tend to ignore it until something like this happens.

I’m hoping to make this blog a place where I can process through the various feelings I am experiencing as I journey through this chapter of my life’s story.  Now don’t worry… I promise this blog is not going to become “Josh’s Inner Sanctum of Sadness.”  Hmm… Perhaps I will start that blog on another page (sarcasm).  While it is true that I am going through some very difficult things in life, it doesn’t mean that I am completely lacking any positive emotions.  In fact, sometimes in these dark times, you can find joy in places that you would never notice if you were just going about life as usual.

So if you pray, please pray for me.  If you don’t, at least send some positive thoughts my way.  If you don’t think any positive thoughts… well… then perhaps you should start an “inner sanctum of sadness” blog…

Thanks for your support during this difficult time, and hopefully I emerge from this a stronger, wiser person than when it started.

Coasting for Kids

July 21, 2010

So, if you read my Twitter or my Facebook, you may be tired of hearing about this, but don’t worry… You only need to hear about it for 9 more days… I ask you to please take just a few minutes and read this…

What you see below you is the Gemini roller coaster at Cedar Point… Looks fun, eh?  When it opened in 1978 it was the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world!

I have ridden this coaster countless times in my numerous visits to Cedar Point over the course of my life, and on July 29th, I will be riding this coaster many more times, but for a VERY different reason…  Let me show you something:

Doesn’t this place look amazing?  If you were a kid and were in the car with your parents driving through the Orlando, FL area, wouldn’t you nag them and cry until they would pull over so you could see what this place was all about?

This place is truly amazing… truly magic… but in a different way than most “attractions” in Central Florida.  This is Give Kids The World Village.  This village is a 70-acre resort complete with over 140 deluxe Villas, entertainment attractions, and whimsical venues.  However, what makes this resort unique is that it is specifically designed for children with special needs and life threatening illness.  This village is a haven and a joyful escape for these precious children and their families.  Since it’s beginnings, Give Kids The World has given over 100,000 children the chance to enjoy both the Village and the famous theme parks in the Orlando area.  No child in need has ever been turned away – and no child ever will…  What’s even more exciting is that you can be a part of making sure these special children continue to have a place to be treated like the princes and princesses that they truly are!

In just 9 days, I will be going to Cedar Point.  I will be riding the Gemini roller coaster for up to 10 hours (with meal and restroom breaks of course).  A lot of the people who have talked to me about the event want to talk about this coaster marathon.  To be completely honest, it was one of the reasons that I signed up for the event.  However, over the past several weeks of raising money for this event, I’ve come to realize that there really isn’t anything special about me sitting on a roller coaster for ten hours.  It’s a ride… It will go up, and it will go down…many many times.  I may get motion sick, I may even need to stop before the day is done.  The truth is I have ridden Gemini over a hundred times already, and simply sitting on it for 10 hours isn’t going to bring joy to a child who is suffering.  It’s what we do in these 9 days leading up to the event that will make it special…  What we do in these next 9 days can and will bring joy to children and their families who desperately needs it.

I am asking for donations to sponsor my involvement in the event.  I have set a goal to raise 1000.00 for Give Kids The World.  As of this writing, I have raised 590 dollars so far!  I am so thankful for those of you who have been able to donate!  Your generosity is so greatly appreciated.  I know we only have less than 9 days left, but I truly believe that we can still hit my goal of 1000.00.  I know money is tight for many these days, but if only 82 people would donate 5.00, I would hit my goal.  If you can give more, that’s great, but all I’m asking is that you give what you can…

It’s easy to donate… I have a secure site set up where you can make your donation.  The money goes directly to the charity and I never see a penny of it.  If you would prefer to give offline, please let me know and I can arrange that as well.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate asking. Give today!  PLEASE!! (yes, I’m begging – these kids deserve it)

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give” – Winston Churchill

Donate by clicking here:

More information on Give Kids The World:

Photo Tour of Give Kids The World Village:

Under Construction

July 19, 2010

As someone who is very picky about page design, please avert your eyes from the very plain banner at the top of this page… I will be updating this to a cool, slick custom header later this evening… Thanks for your understanding.