Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Luxury Box Suite

Okay, I started writing this forever ago and have just been waiting for my sister to upload my pictures so I could post it. She still hasn't done that, but one of my friends who was with us did, and I've included some of hers instead :)

So my friend (I'll call her Speechy) and I were taking a walk last Wednesday and I asked her what her plans were for the weekend. She had a few goals: drink a pumpkin beer, buy her Halloween costume, and win Luxury Box Suite (LBS) tickets for Sunday's Steelers game. She had entered a raffle at her workplace and they only sold 50 tickets, so she had pretty good odds. I really hoped she would win too, since I haven't missed a home game since I moved back to Pittsburgh, but I didn't have the cash flow to buy a ticket (I naturally assumed she would invite me if she won!). I woke up on Thursday and watched the news, as I do every morning while I'm getting ready for work. The weather forecast said it would be unseasonably cold on Sunday. I thought," Wow, that stinks b/c it's a night game. Oh well, we won't feel it b/c we'll be in the box." And then immediately tried to un-think it - I didn't want to jinx her chances of winning!!!

As I'm sure you guessed, Speechy's ticket was pulled, and she won the raffle. She called me after work and I screamed when she told me. It was the most exciting thing ever - I had never been in a LBS, I was going to get to go the game, and really, winning anything is exciting! Of course, these tickets were the best prize ever. Speechy won 4 tickets, so she invited me and two of our other friends.

I knew Sunday was going to be the best day of my life. I couldn't wait to tailgate with my family and the whole tailgate crew. My dad has had season tickets for about 35 years now, so we're old hats. We're in the same location for every game, we grill yummy food and drink lots of beer. When the weather gets colder, we have a fire barrel to keep us toasty, and the home game that's closest to Christmas we celebrate the holiday with lots of singing and a tree that we hang beer cans on. Anyway, the tailgate was fun, as always. Speechy came down early to play, and we rounded up people to play flip cup around the world's smallest table. We also had my sister's lethal jello shots.

Finally, it was time to head into the game. Our anticipation was out of control - the four of us were so excited, we kept taking ridiculous pictures of us: with our tickets, walking to the stadium, etc. We got to go in a special entrance, which was amazing. Waiting to get into the stadium always takes forever and is a mad crush, so it was really nice to be in a quicker line! Then we were in a little lobby and took elevators up to the box level. The walkway where the suites were located had lots of Steelers pictures (past and present). We immediately saw tons of service people, waiters/waitresses, etc. who were very friendly and took kindly to the fact that I stopped every three steps to take pictures. This picture below is from the balcony/walkway overlooking the private box suite bar/restuarant.

Then - we arrived at the box. We pushed open the door and it was beautiful! First (and most importantly) we had our very own bathroom!! Anyone who's ever waited in the ridiculously long lines at any type of sporting event can appreciate how exciting that was! There was a small lounge area (a few chairs and table) and a buffet set up in the kitchen area. The rest of the people were already in the box, and they welcomed us and told us to help ourselves to food and drinks. Eek! We were so excited. We grabbed seats and I was awestruck by the view, by the boxes surrounding us, by the entire thing, really. We went through the buffet, got drinks and just sort of took it all in. We were pretty overwhelmed.

Since we were the last people in the box, we couldn't get four seats in a row, but we had two in front and two in back. My original seat was nice, but I couldn't see the entire field (I could actually only see a tiny sliver). They have glass on either wall so that you can see through the boxes on each side and to the field, but the glass had some sunglare on it, so it wasn't super easy to see out of. I watched the view on the scoreboard for awhile, and then one of the men in the box told us we could move over to the other side and we would see better from there. So we did, and it was MUCH better! This picture gives you an idea of what we could see from our new seats. Regardless, the view was amazing! I'm lucky enough to be spoiled b/c I sit so frequently in my Dad's seats, but the view was still pretty good. The weather was actually beautiful, but I can only imagine how nice it must be to sit indoors in the boxes during the freezing cold weather games!

The next exciting event was a visit from the Steelers mascot, Steely McBeam!! Yes, the mascot is super lame. The Steelers went 75 years without a mascot and then felt the need to create one for the anniversary celebrations. Like I said, lame. But, it was still exciting to see Steely's big yellow head in the LBS next door and try to coax him into visiting us afterwards! He did, and it was hilarious. Steely is super tall, very squishy, and carries a foam steel bar. We took pics of all of us with Steely, of each group of people in the box with him, etc. I'm just including a picture from when he entered the box so as not to be too repetitive!
During halftime we went to visit one of my colleagues who was in another LBS. Her hubby gets tickets to some games, and they wound up having last-minute seats for this one. His boss's wife was super nice, making us drinks (they had a wider variety of food/etc. than we did) and chatting with us. We stayed longer than we planned - they were on the exact opposite side of the stadium. On the way back from their LBS, we stopped at one of the many, glorious dessert carts in the hallways. They were unbelievable, stocked with the most lucious treats ever! One of my friends treated us to dessert and a yummy shot, and then we finally made it back to our own box.

We watched the rest of the game, and unfortunately, the Steelers lost to the Giants :( We could have played better and won, but I'm not dwelling on that, I swear! Overall, it was an amazing experience and I'm so grateful to my friend for inviting me. I will definitely never forget it.

The only other thing I have to say is that I don't think I would want to watch every game from the LBS. There's just something about being in the stands with all of the rest of the fans, surrounded by like-minded people, waving my terrible towel, and screaming my lungs out that can't be beat. All of that is kind of muffled in the LBS, and a lot of the other people in our box did not seem like they were huge fans. I think a lot of wheeling and dealing probably happens there, but beyond that it doesn't really have the energy of the rest of the stadium. And I definitely think my friends and I were most appreciative of the opportunity to be in the box - we were thrilled to be there, and the others seemed to take it in stride.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pens Vs. Steelers

So, last Thursday I was the lucky recipient of a free ticket to the Pens hockey game. My friend's dad got 4 tickets and she took me :) I haven't been to a Pens game since very early high school, and not to a hockey game since early college. I'm obviously used to football sporting events, since I've been to many many Steelers home games. Thus, there were a number of comparisons I was able to see between hockey and football that I thought I'd share!

1. Ice: Yes, the Penguins actually play on ice. Not sure who originally thought it would be a good idea to strap blades to their shoes, skate across frozen water and use a crooked stick to shoot rubberized plastic into a goofy net, but there you have it - hockey in a nutshell! It was very odd to be inside for an event (I really wanted them to open the roof!), and even stranger to be inside and still be cold!

2. Cup holders: There weren't any. What is that? Who can possibly balance a beer on their knees while jumping up to cheer for their team? I guess I'm not that talented. I suppose this has something to do with the fact that the Arena was built in the 1960s (although I know they had beer then) and didn't think to include them. I just hope that the new arena gives these the attention that they deserve!

3. Offsides: Okay, so there's offsides in football. I understand that rule, totally know what they mean when the referees call it. But there's also offsides in hockey. What the heck? I can't figure out this rule to save my life. My little cousin tried to explain it to me once, but despite his valiant efforts, I remain clueless. I know it was called once against us, and another time Sidney Crosby skated all the way back down into our territory for no reason that I could see before going back to aim for the opposing team's goal - I assume to avoid an offsides call? I think it has something do do with the blue lines...

4. Song Choice: There were waaay more songs played at the Pens game than there have been at any Steelers game I've gone to! Plus, who authorized polka as an acceptable music genre? I understand we're in Western Pennsylvania, but I'd rather see those eastern European roots come to fruition through delicious pierogies, and not through obnoxious music!! I actually felt like I was at a baseball game. There was a lot of visual stimuli happening the entire time.

5. Elvis: So, there was a guy sitting in front of me who was dressed as Elvis. He had on a white jumpsuit with gold sparklies, yellow-tinted glasses, sideburns, the whole works. And he was absolutely no fun. Now, if Elvis attended a Steelers game, he would be jumping around like a maniac, doing everything in his power to draw the attention of the cameras and make it on the jumbo-tron. The Pens Elvis just sat there. The camera guy actually was close by at the beginning of the game and had the camera trained on him, and still Elvis just sat. Seriously?? What's the point of dressing up if you're not going to have fun with it? Worse, I think he's a season ticket holder - some other attendees seemed to know him and were trying to get him to dance, but he wouldn't unless they bought him a beer (they didn't. I wouldn't have either).

6. Fights: So, I get that there are fights in hockey. And I get that fans love to see two big, burly guys pummel each other. But I don't get that the refs just stand and watch. What is that all about? I can appreciate that if they want to fight, they're going to fight. But for the refs to literally back away as soon as a duo starts to circle one another or pull of their gloves seems just a little to accepting to me. I couldn't get over how they let this keep happening.

So, my conclusion is that Steelers football will for sure remain my favorite sport. I understand the fans, the rules, the stadium much better than I'll probably ever appreciate the Civic Arena. I'm happy I got to see a Pens game, especially before they rip down the Arena to make way for the new one. The Pens wound up winning the game, thanks to a rally in the third period that was super exciting. And keep an eye out for my next post, when I talk about the pinnacle of a Steelers fan's game attendance - I got to spend Sunday's game in a Luxury Box Suite!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Six Random Things

Yay, VP tagged me!! It's been a few days since I posted and I've been missing from cyberland overall (very exciting things happening in my life...keep an eye out for my next post and all will be revealed!). Anyway, here's my response:

1. Post the rules on your blog
2. Blog 6 random things about yourself
3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post
4. If you're tagged, DO IT and pass on the tag Six Random Things

1. I LOVE strawberries. They are by far the queen of all things fruity. How can you resist their plump redness? And the taste - yum! My sister and I always wanted my mom to buy us strawberries year round and never understood how expensive they were in Southwestern PA out of season. To this day, every time I have them I consider it a treat.

2. I just finished participating in an Allergy Study here at my hospital. I joined it b/c one of my nursing directors was doing it, and I figured the extra cash couldn't hurt. The study was for people who are allergic to ragweed, and I had to take the medicine daily for almost six months. At the initial visit, I found out I was allergic to cats, grass, dust mites, and ragweed. The study was fine, but the medicine tasted horrible and I had a really hard time forcing myself to take it every morning. But - now I think I probably had the actual medicine and not the placebo b/c ever since the study ended, my allergies have been terrible!

3. I am very big on family traditions. My favorite day of the entire year is Christmas Eve. My entire life, we've always spent the early evening with very, very close family friends and then gone to mass. After church, we head to my paternal grandparents' house to eat and exchange gifts with that entire side of my family. I am extremely close to my cousins on that side of the family, and we always sit upstairs and sing Christmas carols and stare at the presents and yell at the "adults" to come upstairs.

4. Okay, I'm kind of cheating, as this kind of relates to my last random thing, but it's my blog, so there! The other Christmas Eve tradition we have is that my Grandma always buys all of the cousins a set of pajamas. After the gifts are opened, we all change into our PJs and lounge around in them before wearing them home. Last summer, my sister, my cousin and her boyfriend, and I all went to Orlando to visit my other cousin. My Grandma sent summer PJs with my sister for all of us to open, along with really funny (and rather uncharacteristic) notes. We loved it!

5. I have a "thing" for textures. I love to touch things and to pet materials. When I first started at my current job, I would always pet peoples' clothing if the material looked smooth or unusual. Okay, by pet, I mean I would just feel the material. This was completely normal for me - my friends and I have done this to one another for years. However, my co-workers thought (and still think) it was hilarious. Over three years later, they've finally gotten used to it, but they still occasionally refer to me as "The Petter!"

6. I have a fairly recent weakness for handbags. Four years ago I took my first trip to NYC and totally got sucked into the scandalous, illegal purse buying on Canal Street. It was the most thrilling thing! We would go into a stall selling jewelry, mention we were looking for Coach, and the little man would make sure his lookout was posted before opening up the back wall and letting us into the secret room, covered with designer imposter bags. Amazing!! After our first purchase, we had our booty encased in the plain black plastic bags (we call these "scandal bags"). These carriers identified us to all of the other salespeople as purse-buyers, and we couldn't walk four steps without being propositions.

Okay, now I have to tag 6 people, and I don't have a lot of blog friends so here goes:
Szia! Robyn
Kristen & Seth

Thursday, October 16, 2008

That Darn Election

Well, I didn't want to talk about it, since, like many others, I am SO sick and tired of the campaigns, the ads, the incessant news coverage. But I actually watched a little bit of the debate last night, so I figured I would throw in my two cents.

I didn't watch all of the debate, since it was mostly about the economy and fairly redundant - we've heard most of what they said last night already, in one forum or another. But at the end, they finally, FINALLY, talked about education. My classmates, professor, and I lamented at school after the last debate how the two candidates seemed to be ignoring education. We all said that we hadn't heard a peep about it since Hillary was still in the race. And yes, the economy is important, but really, don't you think Education should at least be mentioned?

I am one of the many voters in the "swing state" of PA who has yet to finalize my decision on a candidate. I'm of the opinion that all politicians lie, and I don't love either Obama or McCain. I think Obama is charismatic and kind of swarmy, and McCain is just - awkward and inconsistent. When I did an online poll based on issues, my feelings did lean more towards a particular candidate, but I'm still having a hard time rallying up any enthusiasm for him.

Back to education. Do the candidates really know what they're talking about? Yes, charter schools can be positive, as can vouchers. But for McCain to say that all schools are created equal and that there is a lot of money available for students in poorer areas to improve their education is just ridiculous. No Child Left Behind is a great, idealistic idea. As a government plan, it sucks. The better schools are rewarded handsomely for their high test scores, while the poorer (both monetarily poor and performance poor) are punished and given less funding. All this does is serve to widen the education gap.

Also, while I agree that having highly qualified teachers is an important aspect of NCLB, we can't put responsibility solely in their hands. An educator who teaches her students how to take a test well, drills them on these skills, and utilizes her classroom as the arena for these tasks may very well enable her students to be successful on state exams. High test scores boost the school's rating and demonstrate AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress). But how do we know that the students actually understand what they're learning and retain this information? Many educators who use creative methods in the classroom and believe that assessment is ongoing and diverse may not have students that are as successful on state tests simply because they can evaluate their students in multiple ways, not just in this type of tests. So who's the better teacher? According to our presidential candidates, teacher number one is.
I'm disappointed in both of the candidates. I really hoped that at least one of them would have presented an idea for a more cohesive education system, or at least addressed/acknowledge the problems that exist with NCLB. I did miss the very start of their conversation about education, since I was flipping between shows, so maybe I missed a critical point, but I doubt it. I definitely heard McCain mention how wonderful NCLB is, and Obama didn't rebut that. So...I'm still undecided. I wish I could be like family members and friends who are fired up about one candidate or another, or about the election in general, but I just can't get over these impressions, and I can't see the positives of voting for one over the other.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Daughter of a Pistol

I got to thinking today about colloquialisms. What exactly is the son of a gun? Where did he come from? And why is it a boy and not a girl? Surely if a gun can reproduce, it can have sons and daughters.

Why is it so normal for someone to exclaim, "Son of a gun!" when something goes poorly or when a discovery is found? My colleague and I got to chatting about it, and we decided that we want to replace "son of a gun" with "daughter of a pistol." Much more politically correct in these pre-election days, and it sounds fresh and new.

Since I was so curious, I turned to my good friend Google who referred me to Wikipedia. I know that Wikipedia isn't always the most accurate source, but they're usually pretty darn close. And they always let you know when they're unsure. At any rate, I discovered a few things. First, there are many, many songs that contain this phrase. My two favorite references are from "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" - " I told you once, you son of a gun, that I'm the best there's ever been." and from "Girlfriend (Cupid's Chokehold)" - If I had to choose her or the sun, I'd be one nocturnal son of a gun." (At this point, if I were blogger techno-savvy, I might attach a clip of each song...but I don't know how to!).

The other interesting thing was that the phrase is prevalent in both British and American English, but they have different origins. "In British naval slang this term refers to a child of questionable parentage conceived on the gun deck, hence 'son of a gun'. However, children born on board British naval vessels to enlisted men were referred to as a 'true son of a gun'." And "In American folk idiom (American), this term has similar meaning to the British one, but was derived from military bureaucratic treatment of young enlisted men of uncertain familial background." Isn't it amazing that two different cultures would come up with the same phrase in similar ways?

Check it out:

So, my goal is to forget "son of a gun" and go with "daughter of a pistol." Help me spread the word!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


SFB is a creature that I have recently become acquainted with, courtesy of my lovely colleagues. It all began when my counterpart had an unfortunate encounter with some bad Chik-Fil-A at our local mall. She has always been someone who has had, shall I say, digestive issues, and unfortunately she has no problems sharing them with the rest of the office. After the Chik-Fil-A, the e-mails were flying between a handful of us, including my boss who was at a meeting off-site. Today, my boss encountered the same problems after his lunch...

I picture SFB to be a small, old gnome, with a scraggly beard and a low sense of humor. His little pointy hat is usually askew, and his clothes are a little worn. He carries with him a miniature bellows, bright red (to match his hat) with gold embellishments. The bellows is just as worn as his clothes, and the folds are just about ready to be replaced. SFB skips around, always looking for trouble. You may frequently find him close to a fresh crop of broccoli or some truly potent kidney beans. When he sees you, he becomes impish, mischieviously using his bellows to help you emit some of the most horrendous sounds and smells known to man. SFB merrily pumps his bellows, his gleeful giggle echoing mysteriously around his victim, forcing him/her to believe that madness accompanies their affliction.
I would wish that SFB would stay close to the greasy french fries or Indian restaurant, but unfortunately he likes to travel, and you never know when or where he is going to strike next. So, I suppose that we'll all just have to be on the lookout. Hopefully Smelly Fart Bags is too busy to visit me any time soon!

And a Rant...

First, I can't write a new post without saying how AMAZING the NKOTB concert was!!! I know that I will never hear the end of it, but my sister and I were totally impressed, and the show was well worth the price of tickets and gas from Pgh to Cleveland. If I were more techno-savvy, I would post some of the pics from my phone to this blog, but I don't even know how to get them off of my phone, so sorry kiddos! I also have to add - Jordan looked HOT! I was always a Joey fan, and I still am, but Jordan did "Baby I Believe in You" with a shirt blowing around his naked torso, and all I have to say is YUM-O!

On to my rant. This is completely random, but one of the things I hate most as a driver is when a car pulls out in front of you and then sloooows doooown. I am aware that I have a slightly leaden foot when it comes to the gas pedal, but if you have the audacity to zoom in front of my car and risk being hit, why would you slow down once you're there? This is particularly irritating on two-way streets when you can't utilize a passing lane. I also always seem to have this occur when I'm already running late. I'll make a right onto 35th Street so I can turn onto Smallman and hopefully miss all of the lights on Penn Avenue (and the extra traffic)...only to have a big honkin' Mack truck pull out and feel the need to drive 10 MPH. At least have the courtesy to meet the pathetic 25 MPH speed limit!

So, you can imagine how aggravated I was when this happened, not on the road this morning, but in the hospital. Let me paint a picture for you: our cafeteria is on the second floor, and I was running late for lunch (all of my colleagues had already gotten lunch and were back on my floor in our conference room). The hallway leading from my elevators to the cafeteria narrows so that you can only have two lanes of "traffic," going to and from the caf. I was walking quickly, as usual, and the path in front of me was clear: no elderly visitors with their walkers, no employees complaining about the weather, and no patients dragging their IV poles to the smoking patio. "Yes!" I thought. "Home free! I can dart in and grab my food and catch up with my co-workers."

It was not to be. Midway down the hall, a maintenance man darted out of a hidden office door and jumped in front of me. And then - slowed down. One would think with all the darting and the jumping that he was a quick mover, but apparently not. The other side of the hallway was filled with a line of happy people who already had their lunches, so I couldn't pass him. Unfortunately, he did not have any side view mirrors, so he couldn't tell that I was practically tailgating him. By the time we approached the caf entrance, two old ladies were blocking the doors, reading the menu to one another.

I am aware that in the grand scheme of things, my being late to lunch is not important. I certainly know that Maintenance Guy didn't care, and he probably thought it was okay to stroll along. But I am here to tell you, it's not okay. If I ever pull out in front of anyone or cut them off in a hallway, I will immediately step on the gas or start to jog. I'm sure that all other speed walkers will appreciate my thoughtfulness!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Poppin' the Cherry...

So, I've lately been a voyeur on a few blogs, and it's inspired me to attempt to create my own. I don't know that I'm going to be as eloquent or interesting as some of the other peoples' who I've read, but it never hurts to try, right?

Tonight my sister and I are driving to Cleveland to see...wait for it...NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK!! I'm so excited, I can't wait. My parents refused to take us when we were young, so we're taking matters into our own hands to make up for it.

I know all the arguments against the group. I'm well aware that they're no longer "young." I know that Jon is gay, and if they only began singing today, I sincerely doubt that I would be a fan. But, when I was in 3rd and 4th grades, NKOTB was the epitome of "cool." I had a huge crush on Joey McIntyre, a "just Joey" poster, buttons, and t-shirt, etc. Between my sister and me, we probably had one of every type of merchandise that was on the market. I can still sing all of the songs verbatim, and I remember how excited I was to receive the Step by Step tape for one of my birthdays (BTW, that's the on with the "Happy Birthday" song, and I truly thought Jon Knight was singing it to me for my birthday. Oh, and yes, that's right - I can tell you which member takes the lead on every song).

As a child, I adored this group, and as an adult, I get to relive my childhood for a few hours tonight. I think that's a pretty neat opportunity, and I'm glad that my sister and I are actually going. Mary Beth is just as big of a fan as I was, so this is a truly momentous occasion. When I first saw NKOTB in May on the Today Show, I got flutters of excitement and weak-kneed just as I did when I was little and watched their concerts on TV. Who knew these emotions would last? I've definitely neglected my end of this relationship - I've gone years without listening to a single New Kids song. So it was good to find out that nothing had really changed. I feel like I'm going back to visit my first boyfriend or to see my first crush after years. I only have one regret ~ after all these years, they still don't know I'm alive. Sigh.