Archive for July, 2007

Channel Four Party
July 31, 2007

As promised… here are some pictures from our Channel Four party.
The host is the guy on the right, Steve. He’s our Executive Producer. He does a great job all the time and is always a pleasure.
On the right is my good friend, Missi. For those of you who’ve been reading this blog a while, I’ve written about her being a Pitt Dance Squad member. She’s fun! She was working part time for us and is leaving for a full time job in Johnstown. I know she’ll be great! We’ll miss her smile… but she’s promising to be back soon. And since Johnstown always has a team in the Winterfest ski race… I bet we’ll be hanging out at Seven Springs soon.

Okay. Here is Mike Clark, of course, and the WONDERFUL Dana Brown. She’s getting a big promotion within the company and will be moving to Washington D.C. to organize political coverage from our bureau there. Dana is a wonderful person and is calm in the most tense situations. She is also very bright … so now she’ll be an asset to our entire company in addition to Pittsburgh.

Gus Rosendale…. flashing that famous smile. Right before I took this Gus said, “Oh no! This is not going on the blog is it?”
Yes, Gus. It is.

Ari and his wife, Nicole.
Both wonderful… and aren’t they the cutest couple?

These two are trouble.
Ashley is on the left… you already know her from her wonderful web work … she’s fantastic!
Producer Maria is on the right.
Maria is one of the best in the business. I love her work… and her sense of humor.
The three of us made fun of each other pretty much the whole night. I would tell you more but they would kill me.
We laughed a lot!

Can Janelle even take a bad picture?
Please, she’s always so beautiful. She’s a joy to be around.
Here she is with her husband, Casey.
If you look closely you can see Sally Wiggin’s eyelashes in the shot. She is in the original photo… but she made me swear to crop her out of this. She had just come from a golf game… and well, I thought she looked darling… but she may hurt me unless I agree to leave her out.

And the last picture I’ll share is of the woman who keeps things running smoothly in the newsroom, Peggie.
She’s our assignments editor and she has to find all the news, assign all the news, make sure crews get what they’re supposed to and make their time slots. She’s the friendly voice that answers if you call in with a news tip. So if you have news… and call our number: 412-244-4460… Say hello to Peggie. She’s fantastic and has that great smile… even during crazy situations.

Now, other people were taking pictures… so if anyone at the party shares any of them with me… I’ll post them too. There were tons more people that joined us: Andrew, Aaron, Marcie, Melanie, Sheldon, Jon …. come to think of it, almost the whole crew was there…. including lots of behind the scenes people you should meet. So I’ll try to get some more for you.

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North Pole Live Chat
July 29, 2007

Now to the story about our trip to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Oakland.
My kids got to talk live by satellite to scientists working at the North Pole.
That is cool! ….. pun intended ; )

First we watched a 25 minute video on the Titantic sinking. Very interesting and educational.
Then the Carnegie held a one time only teleconference with the crew at the North Pole.
You can get an idea of what they’re doing by going to http://www.polardiscovery.whoi.edu.

They provide updates and pictures everyday about their progress. For the first time they’re getting a chance to study the water under the ice cap by reaching the bottom of the ocean.
Dr. Mary-Louise Timmermans was there in person with us… and she helped us talk to her teammates. She’s been to the North Pole on an expedition.
We brought Ally’s friend, Hannah, with us…. and between the two girls and Zach we overwhelmed the crew with questions.
How cold is it? Are there any ships under the ice cap? Have you ever fallen through the ice accidentally? Are there any girls working up there? Why are you getting the water? Why don’t the fish freeze? Do you see any polar bears? Please tell Santa hello.

If you’d like to ask them any questions… you can go to that website and email them. They told us they love questions. They also have a lot of pictures showing what they’re doing.
After the big event… we went to grab a bite to eat in the museum cafe. FANTASTIC! The kids all got chicken fingers… and they are huge. Way too much for them to finish.
I encourage you to check out the museum. It has a bunch of cool exhibits right now. There’s the section on glass which is beautiful. There’s also a ‘Carnaval’ celebration… but we didn’t get a chance to see it because we ran out of time. There is always something new there. The website is: http://www.carnegiemnh.org. Worth checking out!
After we left the museum… we headed to Shadyside to grab some goodies at a new french shop. It’s called The French Tart. I needed to get something for a channel four party later that night…. I’ll show you some pictures in my next blog. But first let me say, The French Tart is wonderful! The website is: http://www.thefrenchtart.com.

I bought some chocolate cream puffs… that were perfect! YUM. The store has lots of little bite size desserts and mini-cakes and quiches and tarts and cookies and the list goes on and on and on….
I will be back at there soon! But right now I’m going to start uploading pictures from that channel four party.
I promise to post them soon.

Quecreek Miners Phone Call
July 28, 2007

I never expected the phone call I got today.
I was rushing around with the kids getting ready to go to a Carnegie Natural History Museum event (which I’ll write about next) …. when my phone rang.
It was my dear friend and channel four photographer, Art Carr. He said somebody wanted to say hello to me.. then he handed his cell phone to someone else.

It was a man’s voice and all he said was “I can’t believe you’re not here with me right now.”
Since Art is the King Jokester …. the mystery voice could have been anyone.. and I knew the conversation would probably end with me saying “I’ll get you back, Art”.

I asked the guy to give me a hint.
He said he hadn’t seen me in ages and that he came to my church once… and then it hit me.

The guy on the other end of the line was John Unger.
One of the Quecreek miners.

I realized Art had driven up to the anniversary celebration.
I wish I could have been up there with them today.
I will be there next year!
John and the other miners who were rescued are amazing. Every single time I’ve talked to any of them or heard them give a speech… they give all the credit to the men who worked non-stop to rescue them. They are always so humble and thankful.

John put another miner, Mark Poppernack, on the phone.
He said he and his family had just gotten back from the beach in time for the celebration.


I remember in 2002, when I got the call to go up and cover the tragedy.
I had been in that area the year before for 9/11 and the Flight 93 crash in Somerset County. I had met many of the rescue crews at the site of the plane crash. And now, a year later, I would be back with the familiar faces at another tragedy.
I saw the mine’s entrance flooded with water and thought it would be a miracle if the guys made it out. I spent days up there reporting back what was happening.
You know the story from here….. but I still get chills when I think about the moment I heard that “all nine are alive”.
A miracle.
Since then, I’ve become friends with several of the miners. John, Randall, Tom and Blaine all came to my church to give an inspirational speech. They were wonderful. And I think all of the crews that worked without sleep or food or rest for days to get them out with such slim hope are amazing.

It was a privilege to cover that story. It still inspires me. I am so thankful I was a part of that moment.

NAMI Luncheon
July 26, 2007

I spoke to a group called NAMI this week and I wanted to share a little about it with you.

NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. It’s serious stuff. Mental illness affects one in five families and the economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than $100 billion dollars each year.
The group is holding a walk October 7th at 10:00 a.m…… and I encourage you to take part if you can. The walk is to raise awareness and break down the stigma often associated with mental illness and let people know it’s okay and there is also help. We are quick to get help for ourselves or our loved ones when we have a physical problem… and we should do the same for mental problems.

So many people are affected by mental illness. It can be mild or severe. Affect the rich or poor. Touch all races and religions.

What you need to know is that THERE IS HELP in the form of medicine and support.

Why wait? The sooner you or your loved one gets help the better.
To join the walk or if you need support, visit NAMI’s website:
Here is some facts I took off of the NAMI website: http://www.namiswpa.org


****
What is Mental Illness: Mental Illness Facts

Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.

Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character, or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.

Here are some important facts about mental illness and recovery:

Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders. They cannot be overcome through “will power” and are not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence.
Mental disorders fall along a continuum of severity.
It is estimated that mental illness affects 1 in 5 families in America.

The World Health Organization has reported that four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the US and other developed countries are mental disorders. By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children.

Mental illnesses usually strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable.

Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives; The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States.

The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.

With appropriate effective medication and a wide range of services tailored to their needs, most people who live with serious mental illnesses can significantly reduce the impact of their illness and find a satisfying measure of achievement and independence. A key concept is to develop expertise in developing strategies to manage the illness process.

First Tomato
July 26, 2007

My garden’s first tomato!
Isn’t it beautiful?

Blues Festival
July 24, 2007

The weekend was perfect for the annual Pittsburgh Blues Festival.
We went on Sunday night to hear Delbert McClinton.
He rocks. Easy to see why he won a Grammy.

I was fortunate to be able to introduce Delbert that night and welcome all the blues fans out on such a wonderful night.
Lots of folks packed the Hartwood Acres lawn for the show.
I’ve been to many Sunday night concerts here. But this one was special.
All of the proceeds go to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

What is better than the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile for fun? (I tried to get my kids to sing the ‘I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener’ song for their cameras… but they refused. In fact, Zach shot me a “Have you lost your mind?” look. )

Our friend, Paula, joined us for the fun.

Here is some information I copied from the Food Bank’s website. If you need help or if you’d like to donate… please contact them.
The website is: http://www.pittsburghfoodbank.org. It’s amazing to see volunteers deliver about 18 million pounds of food every year.
Great job! And WTAE is proud to be a part of something so wonderful!
****
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that collects and distributes food through a 350+ member network in 11 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. Through food solicitation, fund raising, special events, and community partnerships, the Food Bank gathers food at our 94,000 square foot warehouse in Duquesne, PA. Through outlets such as soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, after school programs, senior high rises, MH-MR drop-in centers, neighborhood food assistance agencies, emergency or disaster-related feeding sites, regional food banks, Meals on Wheels, community centers, and special programs, the Food Bank currently distributes around 18 million pounds of food per year. Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is a member of America’s Second Harvest, the Nation’s Food Bank Network.

THINK IT’S A SCAM?
July 23, 2007

This is the 3rd email like this sent to me.
It makes me so frustrated.
They’ve all said they wanted to give me millions of dollars…. but the situation always changes.
There is no doubt this person has no intention of giving me millions of dollars, but I wonder how much cash they’re trying to swindle out of me?
Read for yourself:
**********

Peace of the lord be with your entire household,
I am Mrs. Yvonne Gupta, a Kuwaiti national I was married to Dr.Apex
Pradeep Gupta
who worked with Kuwait embassy in South Africa for nine years before he
died in the year 2000,
He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days.Since his
death I decided not to re-marry
or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against.

We were married for eleven years and the union unfortunately did not
produce any offspring.
Before his death we had given our lives to Christ and were living according
to his Words.
A few weeks ago I was diagnosed with cancer and the doctor has informed me
that I do not have
much time to live. Presently I am practically an invalid as the cancer has
ravaged my body and
I can feel my life slowly ebbing away. I do not have much time to do the
Lord’s work but He will
give me strength to see my last assignment through.

My husband, Dr.Apex Pradeep Gupta before his death deposited his life
savings of $8.6Million
(Eight Million Six hundred thousand U.S. Dollars) with a financial
institution in the European continent.
Before his death, we were committed to the growth of the church And the
propagation of the word,
but I can no longer partake in these noble task. I need a church, Christian
individual or individuals
who can continue the work on our behalf and will utilize this money the way
I am going to instruct here,
into-funding churches, orphanages and widows propagating the word of God
and to ensure that the
house of God is maintained,to care for the sick, the poor, the downtrodden
wherever they may be,
the Bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that giveth. I
took this decision because
I don’t have any child or next of kin who can inherit these funds.

Though the internet is a seemingly unlikely place to find such individuals,
I believe that the Lord hides
jewels in the most unlikely places. It is not the means that is important
but the message.
I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14
says that the lord will fight
my case and I shall hold my peace.With God all things are possible.

My lawyer who is presently on an assignment in The Netherlands will issue
you a letter of authorization
that will prove you as the present- beneficiary to these funds and also
other documents backing the claim
of the funds. I want you and the church to always pray for me because the
lord is my shepherd.
Happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian.You are advised to
contact my lawyer ,he does everything
on my behalf,he’s very understanding and I belive he will lead you to
success in Jesus name.
Below are my lawyer contact details:

Lawyer’s name: Mr.Marcus K.Knight

Email address: xxxx(I TOOK THIS OUT IN CASE SOMEONE READING MY BLOG EMAILED HIM ABOUT THIS)
Remain blessed in the name of the Lord.

Yours in Christ,

Mrs.Yvonne Gupta

Beautiful weekend = Kennywood!
July 22, 2007

When the weather’s this nice… all signs point to Kennywood.

Of course, we had a great time.

We loved standing on the bridge under the brave riders of the SkyCoaster and watching them free fall…. then swing right over our heads.

It’s hard to believe Kennywood opened in 1898 as a small trolley park.
Kennywood was begun by the Monongahela Street Railway Company, which was controlled by Andrew Mellon.
The Parkside Cafe’s building was here a couple of years after it opened… and still stands today.

Back then, it was a casino.

Thanks for another wonderful summer memory!

Mom’s Orchids
July 20, 2007

More fun stuff now:
I have had such luck with my orchid… that I got carried away and bought my mother a few.

She has the perfect place in her house for them.
Right in the middle of her home is a large atrium with lots of plants already.
Pefect for orchids.

I only have one bloom left on mine now.
It lasted so long, I can’t believe it!
Thanks for all of your advice on what I should do. Now just keep your fingers crossed that it will bloom again!

Honeybee Quote
July 19, 2007

Here’s a quote someone sent me regarding my story on the mysterious death of so many honeybees:
“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” ~ Albert Einstein

Honeybees
July 18, 2007

I mentioned that I’m doing a story on honeybees.
Something is killing them by the millions and scientists are scrambling to figure out why. One third of our food supply relies on the honeybees for help. In other words, if the honeybee disappears… we’re all in trouble.
I wanted to let you know that a wonderful reporter who works for our partner, The Pittsburgh Tribune Review broke the story nationally. His name is Rick Wills and I talked to him today about the story. A beekeeper near Erie first sounded the alarm that something was wrong….and it’s only gotten worse.
I thought for those of you who wanted more information about the honeybee…. I’d post a portion of a couple of Rick’s more recent in-depth reporting on the topic.
Thanks Rick!
**********************
By Rick Wills
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
June 27

Jim Doan, New York state’s largest beekeeper, no longer allows his bees to go anywhere near crops treated with a certain pesticide. Neither does Dave Hackenberg, Pennsylvania’s largest beekeeper.
Like hundreds of commercial beekeepers across the country, the two are convinced that neonicotinoids — a highly popular class of pesticides — are responsible for the loss of 70 to 80 percent of their vast bee colonies over winter.
Bees pollinate about a third of all food in the United States and add about $15 billion in value to American agriculture. Beekeepers like Doan and Hackenberg travel the country, renting bees to growers of apples, blueberries, pumpkins, oranges and dozens of other crops.
Still unexplained nine months after it was first identified, the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder has killed about one quarter of the nation’s honeybee colonies.
“This pesticide should not be used on crops where bees forage,” Doan, of Hamlin, N.Y., said of neonicotinoids.
Said Hackenberg, of Lewisburg in Union County, “I don’t want to go anywhere near that stuff at this point.”
Still, researchers who have spent months investigating possible causes of the bee die-off are not certain pesticides are to blame.
Marianne Frazier, a researcher at Penn State University, said researchers have identified a pathogen, or disease-causing organism, that might play a role.
“We also suspect that pesticides are playing a role, but we do not know that,” Frazier said.
Bayer Corp., which played a leading role in developing neonicotinoids, insists the company’s pesticides are not to blame.
“Current research indicates that non-chemicals may be the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder. A number of things are being investigated,” said Jack Boyle, a spokesman for Bayer Crop Sciences in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
“Anything that points to neonicotinoids would be premature,” Boyle said. “We have done all kinds of research on our products.”
Since Bayer first launched them in 1994, neonicotinoids have been popular because they target only certain insects and are largely biodegradable.
Several American beekeepers who blamed dramatic bee colony losses on neonicotinoids sued Bayer in 2003 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The lawsuit, which is pending, alleges that use of neonicotinoids resulted in steep financial losses to various beekeepers. It claims that Bayer failed to properly test the pesticide.
Boyle would not comment on the case.
Some theories about what’s causing the bee deaths have been largely ruled out, including genetically modified crops and cell phone signals.

**************
By Rick Wills
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
June 30

If left unchecked, the unexplained deaths of millions of honeybees could result in $90 million in direct and indirect losses to American agriculture, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said Friday.
“The honeybee population is absolutely critical to agricultural production,” Johanns said at a ceremony for the release of a postage stamp recognizing National Pollination Week.
The federal government has allocated no money for research into the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder, so named last year after bees began to die for no known cause. The disorder has been reported in 35 states and one Canadian province, and appears to have harmed hives in Asia, Europe and South America.
The director of a large beekeeping trade organization yesterday termed the problem a crisis and said he plans to ask the Agriculture Department next week to spend at least $4 million in emergency money for immediate research.
“If you follow his logic about the gravity of this problem, there really should be more money for research,” said Troy Fore, executive director of the American Beekeeping Federation in Jessup, Ga., in response to Johanns’ comments. “The USDA has money set aside for this sort of thing, and Colony Collapse Disorder constitutes an emergency.”
Bills to pay for research are pending before Congress but aren’t on a schedule for consideration in the House or Senate.
Colony Collapse Disorder has killed one-quarter of the bees in the country’s 2.4 million hives over the past year, putting stress on beekeepers and many crop growers who rely on rented bees for pollination.
Researchers are considering pathogens and pesticides as a possible cause. Many beekeepers say they’re increasingly convinced that pesticides are causing bee immune systems to break down.
A Cornell University study shows one-third of all food produced in the United States is pollinated by honeybees, including more than 90 percent of apples and blueberries, half the nation’s peaches and a quarter of the oranges.
Marianne Frazier, of Penn State University, said the pressure to identify a cause of the bee die-off has made this the most intense period of her 25-year career as an entomologist.
“It’s the most significant situation I have ever been in. Everyone is feeling a lot of pressure,” she said.

Honey Bees
July 17, 2007

I’m doing a story tonight at 5:00 about honey bees.
They’re starting to disappear and die and no one knows why.
We’re talking millions and millions of bees…. gone.
Before you think it’s just a problem for honey production… consider this: One third of our food supply depends on honeybees for pollination! ONE THIRD!

I go out with a master beekeeper and look at his hives. He’s lost more than a million bees this year. I also talk with the owner of a North Hills orchard about what is happening with his crops.
Right now, scientists all over the country are working on what’s causing the problem. They’re looking at a virus, mites, the weather, even cell phones….
I hope you’ll watch Wednesday at 5:00 as we take a closer look.

Also, thanks for more suggestions about my raccoon problem.
I thought I would post a couple of them……

Here’s a solution from David:
I had a problem with raccon’s also. Instead of some elaborate way to keep the lids on and so forth, I got like a “rubbermaid” container that would house all of the garbage cans, with a top or front doors that will open and close the cans away securely. You can get these at Lowes. They are called “Horizontal Utility Shed” sales for $178.00 a little pricy but it would keep the nice critters out of your trash and they look nice.
Good luck. let me know if that helps you..

And here’s one from Robert:
My solution for Raccoons? I feed them! I buy those 50-pound bags of dog food from Walmart, and put two margarine containers full, each evening, far out in the back yard, and under some trees. I also put out some water for them. They never come close to the house and deck. I even see them smiling while they eat. They are very happy.

Raccoons Red-Handed
July 15, 2007

They’re back!
And this time I captured the criminals on my camera.

These pictures were taken Saturday night.
It was about midnight. I had just finished watching ‘Flags of our Fathers’ on ONDEMAND when I heard the familiar rattling outside my kitchen door.

I rushed over and turned on the outside light. I caught them red-handed.
It was a famlly of four.
They had managed to take the lids off my cans and rummage through all my leftovers.
This guy is chomping on chicken.

They weren’t scared of me at all.
I turned on the light, tapped on the glass, shook the door…. and they all just stood there watching me.
Fearless.

Those of you who are thinking this family looks cuddly and cute…. think again! They rip off the trash can lids, rip open the trash bags, and spread my trash and garbage all over the neighborhood. THEY’RE EVIL.

Many of you wrote in suggestions on how to get rid of them. It seemed the most popular was to spray my trash cans with ammonia water.
I haven’t had a chance to get any yet… but I’m going to try it and I’ll let you know if this family of four moves on to get their dinner somewhere else.

Kennywood
July 13, 2007

Perfect weather for Kennywood Day!

I want to say a special hello to Paula. I see her every year. Her sister brings her to see us and it makes my day. This year I got to meet the “other” sister. What a great family. Paula has a beautiful smile and I’m already looking forward to seeing her again next year. If you know Paula… please tell her sister to email me a photo!
Also, a big hello to Joe. It wouldn’t be Kennywood Day without a picture of the two of us.

I also want to thank Sally for the corndog recommendation.
I have never eaten one at Kennywood before. But this year I sat next to Sally at the autograph booth. She ordered one as soon as we sat down and when they asked me if I wanted anything I said go ahead and bring me one too. It was fantastic! (check Sally’s blog for photos of the corndog experience) I have no idea why I never tried it before.

And finally, I’m a little frightened of the “Frownie Brownie.” One of my co-worker’s little girls was scared over all the mascots in the parade.
I could empathize because Ally is also worried about them. So, when I saw the little girl’s panicked face… I marched over to the Frownie Brownie and told him to stay away from us because we were a little freaked out. Then, as my car took off in the parade, I turned around and ….. there he was, the Frownie Brownie had squeezed in to march right behind me! Creepy. ; )

The Other Stonehenge
July 9, 2007

On vacation, we were driving on a side road when it started to drizzle.
That’s when we passed it up on the hillside.
We all did a double take, turned around, and pulled over.

Someone had made a replica of Stonehenge.
Zach said, “Mom, I have always wanted to come here!”
The sign said “Welcome to Foamhenge.”
Yes, the icon has been done in foam.
I tried to explain to Zach that the real deal was a little farther away.
Here’s the website: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/attract/VANATfoamhenge.html

The creator is Mark Cline.

Zach and I climbed up to get a closer look. Everyone else stayed back in the vehicle. I included this picture so you could see that we really were on a rural road.

My cousin, Lisa (who you met from the great Safari incident of ’07) is wondering if the guy will re-create other monuments and natural wonders:

The Statue of Foamerty?
The Grand Foamyon?
Mount Foamore?
The Foaman Coliseum?
The Great Pyrafoams?
The Leaning Tower of Foam?

……. just a thought.