Archive for August, 2009

First Day of School
August 31, 2009

This is the last year my kids will get on the bus together. Next year Zach heads to the Junior High and that means his bus will come an hour earlier. So this morning was my last chance to get my  traditional first day  of going to the bus stop photo. They took off running and I barely got it!


This picture was taken on Zach’s first day of kindergarten. The bus had just brought him back home .  Ally missed him so much that day! She ran and hugged him when he got off the bus and held his hand the whole walk home.


This one was on Ally’s first day of kindergarten.


Time goes too fast!

The Last Lecture
August 30, 2009

Since I recently did the report on pancreatic cancer with Randy Pausch’s doctors I thought I should read his book. I’m only half way through but wanted you to know it’s fantastic. When the book first came out it was sold out everywhere so I couldn’t find one.  I remember seeing a copy on Jake Ploeger’s desk and thought I should ask him if I could borrow it sometime.  But then I thought it would be too emotional or sappy for me to handle.  But I was wrong.  It’s not about his last days… instead, it’s about his life and the lessons learned from his experiences and how he realized his childhood dreams.


For those of you who don’t know the story, Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and was given a few months to live. CMU had an academic tradition called “The Last Lecture” which challenged professors to put together a lecture that would be focused on what was most important to them and what they’d want to pass along if it was hypothetically their last lecture.  When Randy was diagnosed and given a few months to live,  he thought of canceling his talk…. but then he changed his mind since this was indeed, his last lecture.

I remember the day we covered it on the news. September 18, 2007. We heard about this teacher who was dying and was going to give a speech to students and faculty. After some debate on whether to cover it and how to cover it, we went and this one of a kind lecture had the world listening. He passed away July 25, 2008.

The whole lecture on youtube is too long for me to upload to this blog… so if you’d like to hear some of his lecture click here.

Pro Wrestlers Donate to Local Arson Victims
August 28, 2009

A Fayette County family was just starting to get back on their feet. Habitat for Humanity helped the single mother of two get a used trailer and the land to put it on. They were working on repairing  the mobile home when an arsonist struck… burning down everything they had.

Derek Widziszewski works for disabled and he has a client who lives nearby the victims. When he drove by and saw what happened he immediately wanted to help. He owns the Renegade Wrestling Alliance and has a show tomorrow night (8/29) in West Newton and wants to turn it into a benefit for this family. You can see my interview tonight on Action News at 6:15. The arson victims are coming to his show and he’ll present them with the money (at least a dollar per ticket) and he’ll also collect other donations at the door and present the family with those. For more information go to:


Try Out For A Movie
August 28, 2009

Don’t forget the open casting call Friday night from 6-8 in Wexford at the Oxford Athletic Club’s Cabana Bar. It’s called Love and Other Drugs and stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway…. and maybe *you*!


Facebook and Twitter
August 27, 2009

My latest story came through a tip on my Facebook page. If you have a story idea feel free to contact me through Facebook  or you can also find me on Twitter.

Click here to join me on Twitter. Click here to find me on Facebook.

Give me a story tip or feel free just to say hello!

Dangerous Housing Situation Story
August 27, 2009

My story today took me into North Braddock with the Housing Code Enforcement Officer.  There are some 300 homes which need to be torn down.


The officer took photographer T.J. and me to see what he has to deal with everyday.

The officer cites the owners but nothing is done because the owners won’t pay to have them torn down and the boro has no money to pay. He took us to a few examples. Not only do they look bad…. they’re dangerous for the other neighbors.  Some of them are ready to fall down at any time. You should see the inside of the homes! We’ll show you that in tonight’s story.



The officer also told us that about 20 percent of the 300 homes are bought off the internet. Some for under a thousand dollars. “Investors” who live out of state think they’re getting a good investment. But they see a photo of the home taken ten or twenty years ago and when they are cited to clean it up….. they’re surprised and just walk away and leave the boro with the mess.


See my story tonight on Action News at 6:15.

Pancreatic Cancer Surgery Story
August 27, 2009

The just linked my report inside an operating room watching a robotic surgery on a pancreatic cancer patient. Click here to watch the report. The 47 year old patient who was kind enough to allow me to observe is doing well and should be going home in a few days.

Also, I wanted to share this email from Jill:  
Thank you for doing the piece on Pancreatic Cancer.  I have been trying for years to have more awareness brought to this disease.  Dr David Whitcomb and his group need more exposure so people realize how little research money there is.  Along with myself there are  other groups in Pittsburgh that have fundraisers to raise the awareness and research money.  My group has a fundraiser on October 9th at the Zoo with Scott Blasey of the Clarks and Jeff Schmutzer from Good Brother Earl to benefit Dr. Whitcomb and his group.  Please help get the word out more to help these dedicated doctors and keep the money in Pittsburgh.

Thanks for the Emails
August 26, 2009

I have received many emails to pass along to Kelly Frey and others asking me what is going on with her pregnancy.   Click here to read the story and remember to keep Kelly and her family in your prayers. Thank you!

Inside the Operating Room
August 25, 2009

I’ve never done anything like this before and it was amazing!

Wednesday on Action News you’ll see my story from inside the operating room. I get to watch the Da Vinci Robot in action performing a Whipple surgery on a 47 year old local patient with pancreatic cancer. I talk about new efforts by UPMC  on early detection and why our region is at higher risk for getting this type of cancer than just about anywhere else in the country. 95 percent of the patients who are diagnosed are given six months to live. It’s often called the silent killer because there are no symptoms and by the time it’s discovered… it’s too late. We met at Shadyside hospital at 7:30 am to get started.  Watching the robot at work was amazing. Two surgeons work together to operate the robot and watch what they’re doing on giant monitors.


This is my photographer, Ken Murray, who did a great job (and gets to wear a cool cap while women are stuck with “lunch lady” caps!)

And below is UPMC media relations expert Courtney McCrimmon who helped us set up the story.


My thanks to the patient who offered to let us watch his procedure and thanks to both surgeons: Dr. Jim Moser and Dr.  Herb Zeh who head up the UPMC pancreatic program.

Hilarious Skype Story
August 25, 2009

One of my best friends is moving to England for a couple of years. We all decided to set up Skype to keep in touch. It’s amazing free technology which allows you to chat over your computer for free and if you have a web camera you can even see each other! It’s cool.

I told my brother all about it and he downloaded it and we chatted.  He wanted to find other people he knew to put in their address and video chat. My other brother told him about one couple we know who’s on Skype. So he went to the Skype search engine and typed their names in and the wife’s name came up.  He clicked on her name to call her and brag about how cool he was.

Before the video came up he heard her say, “Hello?”   He said , “Meghan?” …..   just then her video connected and it was some beautiful young STRANGER with the same name as our friend!!!!  LOL!!!   He quickly said “Wrong number!” and clicked the ‘hang up’ icon.  He said it was so humiliating because unlike a wrong number over the phone….. this wrong number was looking right at him to see him in all of his geekness. Hilarious. I teased him that since she was so pretty he should have talked to her! But he said he was worried that some task force called Operation Thunder would break down his door in some sting since she looked young and was a little too willing to talk. LOL

Be In A Movie
August 24, 2009

I just got this invitation for an open casting call for a new movie set to be shot here.

It’s in Wexford at the Oxford Athletic Club’s Cabana Bar. It’s free and you can just sign up when you get there and it sounds like fun!

The movie will star Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway.

“OPEN CASTING CALL for Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway Movie” on Friday, August 28 at 6:00pm.

Event: OPEN CASTING CALL for Jake Gylienhaal and Anne Hathaway Movie

“Pittsburgh, here’s your chance to be a star!”

What: Club Party

Host: Izzazu International Salon

Start Time: Friday, August 28 at 6:00pm

End Time: Friday, August 28 at 8:00pm

Where: Cabana Bar

I Love Brad Paisley’s New Song
August 20, 2009

My Interview with Kurt Angle
August 20, 2009

I wanted to share with you some things about my interview with pro-wrestler Kurt Angle…. but first let me thank Coach Agnus Berenato for allowing me to post her blogs from her trip with the troops. I hope to sit down with her about her experiences soon since she is scheduled to be home tomorrow.

But since my blogging break is over…. let me tell you what I did today. First I went to McKeesport to talk to Bob Wally who is the sales manager at the Tri Star Ford dealership car dealership who was almost killed last night when a woman accidentally drove her car straight through his showroom window! The car brushed up against his leg and trapped him at his desk but he wasn’t hurt at all. Click here to see my full report seen on Action News. Also, I didn’t get a chance to include all of the photos the workers gave me from the scene that night. So I thought I’d include them here. (It’s taking forever to download the photos so I’ll post them in a moment)   It’s amazing no one was hurt!

As I was leaving that scene I managed to connect with pro wrestler Kurt Angle. He had just flown back into town and he has a lot to deal with right now. He was willing to share his side of the story with me.  We met in a secret location because he doesn’t want anyone to know where he’s staying now. He’s not allowed back in his home because of a series of strange events.   On August 15th is on-again off-again girlfriend filed a PFA against him. He says she’s making it up because she’s angry that he refused to marry her. He said they had just broken up and she’s making up the stories about abuse. He told me police came to his home early in the morning and escorted him out. He grabbed a few things including his Olympic gold medal.  He says after he left surveillance video will show that *she* was the one who followed him out of his development and called police saying he was violating his PFA by being near her.  Police arrested him and put him in jail for 9 hours. He claims she was not living with him but just staying there for a few weeks and had mail sent to her there. But since she was getting mail there, police aren’t allowing Angle back in his home now.  His interview with me was very emotional and since we couldn’t show the entire thing on our newscast… has posted the entire interview.

Click here to watch my entire interview with Kurt Angle.

Coach Berenato on Her Way Home!
August 19, 2009

Day 9

“At the end of our explorations we will be at the place where we started and know it for the first time.”. T.S. Elliot

These words were shared with me by my daughter, Theresa Marie, before I left on my trip. She gave me 10 cards to open and they all had quotes on them. The above quote is so true. Today I come Home. I will look a the USA and Pittsburgh a lot differently than when I left for my journey. I am a different person now than when I left.

I am traveling ( 24 hours now) and am so excited to see my family. I look forward to hugs and telling stories. I just can’t wait!! I look forward to coffee in the morning, my bed, a shower, home cooking, reading the paper, green grass, and more hugs from Jack and the kids.

Work also excites me. When I think of my job I know it is the best job in America.Solders have the passion for their jobs and a lot of them feel they have the best job in the world. I know I am grateful for them. I pray for them and I honor them.

I hope to write a follow up about things I couldn’t share with you while away, but for today it is planes and customs and good byes to four new and dear friends that I met. Billy, Orlando, Duggar and Mike safe travels and God Speed!! And for me:

There’s no place like Pitt

Game on


Day 8 With the Troops
August 19, 2009

***Pitt Women’s Basketball Coach Agnus Berenato continues sending me her daily blog from visiting the troops in a very dangerous area. ****

Day 8


Today was a blast.  I walked to a Starbucks on the base.  We are in a dessert, literally, and it is so sandy and full of stones.  All the buildings look alike so of course I got confused. Every building is sand colored and all vehicles are sand color but  I did get my large coffee, not even close to my French coffee but it was good.  I tried to return some emails, do laundry, and read the Stars and Stripes, the American Military Newspaper.

9:30 was pick up for a meeting with the fighter jets.  Our host, Jim drove us until we met our entourage of Air Force personal.  Most informative was Colonel Tim or T-Bone as he is called.  He was too cool.  He explained the B-1 Bombers and told some great stories.  All these folks just have a passion for their job.  These jets cost around $283 million and our country is better off because of them. T-Bones personality made you feel comfortable and that is a good thing.  I went up to see the inside and view where the four pilots sit.  It was about 110 degrees outside but in the cockpit, add another 20 degrees, at least.  Billy was my partner and we both just stared at the confined space one has to sit in for hours at a time on a mission.  These jets can fly about 850-900 miles an hour and take off at 150 mph. Most times missions are 9 hours each.  We had the great fortune of watching a B-1 take off, again thank goodness for ear plugs.  I was the only coach to get out of the van and watch.

A highlight for the base was a planned basketball game and another Meet and Greet for the troops.  The game was Navy (I coached) against Air Force (Mike from JS coached) while Duggar, Orlando and Billy floated.  Before the game we did a question and answer session and took a group photo.  You could feel the excitement in the gym and there was a great turnout of men and women.  These solders were so happy to have visitors from home and asked a ton of questions.  It was rewarding to say the least.  At lunch, we sat with the director of the fitness, food and housing department and she spoke of the game and how excited everyone was.  She said the four divisions of military (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines) are extremely competitive with each other.  They will be a team and work side by side, but when it comes to winning and losing, watch out.  She also said the #1 injury they see on this base is Basketball related!!! I found that hard to believe.

The game started and Air Force jumped out to 8-2 lead.  We settled down and I quickly realized these huge men (I did not have any women on my team) are just like every other baller.  They want to shoot the three, don’t want to rebound and love to argue with the refs.  At half it was a 2 point game favor Air Force.  The gym was hot and floor slippery but the energy was evident.  With 6:27 to go one of the fellows from Air Force went down with a serious knee injury.  He had to be taken off on a stretcher but he was smiling the entire time.  The coaches suggested we stop the game, (it was pretty competitive and the refs were calling it less than a free for all) but the teams would have none of that.  One man on my team, The Professor as he was called, said: “Coach we don’t ever quit!”  The game continued.  With 6 seconds to go, we were down by 3 points and we inbounded, pushed the ball up the court and shot.  Good!! No time left on the clock, Overtime.  Yes, we were all high fiving and

the one ref (must have been in Air Force) ruled it was a 2 and the game was over!!! Much fun was had by all. Autographs and photos were taken and we all made new friends.

As we were leaving, MSG Richard Powell of the Army Special Operations came up to me and asked if I knew Kirk Bruce.  I said:”Yes”.  He told me he had a sister that was pretty good at Basketball and I said:” I know Jennifer, and she was THE BEST”.  He continued to tell me Coach Bruce coached him in High School (Clairton ’84).  I told him about Shayla Scott, Coach Bruce’s niece and he said he would watch for us in the future.  Small world just got smaller!!!

After dinner in the dining hall, the coaches all got together and talked.  We are amazed at this experience and again thankful for our troops.  We have lots of funny stories and great memories  of our trip here but

There is no place like Pitt

Game On