Terror Alert Level

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Its been awhile since I was out to eat, so we went to Soba in Shadyside last night. This restaurant is part of the Big Burrito Group, and is quite a bit more upscale than Mad Mex.

We sat by a flat stone wall with a thin veil of water flowing down it. I started with the calamari. It was a huge plate (more suited for two, but Llipgh doesn't like calamari, and opted for the Thai gazpacho), lightly breaded with a chili-flavored sauce. The calamari was perfectly done, some of the best I've had. I washed it down with a Corona, which was oddly skunky tasting.

For the main course, I had the sea scallops. These critters were huge, tender, and fresh. It came with a chickpea cake on the side, done up with zucchini, spinach, and cucumbers. I keep forgetting that the trend in fish these days is to undercook. I'd have preferred my scallops cooked for about 45 seconds more to firm them up, but forgot to mention that I like my seafood done that way (hey if I wanted the sushi, I'd have gotten the sushi!). I enjoyed a carafe of warm saki with my scallops.

The service was impeccable, and it was a great meal, with the exception of the beer. Dinner and drinks came to $100.00.

Soba is at 5847 Ellsworth Ave, Shadyside.

Wednesday Walk

I've been trying to get more exercise, and I recently came across some little "hiking cards" from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Each card describes a hike through one of the state, county, or city parks, with a map, description, and hike rating. The maps aren't very good, but as a starting point for a hike, the cards aren't bad. This afternoon I went to nearby Riverview Park and hiked for about an hour on the Snowflake Trail. Enjoy the pictures from my jaunt!


Window looking into what was once a grilling area in a burned out shelter.


I've been told than many of the original park structures were built by the CCC during the depression. This burnt-out shelter had a fireplace and grilling area.

Termite Power

Termites have reduced this stump down to little more than sawdust.


Gus is a fungi!


I thought this downed trunk looked a little like an alligator.


Wildlife study area...caged for your protection!


This shy spider didn't want me taking its picture. I had to sneak up on it to snap it, and my little pocket digital camera isn't up to this kind of photography.


I liked the erosion pattern on this formation. Step on up!

Salad Bowl

Natural roughage in a natural bowl!

I see you!

Daisies in a grassy meadow off the trail.


I just finished reading the transcript of George "Mission Accomplished" Bush's speech from last night. A flaccid performence from an increasingly unpopular and impotent president. He certainly brought out the retreads. Five 9/11 references, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Thirty references to terrorits, war on terror, or just terror. Brief, passing mention to the more than 1700 US troops who've lost their lives for Bush's folly. Two statements struck me:

To complete the mission, we will prevent Al Qaida and other foreign terrorists from turning Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban: a safe haven from which they could launch attacks on America and our friends.

Ummmm....Iraq was an Al-Qaida haven prior to Bush's invasion?? I don't think so. If we hadn't invaded, Al-Qaida wouldn't have the opportunity to turn Iraq into Afghanistan. Bush is the one who gave the terrorists that opportunity.

Rebuilding a country after three decades of tyranny is hard, and rebuilding while at war is even harder.
Our progress has been uneven, but progress is being made.
We are improving roads and schools and health clinics. We're working to improve basic services like sanitation, electricity and water.

Again, prior to Bush's invasion, Iraqi's didn't need to rebuild. They had sanitation, electricity, water, roads and schools. We're the ones who screwed that pooch.

Bottom line: US troops are dying while occupying a country that had no connection to 9/11, no 9/11 terrorists were Iraqi's, Iraq had no ties to bin Laden, there were no WMD's, and the country was no threat to the United States. In the ensuing years, we've gone from having the world's sympathy to holding the world's scorn, and terroists are able to use the chaos we created in Iraq to hone their skills. Smooth moove, Mr. President.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Hi-Ho Cherry-O

Tart cherries in the front yard.

Potential Pumpkin

"Volunteer"pumpkin growing in the old garden.

Holly Hocker

Black hollyhock. The insects are doing a number on the leaves, but the flowers are rather showy.

Dog Day Afternoon

Nothing better than cool grass on a hot day.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


In years past, this plaza and the lobbies of the surrounding office buildings were filled with paintings and sculpture for viewing and judging. Nothing this year.

You Blockhouse!

There's next to nothing at Point State Park during the day for the Art Fest, but the blockhouse is still there, just as it has been since the 18th century.

Not Ready

The Three River's Arts Festival opened last Friday, but on Tuesday afternoon, crews were still putting this skate board demonstration together.

River Eye Lash

River Eye Lash was the only installation art I could find at this year's Art Fest. It is an interesting concept, however it probably looks better from Mount Washington than it does at eyelash level.

MMmmmm Junk Food

Festival Food Row


I had the gyro.

Buy Buy Buy!!

Gateway Plaza was chock full of vendors!


I don't know if this is art, or the excess smoke that Fred Honsberger tries to blow up our bottoms.

Does She Paint it Red?

The Lady who paints Pittsburgh! Maybe I can get her to paint my house?

Flute Flouter

This guy was selling hand-made, bamboo flutes. They sound really good, and I bought his album!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Solid State Insect?

It was robotics day at PNC Park. The Arts Festival is kind of sucky this year (more on that later), but the robots were pretty cool. This little robot was chasing small children and frightening animals.


Regular bagpipes are annoying enough. Why the hell do we need robotic bagpipes??

Calling Dr. Roboto!

What do you do when your robotic infantry is damaged? Send in the robotic medic!


Pork B-B-Q from Manny's

Smell the Parrot

Nothing like a sweaty person in a parrot costume on a hot humid night .

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Cap Appeal

Big Dan Onorato says he's going to appeal a judge's decision striking down the property assesment cap. I think the County Executive is wasting his time on this one. While I, like just about everyone else, don't really care to have my property taxes increase, I like the idea of built-in tax descrepencies even less.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Approach

What a great day for a ballgame!


Flying Dutchman


Captain Willie


Best view in baseball.


Not your usual ballpark food!

Sign mine!!

Rob Mackowiak signs for the fans.

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