Saturday, December 31, 2005

10 Years Ago Tonight...

Ten years ago tonight, probably around 8PM, I was sitting in a chair in townhouse on Sarah Street that was rented by my friend Eric's sister. Through the door walked a beautiful blonde-haired blue eyed woman. Her blue eyes are her most striking feature, large and blue, they are like televisions broadcasting what she is thinking and feeling. She was to be my New Year's kiss and future wife, and since that night GSully and I have been together.

In a weird sort of way the key coincidence for us is the night my friend Eric's mother and father met, which led to Eric and his sister Melissa. Gretchen was a friend of Jennifer, who was a friend of Melissa, and someone I knew only because I knew Eric.

New Years Eve is a special night for us, and tonight will be our tenth together. So as 2005 draws to a close and 2006 begins anew, Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tartans beat Princeton...

Division III, Carnegie Mellon defeated the Division I Princeton University last night in basketball, 51-46 in Princeton, New Jersey. doesn't even have a logo for CMU -- so I found them one.

Carnegie Mellon is neither a sports school or a basketball powerhouse. In Division III football, they are a very steady and solid performer. Back in the days of leather helmets, CMU had a few mighty football teams, even playing in a Rose Bowl. Prior to last night, its biggest claim to fame in basketball is as the alma mater of NC State coach Herb Sendek.

Tony Wingen's team is now 10-0 and set up for a great season in the UAA.

I've always wanted to be able to boast about the athletic acheivments of my alma mater. I can remember sitting next to the Michigan band at the Frozen Four one year thinking how cool it would be to be a part of it. During football season when local friends are talking Pitt this or Penn State that, I quietly nod along.

Ever so briefly, I played for the Tartans and Coach Wingen -- on the deepest part of the bench. I think I managed to get into 4 games in the 1991-1992 season. With 4 seconds left in the last game of the season at Washington University in St. Louis, I put back a rebound that fell in for 2 points and I missed a freethrow, giving me some actual scoring stats that I suppose I could look up at the or something like that. We lost the game, but as you can see it was very memorable for me.

So for one day -- before the Steelers make the playoffs or not and the New Years Day Bowl Games I can brag. How about those Tartans!

UPDATE: Over at, you can hear the last few seconds of the Tartan's victory as called by WRCT's Mike Rossman.

Links: ESPN game summary
CMU Basketball

Women are from gmail, men are from e-trade...

Surprise! One finding of the Pew Internet and American Life Project is that women and men behave very differently on-line from men.

Women take advantage of the internet ability to communicate, reaching out to others to strengthen relationships and share experiences. Women value the internet as a source of information, but often see the vast information as an overwhelming glut, looking for opportunities to organize it and efficiently find what they are looking for.

Men look to the internet for transactions and as a recreational source of information and view the "glut" as a recreational endeavor, almost like a treasure hunt.

So let's imagine how a household would buy a television. Men would visit manufacturer and retailer websites looking for price and technical data. Search through content sites looking for product reviews. Women might e-mail friends looking for recommendations, use the chat features on retail websites, or look for message boards where the products are discussed. After the man makes the purchase and the television gets hung on the wall (don't they all these days), the woman tells her contacts about the quality of the product and the services from the retailer. To be a successful, internet marketers need to understand the buying process for their market -- and if their products tend to be household "joint" purchases, they should be careful to incorporate features that engage both communicative/collaborative buying and technical research oriented processes.

Link: For more interesting findings click on The Pew Internet and American Life Project

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Justin Sullivans I Am Not

I've recently updated my profile with a bit more information about who I am. If you're interested in seeing my bio, you can click here.

I can assure you though that I am not one of these Justin Sullivans, many of whom might be more interesting to you:

Justin Sullivan of the band New Model Army
Justin Sullivan of Sydney, Australia
Attorney Justin Sullivan of Crowe & Dunlevy, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Justin Sullivan of the The Cad Store
Justin Sullivan, the professional photographer
Justin Sullivan, who directed "Big Blue" THE documentary about NYC's handball scene
Justin Sullivan, of the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds soccer team
This poor Justin Sullivan,
or this one.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Fraudulent Pittsburgher Alert

In Pittsburgh, we love to claim people as our own. We'll bend over sideways, if not backwords, to claim Wexford's own, Christina Aguilera, for example. We'll obediently read of accounts of Steeler Sunday's from Orlando, Florida to Honolulu, Hawaii (You know the ones: They roll out of bed at 5AM to drink real Iron City Beer, brought from the mainland in an outrigger canoe, all while wearing black and gold leis and making Primanti's Bros. sandwiches with fresh caught Ahi, don't you know. "There are just no jobs for surf instructors in the 'Burgh, otherwise, we would be back in a minute." says Duke, formerly of Crafton.).

Rarely does someone try to claim us though, -- until yesterday Carson Daly "came out" as a Pittsburgher in the Post-Gazette:

"I really love Pittsburgh. I have a radio show there. I played in the Mario Lemieux tournament there last year. Pittsburgh has really become a sort of second home to me. I mean, I love that city. I just think the world of that city."

I feel obligated to mention that Carson's radio show also is on in Albany, Albany-Schenectedy, Albuquerque, Anchorage, Augusta, Bangor...well you get the picture. He also complained about how cold it was going to be in New York City on New Years Eve. But Carson, if you're serious about the 'Burgh, I understand there's some condo's going up downtown!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas (Observed)

A Picture Share!
Originally uploaded by justinsullivan.

Yesterday we had Christmas, today we're observing it along with the post offices, banks and government (but not the retailers).

Saturday, December 24, 2005

'Twas the night before Christmas...

A Picture Share!
Originally uploaded by justinsullivan.

...and the all through the town
Pittsburghers were watching the Steelers take care of the Browns.

Friday, December 23, 2005

It's almost here,.. have you been naughty or nice?

christmas morning
Originally uploaded by justinsullivan.

...or maybe a little bit of both.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Happy Holidays

A Picture Share!
Originally uploaded by justinsullivan.

We're going all photo until after a Christmas break.

Happy Holidays to all...Sully

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

How long will I be on hold at Hershey's

PITTSBURGH. 8 minutes ago, I called Hershey's to check the status of a gift order. The phone was answered immediately. A pleasant woman came on the phone. Once she determined that I was not calling to buy anything, I was bounced over to customer service. I'm still holding, listening to staticy music. Included in the music is an occasional apology from a slick and sympathetic sounding mail and female voice in alternation. Occasionally the music is interrupted by a recorded apology from a woman asking me to continue to hold. I'll write this post in real-time for the duration.

I've just crossed the 13 minute threshold...If you were really sorry about me having to hold, you would have helped me when you originally answered the phone. I've just crossed the 15 minute barrier...The female interruption seems to come every 40 seconds. While she makes no promises the people in the music promise to be back in a moment.

Nineteen minutes on hold! And a person comes on the line...a real live person. She is very helpful, and since my order has been delayed past the requested date (a birthday present for my sister), she is able to offer me a full refund! What a surprise. She even has a reason -- delays in the warehouse caused by weather related shutdowns.

At least for my investment in time, I got some genuine resolution and customer service, but it burns me up to think that I got bounced into phone jail as soon as they determined that I was not calling credit card in hand.

Total call time 24 minutes and 38 seconds.

More on Mini-Strokes

PITTSBURGH. Earlier this week Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or "Mini-Stroke," causing many to be concerned about Sharon's, causing open speculation on the future of the newly formed Kadima Party.

TIA's often share many of the same symptoms as a full-blown stroke: loss of memory, slurred speech, paralysis, but the symptoms are temporary because they are caused by temporary blockages of oxygen to the brain.

Occurance of a TIA does indicate a higher risk for a full-blown stroke. In September, I highlighted an article on TIA's. Coretta Scott King reportedly suffered 2 TIAs before suffering a full-blown stroke this past summer. and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada suffered TIAs as well.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

George Clooney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Rick Santorum walk into a bar...

George Clooney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Rick Santorum walk into a bar.

George says, "It could have been a little uncomfortable, in fact, I expected it to be...He's so affectless. You felt like you're in the living room with your buddy..."

Paul says, "Pomposity and arrogance are the enemies of getting things done. And [he] knows how to get things done."

Rick says, "If you really want to be effective, you have to bring something to the table beyond just charisma. The important thing is, [he] understands his issues better than 99% of members of Congress."

Who are they talking about? Our old buddy Bono, one of Time's "Persons of the Year." Rick Santorum is the 3rd person quoted about Bono in the article. after Clooney and Wolfowitz...THIRD. I don't care if you're Richard Scaife or Teresa Heinz Kerry, you would not have bet that Slick Rick would have been the 3rd person quoted in an article about Bono. Personally, I'm surprised Rick had a chance to comment, given that he has been so busy trying to take down Jeff Habay.

Will being FOB (Friend of Bono's) be enough to get re-elected?

Was the deal $1 million per floor?

PITTSBURGH. PNC bank announced that it would raise (um...I mean raze. Thanks for the free diting Miz Spelling.) the buildings on its lonely stretch of 5th avenue and erect a 30 story building and it has me feeling cold (an what doesn't today).

The economics of the deal do not bother me. PNC is investing $122 million of its own cash in the deal. In 2 weeks, we've seen $150 million in private investment in a two block area between this development and Jack "Trump" Piatt's purchase of the now-vacant Lazarus building. Bob O'Connor, whose ambitions to land a Crate and Barrel are slightly less ambitious than Tom Murphy's Don Quixote-ish obsession with Nordstrom (Lazarus + Lord and Taylor does not equal Nordstrom), could not ask for a better Christmas present before taking office. I can live with the contribution from the State and 10% in tax-increment-financing is less than the $25 million paid to erect the Lazarus building in the first place, which was after all just a department store.

What bothers me is this...Where the original vision of 5th and Forbes project was to create vibrant street life (whether you agreed with the mechanism or not), this seems like the brain-child of people that think making Pittsburgh look good on Monday Night Football (Look mom, no hell-fire blast furnaces) will make it healthy -- and it can't even get that right.

The drawing of the building the politicians fawned over yesterday was a boring, pedestrian, rectangle. There are 3 other skyscrapers in the immediate vicinity of where the building will be built: One and Two PNC Plaza, and One Oliver. The sum total of street life in these 3 buildings that cover the better part of a city block is a PNC Bank branch, a Starbuck's, a Quizno's and the former La Strada, Trilogy.

The anchor tenant, Reed Smith, will vacate space it already occupies downtown. The hotel seems like an end around to get the hotel that was never built as part of the convention center expansion. More importantly, we're going to be building a 30 story skyscraper at a time when the skyscraper is a dinosaur, a time when a business can be created from scratch with an idea, a computer and an internet connection (scary). The whole thing feels like part of the Allegheny Conference image campaign to make the whole world feel better about Pittsburgh.

Over at Pittsblog, Mike Madison has posted his feelings about the development. (Mike, if PNC abandons the project it will be because it gets bought.) Further down there's an interesting post that shows where small companies do business now, in homes, cafes and hotspots where entrepreneurs gather to share and create -- not mausoleums for those that litigate. These places provide comfort, flexibility, vibrancy, connectivity, creating an environment that encourages a higher number people to take the risk of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Let's leave the dinosaurs to the Carnegie and Donald Trump...but whatever, at least it's mostly the shareholder's money.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Don't Forget Herb Simon!

PITTSBURGH. As a CMU grad I was pleased to read this paragraph on the Tom Peters (in a post appropriately titled "Stuff") blog about the late nobel-prize winning Professor who helped put CMU on the map, both attracting me to the school and giving my degree value...

"HERB SIMON GOT THERE FIRST. In a recent Fortune article Geoffrey Colvin says that if there had been a nobel prize in management, Peter Drucker would have "won it every year." How silly. A "management guru" did in fact pocket the economics Nobel in 1978...Herb Simon of Carnegie Mellon (defining book: Administrative Behavior); I had the privilege of interviewing him for In Search of Excellence. Other worthies besides Simon (and Drucker) would include rigorous academics such as Doug MacGregor (a shoo-in), Warren Bennis (also a shoo-in), Alfred Chandler (shoo-in), James March, Karl Weick, Henry Mintzberg (shoo-in—may get the economics prize someday), Graham Allison, Richard Neustadt, and Michael Porter (also an economics candidate). But, mostly, thank God there is no "Management Nobel." Make no mistake: Management is an art ... not a science. (Frankly, it's not all that clear to many, even those in the field, that economics is a "science.")"

One reason Herb Simon is not so readily remembered by those in management and economics is the diversity of fields Dr. Simon pursued in his research. Typing Drucker, Peter into an Amazon author search yield 388 results, all on management. Dr. Simon's biography includes work in psychology, economics, and philosophy in addition to management.

Update: From the comments section of the Tom Peters blog, Posted by Tom Peters: "Justin, "yes!" to Simon's interdisciplinary genius. If ever someone merited the term "polymath"...

Herb Simon's CMU biography
Amazon's Peter Drucker Search
Tom Peter's Post "Stuff"

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Santa Questions

PITTSBURGH. With 7 days left until Christmas, a 5-year old, a 3 year old, and a 20 month old, there is only one meaningful topic in the Sully household right now -- Santa Claus.

Santa Claus has dominated the discussion in our house since just before Thanksgiving. We have covered whether or not we believe that any goven Santa Claus is the "real" Santa Claus. We have tried to figure out his preferred mode of travel to any of his many personal appearances. (He's probably the one person who makes more personal appearances in Pittsburgh this time of year than the Steelers.) We have speculated on his favorite cookie -- chocolate chip says the Santa at Arizona Mills in Tempe, AZ, oatmeal raisin says Sully. Why does Santa wear red? How does he make all of those toys? Why does he live in the North Pole? How does he know where Pittsburgh is? Do you know Santa Claus? How tall is Santa? Is Santa fat?

Yes, the young Sully's are an eager and inquisitive lot. Their questions are rooted in a steadfast belief and a desire to take care of every detail to get it exactly right so that when we wake up next Sunday, Santa will have made their wishes come true.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Other Norma Jean

PITTSBURGH. My friend gave me an invitation to the LUPEC (that Ladies United for the Preservation of Extinct Cocktails) Christmas Party this Saturday evening, and it had this picture of this smokin' hot woman with an electric axe. Her name is Norma Jean.

There's not a lot of famous Norma Jean's in this world. When most people think of famous Norma Jeans, they most likely think of Norma Jean Baker, who is more popularly known as Marylin Monroe, not this woman, "The Duchess" Norma Jean Wofford, a Pittsburgh Hill District native who became a legendary protege of Bo Diddley.

She was immortalized in the Animals song "The Story of Bo Diddley":
"He turned around to Duchess
And he said, "Hey Duchess...what do you think of these young guys
Doin' our material?"
She said, "I don't know. I only came across here
To see the Changin' of the Guards and all that jazz."
Bo Diddley said about Norma Jean who passed away this year said about Norma Jean, "Norma-Jean was my 1st sidekick, we did everything together. She was like family which is why I told everyone she was my sister. There was no one else like her and I will miss her very much."

Links: Lupec
Bo Diddley, The Originator

Changes and Updates

PITTSBURGH. A quick rundown on changes and updates to Sully's Stuff.

  • We are now the proud owners of Typing that into your browser will bring you here.
  • We've added some new sites to the blogroll.
    • Park Place Blog, provides updates on the battle against Walgreen's zoning variance, linked to our post early this week about the frequency of protests in Pittsburgh's east end.
    • Pittsblog, a popular Pittsburgh blog with good commentary about the tech community. We linked to his post on Bill Strickland earlier this year, and he picked up our post on the feature article on Strickland in Inc. Magazine.
    • The Firefox Download, a new place to get my preferred web browser, Firefox. I started this blog to encourage more mainstream users to download and use this browser.
  • Goodbye adsense, hello search. At some point early in the blog, we'd slapped in some Google Adsense code that doesn't really fit with the content of the blog, but search does. So you'll find that the adwords have been replaced by search boxes.
  • Update: The Post-Gazette reports that the consideration of the Walgreen's zoning variance has been postponed until January 5.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Free: Pittsburgh Kids Zoofari, Thru 12/31

PITTSBURGH. BRRRR, it's cold and we're on the snow, sleet and rain roller coaster today, but the winter time can be a great time to visit the zoo. All those crowds that block you in the summer -- gone. All those animals that sleep idly in the hot summer sun -- many are awake and active. That part of the zoo that's inside and air-conditioned -- it's heated.

Now through 12/31 take your kids to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium for free. (Sorry adults pay, everything can't be free. You can bring up to 10 kids.)

Value: Children's admission is normally $7, so up to $70 per adult!

What: Kid's Zoofari
Where: Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium
When: Now through 12/31

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Free: Holiday movies on the big screen...

PITTSBURGH. Sorry to be late on this one, but the spirit of giving has overcome the staff at Loews Waterfront in Homestead. Every Saturday in December, Loews is screening a holiday film for FREE. Sully loves free stuff.

This Saturday (12/17) catch Miracle on 34th Street on the big screen. Next Saturday, Christmas Eve catch The Polar Express.

Value: At $6 per ticket for a bargain matinee, this a great freebie for the entire family.

What: The Free Holiday Family Film Series
Where: Loews Waterfront Theater, 300 Waterfront Drive W
When: Saturday 12/17 and Saturday 12/24 at 10 AM

Click on the envelope below to forward to a friend.
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Is a duel appropriate?

PITTSBURGH. KDKA's "Money and Political Editor" Jon Delano (What's with his voice anyway?), who eats tuna fish and drinks single malt scotch, reports that convicted State Senator Jeff Habay blames U.S. Senator Rick Santorum for his legal problem. Which begs the question, who do you root for?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Pittsburgh's New Trump

"We're going to concentrate on projects like this. And a lot of them, I think, will be in Downtown Pittsburgh." -- Jack Piatt

PITTSBURGH. Some bravado, an appetite for risk, the willingness to put his name on something. Has Pittsburgh found its new Donald Trump in Jack Piatt?

Piatt -- who previously played in the exurbs at Southpointe -- is moving his show downtown, picking up the vacant Lazarus building for a cool $21.5 million, $8.5 to Federated Department Stores, and $21.5 million to the URA through profit sharing.

Piatt, in the tradition of Trump and Carnegie and Frick before him is putting his name over the door, Piatt Place. He's building some housing on top and wants an upscale grocery for a tennant.

Bob O'Connor, whose previous best idea for the Lazarus building was to call it Macy's (which Federated will ultimately implement at Kaufmann's), welcomed the news.

If all goes well, in a few short years we can enjoy a local version of the Apprentice on KDKA, with Jack Piatt as Trump, where contestants can live in Piatt place and market Primanti Bros. Sandwiches.

So if you're running in Frick Park...

PITTSBURGH. If you're running in Frick Park and concerned about running into unrestrained dogs, here's a helpful hint...

If you run into Joss Stone, you will probably be OK. Her dog, Dusty Springfield, will be on a leash, well behaved and she will not allow any droppings to impede your progress.

If you run into Paris Hilton, BEWARE! Her dog, Tinkerbell, while small, will be unruly and unleashed. If you happen to come up from behind, watch your step, as the trail is likely to be a mess.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Dumpster diving for miles...

PITTSBURGH. Frequent Flyer Miles, the universal currency of the business traveler and coveted perk used to promote every business from cell phones to magazine subscriptions to mutual funds now has people dumpster diving.

Airtran, the Atlanta-based airline that isn't bankrupt, Coca-Cola, and Wendy's, the Columbus, OH based fast food chain that isn't In-n-Out Burger, have teamed up to offer Airtran flight credits for cokes purchased at Wendy's. Just 64 cokes = 1 free round trip ticket.

The route to nirvana for this promotion is to 1.) Eat at Wendy's every day, 2.) e-bay, or 3.) DUMPSTER DIVING!

Before you go jump in a dumpster, I'm not sure that the promotion is running in the Pittsburgh market. But, if you find yourself on Airtran and your seat mate smells a little funky and appears to have a ketchup stain on his collar, you know why.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Greeting Cards Have Got To Go...

PITTSBURGH. The Park Place neighborhood near Regent Square is the hotbed of civil protest in Pittsburgh. Residents are passionate and committed to getting out and voicing their opinions, creating visibility for the causes that are close to their hearts. Yesterday, Park Place residents had their choice of two protests...

On the corner of Forbes and Braddock, the semi-regular protest that began shortly before the war in Iraq gathered. Four-to-five hearty soles with signs like "It's beginning to smell a lot like impeachment..." and "We destroyed the village to save it..." Waiting patiently for the Bush motorcade to drive by, or for the next election, these hearty soles have become neighborhood fixtures, a quaint Saturday afternoon landmark, something to show visitors from out of town.

The real action yesterday was on the corner of Penn and Braddock, where 40 or so residents (according to the Post Gazette -- 10x the number at Forbes and Braddock) of the Park Place neighborhood protested the proposed demolition of a gas station and 3 homes to make way for a Walgreen's. Somewhat ironically, it took place in front of an Exxon station and was actually protesting demolition of the Exxon. I wasn't there but I imagine that the signs read something like:

"No demolition for milk."
"1-2-3-4 We don't want your prescription store."
"Hey hey, ho ho, greeting cards have got to go" and
"Save our gas station."

Next week, the protest zone will expand to include Regent Square at Braddock and Hutchinson where a group of neighbors will gather to bring attention to the amount of coverage given to weather on local newscasts.

UPDATE: Sully's Stuff picked up by Park Place Blog. Learn more about the Park Place groups dispute with Walgreen's.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Iron City and Pittsburgh, a match made in heaven...

Pittsburgh Brewing Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week because it owes $2.5 million for water. One thing that I learned from the Rick Sebak documentary "The Mon, The Al and the O" is that the water for an Iron City comes from the Allegheny River, a fact I always found disturbing. Iron City, the beer you can drink but maybe shouldn't swim in.

The fortunes of the company mirror the fortunes of the city it lives in:
  • Both have declared bankruptcy.
  • Both have old infrastructure which is designed to accomodate much higher production.
  • Both have large unfunded pension liabilities.
  • Both are perhaps more fondly remembered by those from here than those who are here. (just think of all those groggy transplanted west coasters drinking 'ahrn with their eggs when they watch the Stillers at the bar on Sunday morning)
  • Both have heavily promoted cool new packaging to try and regain the hip, cool edge (PNC Park, Aluminum bottles)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

It's The People Stupid

MONTREAL. Here I am again, abroad for 1 day. Ten hours of traveling for a 3 hour meeting. A 4 AM wakeup for a 6 AM flight (Overheard on the airplane, "If I had to do this for work, I would cry." I'll be home by midnight, maybe. But what makes it fulfilling? It's the relationships.

At the top of the pyramid is providing for the family left at home; Gsully and RS&T Sully. Then there is the extended family that has also invested in my education and success along the way.

But that's not all. I spent a little time in transit today and very quickly came up with 50 people at Ariba whom I worked closely with or gave me guidance. People who (mostly) supported me personally and professionally. These are people that entertained me with stories over late night dinners in airports between here and there and educated me and opened doors of opportunities for me.

Next came about 20 Clients. People I had the pleasure to serve and get to know. To appreciate their diverse backgrounds and experiences, to learn about their companies and industries.

I haven't even gotten to the friends, neighbors and former colleagues that influenced me so much this year. So as I sit down to write Christmas letters, I realize that for some people it might be purely technical content that keeps them going, for others the money...all of that being equal, I value the relationships and experience.

By the's freezing up here. Where's In-N-Out when you need it?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Pitt is it...#6 in new business start-ups...

PITTSBURGH. Making up for a disappointing football season, Pitt delivered BCS qualty results in starting new businesses, rankng #6 in the nation according to the Association of University Technology Managers. Seven of Pitt's ten start-ups were in the health sciences.

Could it be that Pittsburgh is well-positioned to take advantage of the next technology boom -- without chasing it's tail to be like somewhere else or even a feel good marketing campaign to make us feel like we're as good as somewhere else?

On the downside, you can't feel good if you're CMU, getting pasted by MIT 20-4.

Monday, December 05, 2005

"Yee Ha, Jester's Dead"

PITTSBURGH. Weekly I watch Desperate Housewives with GSully. Last night was perhaps the most boring episode in a lackluster season so far.

I immediately noticed that Michael Ironside -- a.k.a Jester -- has joined the cast. Twenty-years after training up Maverick and Goose in Top Gun he's doing...well, I don't know what he's doing on Desperate Housewives yet. But he sure didn't look as tough in that orderly's uniform last night. But I do know this, "Yee ha, Jester's dead."

Friday, December 02, 2005

Creating casinos ONLY a problem gambler could love...

PITTSBURGH. In the paternalistic world of southwestern PA, we can always count on our government to protect us into creating exactly what it was trying to prevent in the 1st place. Now, after speculation and false starts has pretty much turned 5th and Forbes into the ghost town that was to be prevented, we've set our sights on a much bigger target: creating casinos only a problem gambler could love.

First, we're only getting slot machines. One gambler, one button, maybe 3 seconds. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Sure it's fun to drop a quarter in now and then, but I always find these places the most depressing part of Vegas, the place where you see the elderly trailing their oxygen, gambling their prescription drug money. Where are the table games? You know, ones that take a whole minute to play. One's where you might actually sit next to the people you came with and speak to them.

Today, the Post-Gazette highlights a proposal to ban complimentary drinks, a standard operating procedure in the industry. It's a nice perk. It makes the casino a more inviting place to go with friends and have fun (except we can only play slots....what about poker).

I have this nightmare...It feels like a premonition really of our "slots parlors." Uninviting with bright fluorescent lights (almost like a nursing home), rows of slot machines. Nothing to do but make change and press the button. A place nobody wants to go except for those unfortunate among us who have that irresistible, insatiable urge among us to insert quarter after quarter in pursuit of the few seconds of euphoria that accompanies a win.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Back in the Brrrrrrrrrgh

PITTSBURGH. Arrived back in Pittsburgh last night on USAirways Flight 150. Trust me, if you were on the flight you know who we were. If you know someone who was on the flight, you already know what happened. I'll leave it at that. Our punishment for being slightly disappointed at seeing temps in the 60s was a dose of temps in the 30s with the prospect of snow showers. Took a few days off from posting, but here are a few highlights from the trip...

1. Phoenix is defined by 5 overwhelming brownish red color, the saguaro cactus, bright sunshine, wide open space punctuated by occasional moutains and scorching heat (which is mercifully missing this time of the year).

2. The Pointe Hilton Sqaw Peak Resort is great for families with kids. Large 2-room suites mean your day doesn't end prematurely when you put the kids to bed. The lazy river pool complex is a great way to spend the day. A tiny bit more attention to detail by the staff is in order. Twice we had to call to have our caffeinated coffee replenished because housekeeping saw the decaf unopened and failed to replace the caf. Anybody that cleans up a hotel room inhabited by 2 adults and 3 kids for 6 days deserves our respect. We defefinately would stay there again.

3. Our little Sullys were hiking maniacs. Almost everday began with "mountain climbing," usually a 1/2 mile up hill hike supplemented by a combination hike, kid carrying down hill journey.

4. Watching your little Sullys with the Sully-side grandparents is priceless. The handholds, the lap sitting, the hugs and kisses, the SPOILING...

5. Giraffes have long slimy tongues and are fun to feed.

6. GSully and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary with a sunset picnic on Squaw (I mean Piestewa) Peak. Nightfall really brings out the colors of the desert. Great takeout from Sauce and a bottle of wine coupled with the great view made this our best anniversary celebration yet.

7. If in Scottsdale, eat at the Old Town Tortilla Factory. Ask for a table on the patio. Eat the Pollo Margarita. GSully called this the best chicken dish and the best restaurant meal she has ever had. Best chicken ever...think about it.

8. The Treo 650 made this the 1st vacation in years with the laptop at home. I did not miss the laptop.

9. President Bush came to Phoenix on Monday and I didn't notice or care.

10. I want In 'N Out Burger to come to Pittsburgh. I'm not sure, but I think the Mesa, AZ location is the closest to Pittsburgh. I'm almost sure I will die before that happens. I'm not a big chain diner, but if we didn't have the Green Mango, we would be looking for Pei Wei too.