Sunday, December 30, 2012

Steamroller Art

PITTSBURGH -- According to the website "The Steamrolled Pittsburgh project is a collaboration between Construction Junction and the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh thanks to funding from the Sprout fund. Steamrolled Pittsburgh will use a construction grade steamroller to print large 2′x2′wood-cut prints of 8 Pittsburgh neighborhoods."

The resulting prints are on display at the Oakland branch of the Carnegie Library.
Downtown (The Point)


Carving used for Homewood print

Close-up of Homewood carving

Squirrel Hill

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Fishing for Christmas

PITTSBURGH -- The Feast of the Seven Fishes is celebrated by a lot of Italian-American Pittsburghers on Christmas Eve. That meant that yesterday, a lot of folks were picking up fish from our favorite local fish market, Penn Avenue Fish Company. We only needed salmon for today's dinner, but we had to pick it up yesterday, too. I dropped Hannah in front of the store and circled the block, lucky enough to find a parking spot down the street. The place looked rather placid from outside:

Apparently it was so crowded inside that if someone had fainted, the shear volume of bodies would have kept them on their feet. One of the fish mongers said, to nobody in particular, "I'm going on 36 straight hours here." The owner, with a phone to his ear, cut the heads off fish while explaining to the person on the line that he would add a little saffron to whatever recipe he had just given out. 

We look forward to salmon on the grill today.

Also yesterday, as per the Pileggi family tradition, we went shopping. Christmas Eve shopping is almost always less stressful than any other pre-Christmas mall trip. Lots of parking, lots of sales, and yesterday was great. Santa was there, too.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Beam Me Up, Scottish-infused University

PITTSBURGH -- CMU was founded by Andrew Carnegie, Scottsman, businessman, industrialist, philanthropist, and go ahead and add a few descriptions of your own, good or bad. Whatever you think of Andrew Carnegie nearly 100 years after his death, Carnegie Mellon University retains some of his Scottish heritage.

CMU's mascot is "Scotty," a real Scottish terrier, seen here with his brothers Chase and Murray: Too bad  I couldn't find a picture of them dressed in their Tartan plaid.

CMU has bagpipers (see my post from November 16, 2012).

The reason I felt like I was being beamed up from campus is this monitor that makes video look like it's being shaken in a snow globe. The molecules on the right are me walking down the hall:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Done in Atlantic City

ATLANTIC CITY -- Enough. The over-50 tournament will continue until someone wins. That could be 3 a.m., or later (or earlier, depending on how you look at it). Larry pushed before the dinner break and he busted out and we had a nice dinner. We're going to head out tomorrow, having lunch near the Boardwalk on our way out of town.

Third Time's a Charm?

ATLANTIC CITY -- So the noon tournament didn't work out either, even though Larry won one hand with a 3 high. He busted out with a pair of Aces to a guy who rivered a third King.

Then he signed up for the Over-50 tournament. It started at 3:00 and he bought in at around 3:45. That's what he's doing now.

WSOP 2-day tournament/Playing in the sand

ATLANTIC CITY -- Larry started at noon in a smaller tournament, a $365 buy-in. It's about 150 players and is scheduled for two days. No pressure. He put too much pressure on himself yesterday. Whatever happens.

We saw a guy who was last year's point leader for the WPT. Don't know his name. So there are some pros.

After play started, I heard "Floor." Someone who was scheduled for the 3 p.m. over-50 tournament was playing at noon by mistake. An ultimate senior moment. A couple of other guys were playing at the wrong tables.

Harrah's is preparing for Christmas. That includes sand sculpture inside. No sand castles outside. Rain has caused flooding this week, and the fog is as thick as any fog I've ever seen. I know the ocean is out there, but we haven't really seen it yet.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

WSOP -- Maybe Tomorrow

ATLANTIC CITY -- Larry's out. Couldn't catch a break. A guy rivered a straight. Some players played crazy and got lucky.

Tomorrow at noon a 2-day event starts, so he's going to give that one a try.

It's hard to shake the bad luck. He says he wouldn't have played any differently, but gosh it's frustrating.

In our hotel, Viking (maker of uber ovens) has a cooking school. This time of year, they were making gingerbread houses.

A photo in the conference center that might have been the basis for the series Boardwalk Empire:

WSOP mini Main Event, Day One

ATLANTIC CITY -- Play started at 11 a.m. for the A Group (Larry's group). They will play until 5:30 (roughly). The B Group starts at 7 p.m. The A Group started with approximately 333 entrants. They start with 20,000 chips.

At the first break at 1 p.m., Larry had about 17,500. Still in it, doing okay. He plays well when he's getting short, so he'll keep going. It's now almost 3 p.m. (another break coming up).

Major fog here in Atlantic City. Apparently there was so much rain earlier yesterday that there was some road flooding. Haven't had a chance to look around the area to see how the Sandy clean-up is coming along.

More later.

WSOP mini Main Event

ATLANTIC CITY -- Larry starts play at 11 a.m. here at Harrah's in Atlantic City in what we hope will be 3 days of play (until he wins!). More details throughout the day.

Monday, December 3, 2012

My First Front-Page Story

PITTSBURGH -- This week's edition of Carnegie Mellon's newspaper, The Tartan, includes a piece I wrote about foreign language study trends. The title of the article is "Foreign languages speak to students."  The Tartan is still published on paper, in addition to residing on-line, and it was pretty exciting for me to see my first piece of real journalism on the front page.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

WSOP Atlantic City

PITTSBURGH -- Larry will be playing in a WSOP circuit event next week at Harrah's in Atlantic City. This series of events (at least 13 tournaments) started on November 29th and will run through December 10th. The event he's planning to enter is the No-Limit Hold 'em Main Event on Saturday and Sunday, December 8 and 9. If, by some chance, he busts out before 3 p.m. on Sunday, there is a 50-and-over Texas Hold 'em event. He would have to prove that he's over 50!

I plan to roam around the Atlantic City boardwalk area. I've never been there before. I never saw the real thing before it was so damaged. Maybe I can lend a hand. I'll see what I can find.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Zip It

SQUIRREL HILL -- While waiting for a clarinet/guitar/accordion performance at the Christine Frechard Gallery in Squirrel Hill, I took a look at some of the art for sale:

A few pieces of art decided to watch the show:

Susanne Ortner-Roberts on clarinet, John Marcinizyn on guitar, and Vladimir Mollov on accordion. Playing Klezmer and Gypsy Jazz. A packed gallery loved it.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pittsburgh Poker Open -- the end

PITTSBURGH -- It's 9:45 p.m. and we're home. But it's amazing Larry lasted as long as he did in today's tournament. He played for almost eight hours and never had more than a pair. In the last hand, he ended up going all in with pocket queens. The small blind, a guy who had just moved to the table, was impossible to read because he was impossible to see seated where he was. The guy called and had pocket Aces. And then the board gave him two more.

Total number of players:  107
First place prize:  $32,100

Next time.

Pittsburgh Poker Open -- and then there were two

PITTSBURGH -- Trophy Number Two:

Larry won the second one on Thanksgiving day. Hannah and I were there cheering him on, and it was a riot.

The game was 7-card stud, eight or better. Larry taught himself the rules the night before. It's 2 cards down (to each player), 4 cards up (to each player) and 1 card down (to each player). A high hand and a legitimate low hand will split the pot. The low hand can't have a card higher than an 8, and it cannot include any pairs. So think junk hand. The best hand to get would be A2345 as a straight flush because it would be most likely the highest hand and also the lowest hand. 

There were only six guys playing, and that was good because it takes a l-o-n-g time to play. With more people, it would have gone on for hours.

The poker room was virtually empty, one cash game only going on. So we pretty much had the place to ourselves. The dealers who weren't actively working were watching, too. At one point, a player flipped a card into the air by accident. It hit Hannah's foot and then the ground, and I picked it up. They have to take the deck out of play and count the cards. I get it. People do cheat. Just not me.

RIGHT NOW is the No Limit Hold 'em tournament, a 2-day event. Larry just texted: 

"Playing well. Getting cards. But getting killed on flops. 4 drives against my aces so down 35% of stack. But not giving up."

To be continued.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pittsburgh Poker Open

PITTSBURGH (duh) -- Larry's a winner! Well, he's always a winner in general, but last night (actually early this morning), he won his first poker trophy. Ain't it a beaut?

Rivers Casino is holding a week-long series of tournaments to determine the "best poker player in Pittsburgh." Larry won the No Limit Texas Hold 'Em "Triple Chance." I think that meant that in addition to the buy-in, it included two more smaller buy-ins for chips to be added at any time during the tournament.

The tournament started at 7:15 p.m. with 65 players. Larry texted at around 9:30, "It's moving fast. Will have to make a move soon." And then I didn't hear for a while. Finally, at around 11, he said to come on down. The blinds are going up really fast. So I went there expecting to pick him up after either busting out or winning by 11:30. Wrong. At 2:44 a.m. we left with his lovely trophy. Such is poker.

Larry chopped the pot with one other guy. They each signed for their winnings and then the two piles of cash were combined to be split evenly. The other guy did the splitting. This morning, we both realized that the guy seemingly gave himself a little extra. Perhaps he'll be playing again this weekend when Larry plays again. It should make for an interesting conversation.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bagpipes for Breakfast

PITTSBURGH -- A typical day on Carnegie Mellon's campus.

I didn't get a chance to ask this guy what was up. I assume he was there for a event that was about to start, but maybe he was just out for a stroll.

CMU offers a music degree in bagpipes! The degree, started in 1990, is the only one in the world and has graduated 3 students through 2009. (I can't find data that's more current.) Some students just take lessons. Because bagpipes are phenomenally loud, students practice in a sound-proof basement studio on campus. Maybe this guy just couldn't take the closed in space anymore.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Alternative Homecoming Dance for "Wallflowers"

PITTSBURGH -- To Pittsburghers between the ages of 14 and 17, the Carnegie Museum and Library and the City of Pittsburgh are sponsoring an alternative homecoming dance this Saturday. It's for "Wallflowers and Wildflowers," any student who just might want a different homecoming experience.

Some random Homecoming photos from our past (hope you don't mind, Han):

2004, mom jeans and Homecoming chic.



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Eve to Our Kiddo

PITTSBURGH -- We'll be on the road tomorrow, so I want to send an early birthday blog wish to Hannah.

I wouldn't dare use cliches like "where has the time gone" or "it seems like only yesterday that you were born" or "how is it possible that you're 24?" I'll just say that we love you to pieces and you'll always be our little girl with the pony tails and the mischievous grin and the mind of her own.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Half a Harvest Moon

PITTSBURGH--Last night, it was still 72 degrees after dark. The last flip-flops day of Indian summer. It wasn't a Harvest Moon, but maybe it was bright enough, with some help from from the power grid, to equal half.

Today will be the last day for fall foliage. The winds from Hurricane Sandy will likely blow them all away, and maybe some of the trees, too.

Other Halloweenie sights around Pittsburgh: