Monthly Archives: February 2012

Selling the past

Isaly’s in Irwin closed down years ago, much to my dismay because I was a regular customer, heading there every Saturday with my kiddo to buy lunch meat, bread, and other sundry items. Then my kiddo and I would sit in a booth and eat a cookie, and then we’d unhitch our horse and buggy and ride on home, pa.

Isaly’s was replaced a few years ago by a deli/bakery that never really took off on account of it wasn’t Isaly’s. Here’s something you might not know: when Isaly’s closed down in Irwin, my husband seriously considered it as a place to put a Mexican restaurant, but I begged him and begged him to buy it and keep it an Isaly’s. I promised I would run it and make it successful. I couldn’t bear the thought of that history going away.

I did not get my way.

That new deli/bakery is going out of business and all of the original Irwin Isaly’s fixtures are for sale on Craigslist.

The ice cream dishes from the original Isaly’s:

The original lamb cake pans:

The original machine that ties the strings around a bakery box:

The original signs that hung in Isaly’s:

Antique deli tape dispenser:


There are also the original display cases and the original bread slicer.

I wonder if I can convince my husband to buy all of these for me and I’ll just keep them in my kitchen.

“Kiddo. Here’s your lunch for school.”

“[sigh] Is the bread shaped like a stupid lamb again?”

“Yes. It’s adorable! I bet you’re the coolest kid at lunch!”

“Look, mom, I can deal with taking a lamb-shaped freshly chipped chopped ham sandwich to school every day, but DO I HAVE TO TAKE IT IN A BAKERY BOX TIED UP WITH STRING?”

Best mom ever.

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I don’t know how much you know about hoarding, and honestly if I had to have a bumper sticker about my association with hoarding, it would say, “Everything I know about hoarding I learned from watching Hoarders on A&E.” That’s kind of wordy, so I’d probably have to buy a Hummer to fit my bumper sticker.

But what I’ve learned from watching Hoarders, which is really a documentary series on the pathological collecting behavior, is that it is a psychological problem. It is a devastating, life-destroying, family-destroying behavior that needs treatment — years and years of treatment to overcome, and even then, like drug addictions and alcohol addictions, there’s always the chance of relapse. These are mentally ill people. They don’t want to be like they are, but they don’t know how to NOT be like they are, and anyone who suffers from OCD or depression or mental illness can probably relate to that feeling.

Just save this ONE newspaper. And this one. And this one. And before you know it, you’re buried under six tons of newspapers. I have watched episodes in which a woman who regularly attended church and put on the appearances of normalcy, saved all of her urine and feces in jars and lived among tons and tons of trash in absolute life-threatening squalor. When her pastor learned of her living conditions, he wept.

I saw a man hoard hundreds and hundreds of rats when he couldn’t emotionally deal with his wife’s death.

I’ve seen families torn apart and hoarders choose their hoards over their children’s safety and well-being.

It take psychiatrists, therapists, “extreme cleaning specialists” and professional organizers to help a hoarder overcome their behavior. It is not a switch a hoarder chooses to flip.

So I’m just disgusted. Absolutely beyond disgusted with KDKA and Marty Griffin that they would choose to shame a hoarder in this way.

Marty Griffin: “Sir, do you have any intention of leaving, sir? Any intention at all of leaving? No, sir? What is going on in here, sir? Can you tell us at all?”

Now, first, this hoarder needs to leave. I agree. Like many hoarders, he will be forced to leave when the authorities come and take him away. What he is doing is illegal, staying beyond his lease, damaging property, and staying beyond the request to leave.

I get that. This situation is for the authorities, his family, the landlord, and hopefully the owner to work out. It’s her property. It’s her money.

This is NOT for KDKA to get involved in and say, “Look at this man. Look at him. Shame on him. Shame on his hoard. Shame on his junk. Look how he lives like an animal. What are you doing in there, sir? What’s going on in here, sir? Can you move your hand a bit so our viewing audience can see you for the animal you are? Does this shame make you want to leave? ”

What was accomplished here?

I think news stories should serve one of several purposes and I can’t see what purpose this story served other than to shame a troubled, mentally ill man.  At least the show Hoarders has the approval of the hoarder and the goal of course is to HELP the hoarder, which they do by providing treatment, continuing therapy, cleaning, hauling and more, for free. Sure they’re serving our reality-age voyeuristic desires by showing us what they do, but at least the troubled people are helped. Families are saved.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s shows like Hoarders that made Marty Griffin and KDKA think this was okay. Maybe we created this monster.

But what was the point, KDKA? Was it to persuade us to action? Well, I can’t imagine a news report is going to make a judge or police force move any faster. Are we the people going to grab our pitchforks and torches and run that man out of that apartment? If you wanted to incite his family to action to help him, there are ways to do that OTHER than shoving a camera into his face and asking ridiculous questions.

Marty talked to the county health department who indicated they’ll have a plan of action by tomorrow. Was that before or after Marty filmed the man? If it was before, then WHY GO FILM THE MAN? If it was after, then WHY AIR THE FOOTAGE AND THE STORY?!

Were you hoping to shame him into leaving? Shaming a hoarder will not make him stop hoarding or leave his hoard any more than shaming an alcoholic will make him stop drinking.

It wasn’t an entertaining story. It wasn’t useful in any way. It didn’t teach my anything. It didn’t explain to me what purpose it hoped to serve.

It was shoddy journalism that accomplished nothing other than giving Marty Griffin a chance to stand up on his tall, self-built pedestal and shove a microphone and a camera down into the face of a desperate man sitting sadly at rock bottom.

I’m absolutely disgusted and it’s a sad day when a journalist disgusts me more than a man living among 6 tons of garbage.

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Random n’at

1. How do you know when it’s time you need new hearing aids? When this conversation happens:

Me: The kiddo wants to put song #19 from that 80’s CD you have in the car onto his Kindle Fire. Who sings that? It sounds like they’re saying “more than a feeling?”

Him: Huh?

Me: Yeah.

Him: That would be a song by Boston, but that’s not on that CD.

Me: Hmm. It sounds like maybe U2 is singing it?

Him: HUH?!

[I stick the CD in the computer and we listen to #19. Ten seconds after the music starts up …:]

Him: [falls down laughing]


Him: That’s “Maria” by BLONDIE.

True. Story.

2. The tour guide may have mentioned this on my tour of Clayton, but on account of I thought Blondie was U2, I may have not heard it.

Henry Clay Frick and Adelaide Childs Frick were supposed to be on the Titanic!

Thank goodness for them, a sprained ankle used to require hospitalization.

(h/t @Verbz)

3. During WWII, Americans attempted pigeon-guided missiles.


(h/t @jmarinara)

4. The greatest stress ball in the history of stress balls.

At least I think it’s a stress ball.

We won’t know until I beat the crap out of it.

Someone buy that for me.

(h/t StacyfrPgh)

5. Great picture showing what Pittsburgh really is.

“Where the world thinks I live. Where my parents think I live. Where suburbanites think I live. Where I live.”

(h/t GaScubaBum)

6.  If you haven’t yet bought your Monster Haiku book benefiting the March of Dimes, please do so!

It is illustrated by the beautiful Rachel Sager (who designed my logo and web banner AND the Make Room for Kids logo). The haikus (hiaki? haikues? cyoo-pons?) were written by the brilliant Will Rutherford, who you remember I guest-haikued for once. Yes, I suck at haikuing.

Buy a book! You have five days left! DO IT FOR THE BABIES!

There are also posters, cards, and original art up for grabs!

I can’t wait to read the book to my kids. I’ll be all, “An owl will never stop … trying to end you. [blink] MWAH-HAHAH!”

Best mom ever.

7. There will be 47 new pictures tomorrow. Just preparing you.

8. Further proof that Pittsburgh is the new Hollywood.

Suck it, Portland.


9. Once a week the Post-Gazette sends me an email reminding me of my PG+ (pronounced BeeeeooooBOOOP in R2-D2ish) subscription.

“Don’t forget about your PG+ subscription!” the email says.

“Don’t forget I cancelled that two years ago!” I say.

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Uncomfortable chunks

I was going to write that I “literally busted out laughing in my kitchen” when I watched this video, but then I wondered would that mean that I exploded with laughter figuratively or would it mean I was literally exploded as in KABLOOEY! Ginny chunks all over the place?

Or would it be more of a [BEWBS] kind of thing?

Either way … BRILLIANCE by Randy Baumann and Bill Crawford of the DVE Morning Show. “Uncomfortably Close: With Dan and Dan.”

YouTube Preview Image

It’s funny … because it’s true.

:35 in is when I totally lost it.

:49 is when my daughter came in the kitchen to see if I needed some CPR or Heimlich or something.

1:03 in is when there were GINNY CHUNKS ALL OVER MY KITCHEN. KABLOOEY!

And then it just got funnier.

We need a web awards show for Pittsburgh videos. I would love to see acceptance speeches by Benstonium, Pittsburgh Dad and Randy and Bill.

Now, I gotta go clean my kitchen.

It’s hell in there.

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Car-mll. CARE-ah-mel. CAHR-a-mll.

If you’re interested in how Burghers are pronouncing caramel or if we refer to our athletic shoes as sneakers or something else, then you’ll want to check out part two of my “Etymology of Pittsburgh” column on

Not only do I delve into sneakers/tennis shoes, you’ll learn the following:

Dibs or shotgun?

Root or rout for route?

Roly poly or potato bug?


A snippet:

This one is crazy because THEY ARE ALL PRONOUNCED THE SAME. My family sat around the dinner table the other night trying our hardest to make “Mary,” “merry,” and “marry” sound different, and we all failed. I thought my father was going to have a stroke trying to do it.

Go have a read.

Oh, and speaking of our previous cyoo-pon versus coo-pon debate. Still no clear winner.

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I love Ellen. She would SO get a self-united card.

(h/t Zach)

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