News & Sports

A couple random thoughts to share on the blog today.

* Have problems surrounding drugs worsened over the past 10 years or so?  I can only judge what I see in my region.  But, from what officials tell me and what I see, I think they have.  Local officials have told me in the past that, in a conservative estimate, 85 percent of the cases they deal with involving alcohol or drugs.  That’s shocking.  This week, we had a shooting directly related to a drug deal….on a walking trail used by families on a daily basis.  It’s clearly unacceptable.  But, what do we do about it?  Such a difficult question, but one facing communities big and small all over the nation.

* I’ve got to get a mention in here for the Pittsburgh Pirates!  I woke up this morning to see that the Cardinals lost last night, meaning they’re now tied with the Pirates (the PIRATES?!) for the best record in baseball.  They’ve played so well, and unlike last year, there are no indications that they’re going to have a collapse later in the season.  I’m excited to see what the rest of the season has in store.

* Chalk this up to the power of sleep.  I went to bed around 7:30 p.m. yesterday and slept through the night, getting up at my normal 3:30 a.m.  I usually turn in around 10 p.m. for about 5 1/2 hours of sleep.  The extra 3 or so hours makes a big difference!  Feeling much more refreshed today.

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Hi my name is Nick Ruffner and I’m a tech addict.

Last night we lost power at our house.  That was around 7:30 p.m.  We we had heard would be a short outage stretched through the night and into this morning.  Years ago, the biggest worry during a power outage would be whether it would be out long enough to spoil food in freezers and refrigerators.  My biggest fear?  Whether I’d be able to get up on time in the morning.  Why?  Because my cell phone was nearly dead.  Losing power for more than an hour or so isn’t fun.  It’s less fun with two kids who don’t understand why they’re sitting in candlelight.  Naturally, as a citizen of the 21st century, my thoughts went to items that relied on cell phone service and not wi-fi.  Of course, that’s when I realized the cell phone was dead.  That meant no e-mail until the power returned.  What is a tech addict to do?

It’s unbelievable how much we rely on technology.  Landlines have been replaced by cell phones.  Analog wall clocks have been replaced by digital clocks on microwaves, ovens and cable boxes.  Books replaced by e-readers and iPads.  Yet, when the power goes out, all that convenience becomes an hindrance: who knows what time it is when there isn’t a clock on the wall (ok, that’s a stretch, but is it, really?)

So before going to bed, I set the clock on my nearly dead cell phone and the old-school alarm clock on the nightstand.  I woke up to the sound of that alarm clock.  My cell phone?  Dead.  In the end, it’s the technology perfected in the 1800s that saved me.

Getting It Right

This blog post is a little different.  I want to use this space to address some questions posed by our listeners.  A homicide was reported last night in the small community of Clymer and there still aren’t a lot of details on what happened.  As is the case every time there’s a lack of information, the vacuum is filled with rumors.  So, rumors were rampant across Clymer last night.  The question was, why couldn’t we report what everyone else already knew?  Well, because we didn’t know it.  My rule, which I hold on tight to in most circumstances, is that in these situations 100 percent reliable information only comes from the police.  So last night, I waited for police to release the name of the victim and I went another route, getting details on the incident from the chief deputy coroner.  Now, no legitimate news organization will report rumors as fact.  Doing so would just serve to amplify the game of telephone that is played after every incident like this.

Some organizations are even abolishing the term “breaking news.”  The thought is that they would rather be second to a story and get it right, than be first, and get it wrong.  We’ve seen a lot of that lately, especially after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing.  It’s not such a bad idea…..no one ever understood what the term “breaking news” meant anyway.

Expectations

First, a couple stories we’re following in Indiana County today:

* The state House Transportation Committee will consider Senate Bill 1 today.  That is a bill that includes a $2.5 billion transportation plan.  It was passed by the Senate but has come under some criticism from House members and many police departments because it increases fees on traffic violations and also will lead to an increase in PA’s gas taxes.  There are six days left for a budget agreement.

* We’re covering a couple school board meetings tonight.  Budgets for the next fiscal year are expected to be considered at both Indiana and Marion Center.

Now onto the Pirates.

With a sweep over the weekend against the Angels (and losses by the opposition,) the Pirates are now one game back from the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Pirates also have an easier schedule for the next couple weeks.  It’s still VERY early, but here’s the question:  If the Pirates are still among the best two or three teams in the National League at the end of the season, what are the expectations for the playoffs.  Could we see the Pirates not only make the playoffs but have the chance to go far in them?  Obviously, given the last few seasons, I shouldn’t even talk about this.  The team could still collapse, but they’re not showing any signs of that.  Hopefully this is not only the year the streak ends, but ends dramatically.

Ciao Tony.

Sad news last night on the passing of James Gandolfini.  Just 51 years old.  Likely heart attack.

He will be remembered for the iconic role of Tony Soprano.  He should be.  I told someone today that “The Sopranos” is among the top five dramas to ever air on television.  It may be the best.  For me, only “Lost” even comes close in comparison to “The Sopranos.”  There you have two very different shows, but that’s a discussion for another post.

“The Sopranos” wasn’t great because of its subject matter, but sometimes in spite of it.  Although it was a show focused on the mafia, its real focus was on its characters and more specifically, Tony Soprano.  In how many shows could you go from loving the main character, to hating him.  I didn’t watch the show when it was on HBO.  I bought the DVD set a few years after it aired and watched it the whole way through.  Tony Soprano was such as complex character, was he a good guy trapped by his circumstances, or a bad guy who merely went through the motions of appearing good?  You never really knew.  It always seemed like just when Soprano seemed to show signs of morality, he’d order or so something completely reprehensible.

How does it compare to Michael Corleone, the other great character of America’s mob cinema.  Michael started wholesome, think, “That’s my family, not me.”  By the end of the saga, does anyone think there’s good left in him?  Yes, there’s the constant search for legitimacy for the family, but good?  No.

You always thought, deep inside, there was some good in Tony Soprano.  At least I did.  Chalk that up to the complex, great performance by Gandolfini.

The View From Ninth Goes To Washington

The blog took a break for the past several days since I was out of town.  I visited Washington, D.C. with my wife, visiting for the first time in several years.  I completed an internship in Washington as part of my graduate program back in 2007, but hadn’t been back since.

Washington is one of those places that never seems to change that much but is always interesting.  I didn’t get to do everything that I wanted to on this trip, we didn’t stop by the Lincoln, Vietnam and Korean Memorials, or Arlington Cemetery.  But I did get to visit the Newseum.  I had never been there before, since the location on Constitution Avenue was under construction when I was last in D.C.  I was blown away.  As opposed to the Smithsonian museums, which are free of charge, you do pay to visit the Newseum, but it is worth it.

A few things that stood out to me including the exhibit on the Kennedy assassination.  Very rarely do I read all of the descriptions and captions associated with a museum exhibit, but I did here.  The exhibit incorporated multimedia in the form of scanner recordings from Dallas, Walter Cronkite’s historic newscast breaking the news of Kennedy’s death, etc.  I found it amazing that a recounting of the events of that day could be so shocking, especially since it happened 50 years ago and I wasn’t around to live through it.

Another touching exhibit was the display of the Berlin wall.  It was interesting to see the difference in each side of the wall, the completely clean concrete on the communist side of the wall and the graffiti-laden side of the wall found on the free West Berlin side.

There’s an exhibit on 9/11.  As we watched a film on the attacks in a small theater found in the exhibit, I noticed lots of children who likely weren’t even born at the time of the terrorist attacks.  It’s a stark reminder of how much time has passed since September 11, 2001.  To me, it’s a memory.  To them (and to my kids,) it’s a history lesson.

My kids are young, 2 1/2 and 6 months.  But I’m looking forward to taking them to places like the Newseum, the Smithsonian, the Holocaust Museum and all the other attractions in Washington.  It’s full of reminders of things we should never forget.

Storms and Sports

The view from Ninth is a rainy one this morning but not a windy one, and maybe more important, a flooded one.  We seem to have missed out on the worst of the severe weather, although I got to witness a real lightening show on the way into work this morning.  Taking a quick walk outside just before 6 a.m., I noticed there was a bit of a breeze but we luckily missed out on the derecho, the straight line winds predicted in these storms.  It’s been too rainy this week, time for some sun.

Some sports thoughts this morning.  Ray Shero made the RIGHT decision to extend the contract of Dan Bylsma yesterday.  Bylsma is a great coach and his regular season coaching record proves that.  This year was flukey.  The Bruins were hot in the Eastern Conference Final, we’ll see how they do against the Blackhawks.  Also glad to see Shero stand behind Marc-Andre Fleury.  I found the digital mob that formed around Fleury a little disturbing.  He wasn’t the first nor the last goaltender to have a couple bad games.  I expect him to be back at top form next year.

And….the Pirates won again.  Raise it!