Sunday, August 23, 2009

Life in the big city: it’s just another Sunday in Pittsburgh

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I can't believe it's been two weeks since my last blog (the one about joining Facebook).   Sometimes the days and even weeks can merge together so seamlessly that I'll get my latest phone bill & think it's a duplicate, or I'll be combing my hair in the morning & wondering why it's so long; didn't I just get it cut a week ago? 

So it's hard to believe that only two days after I posted here, a 48 year old man walked quietly into a local fitness center (the same gym where my friend Julie is a member), opened his duffel bag, pulled out two guns & shot 12 women.  Three dead, nine wounded.  

Everyone knows most of the story now, of course.  Blogs and internet message boards abound with equal parts sympathy, both for his innocent victims and George Sodini, "this lonely man driven to do what he did". 

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ABC News reports claim Sodini was a likely psychopath; gee, ya think?   

The morning following the shooting, I got to work & a female coworker said "Doug...if you ever decide to come in here with a gun, please don't shoot me okay?"   A little bit of dark humor, but I still kinda took it to heart.   Like George, I'm in my forties--still single, haven't dated in awhile.  Okay a few years.  Am I lonely?  Sometimes, yes.  Would it be nice to meet someone, have a romantic relationship?  Sure. 

Do I worry that I'm going to go on a killing spree if I don't find someone soon?  Excuse me? 

I know all too well what loneliness can do to a person.  Sometimes it’s a real effort to not let those dirty dishes stack up, or get in some exercise before going to bed when you think no one else cares but you.  But there's a world of difference between 'alone time' & madness.  When people lamented that this wouldn't have happened if he hadn't been so lonely, & even George wrote that if the right woman came along, he would probably put off his plans for killing, I didn't believe it for a minute.  Sooner or later, he would've found the reason he needed to do it.   

Well, on a saner note it looks like I'm going to be in my apartment here for awhile longer.   My landlord had given me an extension on my lease, but I was just unable to find a condo with both the convenience of everything I have now & such close proximity to the city.   Er...except for this. 617D5C2B848A9C67_4996_2[1]

 

Mexican War Street condo in newly restored building; I went to see this & was surprised by the size of the building, it stretches back a whole city block

 

For people familiar with Pittsburgh, this place is located on the Mexican War Streets on the Northside, a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo with an extra large balcony & one terrific view (the unit for sale is right in front).  Asking price is 109K.617D5C2B848A9C67_4996_3[1]

 

A park is directly across; beyond that, the city skyline

 

There's no offstreet parking though, and for such a busy neighborhood the only places within walking distance are the Salvation Army, a couple churches & Allegheny Hospital.  It's still a great piece of property in a nicely restored building.  However, as nice as it is...it's um, not exactly one of your finer neighborhoods.  While residences like this one look pretty spiffy, it's still a dangerous part of the city to be out and about at night. 

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One block up the street, a row of deserted storefronts & the recently closed 'Garden Theater', the city's last adult movie theater.  The area is known for drug & gang activity

While the neighborhood DOES carry some prestige for the residential restoration, you still hear about a shooting or stabbing there every week, it seems.

When I was mulling over the pros and cons, my sister Shawn told me it'd make her sick with worry if I moved there.  But Shawn, I could technically walk to work over the Sixth Street Bridge!  And it has that great view!

(Well, if you only look in one direction.  Ah well!  I’m sure I’ll find something eventually…)

I was planning to talk about the new casino here too, Pittsburgh's 'proud new addition' to the North Shore... but given my feelings about it (not good) and this blog, I think I've shared enough.  Think I'll go outside and enjoy some sunshine.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Sometimes, you’re just another face in the crowd…

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A little over a week ago, my friend Rich emailed me; he said he was having difficulty finding my Facebook page because there were several Doug Morris' out there, & wanted to know which one was mine.  When I told him I didn't HAVE a Facebook page, he was actually surprised.  "Why not?"

I'm familiar with it, of course.  (In fact, the site of my first teepee blog--Windows Spaces--was Microsoft's attempt to get into the social networking scene, and personally I thought it was pretty nifty, even if it didn't catch on with the masses.)  I had tried MySpace during it's heyday, and that's about how long I had a MySpace; for a heyday.  (I didn't exactly fit in with the 14-24 crowd, which is what it felt like they were aiming for.)   So after discovering that I actually knew more people that BELONGED to Facebook than people that didn't, I took the plunge & signed up.   Let the fun begin!

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That's my brother Steve & his wife Ann, who I've seen only twice in the last ten years; they both have their own Facebooks, who knew?

In all honesty, I still have mixed feelings about it.   From the start, it had some pleasant surprises; somehow the site recommends "friendships" you might be interested in forming, I guess based on the relatives you list in your Info Page, where you grew up or went to school, even former jobs you had.  The very first night I was on, I reconnected with my former work colleague (and once a very good friend) Kim Hall, and we sat up for hours, catching up on things.  Shortly after that, I discovered an assortment of relatives were Facebookers too (like my cousins Amy & Emily, and my brother Steve, above).   

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Kimberly (right), her husband Dave & son Evan

But that's not enough; you see, on Facebook you HAVE to have friends--lots and lots of 'em!   On my second day, my pal Martin contacts me--"Doug, you need more friends.  Search for coworkers, relatives, people you went to school with.  You gotta make more friends!!"   He's right, I only had 8 people so far--he has 403!   Oh wait, here's someone that works with my cousin's best friends' husband; do I like 'Lost'?  It doesn't matter:  we're officially friends now.  Do I want to be friends with his friends?  Who wouldn't?

And here's where it really gets friendly--every time a friend makes a comment like "I'm hungry & I think I'll make a cheese sandwich", it also gets posted on YOUR page.  Hey, you want to be in the loop, don't you?  And if 26 of his friends want to know what kind of cheese he's planning to put on that sandwich, not to worry--you'll see all of those too!  Just be glad there’s only 26 who asked, because he now has 377 friends in his Facebook.  

It doesn't have to be this friendly though--in fact, once I saw the potential for all this...camaraderie, well, not to be antisocial but I wanted to keep it real.  So I now have a total of only 25 friends on my Facebook page, and I'm proud to say I know each & every one of 'em!

Well, except for one--I have no idea who she is... but she's pretty.

And now, a true story...

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My sister Donda in "So Many Friends, So Little Time!"

Just yesterday my sister Donda (who happens to be a pretty big fan of Facebook) wrote me with an interesting (if not surprising) dilemma...

DONDA:  Doug, I have 160 friends on Facebook and it shows no signs of stopping!  Now what??

DOUG:  Well Cissy, you know how Facebook works!  A friend of a friend of a friend offers to be your friend, & you don't have the heart to say no...you need to start saying "No thanks”!

DONDA:  No--you don't understand!  I know everyone of 'em, and I love them all!

DOUG:  Well, fortunately you have 160 people to give you advice then.  Shawn, want to join me & your sister Cissy-Lin on Facebook?

SHAWN:  NO.

Well, there's a lot I didn't cover here--primarily because I haven't been a member long enough to see everything.  (What's with all the quizzes, anyway?  And what's with that Poke button??  You poke someone & then what--wait for them to poke you back?!) 

I think for now I'll keep my thoughts (and photos) right here in the ol' Teepee, where I can pretty much rant in private as no one comes here anyway.  And oh yeah--my friend Rich who asked me where my Facebook page was?   We're not officially friends yet.

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