Monday, December 31, 2012

Lets See How Far We've Come 2012: A Review

So Apparently 2012 is over now. For me, it was an interesting one to be certain. I sort of summed it up in my Christmas Letter in about a sentence:
This year was a challenge to see how full a schedule could be, and how much we could change.
Change in this case can be a good thing and a bad thing. At the beginning of 2012 I made a resolution to post once a week, on a Friday if I could, and this resulted in the 59 you see on the sidebar.

January brought Bishop Daniel to Carnegie. I invited the bishop to Slickville, and He said that he would try his best to come out sometime. I visited the nationality rooms on the campus of Pitt, and I also read John Green's new Book, the Fault in Our Stars.

February brought yet another college campus visit - this time to Carnegie Mellon for a Merit Badge program. March brought an adventure to the wilds of West Virginia, the wilds of the studios of WYEP, and the wilds of theater.

April brought the Drowsy Chaperone, my first ever musical that I performed in. It also brought a rant on Love timed around Easter.

May may have been the craziest for one weekend: Cinco de Mayo weekend. Friday brought a Camporee for which I designed the patch for. Saturday brought the first ever Re(imagiNATION) competition. The following day Bishop Daniel kept true to his promise and visited Slickville. He called the Tuesday before, and said that he had remembered me inviting him. I also became a Life Scout in May.

June brought NYLT, a training course made by the devils of the scouting world to change you from whatever it was you were to a leading man. It also brought me to Camp Seph Mack. We had developed a tradition of inviting the staff down to our site for a bonfire. It seems that bonfires bring people together, and this was no exception. On outpost night at NYLT, we had a bonfire I will remember for years.

July brought my first ever guest post, from my father, regarding vacations. I took my first ever vacation with my family out to Delaware. I celebrated 3 years of writing this website, and I started taking almost weekly bus rides out to WYEP to work on various projects.

August brought back school, and I quoted some songs for blog titles. I also started book reviews.

September brought my debut into announcing for the Carlynton Golden Cougar Marching band, and some side adventures with that.

October brought Homecoming, which I had the pleasure of sharing with a good friend of mine. It also brought Jamboree on the Air, and the end of the Football Season,

November brought the Ten Commandment Hike, references here to Squanto, and some reflection on natural disasters and the sort.

December brought me some good music, the 2012 HOOTENANNY and the 'end of the world as we know it'.

So this is where I break off and say thank you. I decided to write every week because I wanted to work on my writing skills a little, and develop a voice for this. Anyone that knows me can tell you I am not good at finishing things. I will start, or add a middle part, but finishing doesn't work with me. But I've had motivation

Back at the end of 2011, I had a total view count of 3,000 something. It's doubled in the past year, now at nearly 7500. All I can say is thank you. It helps to know that someone out there is reading what I'm writing. Friends, Family, Canadians, I don't care who you are, I just want to thank you, and invite you to join my little site here in 2013.

I plan on writing by the way until at least 2015. From there only time will tell, but that seems to me to be a tad far off. Thanks again, Happy New Year, and May God Bless You All!
-Alexander Popichak, the 2015Blogger

Friday, December 28, 2012

For in this World I'm Bound to Ramble

Movie Poster (Yay Wikipedia!)
The title this week is from a song called "I am a Man Of Constant Sorrow" made famous in the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? which I have yet to watch any more than the music video portion of it, which may I add is pretty interesting... (Warning: Profanity - )  making me wonder why I've never heard of using a can as a microphone.

In researching this post to give accurate year information, I found that George Clooney is in the movie, and it's like a Romeo + Juliet (Bazz Lahrman Movie)-esque version (in modernizing it up to the 1920's) of the Odyssey apparently... Though I think it'd be a tad more interesting

Which brings me to another thing. Since I've been sick, I've done a whole lot of nothing productive. Though I do feel satisfied with what I have been able to accomplish.

BACKSTORY: So back on Election Day, a few days before we finalised the Election piece, I was sitting on the first floor of the Carnegie library on the South Side of Pittsburgh. I was flipping through a book simply titled Cronkite because A) I wanted to know more about the guy B) If you're going to be a journalist, you should see how it developed into what it is today and C) I was bored and the guy I was to conduct the interviews yet hadn't showed up yet.

I told this little story to my mom, who in turn told it to my aunt and uncle (the same ones that introduced me to KDKA, John Green, and WYEP) who bought me the book. And now I have something to reference that isn't his autobiography that I borrowed (am borrowing) from my father.

Source: Some News Guy's Blog:
I flipped once again today to the part I was skimming on that November day - the infamous JFK assassination broadcast.

I read about it, and what went on behind the scenes, and I realised: This is the dawn of the "Breaking News Bulletin" regarding national news for ALL THREE networks. I look at today's media coverage and think that it seems a tad flustered in the marathon coverage. If the creation of it was this event, so be it. But if they did it 'right' or at least less flustered than today's. I wanted to see also it in context. I've seen the thirty second video clip ten thousand times from ten thousand different instances, but I wanted to see the context. I then stumbled across a gem, two hours of the original coverage ( (roughly 56:32 for the "The Flash From Dallas - Apparently Official..."))

He did it better and more tastefully than what I had seen done less than three weeks ago with the Newtown Shooting. I say this not based on concrete study of the journalistic arts, or anything. I just say it as someone who watched both, and compared the two. It's not even that in 1963 they did it more 'right' or 'good', I just think there was a difference in what I saw, and the older footage - yikes, it turns 50 this coming year -

And I am reminded of why in the world I want to be a journalist: Because I think it's a way to make a difference in how people think, and how people view what goes on around them. I may be preaching atop the proverbial soapbox, or this may be like a fever dream in a blog post form, but I might be onto something.

I'm not sure what I am doing at this point, or exactly "what I want to be when I grow up" but I do know a few things: I want to write, I want to help people, and above all, I want to make a difference.

It's a cliche anymore, but I still like John Green's words in An Abundance of Katherines:
"What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try and do something remarkable?"
Or, In the words of Walter Cronkite (Which at press time I use as my quote at the end of my signature:
"I can't imagine a person becoming a success who doesn't give this game of life everything he's got." 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It's A Thursday, and I'm Sick

That is a fair assumption of my day so far. Actually, that has been my week. Back on Saturday I fell ill with the dreaded ick that seems to have spread to everyone as of late, and have been sick ever since. Nevertheless, it's Winter (Western Christmas) Break and I thought I'd write about that.

I consider myself extremely lucky in more ways than one. Granted, the unlucky balances that out, but with some good I have not too much to complain about.

One of the ways I am lucky is that I was born into a family of a strange religion - Orthodoxy. We follow the traditions of years ago, which while sometimes they seem old-fashioned, it has its benefits. Namely, there is a 13 day discrepancy between Western Christmas (December 25th) Orthodox Christmas (January the 7th).

So how is this so wonderful? It means that I get to separate the holiday (holy-day, get it?) from the commercial celebration that the December Holiday has become.

So why escape the commercialism?

I think this is where the classic A Charlie Brown Christmas comes in. What rang true in 1965 is worse today. People are too materialistic anymore. We want the "stuff" and nothing more. It's nonsense.

I apologize for the preachiness and brevity, and I plan on something deeper tomorrow. Happy Christmas and Boxing Day To Everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Schools Out, Forever (or at least next week)

(It's a play on song lyrics... If you haven't heard the song, then I don' know what to tell you)
So yeah, it's winter break. I think I'm going to blog about a few things, but I'll name them as subheadings: It's the End of The World As We Know it (and I Feel Fine), and OMG It's Snowing In Carnegie.

It's The End Of The World As We Know it (And I Feel Fine)
I have some bad news for you conspiracy theorists: I procrastinated on my Friday blog post, and we're all alive.

But Friday marked the last day we had before this lovely little break, as well as the annual CHS Variety Show. I was informed the day before that the WCHS Morning Crew (Consisting of Me, Clay Bodnar of JSVH fame, and Aidan K of AK Productions Fame) were to host the variety show. Now, I had emceed events before, notably the Talent show of like 2009 or something but my counterparts had only done the AM announcements with me.

It's strange to be on this end of the spectrum when a year back I ran lights for the same event. I got the call from the people running the lights that it was time to go, and instead of hitting the button for a spot, I led Aidan and Clay into darkness with nothing but a spotlight glaring upon us. For me, it was very strange.

We then talked about the end of the world as the opening, doing a custom-tailored version of REM's "It's the End of the World as We Know it (And I Feel Fine)" that we had learned a mere 9 minutes before curtain. It was complete with jumbled lyrics and an ancient Mayan dance, which consisted of Aidan doing the "start the lawnmower" and sprinkler.

Somehow, we managed to host the show with limited injury. We almost lost a Kozy cutout, and were nearly booed for our jokes, but hey, so are the pros! There were a few tech and performance snafus, but I think we managed well enough on our end.

I was asked when I went up to my grandparents house this weekend if our grades were checked, or if we needed to be in scholars or honors classes to do the announcements. Quite plainly, no. We're a group of volunteers that just want to do this for the heck of it. We get no bonus points, magic pats on the back, and I don't think we need it. Our announcements crew (not the tech crew... that is another story entirely) is a dysfunctional family that gets stuff done in a wacky way.

OMG It's Snowing In Carnegie
(Kudos to the CHS band for inspiring the title)
So there were two trends inspiring a lot of the tweets among local teens, or at least the people that I follow on twitter. The first was the end of the world, and the second is that it's snowing.

What a shocker that the first day of winter (northern hemisphere) contains snow. Yet the local news, and twitterers alike took to their proverbial pulpits preaching that it had indeed snowed.

On a final note, these events inspired this gem of a tweet from the great Lana Meyer responding to the great Marin Exler:

No school means hopefully more time to blog. Look for something on Boxing day and MAYBE on Friday for once. 
Happy Western Christmas, Chanukah, Boxing Day, Festivus, and New Years everyone!

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I'm not ready to talk about today's events; and I'm not sure I ever will. 

So yesterday I walked around my neighborhood as I usually do. I got a call from a neighbor to check out something that he had said was going over on his street. I go over and I see that there is an excavator tearing down a condemned house across the street from him.

For years, we had known this just as "Tom's House" a condemned house which we had deemed the monster house of the neighborhood. It had become a hotspot for drug users and other semi-illegal activity. It was a welcome sight to see it go down.

After I saw what was left of "Tom's House" I proceeded to go home and get ready for WYEP's Holiday Hootenanny, which is our annual fundraiser for our education department, and namely Re(imagine) Media.

There were two portions to the program: the VIP act featuring some of the bands from our Re(imagine) Media band competition, Re(imagiNATION) back in May. They performed for the VIP ticket holders, and then the general admission show started.

The general admission show consisted of three bands, Chet Vincent and the Big Bend, the Neighbors, and Mark Dignam and the House of Song. Each of these headlining bands played sets of 7 or so Christmas songs and featured local singers such as Emma Cox and Molly Alphabet.

The event was supposedly livestreamed to UStream, but I don't know because I was taking pictures for WYEP/Re(imagine) Media the whole time. When those are up, I will post a link. However, I have to clean them up a tad, since I was using a not-professional camera.

The entire station (or at least as many people that I know existed) showed up including our E&CE director Alexa, Sensei Matt, and my fellow Carlynton resident Mrs. Meyer. I was introduced to many amazing people, and it truly reminded me of a full-scale version of our Re(imagiNATION) back in May.

The idea that music brings people together seemed to be embodied by this event. Yeah, the people that were there were supporting us, but I think in a broader sense, it was something bigger than that. It truly was a 'holiday party' where all of us Re(imaginers) got to meet the people that make what we do possible. It's extremely humbling, and it was extremely awesome to be a part of.

And I think it's this togetherness that really makes me appreciate what we can do with a radio station, and with one another as creative people. it's a great feeling to feel so much support, and it felt like WYEP truly is more than a radio station - that we're a family of sorts. Some of us are distant, but we're still all together.

If you want to see our informational pieces, pictures of what we've done, or are just interested, check out our blog at

If you're interested in hearing the music that was the Holiday Hootenanny, you can listen to 91.3FM locally on Christmas Eve. If you don't live in Pittsburgh, go to on Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Test

I've been mulling this one over for a while. My original mission was to take a walk around my neigborhood, take some pictures, and do a 'Thoughts From Places'-esque travelblog, but the always dependable Pittsburgh weather had other plans.

My second thought was a rant on education, an open letter to the Education Dept of the US and Pa. But I don't want to just stand atop my blog soapbox and preach like the guy that is talking about the end of the world, only in the form of education.

It seems that the popular idea is that if you want to prove you learned or did something, you need to either have a grade or a test. This kind of reminds me of the opening to John Green's Crash Course:World History series. He talked about a test. It's a great quote, so I recommend listening to it here:

So basically what he says is that life itself is a test. This in and of itself is an argument that tests matter. I mean, if you think life matters, and life itself is a test, then I guess it does matter.

So what am I getting at here? Don't get me wrong, tests are important because it shows progress, and they measure how much you ___ something. That blank could be filled with know, can do, anything you can think of.

But an undeniable truth is that the test itself can only measure as well as the person who devised it can gauge.

What am I talking about? Specifically, standardized testing. I'm personally opposed to it because instead of standardizing curriculum to useful things, we are standardizing benchmarks and as a result, we are teaching to the tests.

So if life is a test, wouldn't it be good to study? Well, yeah. But I think if you are studying, you should study what is on the test and what will matter in life. And I don't feel that the current education system does that.

Why do I say this? I think I've seen more of the 'real world' in WYEP, the scouting movement, and the other things I've done outside of this education bubble. Take for example, I take the scholars track in Math. I'm studying Algebra 2, yet I haven't learned any business math, like taxes and the sort, and I won't.

I may be wrong. After all, I'm only a high school sophomore. But say I'm on to something real here, I think it's time we take some time to study what will really be on the test.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

'Cause Though the Truth May Vary

Those are lyrics from a song I've come to love, Of Monsters and Men's Little Talks. This week has been an extremely interesting one. I'm not 100% sure where this will end up, but here goes nothing:

Today I went to WYEP. It's hard to believe it's been over a year since my start there, but I still love every minute of it, probably more than when I first got there.

This coming Monday marks the 1-year anniversary of our trip to Occupy Pittsburgh. We took the opportunity today to bring back up some of the old projects, and kind of look at it in retrospect. This story is especially interesting to me in retrospect, considering the day of I was interviewed by Matt Spangler about the whole day as part of an audio journal. I listened to that audio, as well as read a blog post (yeah, I do read these from time to time to look back) about visiting.

I also look back to a post I did on the one-year anniversary of the Wall Street movement also, and I guess not much has changed, except I sort of rediscovered it. I Re(imagine)d it, and realized that this was truly the first time I had covered and experienced something.

If we wanted to kickstart a real revolution, or another Occupy, someone would need to step up with a platform of some sort. If it really is a move for social reform, someone should have the foresight to put that as their mission. I'm not saying Occupy is dead, because in essence, Occupy is an idea. I'm just saying that if the gentleman's idea of "eventual results" is going to happen, there needs to be some form of organization in ways of platform, and exactly who/what they are fighting. You just can't redistribute wealth, you have to work out a plan of a system.
I've become semi-skilled in the art of creating audio pieces. I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, an eloquent speaker, but I am able to get pieces created. I've at least come a long way from where I was a year ago.

This couldn't have been possible without the amazing people at WYEP. Check out our blog ( in the coming weeks to see some of our projects. I'm in the process of cleaning up the election piece, and we're in the process of adding multiple projects in the future, including the spotlight.

I apologize for the scatter-brainedness, I have a lot going on, and not much sense in my head. Thanks for bearing with me.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ten Commandments Hike - An Illustrated Adventure


So yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting 10 houses of worship along Laurel Highland Council's Jewish Committee on Scouting's Ten Commandments Hike. The basic premise was to travel around Oakland visiting the different churches and learn three things: 1) about the architecture of the building 2) about the commandment they were assigned* and 3) about the denomination that the church/house housed. I did this back in 2010 in this post here, and I decided that I wanted to do it over again. I enjoyed learning about the denominations, and where I fit, and the whole idea of "duty to G-d"**

Rodef Shalom
Holy Spirit Byzantine Catholic
That brings up an interesting. The first stop was the Jewish temple of Rodef Shalom, and we began from there with a talk from the Scout Exec for our council, Mr. Mike Surbaugh. He asked for life scouts to raise there hand. Me being a life scout, I raised my hand, and along with another gentleman was summoned to the front of the room. He prefaced his question with "Whether you knew it or not, I'm about to prepare you for your Eagle Board of Review." He then asked us what "duty to G-d"** means. (Sidenote: it's in the Scout Law... if you don't know that, I will not be taking the time to explain it... google it.)

The whole hike's mission was to answer that, and I think I may have an answer. I'll wait until the end to answer, though.

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran
Nevertheless, I'll spare you the details of the eight hour journey, but I will give enough room for pictures that I took along the way. We then made our way to Holy Spirit Byzantine Catholic Church, adjacent to Rodef Shalom. From there, we went to Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church. After each of the stops, we had time for a question and answer session. My favorite questions were the ones that were either "How is [insert religion here] different from Catholics?" or "What's the difference between [insert religion here] and Christian?" My favourite answer was given at the Lutheran church with the latter question. The campus pastor looked confused for a second and the responded "Nothing! Lutherans are Christian" and went on to explain the formation of the Lutheran church and the church doctines versus that of the Catholic faith.

(Sidenote: roughly 40% of Pittsburgh is Catholic. It's certainly not the case everywhere, but whatever)

From there, we went to Saint Paul's Roman Catholic Cathedral. I won't include a picture simply because of that figure above. This is about the same idea that the pastor there had, and didn't bother to explain Catholicism.
The Crew at The Christian Science Church

My personal thought is that if you want to learn about yourself, have someone else of the same quality or better explain your position and allow you to examine it through a microscope. Granted, I'm not Catholic but I kind of want to hear from a semi-expert what it's all about.

Saint Nick's Greek Orthodox
From there we went to a Baptist church that was reminiscent of a Gothic Cathedral complete with scary-looking organ in the front. Then we moved to the Christian Science Church. I'll again point you towards my last post on this topic, and my explanation of Christian Science. The Same holds true.

From there we visited Saint Nicholas (Greek) Orthodox Church. I put Greek in parenthesis because I am of the opinion that we should become a Holy, Catholic[in the universal sense] and Apostolic Church again and create an American Orthodox Church with all the ethnicities  Hopefully this could happen in my lifetime, but that is another post for another time.

Heinz Chapel Exterior
Remember what I said about through a microscope? The gentleman from the Orthodox Church did exactly that, and explained my faith for the other people in the room. It was interesting. I plan on writing on that in the future in and of itself.

We then visited my all-time favorite stop, Heinz Chapel. Heinz Chapel is this cool little non-denominational chapel on the grounds of the University of Pittsburgh. I say all-time favourite because it has beautiful stained-glass windows, high ceilings, the whole thing is Gothic-style awesomeness.

Heinz Chapel Interior
The whole building has a built in 4,000 something pipe organ into the walls. Hearing this thing played is AMAZING! We were lucky enough to have an organist follow us on this trek, and everywhere there was an organ, he played for us. Heinz Chapel was the last organ stop, it was indescribable to hear it.

Islamic Center of Pittsburgh
If you ever travel to Pittsburgh, Heinz Chapel is one of those places that if you're lucky enough to visit, DO IT. The stained-glass windows are 68 feet high continuously, with brilliant colours and because it is on a University Campus and nondenominational, there are philosophers and the sort in the artistry. Again, a must-see. There we had a Buddhist gentleman talk about meditation* and Buddism.

We finally went to the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh. This was not a stop in the previous year that I had gone, but it was something I wanted to see. I wanted to hear what Islam was about simply out of curiosity.

Let me get this across clearly: the media paints one picture. I wanted to see another.

The Imam was a nice gentleman who explained the Islamic faith to a room full of Christians, Jews, and the sort. He gave the side of his faith, and dispelled some things. He also talked about his faith and the Five Pillars of Islam* and the duties of those of the Islamic faith. I tread carefully here, but I feel that he represented well, and gave me much to think about.

So again I present the original question: "What does Duty to G-d** Mean?" I'll answer with this: It's first recognizing that there is a higher power (the proverbial Something-bigger-than-Phil) and having a relationship with that higher power. It's understanding and respecting ("tolerance") other religions, as well as your own views. Take, for example, I am an Orthodox Christian. I don't identify fully with those of the, say, Lutheran faith, but I can respect their beliefs as theirs, and can fully say with an open mind that this is my stance. These are my views. Having a duty to this higher power comes with the territory. It's knowing right from wrong in my case, may be different in others.

*The BSA isn't a Christian Organization, and the BSA has only the requirement to believe in a higher power. Some, such as Buddism and Islam, fit this criteria yet do not recognise the Ten Commandments. They instead talked about their faith.

**This isn't a typo. In the Jewish faith, they don't type out the full word with the "o" as a sign of respect. The idea is that the name is sacred, and if something is printed out and then thrown away, it's like throwing away the name of G-d. I did this for this post because I thought it was a pretty cool idea

Note: I feel the hate mail coming already. It's good to learn about other faiths, my mission was awareness and education, NOT CONVERTING YOU OR I!!!! - AP

Thursday, November 22, 2012

This Crazy Thing We Call Life

So today Facebook asked the following question of its users:
What Are You Thankful For?
The usual placeholder text reads "What's on your mind?" as a friendly demand to get more content. Nevertheless, here in the United States we celebrated the holiday of Thanksgiving. I'm going to try and answer two bits here: What is Thanksgiving and What am I Thankful For?

What is Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is a holiday in the United States, and Canada that is traditionally associated with the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. The story goes, they landed there accidentally and many died when they tried getting civilization off the ground there. Enter Squanto and his band of the Friendly Indians who help save the Englishmen by teaching them how to farm (because they obviously weren't scouts) and cause the most plentiful harvest the Englishmen had ever seen. Thus ensued a party, and that party is repeated yearly.

Thanksgiving is the giving of thanks to someone or a higher power, normally for something good.

But wait, aren't Pilgrims on a religious journey by definition? YES. They were fleeing the Church of England and its insanity, in their opinion. This is the part we kind of ignore because of Political Correctness, but nevertheless, the party thanked the Indians and God.

Squanto? If you don't know him, stop reading this nonsense and grab a history book, Open it. Click this link:

The Friendly Indians? There's a brilliant documentary about them on Youtube.

What am I Thankful For?
I've realized that over the past few years I have been extremely lucky. I've been able to take advantage of the ability to meet people, and the fact that I'm not in control. I'm thankful above all for my family and the other amazing people who make my version of this crazy thing we call life mine.

I am thankful for my many families; my actual family, my parish family, my WYEP family, and those friends who you think you could get away with calling them family.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nature, Death, and Us

I title this post what it is because that's what my English Teacher was talking about regarding themes within an essay we're working on. But it doesn't have much to do with anything.

This past week was interesting. Saturday brought yet another episode of WYEP. The mission was the aforementioned election piece. I teamed up with fellow Re(imaginers) Mark Marino and Neil McGuire to work out some form of a piece. We came up with a plan of creating two separate pieces.

So our focus became the "perspective" option. I volunteered my script writing while Neil worked his wizardry on editing. We eventually finished save for the recording of the actual narration to tie the random interviews together.

Where did I pull my inspiration from? Oh yeah, I posted a blog post the previous day about the topic we were working. I essentially verbally reblogged... and you can hear the final product here:

I find it truly amazing that in roughly 45 minutes, between  Mark, Neil, Matt (running the studio for the still incompetent Popichak) and I we were able to create this thing... and make it a real thing.

Again, I am forever indebted to the WYEP people for letting us use a professional radio studio as a personal sandbox for the five or so of us...

I've been reading up on the life and times of Walter Cronkite (I promise it's relevant) as of late. I've noticed a few parallels between my crazy little life here and his. I have finally decided (in case you haven't noticed, I'm quite indecisive) that I wish to become a journalist of some sort. I love radio, and I love writing little essays like this.

I think that doing what you like is much more important than anything else. The way things are going (and I notice this as a reality) it looks like there isn't a possibility of retiring in my lifetime, so why not at least do something you like? My point? I don't have one.

But what is the point of doing something if you don't at least enjoy it, or its result?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Education, the Election, and a Third Thing

Update: I Helped Write And Narrate An Audio Piece Using This Blog Post. Wanna Hear The Final Product? Check it out here:

I've been mulling around my mind as to how to write this post, but I decided this is the way to do it. One of the things that I've been passionately involved in is the education system. I rant about certain things just because I am lazy sometimes for things I just don't want to do. However, I also tend to do this thing where I challenge the line of the realities of things, and usually end up getting in trouble for it.

What am I talking about? I am a victim of the education system in the United States in 2012. I say victim because I believe that the system is broken and flawed. I mentioned about a year ago this video featuring a discussion by Sir Ken Robinson pertaining to the particular issues of the whole system (

The only issue I see is that this, much like my rants, just challenge the system. It doesn't propose any obvious solution except for changing the line of thinking and/or stop medicating the children for standardized tests. However, I've found a gentleman from England (CGPGrey) who proposed a solution after a conference on education in California attended by the likes of Sir Robinson, Hank Green (jayscribble's brother) and many other YouTubers including ViHart. Anyway, Grey put together a brilliant video discussing the topic which you can see here:

So why am I ranting about education without giving specifics? Probably because I've mentioned specifics before. Nevertheless, I bring to mind the recent election. I was on the ground on the South Side interviewing people under the banner of Re(imagine) about the election process. You can quote me on my findings if you want, but basically I learned two things:
  1. The People are afraid of The Media (Come on, I'm not partisan media, I'm 15 and just a guy with a field recorder) [I can understand shyness, just not the disgust]
  2. The people I was able to talk to were very set in their ways and were proud of their side.
The twitter reactions were interesting to say the least. I follow people for one of two reasons: 1) I know them and/or 2)their tweets are interesting. I saw a bunch of "why does it matter" tweets which I wasn't surprised. It's just a commentary on the state of contemporary thinking.

I'll answer why it matters: In three or so years, you are going to be plunged into the real world. This real world doesn't care whether you're drunk, high, or cute. You'll inherit a cruel world that you'll be expected to take care of, and understand. It matters because before you know it, you will be electing someone to lead you.

I grouped these things together for a few reasons. The first is that this education system is being driven by the current world with the knowledge of the outside distractions we have now, yet we are amazed with the results it produces? We shouldn't be. They aren't as unrelated as they're made out to be. The older generation has a grasp on reality, and I want to call on my own generation to take the iPod earbuds out and listen.

On a lighter note, this election was the first election I've ever covered, and when R(i) completes the piece on the election, I'll add a link to the "noted works" page (I've been keeping that as a clearing house for a portfolio until I can get a site set up for it), and probably post it to their blog. I'm thrilled to be starting off a journalism career here in Pittsburgh, and with such an awesome group. 

Over the past year, I've gotten a chance to experience the real world and the ability to work with like-minded media makers. Thanks to Alexa from WYEP and Mrs. Veri for showing me this in the first place.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Natural Disaster, Safe In A Pouch

This Post Is Dedicated to All Of Those Affected By Hurricane Sandy in any Capacity. -AP

Today my English teacher put a quote up on the board, as she does everyday on her dry erase board of wisdom. It read:
"Sometimes it takes a natural disaster to reveal a social disaster"
It was attributed to Jim Wallis, and related to a story we are reading in English class about a journalist who goes on assignment to disaster-stricken Colombia and is touched by the story of a thirteen year old girl trapped in the rubble.

The built in irony is the correlation between reading this story and the events of this past week. I reproduce the quote for this reason. It's as my mother said, how petty this election seems after what we've seen in New York and New Jersey.

It's interesting because it's so blatantly true of such a simple statement. Tomorrow (or today, or on the 6th November 2012 according to when you read this) those who are able to (being 15 I cannot) can pick the next president of the United States.

They interviewed David McCollough on 60 Minutes this past Sunday. He made an interesting statement on how grotesque amounts of money have been thrown around during this election, and what has resulted from it? A Bad Show.

It takes a natural disaster to throw into focus the realities around us.

And as for Camp Pouch? [BACKGROUND!] Camp Pouch is a tiny boy scout camp on Staten Island---seemingly the only patch of wilderness on the New Jersey Island---that I stayed at in 2009 on my adventure to New York.

Staten Island was hit especially hard by Sandy, and many are still without power at the time of publishing, however Camp Pouch had "no significant damage to the cabins, lodge, or structures" according to the Wall Street Journal. Scouts have been very helpful in the cleanup efforts, they add.

If you're curious about the story I'm quoting HERE:
Curious about Camp Pouch:

So what is the point I am making here? I'm not too sure really. I think it's worth noting that as Robert Frost wrote "if there's one thing I've learned about life: It. Goes. On." People are moving on in New Jersey, New York (my concrete Jungle), and Bethany Beach. I think the rest of us not affected can take a lesson or two from this. Things that are beyond our control can be lived with if we work together, and just care.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Random Acts and Senior Night

Earlier this evening I was looking over my script (can't call it my onesheet, like the band scripts) and thinking wow, this season has been amazing. And in my eyes it has been. Who would've thought two or three months ago that I'd become the go-to guy for announcing stuffs, including this senior night script. I'd talk about that, but there's a better story to be told this week.

So I was walking around the neighborhood on this unseasonably warm day, and decided to make a stop over by what I call 'the overlook' of the neighborhood. I made my way past that and up the hill, and saw a guy I recognized from this past summer walking with a leash---but no dog.

He approaches me and says "hey, you know anyone missing a young male greyhound?" I know very few dog owners, however I do own Rotor the Killer Wiener Dog. I decide to help him out, though... trying to find someone who would know.

My first stop is with the McClains' down the street from the spot I met him. On my way across the street, this greyhound comes out of nowhere, and starts following me over to the McClains'. Mr. McClain is able to get the dog into his hands, and we are able to get a temporary leash on this dog. The search, however, continued for the owner.

My next thought was the guy who I saw outside, Greg from down the street. He too, owns a killer wiener dog named Tank. However, he didn't know of anyone missing a greyhound. I left the original dude with the dog over at Greg's and attempted to talk to our neighborhood humane society expert.

{{{Backstory}}} I've known this lady for years. She used to go to our bus stop back when the 38C still ran to downtown. She worked for the Post-Gazette and is a HUGE advocate for animals.

Anyway, so we get in touch with her, and she says that she may know someone who owns a greyhound, but in the meantime we should try and get in contact with either the Police Dept, the Humane Society, or this groups called "Going Home Greyhounds" a group which helps find homes for greyhounds.

After repeated calls, we get nowhere. Meanwhile, the first dude goes back to put his own dog, a boxer, into his house. Turning around to come back to the base of ops, he comes across two girls. They ask "you didn't happen to see---"

He cut them off "I know what you're looking for. A beige, young male greyhound?"


So the dude hops on his bike and leads them over to the base of ops, and the dog is reunited with his owners. Mind you, I first met this guy over the summer when he was fixing up bikes.

I don't know this guy's name, nor the dog's. This isn't that important to know either, though. I could trust him, and he could trust me.

So what's the moral here? I'm not the best at themes, but I would have to say that there are a few very evident ones. The first is that we're not in control. There's something bigger than Phil working above us, watching out for us. On that same thought, at least in my Pittsburgh Suburb, people look out for one another in the neighborhood. There are still good people in the world, and there are people willing to work together to get something---or some dog---safe and done.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

JOTA, Scouting, and the Sort

So this weekend marks an annual event internationally... Jamboree on the Air, or JOTA. I had been receiving a bunch of emails in recent weeks about this, and thought it was "kinda cool" but in reality had no clue what it was.

Enter today, Saturday the 20th, and I find myself in a flag ceremony taking pictures for the mayor, and then at breakfast, and then on the second highest point in Allegheny County. I was visiting the Steel City Amateur Radio Club  who hosted a station for scouts interested in participating in the international event. The idea? Scouts from all over the world could talk to each other on two specified days using HAM radios and at the same time learned about Amateur Radio-ing.

The members of the club that were there were EXTREMELY NICE. We arrived like ten minutes earlier than the beginning of the window (SCARC allotted us use from noon-5 eastern) and still the gentleman gave us a tour of the grounds, including the ham and low-frequency towers, and then took us into the clubhouse.

There, after a brief explanation of this gentleman's history of being in the scouts and hosting a JOTA at the then newly-built Heritage Reservation in 1983, they led us into the studio. Now, I've been in the studios of WYEP, KDKA, and practically live in the studio of WCHS (Morning Announcements), and I was about to add another callsign to that list.

I utilized a ham radio station using the club's callsign W3KWH, and connected to Kissimee Florida and talked to some scouts a few miles from Disney World. They said it was 'nice' being 73 degrees(F) we said it was nice, overcast, and 53 in Pittsburgh. We also connected to Birmingham, Alabama, as well as another station in Florida (Fort Meyers), and then finally contacted a guy on a county line in Iowa (Jefferson, I think) working out of his car in an Iowan contest to see who could contact the most people. This guy was from Minnesota.

I learned a few things today. I learned just how small the world was, and how friendly people are in amateur radio, and above all, I am falling in love with this Radio thing. I almost walked out with a membership application, but I want to get qualified by the FCC first. (Hear that FCC?)

If I met you (Alex Popichak, Life Scout with Troop 831, Right Outside Of Pittsburgh) it was awesome to do so =73=. I remember there was a guy named Isaac, and I think a Connor there too. So many others, and I plan on getting into this a tad further, and maybe meeting some other new people.

This coming Friday (10/26) marks the Fall Sports senior night, and the last time I'm lending my voice to the Cougar Marching band and Carlynton's football field this year. It's been fantastic, and I plan on doing it again soon. Come on out, game starts at 7pm, and senior night stuff starts at like 6:45...

With that means that I will attempt to get back to Friday Evening posts come this November... Fingers Crossed!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Occupy: One Year Later

So those of you that followed my adventure to downtown Pittsburgh last December may remember that I visited with members of the Occupy Movement. I'll tell you what I saw.

The following is from my post "Visiting the Occupiers..."

After wandering around the encampment around this large bulletin-board style fence around a fountain, it was quite clear that this group was angry with what was happening with America, and were willing to stay indefinitely. It kind of reminded me of a boy scout tenting excursion. So we decided to walk up to a guy and identify ourselves as media people from WYEP. He had a lot to talk about. He was a man who had taken odd jobs: moving boxes, a registered massage therapist, before joining this movement.
When asked if he thought that this movement would help any job prospects when I (or in this case, the girl asking the questions) graduate college, he laughed. He said that he wished that he could say so, but he was being a realist. He thinks that change will come out of this, but nothing immediate.
We also asked what the reactions the encampment had gotten. He said it was mainly positive. He mentioned a time (as did two other protesters) where there had been a few people about four weeks ago that had screamed "GET A JOB" out the window by passing at a high rate of speed, to suggest that they might have been drunk. Others said that they'd join, but they had to work. To be honest, some of the protesters do have jobs (See Below).
Two other protesters talked to us about their thoughts. The one man described himself as "Underemployed." They mainly shared the same views as the first man, but had an interesting perspective coming back and forth from a job (I think the one said he was laid off, but I am not sure).
So the movement celebrated one year. Granted, those of you that know the history of the Pittsburgh movement know that later on they were kicked out of Mellon Green and essentially disbanded.

I asked point-blank what their plan for if they do get kicked out, what would they do. They answered that they would maybe move and Occupy the Point. He joked that if you controlled the point (speaking historically) you can be more successful. They never moved to the point.

A year later, I am able to step back and realize a few things: As Alex Zukoff said, this was one of the first major movements toward socialism. Upon further research, I saw it could be, but I saw that it might have been doomed from the start by being just protesters  They were protesting a system that failed them, but could cite nothing but
Okay, that's concentration of wealth. It's been an issue since currency was invented, really.

If we wanted to kickstart a real revolution, or another Occupy, someone would need to step up with a platform of somesort. If it really is a move for social reform, someone should have the foresight to put that as their mission.

I'm not saying Occupy is dead, because in essence, Occupy is an idea. I'm just saying that if the gentleman's idea of "eventual results" is going to happen, there needs to be some form of organization in ways of platform, and exactly who/what they are fighting. You just can't redistribute wealth, you have to work out a plan of a system.

The Declaration of Independence details that if a government isn't properly working for the people, they need to have the right to fix it... Occupy was an attempt, it just wasn't that great of an attempt.

So on this anniversary of the Pittsburgh movement, I have to wonder: what have we learned, and what is there to work on at this point?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Brilliance, Both Literally and Figuratively.

Brilliant is also apparently a town in Ohio...

So, by definition means "having or showing great intelligence, talent, quality, etc.". So, in essence, when I called Lana Meyer's play brilliant I was justified, because it had all of the elements of a talented production. I mention this for two reasons... to give a shoutout to her, and to make light of the fact she signed my playbill during a second period study hall in an art room. Granted, she only did the writing and dialogue and that end, but I got to thinking... what does it mean to create something?

About three years ago, I created a website and called it "the 2015 blogger" and now, this being the 150th post, an award nomination, and over 6 thousand hits later, it's still here.

I have done countless projects, and have helped in projects where I've seen something go from just a sticky note or note into something real---something tangible, something other people can see, and it's crazy satisfying.

Brilliant brings up the connotation of either enlightenment or something else involving light. Look at the stars/Look how they shine for you are familiar lyrics to the Coldplay song "Yellow". It kind of seems that when you do something, you take pride in it.

Take for example, the town where you live... I take major pride in being from Pittsburgh, because I feel as a person living in the metro area that I have helped build it (not literally).

So where am I going with this? If you work hard enough at something, and you build it up, you want to see it shine. There's nothing more satisfying than seeing something you've had a hand in creating finally coming together and shining with brilliance.

On a final note, I took a picture of when the Carlynton School District had their anti-bullying kickoff. The whole district came together on the track and had a parade of anti-bullying banners.

But in my mind, this holds a much larger significance in that the whole district became one that day. The teachers talked with colleagues from the Elementary schools et cetera, as well as the students coming together---Crafton, Carnegie, and Rosslyn Farms---as one district for the first time, ever.

I leave you on my 150th post with that picture I took:
Click For Larger.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Some Nights, I Call it a Draw.

I kind of like using lyrics in post titles. Granted, they sometimes have no point or relevance to the post itself. But at the same time, they may have a relevance that transcends sense.

I've recently decided to just live my life. As the son of an Orthodox Priest (This is going to come up a few times here... just roll with it.) I have been brought up with the idea that we aren't in control of our own lives. What others call karma we just believe exists, with no supernatural explanation or anything. There's a plan out there for what we will become, call it a destiny or whatever, but it's a plan. 

Life is kind of like the scouts in the sense that it's a journey. Yeah, you can strive for Eagle, but when you get it... what does it mean? Have you gone through some motions or have you earned a rank for the sake of the side things that come along with it.

Here's a better analogy: you get on a roller coaster, and you get really nervous as you climb the hill (or descend into the depths of the Jackrabbits famed double-dip (mhmhmmmhmmhm)) but you  know three things. A)You're stuck there (can't just press escape) B)It's inevitable what's to come C) You're strapped in, and this has been done before, and people survived it.

John Green's Paper Towns contained a quote about life, how everything is survivable, except that last thing.

So I'm just riding the roller coaster for now, and I've noticed some interesting things. For one, my made-of-awesome friend Lana Meyer (who wrote a play.... you should come see it!) is a nerdfighter.  The only reason I know this is that we were talking during some random study hall in an art room. The conversation went to cupcake vending machines, but the only reason we had even started was because both of us were just riding along.

Post Script: I am in the process of converting my new blue-haired friend into a Nerdfighter. It's not a religion, trust me... not is it a cult.

Thus, (can you tell I've been writing papers?) I recommend you just ride, and you'll notice things you never have before... Post 150 is next week. Thanks for the ride.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Schools Summarized Via Church Pews, and Can Crushes

So, yeah, I've gotten to that point where I write the title more as a reminder to myself as to what the post I thought of was supposed to be about. This is an intro.

So I was recently reminded that rarely do teachers let the students choose where to sit. However, when they do, it is a predictable pattern.

The title describes a church pew mentality (more on the church part in a later post, but right now I'd just care to explain the pew part). People going to church (or school) generally want to be there (or at least signed up for the course) but they are afraid of the front, being too close to the priest (or teacher). Catching on?

With classrooms, naturally everyone wants to sit either a) as far away from the teacher as possible b) as close to the door as possible and/or c) near their friends.

Teachers do this thing that priests cannot (or at least I don't think for them it's all that ethical...) they give seating charts. This forces the people that want to be at the back (the general population) to come closer to hear the sermon, I mean, lesson.

However, if you work the system right (this is where I fit in), you don't appear too eager to be at the back, or for that matter the front, you end up getting put in the middle of it all.

Nevertheless, all English classes will still have comically small desks (I want to spotlight that sometime...) and spinny chairs will never be put in classes.

The Can Trailer... Taken With a Phone Before the Crush
Amazing Quality, right?
And on an unrelated note, I got back from a can crush earlier. So our troop has this trailer outside of our local park where we collect aluminum cans and then sell the scrap as a fundraiser.

People, in general, are mean. They don't read the side obviously and stuff everything---plastic, glass, bags, into this thing. IT'S NOT A TRASH CAN.

So anyway, our mission every few months or so is to open this thing up and take the cans out of the bags, and sort out anything that's not aluminum cans. This is a huge undertaking, and this evening we had like 11 guys working on it with shovels and trash cans and gloves and whatever else (one time we had a huge railroad spike).

After working on this for forty-five minutes, we had completed the mission. The side effects to such a task include but are not limited to: hearing the crash of cans in your sleep, your clothes smelling like a combination of stale pop and stale beer, and of course that headache sparked from the nausea of smelling this concoction...

So yeah, that's a blog post, and I'm dealing with the headache now... hope to post Saturday or maybe Friday... mais je ne sais pas que fois vais apporter...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rivalries, and some FOOBALL!

No, I didn't make a typo in that title (no promises about this post, but that title is right). It seems that when people get really excited about football (American, that is... Je suis de Pittsburgh, je ne suis pas de Europe.) that they get lazy and drop the t.

Take for example, my brother who (as of the time of this post) plays for the 7/8th grade team at Carlynton. He gets really pumped before a game and sometimes just stares at me and screams FOOOOOOBALLL! I look at him, being the strange articulate dude I am, thinking wow, we as a generation are seriously digressing here...

Nevertheless, we are met on an interesting day. Tonight is the beginning of a rivalry, that between the Carlynton School District and Bishop Canevin. Now, I think it's not as much a rivalry in the classic sense as it is in the geographic sense.

You see, the Carlynton School District's geographical location overlaps with Bishop Canevin's because Canvein is a private Catholic school. Carlynton as a district provides transportation to those district students going to Canevin.

I highly doubt that there will be a huge rivalry here, but it'll certainly be something interesting tonight.

[Insert 38C Downtown Bit Here]

So back a year and a half, I did this project called the CarLynTon project. (I'm working on a 2013 update to it...) on the history of the district. In the four months of research, one venture stuck out in my mind. I interviewed Mrs. Sandra Hugan (I believe she's on our school board) for information on the merger. The pivotal point in the project as it was to finally give an answer to how we became a district. There seemed to be a disconnect between the towns being founded and Carlynton existing.

During this phone interview, I was informed of two interesting points: 1) it was legislation that forced the current system (which I ran with... and if you've seen the project, fills in the gap) and 2)We could have had another town in Carlynton.

Carlynton had the option to add Scott Township to Carlynton, but due to a rivalry with Carnegie High, the district decided against it. Now, this isn't a huge deal... we just could have had more land for a high school and stadium, the site of the current Bottom Dollar plaza in Scott Twp.

A part I omitted from the project was the extent of this rivalry. During this interview, Mrs. Hugan told me about how every time there was a football game between Carnegie High and Scott Twp High, they would have to have Pennsylvania State Troopers on hand.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Forget? Never.

Taken With An Android... Click For Larger.
I am as sick as a dog as I write this, but I needed to write nevertheless. I promise to write either Thursday or Friday at my regular time, but I wanted to post this one.

Every year on 9/11 I post a picture of the flagpole I built with the flag flying on it. It seemed that it was a 50/50 shot of the media caring about the anniversary. This is why we said not to forget. Don't interview a Kardashian during a moment of silence.

WCHS broadcasted a schoolwide moment of silence at 8:29AM, roughly 20 minutes before the anniversary of New York. We won't forget. The upcoming 7th grade may (they were born in 2000 or 2001) but we won't.

Thank you for what you do, and please remember the families of those affected in your prayers. They need it the most.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Football, Friday Nights, and WCHS

I don't think Fridays this fall will be the best time to blog. I apologize in advance for that, but please bear with me. I am announcing this year for the Carlynton Marching Band during all of their halftime shows and band festivals. So why not go there?

So anyway, this Friday was my first announcing gig with the band. It was an away game at Fort Cherry (Before you ask, we lost 31-21, but it was a FANTASTIC game!).

It's kind of weird being at an away game for the first time, and basically being invited into the press box to talk into a mic that plays throughout this entire stadium that, did I mention, is being listened to by about 300 people at their home field you don't know, and your alma mater's side containing your principal? Also, you are like the start gun to the halftime show...

Yeah, I overanalyze things, but at the same time, this is all going through my mind as I stand up to the microphone.

I have this amazing ability to do something and just not think about it. That is exactly what I did Friday night. I read off my infosheet and didn't think twice about it. I seem to snap into this mode when a microphone is live where I read everything smoothly and NEVER REMEMBER IT. Oh well...

So completely switching gears, we also start WCHS's new season tomorrow... and I'm proud to announce that we have an amazing crew including the likes of my brother on sound, internet-footprintless Greg on the video board, the great Clay Bodnar, and I am anchoring alongside Aidan from AK Productions.

SO we attempted a broadcasting test Friday to make sure all systems were go. Unfortunately they weren't. We couldn't get the cameras working, the broadcaster was on the fritz and we didn't have a host mic.

I spent my fourth period study hall working on that lab. I had to work with the breaker boxes, this stupid VHS player, and then everything was hunky-dorey. Whatever.

So anyway, we are set to go tomorrow during homeroom bringing you the latest on Carlynton sports, news, and when the Library will be open.

I hope to write Thursday... As Friday we'll be at Home Versus the Clairton Bears.

Happy Labor Day everyone.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wuthering Heights: An Overview

Hey there. This is a preface. I promised that I'd post this now-semi-infamous review of Wuthering Heights. I am in my first week of school, so I don't exactly have time to post the original content this Friday (considering I'm announcing for the Golden Cougar Marching Band this fall). So, I'll give you the following. If I find time, I'll post more. I am also going to answer some of the questions my teacher had at the end. The <<number>> denotes the placement of these comments.

For the original Journal in its entirety: click here.

So I recently finished the novel Wuthering Heights.

If I were to describe it in a few words, it would be summed up as a dark love-story in reverse. I can see how this was hailed as a classic because for its time, this love-story-in-reverse is a revolutionary idea.

I guess I should explain why it is a love story in reverse. It seems that the only time everyone was truly happy was in the beginning of Mrs. Dean's tale. As the novel progressed, all of the characters seemed to get angrier in countenance as their stories and injustices deepened.

This novel basically follows the life and times of the (extremely) evil Heathcliff, incited by Lockwood meeting him, and asking Mrs. Dean about him.

If I were to assign a generic theme to this novel it would be: Don't be a Heathcliff. However, I don't think that serves as a theme as much as it serves as just good advice. So, I guess in a broader sense, a theme could be that love can prevail only if both parties pursue it.

Another could be along the lines of that of Romeo and Juliet, where the inevitability of fate <<1>> plays a rather huge role. It seems that every character is realistic in the sense of how they are their own person, and organically make decisions of their own accord without realizing how it affects one another.

Love plays a role in this novel in complicating itself. (I need to explain this...) Heathcliff loves Catherine I, and that's plain as day. However, because of his three-year absence, Catherine I moves on and marries Edgar Linton, writing Heathcliff off as escaped and possibly dead. He comes back, and is essentially told "you snooze, you lose" and he cannot find it inside of himself to move on. His life's mission is avenge this doomed love.

It appears that Heathcliff was doomed from the start with this love, after all, why couldn't he have just written her off as a sister, and loved her in that sense? <<2>> It probably would have made him less a devil and less a tortured soul. (Remember that in this universe, it is apparently okay to marry your cousin?)

I have been looking at this novel through the eye of a high school sophomore in the United States in 2012. My guess is that some of the goings-on in this novel would make more sense to me if I were a fifteen or sixteen year old living in the late 18th century. Nevertheless, it stands out to me as a reverse love story which Mr. Lockwood played as a vessel, and not a pivotal piece (I am still a tad bummed about that part...). <<3>>

I see love as an understanding between two people that there is something more between them. Love is this concept one cannot quantify in mere words, but rather through this mental understanding. There are ways of showing this love, but in the end the love itself is this understanding of one another. It seems that neither Heathcliff nor Catherine I ever understood that part.

Q&A Time:
1) (see note above): Is it Fate? Or is it social class conventions?

A: So I wrote "fate". Just looked this up, the dictionary definition is "The development of events outside a person's control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power." However, it appears that I was wrong in it, but rather it is a percieved fate. They controlled most of their own life, that is Heathcliff and Catherine I. The only event that is fate in this sense is the fact that Catherine I died. Had she married Heathcliff, I don't think she would have lived any longer, but that is one man's opinion. As for social class issues, I don't think that anything other than Heathcliff's lack of last name qualifies for a class difference. If they were meant to be, love would probably conquer...

2)Because they are soul mates!

A: I am not qualified to answer this comment, but I'll give it a whack. I'll define soul mate officially as "A person ideally suited to another as a close friend or romantic partner." (google ftw!). Analyzing the traits of Catherine I and Heathcliff, they kind of are soul mates. If you consider two overly bitter people compatible. I don't know love. See my next post.

3) But why is Nelly telling him the story? What role might he play?

A: Simply, Lockwood asked. He plays the role only as the realization of the dream of Heathcliff. Heathcliff wanted to destroy Edgar Linton's happiness. He wanted to have Wuthering Heights AND Thrushcross Grange, only to keep one and rent the other out. The latter is the role Lockwood holds. I kind of thought that he could have written the next chapter, and maybe changed Heathcliff, or maybe saved Catherine II. I don't know.

Special Thanks to Ms. Oravitz for playing along!

For the original Journal in its entirety: click here.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Summer 2012: A Review

So I am on the eve of that day that ends the summer. I don't particularly like people who tell me "summer isn't over until the middle of September" or something like that... because I define the end of summer as the day school begins.

So I thought that I'd review and recap the summer that just happened. This summer to me has been like an awesome freefall... You get the rush in the beginning and then you just kind of cruise along.

In a Bullet list, here's what I did from the beginning of May through this evening:

  • May 5th 2012: Ran marathon Scout Camp, Re(imagiNATION) contest, then greeted the bishop the following day
  • Finished Great Expectations which never met mine
  • Two Marathon weeks of scout camp (two separate camps)
  • Spent 10 days in the non existent land of DelMarVa
  • Re-vamped a video lab
  • Reached 6,000 views on this site (THANKS AGAIN!!!)
  • Participated in TWO flag ceremonies
  • Spent many a weekend at my grandparents' camp.
  • Drove at least two miles on my bike...
  • Drove a lot farther in a golf cart.
...and no doubt did a bunch of other stuff that I'm too lazy to write.

This is the point in the review where I give my personal opinions on some things. I visited Delaware's Bethany Beach and loved walking the boardwalks there. I didn't particularly enjoy the more crowded Rehoboth Beach, but loved the view from atop an outlook tower in Cape Henlopen State Park. I also enjoyed the ability to google something one day, and visit it the next. Such a case is the Fenwick Island Lighthouse, which produced both the artistic bit to the left of the above text.

In essence, Summer 2012 for me was a time where I spent bettering myself through training, living partially in the outdoors, and above all, trying to live as much life as I can.

Monday marks the end of this fantastic ride, and I really hope, for my new school year's resolution (I'm not sure if that's a thing, but whatever!) that this year can be a fantastic ride also.

Song of the Summer:  Finding Something To Do by hellogoodbye on Grooveshark

So with this, I end the "Summer" tag until next year :(. Thanks for riding with me.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Devil In The White City: An Overview and Blog

Okay, so I just finished the final book (of 3... hear this one, Education Dept? Nope? Okay...) assigned to me for this summer. Granted, I have 4 days to spare. I consider myself somewhat of a procrastinator... which is a bad trait.

Nevertheless, one of the things I had to do for the one was keep a journal. Which I did on a parallel site, but due to issues I am not publishing the whole thing. I am going to just post the overview on my main site, next Friday. So, technically the following is the second written, first in a series of book reviews I want to do on this site. It's one of the new format ideas I have, and I'm going to see how this works. Here goes nothing.

The Devil In The White City: An Overview

So I recently finished the novel The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson. 

The author's note is unlike any other author's note I've read... I'll quote it:
"However strange or macabre some of the following incidents may seem, this is not a work of fiction."
This alone intrigued me.

The basic premise of the novel, is alternating chapters. Half of it tells about Daniel H. Burnham, an architect that rose to fame by being one of the key figures in the creation of the Chicago 1893 World's fair, and the other half is devoted to the serial  killer (just blocks away from this fair) living under the alias H.H.Holmes.

I was warned ahead of time that parts may be boring. I found quite the opposite to be true. The whole book was up in the ranks of books that I've read... almost to the level of Jay Scribble.

The Architect's adventures start at being a small Chicago firm, and then arranging all of the best architects in the nation at that time to combine powers to build over 200 structures... with a timespan of less than three years.

This adventure gave new meaning of "down to the wire". But once completed, this world's fair was one of the defining moment's in our nation's history. And it seemed like an awesome time to be alive.

Alive, that is, if you aren't a beautiful young woman seduced by H.H. Holmes. He'd seduce women into working for him, and in some cases marrying him. The marriage count, at my last count, was like 5 wives... with no formal divorce ever finalized...

He'd have these women move into a building of his own design. Once she got too needy, Dr. H.H.Holmes kicked in and, well, killed her. His "Murder Castle" was home to a gas chamber, dissecting table, and of course crematorium.

He admitted to 27 killings, and only 4 were ever confirmed, with one estimate reaching 200. If you're as fascinated in this, I'd highly recommend reading Wikipedia about it...

I highly recommend the book... get it from a local library or something.

So that's all for now... Have you read the book? Comment!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The 38C to Downtown, and Other Adventures

So I kind of want to start a series along the lines of Rick Sebak's "Stuff That's Gone" video but I don't want to do it in video form, so I think I am going to do that in blog form. And I think I'm going to call it "The 38C" but I think I need to explain what that means.

I started writing a novel a while back, and it opens with a scene where the main character goes out lays on his front street. This pays homage to a game of chicken that the neighborhood teens would play on our front street when I was growing up. The idea behind this was to lay down, and run out just before the bus would run you over.

Yes, I do realize this was stupid. The important part is the next scene, where this main character realizes that bus no longer runs on his street.

This is a semi true story, minus the fact of lying in the middle of the street.

Once upon a time, there ran a bus line right in front of my house, the 38C Greentree Express that from an island at the end of the street, you could get a bus that would take you to downtown. They cut that entirely in August of last year.

If you ask anyone from Pittsburgh for directions, a true Pittsburgher will reference points/landmarks from things that aren't in existence anymore. We're not being mean, we just don't adjust to change too well.

Moving on, the first installment of this probably is my adventure with a few friends from school a few days back. We traveled through the back woods of Carnegie Park and found our way to a patch behind Chioda Field where there used to be a makeshift dirtbike pathway/obstacle course.

Apparently no one cared enough to fix up the old place after a little bridge was broken by some muggles, and it has been in ruins as a sort of paper trail ever since.

I plan in the coming weeks to do another one of these things, and I also want to publish a book-review esque thing, but I cannot due to some issues right now on my end. I want to, next time I feature this, look at Chartiers Avenue and Dawson Avenues: Local Paper Roads.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lights Will Guide You Home: Quoting Songs for Blog Titles

Why Hello There! My guess is that you forgot I existed, due to my recent absence. Strangely enough, I have been experiencing somewhat of a writers block.

I guess I should start by explaining how I get the ideas that become these blog posts, and for that matter, all of my adventures and projects. I usually just decide "hey, it's Friday (or Thursday), why not blog" and immediately all of my thoughts flood into my fingers and as a result, the page in front of me. I am an idea person, I come up with about 100 ideas for a post per week, and only ever use one because I rarely finish a thought. I have had four draft posts in my queue to finish writing, but I almost never finish those in favour of creating a completely new one.

On an unrelated note, I have been out and about recently with my not-as-footprinted-on-the-internet friend Greg. He informed me about six months about this thing called Geocaching. It's basically a worldwide treasure hunt that requires a GPS (Which he has).

If you are interested in the trend, check out If you get a membership, check out my personal profile here: I am, unoriginally, The2015Blogger.

Railroad Trestle: Built Circa 1901...
Taken with an Android Phone.
So we went on an adventure through the backwoods of Crafton on our adventure this past Monday. We were off to find a cache that required climbing like a 20% grade up this crazy hill and into an old coal quarry. However, we did get to see this awesome railroad trestle on our way back. 

Anyway, it quickly got dark as we walked through the woods and the entire 1.8 mile stretch all the way back to his house.

I guess a good question to ask is Why? I think I fell victim to that human urge to explore outside of what we know. I think that in the end, we are all bonded by this curiousity as to what lies on top of a hill. Without this geocache, I would never had seen this trestle, and never been able to see what Chartiers Creek looks like from a MUCH higher elevation.

Curious? The Cache is Called "You'll Find More Than Coal" and you can check out its listing here:
Tell them The2015Blogger sent you!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vacation From God?

So, my father decided to join the blogosphere temporarily last week and wrote a Pastoral Reflection for It is a cool little reflection, so I've decided to rewrite it below.

See it online at:

Pastoral Reflections

"Vacation From God?"
By Rev. Fr. Robert Popichak

Ah, summertime! Each of us looks forward to the time of year where we get a break from our daily work and school routine.

In the United States, we call it vacation. Other countries call it holiday. Irrelevant of the name, it brings images of leisure time, travel, friends, family, and sometimes adventure.

Whether it is a trip to the shore, a cabin in the mountains, a tent in a park, a luxury hotel, or a cruise on the open seas, we all need a break from our normal routine to recharge our personal batteries. As each of us is different, we all have our own idea of what constitutes the best use of our time away from the office or the classroom.

As I write this, my family is preparing to go to a beach on the east coast for several days—our first true long vacation since our sons were born. Planning, sorting, arranging, packing—all of these take time and preparation. Maps are reviewed, online searches are made for attractions and sites of interest, arrangements to stop mail and newspaper delivery are made…all in the name of an orderly change. The destination is finalized, GPS loaded with our destination address, a temporary home is set for our Dachshund, and the car is packed…now what?

We spend a great deal of our lives looking forward to a break from the norm—whether it’s the typical long summer vacation from school or the ever-so-short week or two away from our jobs, it seems that planning for that getaway obsesses us for many weeks before the actual event.

Time away…from what? We never seem to give much thought about our spiritual lives when we plan a vacation…it’s just a Sunday or two missing church—God will understand! There are 50 other Sundays and other holy days to visit with Him…and of course, since He loves us, we don’t have to worry about Him! He’ll be right there when we get back…and if we need Him on our trip, He’ll be there as well!

Sometimes, we fail to plan for the most important part of our vacations—the spiritual recharge. My most restful, peaceful, relaxing, and recharging vacation was nearly twenty years ago. Pressures from my work were immense—the personalities were grinding my nerves to nothing—all was NOT WELL! I NEEDED a vacation!

For some reason, unknown to me at the time, I decided to visit a friend in Northeastern Pennsylvania—in the Pocono Mountains. Since their family worked as well, I would spend a weekend with them, then do something I had never thought of before—spend a week at a monastery! Arrangements were made and I arrived at the Orthodox Monastery of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk in South Canaan, Pennsylvania. I was shown to my room, met my mentor for the week, Hieromonk Juvenaly—the monastery librarian, then was given the schedule of services…beginning with compline, vespers, and dinner. Church services were nice—quiet, peaceful, NO PEWS! Dinner was quiet as well…and my night’s sleep as restful as I had ever experienced.

At 4 AM, the alarm went off, I got dressed, then up the hill in the dark to the chapel for Matins and Liturgy…which began at 5 AM! I went up the road in the dark—no hint yet of the sunrise. The church was empty except for a monk lighting candles…and the smell! Beeswax candles were burning throughout the church—it truly smelled heavenly. The silence filled everything as I stood in the back, just letting it permeate every cell in my body, until the arrival of other monks and laity. Matins and Liturgy were just a bit more special, the words a little clearer, the hymns a little easier to sing, the prayers ever so much more REAL.

At the end of the Liturgy, when I went forward to kiss the cross and receive the Antidoron, I truly did not want it to end. I had truly been transported away from every care and concern…to be with God for those few hours in His house. Throughout the days, it seemed that there were not enough services, so I spent extra time in the church, just breathing in the scent of the candles, looking at the light on the icons, and thinking about what I was doing there. I even thought about a monastic vocation! Father Juvenaly told me that the life of an Orthodox monk was not for me—I must say I was crushed emotionally…but he said not to worry, God had definite plans for my life!

Now, two decades later, I can honestly say His plans for my life were nothing close to mine. I have loved every moment of my priesthood, but still fondly travel back to my week with God. Just the thought of it makes me smile…to truly vacation with Him, on His terms, in His house! I can take a microvacation just by thinking back to the first morning Liturgy.

As we travel to our family vacation spot, I will still think of that week. Each of us has been given the opportunity to experience God’s love and creation every day of our lives. Do not pass up the chance to see Him in everything around you—trees, hills, water, birds, animals, clouds, rain, storms—all are His creation!

On your vacation, take a few minutes to thank Him for everything He has given you—your health, family friends, and all good things come from Him. Visit an Orthodox church where you find yourself—go in and look around, breathe in the smells, experience a slightly different view of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Recharge your batteries…and save those memories for when the snow flies!

May God grant you a safe journey, no matter where you roam, a safe return to home and family, and His Love and Protection along the way!

Originally Posted on July 11, 2012 at The Article was written by Fr. Robert Popichak for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the United States of America's
"Pastoral Reflections" Series. 
This entry appears here with permission from the author