Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Stop Turning Left

It's hard to make Terry Bradshaw look like Nostradamus. But Ben Roethlisberger has found a way.

In case you have been too engrossed in World Cup soccer to notice, Big Ben was in an accident yesterday just before noon. He ran into a car with his motorcycle while riding helmetless through the streets of Pittsburgh. His bike appears totaled, and the car and street still show signs of where the Super Bowl winning quarterback impacted them, breaking his face and popping loose a few chiclets. He was in serious but stable condition and underwent around 7 hours of surgery to get put back together.

You would think that a professional athlete who uses his body to make millions of dollars might be a bit more careful with his tools of the trade. Especially after all of the controversy last year about his decision to ride at all, let alone without a helmet.

People are blaming the recently changed helmet law in Pennsylvania, which allows some motorcycle riders to forego protective headgear. But the fact is, Ben did not qualify for the "sans helmet" part of the law. A person actually must have 2 years experience riding or must have taken an approved motorcycle safety course to be able to ride without a helmet. Ben does not, and did not. In fact, from the latest information it looks like he shouldn't have been riding at all. His motorcycle learner's permit expired 3 months ago.

Even so, and much to the chagrin of NASCAR, the entire population of Pittsburgh has decided to stop turning left. Just in case their knucklehead, helmetless NFL quarterback on his crotch rocket happens to be coming the other way. He may not be smart enough to protect himself, but the fans will do it for him. He is a necessary piece to the Steelers winning another Super Bowl next year. And turning left is overrated anyway, as it is merely a dangerous way to complete 3 consecutive right turns.

You've all got a few more days to get your new directions to work figured out. After that, Ben may be released from the hospital, and unless this incident knocked some sense into him, he may be coming to an intersection near you.


Friday, June 9, 2006

Kennywood's Open

Summertime in Pittsburgh means at least one visit to Kennywood.

If you've never heard of it, you're missing out; Kennywood is a local amusement park that is full of fun for everyone. It's got roller coasters, games, water rides, greasy park food, and Kiddieland.

It also has geniuses in the marketing department.

About this time each year, schools in the area have a Kennywood Picnic - an allotted day for their district to visit the park. Tickets are actually sold during school hours. Some districts even have a half day of school so the kids can get to Kennywood early. The students and faculty come and bring their parents and relatives, and everyone spends money there. Genius.

I can't think of any other business that has this type of agreement for the use of their product. It's a school mandated activity for goodness sake! Could you see having an early dismissal from school to go play paintball or something? Highly unlikely. Well, maybe in West Virginia.

The school picnics wind down in June, but don't fear. The marketing department has come up with other park-fillers.

There are Community Days for local townships and boroughs. Businesses have company picnics at the park. There are church group get-togethers and family reunions and even a Girl Scouts' day. And there are Heritage Days, too, when booths are set up with cultural information and pastimes, and ethnic food is available. Can you imagine thousands of Slovaks crowding the park, eating haluski and riding the tilt-a-whirl? It's pretty wild.

And at the end of the season, everything comes full circle, as local school districts are invited to have their bands march in nightly parades.

Oh, yeah. There are other people that come to Kennywood, too. People who pay full price and are not attached to any group, school or nationality that has a day. Or so I've heard. But there are no exclusive picnics - anyone can come on any given day. Once again, genius.

Still, the park wouldn't get many visitors if it wasn't fun. It is a great time.

I'm actually going to Kennywood tomorrow. I think it's blogger's day, or Corsica owners day.

Or something like that.