Tag Archives: penguins

Fun stuff for the weekend: Pittsburgh style

11 Mar

My Birthday

Saturday, March 12

All day event.

I am one of the few people who actually admit to enjoying their birthday. What’s NOT to like? I get presents, people are nice or NICER to me, and I get to go to a Pens game every year. Boom.

Also, today is the day that fellow Pisces Jack Kerouac was born, so have a drink for us. So help me God, if it is green…(see below)

Pens vs. Montreal home game

Saturday March 12, 2011 @ 2:00 PM

I’ll see YOU in the beer line.

Pens vs. Oilers home game

Sunday March 13, 2011 @ 3:00 PM

Saint Patrick’s (Amateur) Day / Downtown Parade

You’re on your own here. I have never been able to, and still can’t, *stand* Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. Don’t even get me started on green beer. And beads. Ugh.

Pittsburgh Regional FIRST Robotics Competition

When: March 10-12

Time: 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM

Web: http://www.pittsburghfirst.org/

Price: FREE

Where: Peterson Events Center, University of Pittsburgh campus in Oakland

Last year, my friend was a mentor to a high school team competing in the 2010 FIRST Robotics Competition. I took my kids to last year’s event because it was a dreary late winter day, the kids were itching to get out, and I thought they would like to see some robots. I never expected how much fun this event would be. At one point, I said to myself: “Why didn’t they have stuff like this when *I* was a nerd in high school?”

Some footage from last year:

Whether you are a nerd or not (come on, we all are in SOME way), the FIRST Robotics Competition is an entertaining way to spend a day, especially with kids. There is the hustling and bustling of activity in a great venue, lots of people from around the region, a cool DJ playing loud music, and cheering…for robots. Well, and for the really cool kids (and adults) that put these robots together.

The premise: a high school team is given just 6 weeks to construct and program a 120-lb robot to complete various tasks (that change every year). There are teams of high schoolers from 8 states and Canada competing in the Pittsburgh regional to go to the national competition.

The following description of the 2011 challenge, LogoMotion, is taken from http://www.pittsburghfirst.org/frc/

“LogoMotion is played by two competing alliances on a flat 27’ x 54’ foot field. Each alliance consists of three robots each. They compete to hang as many inflated plastic shapes (triangles, circles, and squares) on their grids as they can during a 2 minute and 15 second match. The higher the teams hang their game pieces on their scoring grid, the more points their alliance receives.

The match begins with one 15-second Autonomous Period in which robots operate independently of driver inputs and must hang Ubertubes to score extra points. For the rest of the match, drivers control robots and try to maximize their alliance score by hanging as many logo pieces as possible. Any logo piece hung on the same peg as an Ubertube receives double points. If teams assemble the logo pieces on their scoring grids to form the FIRST logo (triangle, circle, square, in a horizontal row in that order), the points for the entire row are doubled.

The match ends with robots deploying minibots, small electro-mechanical assemblies that are independent of the host robot, onto vertical poles. The minibots race to the top of the pole to trigger a sensor and earn additional bonus points.”

Have some lunch at The O and head on over to the Pete. It’s a great way to spend a March weekend in Pittsburgh!


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Best. Kids. Timeout bench. Ever.

1 Feb

Here it is: I didn’t feel any sense of nostalgia when I heard we would be losing the Civic Arena. In fact, I was almost giddy that Pittsburgh was trying to (gasp) plan a 28-acre city space that could be useful and beneficial for downtown growth. The Igloo. Gone. Sacrificed for the greater good of our city. Offered up to the Gods of public sport. Home to our beloved Eskimos?

All was well and good with my historical conscience. I was amenable to the idea, heck, I wanted it to be demolished–now. That is…until I made the long trek down Mario Lemieux Place to the Consol Energy Center for open Penguins practice in September of 2010.

The Consol. The savior of Pittsburgh hockey. The house that Mario built. I took all my boys down and parked on the road that led around the arena. There was a fence that was erected around the perimeter now, and we walked the long path to the Consol, past the old arena ticket windows, right by the steps leading down from the parking lots, and under the steel trestle. All four of us in a row, walking slowly, goofing off, and looking at all the vinyl signs in the windows with larger than life action shots of last season’s players. I reminisced:

  • Going to my first Pens game with my Dad. I was just 11 years old  and my Mom had won hockey tickets at a church bingo. They were taped to an autographed hockey stick. The autograph was by a new guy on the team, a few years older than me: number 66. It was crush at first sight.
  • The 80’s and 90’s, hockey hair, Le Magnifique. Watching game after game with Tim, Justin, and Jon. Going to games with Robertson. Two Stanley Cups.
  • In the late 90’s and during my tenure at Mellon, the Penguins were practically GIVING tickets away to employees of their corporate sponsor. Those years were filled with hockey for my husband and me, even through the team went through some pretty uneventful seasons. That is, until that game in late December of 2000 where Mario unexpectedly came back to play. We thought it would be just another game when we bought the tickets, but I can still see his jersey number banner being lowered down from the ceiling.
  • In 2010, just last year, I went to my first playoff game and I witnessed a Sidney Crosby hat trick: a goal, an assist…and a save.

The Consol was nice. It was clean. It was sanitary. It was open. It was quiet. It was…beige. I missed the narrow halls of the arena, the public parade of fans in an unintentional moving mosh mob. I missed the din of the crowd; somehow noise was lost in the new place. I missed feeling close to the ice, on top of the players. I missed the dirty walls, the fluorescent lighting.

I missed…the old place.

How did I handle my new conundrum? How did I allay my Pittsburgh (Catholic) guilt and make things right? The Consol is what the team needed and why they stayed. What could I do to make the transition easier?

By buying a piece of the old Civic Arena, of course.

I would like to welcome the newest addition to the Sciullo household to you. This, this ladies and gentlemen, is Tag#CA6765.

The Civic Arena memorabilia auction was the perfect way for us to say so long. Now, I could keep a piece of my beloved Igloo and move on. I tried to buy a turnstile, but was outbid. I thought about buying a ticket window, but that would turn into a Kohler commercial: “design a house around this (ticket window).” I let that one go. My friends bought an enormous sign of the section where they sat on their first date together. Everything was for the taking. The toilet from Lemieux’s luxury suite was even listed, but later taken down. But the bench: it was mine.

Just remember, when you’re pining over the Civic Arena, the characters and props in this tragedy are still there. The players, the fans, the people in the beer line (that ALL look familiar), the excellent mullets that still abound, the kids going to their fist game, the jersey-ed masses, the nachos and beer, **the cotton candy guy. They are still there, just as they were in a stainless steel dome against a gray and dirty background. Only now, that stainless steel dome has been replaced by a shiny glass and brick building and that background is now beige and very, very clean.

If I couldn’t have Mario’s toilet, by God, I’d have something else that his ass had sat on: a 13 foot team bench. Come on over and have a seat if you’re ever getting nostalgic.


**Updated June, 2011: Sadly, Cotton Candy Guy, Kenny Geidel, 64, passed away in May, 2011.

Allison’s Authentic Pittsburgh Hockey Experience Package

27 Jan

Friday, April 16, 2010 at 11:53pm

If attending a Pens game, might I suggest the “Authentic Pittsburgh Hockey Experience Package.” This package starts out a little rough, but ends quite nicely.

1. You will be seated in front of 7 hooligans from McKees Rocks. They will be extremely drunk and range in age from 21-24.
2. One will holler “F**K Canada” during Jeff Jimerson’s rendition of “O Canada” (met with gasps and stares of horror and disdain)
3. They will demand things be done to an opposing team player’s mother that you never even thought possible. (you are ALSO seated directly NEXT to a nice gentleman and his 10-year-old son)
4. The following quotes will be heard.
4a.” Ottowa SENATORS!? Canada doesn’t even HAVE states!”
4b. “Canada SUCKS. They never even won a WAR!”
4c. In reference to Chris Neil (an Ottawa Senator)…you will hear many references to him “kneeling” in various situations, usually in reference to something sexual. And always man on man.
5. After the Pens take the lead in the 3rd, they will spill 1/2 of a cold beer on you. You will not care. You will begin high fiving them and wiping off the beer with your “white out” towel.
6. As a final celebration, and after YOU’VE had 5 beers, you and your McKees Rocks friends will stop waving your towels and begin rubbing them between your legs like you’re drying off after a swim.

Spring for it.

**The April 16, 2010 game was where the first “Sidney Crosby hat trick” was recorded: Crosby scored a goal, an assist, and had a save.

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