On fear of the unknown

June 20, 2012

That’s the worst kind of fear.  Fear of the unknown.  I can’t imagine what it would be like living with cancer, but one Northwestern Pennsylvania resident is helping a lot of people deal with one of the worst unknowns: cancer.

Fair warning, if you’re at all sensitive, what lies ahead of you if you click the link will tug at more heartstrings than you knew you had.  But if you ever have any fear of what lies ahead, let these words comfort and inspire you.  You’re not alone.

My Buffalo Vacation is some of the most powerful writing out there.  And it’s happening in real-time, folks.

My Buffalo Vacation


eriealert.com pitties the fool who commits crimes in Erie.

November 14, 2010

Great job guys! We did it.

During the hustle and bustle of life, I forgot a followup to what happened with the eriealert.com grant contest.  The organization has been awarded a $25,000 grant from Markham Vineyards!  This grant will be used to purchase radios for community watch leaders to contact the police department directly, fund a scholarship for a criminal justice student, and help to develop eriealert.com into a more comprehensive and interactive website.  You can check out the award write-up here.

Hopefully the crime rates in the poorest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will now drop like flies.

Cast your vote for eriealert.com

August 16, 2010

The local website eriealert.com is in the running for a $25,000 grant and needs your help.  Created by Erie County Chief Detective Larry Dombrowski, eriealert aims to keep the citizens of Erie informed and up-to-date on criminal activity within the city of Erie.  This program is run completely on volunteer fuel and is seeking some cash to help provide their volunteers with police radios, offer criminal justice scholarships to volunteers who help with the project, as well as help improve the eriealert website.

You can do your part to help the eriealert.com project by going to the Markham Mark of Distinction website here and voting for it.  Markham Vineyards is providing $25,000 to the top two vote getters in this race.  Currently (as of 6:00 PM August 16th), Erie is sitting in 4th place.

That’s not bad, but we can do better, can’t we?  That question was rhetorical.  You don’t need to answer it.

You can vote once a day up until September 7th.

I’m always supportive of all things that can help develop Northwestern Pennsylvania communities, and even more-so when it comes to helping to put criminals in the clink.  So let’s get out there and do your part, Erie, Pennsylvania, to help take a bite out of crime.

I try to avoid supporting local business: Vol. 1: On the Edinboro Hotel

August 5, 2010

Growing up in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I’ve learned to appreciate some of the things this area has to offer, as evidenced by here and here.  If that’s not enough for you, I will tell you that I live in a landlocked state, but there is a beach within a half hour drive that I have access to.  On numerous occasions I have noted (in front of witnesses) that I feel Erie, Pennsylvania’s State Street is just as fun as any other street in America that I’ve been to.

That's snow for those of you from places with climates that don't suck.

That being said, growing up in an area your entire life, you learn that there are places that suck.  I have experienced plenty of those as well.  I also take into consideration that there are plenty of places in other parts of the world that I have been to that also suck.  It’s just that when you live and go to college in a town where there are only four bars, one learns relatively quickly what one is seeking in a social establishment.  There aren’t a lot o places in Edinboro, Pennsylvania worth visiting.  Which leads me to the Edinboro Hotel.

Last summer (July 1st, to be exact) my best friend and little brother helped me relocate my life back to Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania.  I left a steady job, a fantastic place to live in downtown Raleigh, awesome friends, and an amazing girlfriend to move back home.  This move was prompted by the fact that I would be able to go to graduate school at little-to-no personal expense.

Upon my return, I found the Edinboro Hotel exactly as I had left it; terrible service, overcrowded, full of douchebags, and about as fun as jamming an icepick in my eye.  There’s loud club music playing every weekend, without the cool ambiance of actually being in a club.  There are bathrooms without stalls or locks, however.  I have literally been going to that bar since I was 21 years of age and continue to get carded there every weekend I go.  In fact, the only time I’ve ever actually been acknowledged as a customer by the owner of the place (who bartends on most busy weekends) was a weekend when a friend obnoxiously flipped a pitcher off of the table and broke it.  The owner came over and clapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘That’ll be $5.00.’

That’s after six years of business.  Needless to say, I do not enjoy that establishment in the least.

Some people may ask, ‘Why do you continue to go there?’  I don’t have a good answer for that question, other than the fact all of my friends frequent there.  I realized tonight after witnessing someone who was on parole take his shirt off and grind his genitals on a younger female, that I can’t keep going there without going Ernest Hemingway on myself.  I walked into that place tonight and it was like the nexus of everything that I hate in life.  If the galaxy were to collapse upon itself and existence as we know it were to end, I feel like it would occur there.

This is how the Edinboro Hotel Bar makes me feel.

I know, I know.  It’s a very simple solution to a very uncomplex problem.  Stop going to the Edinboro Hotel Bar if it makes you feel like that.  It’s easier said than done, I suppose.  I’ve heard that insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result.  Well, maybe you should color me insane.

But just like Bruce Willis taught me: old habits Live Free or Die Hard.  With a Vengeance.

What the end of every night feels like after I continually try and experience night life in Edinboro, Pennsylvania.

I support local business: Vol. 2

July 28, 2010

Unless you’re a member of the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) or one of the few thousand people who live in Northwestern Pennsylvania, you probably haven’t heard of Conneaut Lake Park.  Since my guess is probably not many people who stop in here are ACE members, I’ll give you a brief rundown.

Opened in 1892 as Exposition Park, the resort area began to expend wildly beginning with the remodeling of the Exposition Hotel into what would become what is now the Hotel Conneaut.  After its remodeling in 1902-03, the hotel boasted 150 guest rooms for the reasonable price of $1.00 per day and the park .  Guests stormed to the area to check out the new Figure Eight roller coaster.  Soon the area was bustling with tourism (there were at one point over 12 hotels in the surrounding lake area) and in order to give the park a more “amusement park” feel to it, it was renamed Conneaut Lake Park in 1920.

By the early 1940s, Conneaut Lake Park boasted several rides, such as the Tumble Bug and the ACE famous Blue Streak.  And then, like everything in Northwestern Pennsylvania that was at one point grossly popular, fire struck the park.  Specifically Hotel Conneaut.  Half of the 300 rooms were destroyed in a fire in 1943, and with it, the hopes and dreams of the region went up in smoke as well.

Since the fire of ’43, Conneaut Lake Park has had well documented legal and financial problems that have resulted in, at times, the closing of the park.  Its biggest claim-to-fame since the ’40s has been the fact that the park was so rundown, producers of the post-apocalyptic film ‘The Road’ selected Conneaut Lake Park as one of the crown jewels in a world devastated by disaster.

And here are your fifteen minutes of fame, Conneaut Lake Park. Enjoy them.

However, after going through all of that, there’s a real opportunity for the community to again embrace what was once a historic and beautiful area.  Through the Arts and Culture division of Pepsi’s “Refresh Everything” campaign, Conneaut Lake Park is up for a $50,000 grant to repair and reopen the Blue Streak rollercoaster.

Take a minute and cast your vote for the Blue Streak here.  You can link your vote directly to your facebook account, or submit an e-mail address if you haven’t joined the facebook community like the rest of the world.

Will $50,000 restore Conneaut Lake Park to its once glorious and successful state?  Absolutely not.

But it’s a step in the right direction.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

I support local business: Vol. 1

June 14, 2010

As much as I crap on this area (and I do crap on this area quite a bit), there really is a lot of culture to take in.  One of the aspects of Northwestern Pennsylvania I’ve learned to appreciate more the older I’ve gotten is the food/beverage industry that pervades this area.  Having lived down South, I learned to love all different kinds of food (pulled pork Eastern-style bar-b-que sandwiches come to mind).  However, having experienced that, I also learned to appreciate more of the food culture I came from.

Now I’d like to highlight my favorite stop around the area: Sprague Farm & Brew Works.

Nestled in sleepy Venango, Pennsylvania, Sprague’s (as it’s affectionately known) serves the best brews on this side of French Creek.  Owned and operated by Brian and Minnie Sprague, this microbrewery caters to its beer-loving customers.  Most days when you walk in, you’ll be cordially greeted by either owner/operator, Brian or Minnie, who will actually take time out of their day to have real conversation with you, since you’re a real person.  Even though they own a brewery, they have not yet forgotten this concept.  Take note, shitty Edinboro bars.

I’ve heard more than one person talk about how they aren’t ‘beer people’.  However, their minds quickly change once a frosty glass of Ale Mary touches their lips.  Named after Minnie (Mary) Sprague, that sweet nectar of the gods is one of several finely brewed Sprague’s beers.  I am personally a fan of their Blissberry, which is brewed with black raspberries.  Cleverly named and even more cleverly brewed, their beer is second-to-none in Northwestern Pennsylvania, evidenced by their 2009 and 2010 Erie Brewfest victories.

So if the delicious beer and fantastic ownership isn’t enough to convince you stop by, then take into consideration the ambiance of the place.  The atmosphere of the brewery is enhanced by a stage that boasts live (mostly) local music every weekend.  Once the weather turns fair around these parts, if music isn’t your scene and you enjoy a quiet conversation, they have a deck at the back of the brewery.  Construction has also started on an outdoor pavilion that will include a separate performing stage, bar, and, rumor has it, a fireplace as well.  Inside they serve some light food and, recently, adding much more substantial entrees, with some sandwiches and pizzas.

This establishment is also benefited by the vast knowledge, beer-brewing ability, and dashing good looks of local folk-hero, Luke Steadman.  Luke is one of the friendly faces who will almost assuredly greet you upon your arrival to Sprague’s.  And as a Master Brewer, you can thank him for such delicious beers as M.L.B. and the newly anointed French and Indian Corn Ale.

Not what you had in mind when you heard 'Master Brewer'? Well get off your high horse because it turns out that Vikings loved to drink and were very good brewers.

It’s hard to describe everything that is awesome about Sprague’s without actually experiencing it for yourself, but it has already established itself as a can’t miss in its short tenure in the area.  If you’re in Northwestern Pennsylvania and a fan of excellent beer, friendly service, and a great atmosphere, Sprague’s is the place for you.

I've got a soft spot in my heart for this one.

December 23, 2009

Some of you may be aware of this already, but if not, you’re about to be. Towards the beginning of November, there was a tragedy that befell all the residents of the Edinboro area when a head-on car crash took the lives of three Edinboro University students: John Eyrolles, Domenico Crea, and Sheldon Harmon. Even more tragically, however, was that reckless driving on the part of Domenico Crea, who had previously been cited for careless driving only days prior, led to two other deaths.

As an alum of EUP, I feel a deep sadness that such a horrible and seemingly avoidable event has to cast yet another shadow on our University family. I also feel a very personal sadness, however, about the loss of Sheldon Harmon. Sheldon was an animation major at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and, by all accounts that I’ve read, one of the most dedicated, hardest working kids on campus. He was vice president of the Animation Club at Edinboro, a member of the Robert C. Weber Honors Program, and had already had some of his work published in medical books.

I didn’t know him personally and I probably would’ve never known anything of the guy if it weren’t for this loss. But as a kid who spent 80% of his day doodling in the margins of his notebooks or on his paper bag book covers, it really stung to see all of this amazing talent and potential gone in an instant.

Looking for the positive, The Animation Club at Edinboro University has established the Sheldon Harmon Memorial Fund which will be selling wristbands in his honor. All of the initial proceeds will go towards a goal established by the Animation Club and proceeds exceeding said goal will continue to the art club or go towards a charitable organization.

Also, the hot Boro blogspot yourboro.com, will be donating $1 for every 100 unique hits a day that they receive until the end of Christmas day, so take a second and click on the link below:

Yourboro, helping out the community
. Nice work, guys.