Monday, September 13, 2010

Our New Faces

Well, we had a wonderful weekend to celebrate something that's happening on Tuesday. First, we ate at Pamela's, a favorite of the Obama family. There's usually a big line outside of this place, especially on the weekends. We were skeptical, as we often are of anything that is very widely popular, but it actually lived up to (and exceeded) our expectations. The thin, crispy-edged pancakes were borderline addictive (secret ingredient: crack?), and we discovered that Pittsburgh doesn't really wake up before 10AM on a Saturday morning, even when sweet, tasty hotcakes (generously doused with butter and syrup) are on the line.

We tried to go to Shakespeare in the Park, but couldn't find a place to park at the Park, so we left the Park without parking and had our picnic lunch at another Park.

Then, perhaps feeling a little homesick, we cut and pasted an Arts and Jazz fest, by going to the Fair in the Park (arts and crafts fair) and then to Jazz Day at Schenley Plaza. Good times! I love Pittsburgh's free festivals and so forth. Woohoo!

Unfortunately, while at Schenley, we lost our camera. Soo, thanks to Google Image Search, I have located the new and improved Andy & Rachel :

Pretty close, right? I like yoga. And Andy likes hoodies.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Red, Yellow, and Green

One of the biggest adjustments we have made since the move has to do with how we get around. Driving is a totally different experience here than in TX--much more interactive, and much less rule-bound.

Now, I'm pretty sure that many of the laws are the same--at least in the books. A simple example:

We all know that Green means Go, Yellow means Proceed with Caution, and Red means Stop.

If you ask someone in Texas what they do when they approach these lights, they'll probably tell you that, yes, Green means go, and Red means stop . . . but Yellow means "speed up so you make it through the light."

I think if you posed the same question here in Pittsburgh, your answer would be yet different. Here, Green means go, Yellow means go, and Red means look before you go. (As far as I can surmise, it's considered fair game to go on a red light, as long as you actually saw the light change to red. I think almost every single time I go through a yellow light that changed red while I was in the intersection, thinking, "I probably should have stopped," the car behind me also went right through it.)

Drivers also interact much more here. In Texas, if someone has started to make a turn they couldn't quite execute, leaving them sticking out in an awkward position, other drivers will curse this person, saying, "It's your own fault for trying to make that turn, skalliwag!" Here, someone will probably let you correct yourself, with a wave of their hand or a flash of their lights. The same goes for if you're trying to change lanes, parallel park, or do some other maneuver that requires you to hope for the good will of your fellow drivers.

Other things to watch out for include cars parked in the right lane, many right- and left- turn only lanes, cyclists, pedestrians, emergency vehicles (today, on my way to the library, I saw a caravan of 4 cop cars and an ambulance!), narrow streets, street-sweeping signs (restricting parking at certain hours of the week), etc.

We're adjusting, though, and learning how to make a left turn just when the light turns red or green in the absence of a left-turn arrow. (I have, on more than one occasion, been honked at for not making a left turn INTO ONCOMING TRAFFIC when the light is green. I don't yet have that level of trust in my fellow drivers, but perhaps it comes with time.) We wonder how this will translate in our next visit to Texas. We're starting to drive like Yanks!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Never Park Your Car Without It . . .

Remember The Club? This handy device could prevent your car from being stolen by some scruffy looking guy with his shirt untucked. Even if you lived in a big city, they would see The Club and cower, knowing they were no match for its airtight engineering. I'm assuming this would-be criminal would then decide a life of crime was too challenging, and straighten up, eventually securing a job as an investment banker. This might jog your memory.

Anyway, since having come here to Pittsburgh, I've noticed that The Club hasn't quite died out around here. Just this morning I saw one latched onto the steering wheel of an Explorer. I hadn't seen one in years back in Texas. Maybe Pittsburgh is stuck in a time warp.

Other evidence of the time warp:
*the prominence of cash-only business establishments (if you're lucky, there may be an ATM [ca. 1990] in the shop)
*K-Mart. I know that K-Mart didn't die everywhere, but since it's been a while since there's been one near me, I associate it with a period of time gone by
*Kennywood Park , apparently where the movie Adventureland was filmed

Further research needed.

We love it here so far, though. We have an awesome new ward, full of a bunch of really smart (often nerdy and awkward) people. This ward has more advanced degrees (in pursuit or received) per capita than any ward I've ever attended. It's inspiring to hang out with people who use words like "nefarious" in regular conversation, and in a place where having a PhD is not exceptional. That aside, everyone's really nice, too. We counted last night, and in the two months that we've been here, we've had dinner, dessert, and / or game nights with no fewer than 14 couples--and all this with just invitations extended to us. This is good for a couple of introverts: people are making it really difficult for us to fade into the background. It's nice, for a change.

Andy got a job, and I had an interview. I'm on the fence as to whether or not I even want the position if they offer it to me. I guess we'll just wait and cross that bridge when / if we get there.

Another benefit of our new locale is that we have more blue-friends. In fact, we have hunches that a good proportion of our new ward may be democrats, including some of our clerical leaders. It's strange to go to church and not feel like The Enemy.