Getting What I Asked For

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008, 1:25 am

If examined empirically, I’m a smart guy. Standardized tests and several institutions of higher learning have certified that my gray matter pulsates with constructive electricity. But spend some time around me–say, this evening–and you’ll wonder how I manage to sit the correct way on a commode.

The plan was to head downtown around 2pm to take some photos before heading to the Pittsburgh Blogger get-together. Shoot a few pics, have a beer somewhere, have some more beers, then take more pictures during Pittsburgh’s semi-annual Light-Up Night. A simple enough plan. One I did a bang-up job screwing up.

First of all, it was cold today. And it snowed. Being an idiot I decided to wear my running shoes instead of my hiking boots. I thought I’d be walking around town a lot and didn’t realize how much snow and ice there would be. My feet weren’t all that cold–I’d at least worn warm socks–but the footing was treacherous. I walked around the North Shore for just a few minutes before I realized this wasn’t optimal shooting weather. It was heavily overcast. There were swirling snow flurries. And it was frickin’ COLD, man. You know how I said in my previous post that I like cold weather? Yeah, I like cold weather when I’m looking at it through a window with a big cup of cocoa warming my hands. Wandering around for no good reason with the wind chill around 10 degrees SUCKS. It didn’t help that I wasn’t wearing a hat, nor did I have on heavy gloves, deciding instead to go with my thin Under Armor gloves that allow me to manipulate my camera controls with ease. Until my fingers went numb and refused to move as I asked them to. Which happened after about five minutes outside.

I took a few pics before the little voice inside my head said, “Screw this, jackass. Get inside and purchase a restorative”. I went to Jerome Bettis’s place and found the bar packed. I found a seat in the corner, bought a beer, and sipped it while wondering if I wanted to eat there. Deciding I didn’t I pressed on and walked 100 yards upriver to McFaddens. There’s a McFadden’s in the Rio in Vegas and to say that it was a giant den of suck does not adequately describe it. I’ve been to the one here before and it’s not nearly as bad (they don’t have goddam dueling piano players) and I hoped I’d get a seat and warm myself with food and beer. The joint is huge, probably fits 500 people easy, and as I walked in I counted…five people inside. Not exactly jumpin’, not at 4:30 in the afternoon. But no matter, I had a burger, a beer, and I got warm.

Warm enough to wander a bit and take a few more pictures before heading to Finnegan’s Wake and the blogger bash. Had a few Stellas there, chatted a bit, and around 8:30 I decided to pack up and head into town to shoot a few pics from the Clemente Bridge. This was a very, very stupid thing to do. It was even colder than it was this afternoon. The wind picked up, as it always seems to do when you’re walking over a bridge. I took some pics while walking across and as I started to head into downtown proper that little voice spoke up again. “Dude, where are you GOING? You’re gonna freeze your not-insubstantial ass off. Turn around.”

Let this be a lesson to you all–listen to those little voices. Unless they’re telling you to set buildings on fire. I about-faced and headed back across the bridge, stopping halfway when I found a good spot to take pics of the inevitable fireworks. In Pittsburgh every occasion great and small is marked with a fireworks display. I missed the massive blast celebrating the city’s 250th anniversary, but even so tonight’s show was pretty lame. And thank God for that–about a minute into the flash and boom my fingers went numb. “What am I doing?” I sing-songed as I tried to take a few decent shots before I went fully hypothermic. This was incredibly stupid. Blessedly the fireworks came to a quick end and I hightailed it back to the bar for a final Stella and 15 minutes standing in front of a heating vent.

I should post some photos now, but I took about 500 and picking out the one or two that might be decent might take until 4AM. And I think tonight I learned a lesson about pursuing stupid quixotic goals because you’re too stupid to know better. I’m gonna dress warm, get under the covers, and go to bed. I have a lot of work to do tomorrow and I think that’s when I’m gonna do it. Tomorrow.

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