with gratitude.

Things are about to change.

After more than 14 years with my current employer — I don’t think I’ve ever named it here, but that’s the Beaver County Times — I’m about to start a new gig. On June 30, I’ll move to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as part of their digital team.

The new job? I can’t wait to get started. I long ago found an enthusiasm for the digital side of my business, and being able to take on similar challenges at a paper like the P-G is the kind of thing that makes me wake up happy every day. And if that kind of tinkering isn’t enough, I hope to be able to continue some beer-related video work there as well. It’s a great opportunity; it’ll give Mrs. Crappy and me the chance to make some positive changes and it will keep me challenged and happy professionally.

Having said that, I’m in no real hurry to leave The Times, even though my final day is approaching rapidly. To put it simply: I would be in a much less solid position professionally were it not for the chances I’ve had there. And I’ve had chances at The Times that I wouldn’t have had anywhere else. I started tinkering with the web sites here when I worked on Sunday nights and no one else wanted to mess with those chores. I gingerly — at first, anyway — stepped into doing Newsbreak just because the regular hosts were on vacation. I wrote quirky centerpiece stories because they were occasionally funny. And over the years, this became a lot less like work and a lot more like fun.

And when you can have fun at work, you’ve pretty much got it made, right? I’m grateful I can say that’s been the case for me for nearly all of the last 14 years.

because i can’t say it any better.

The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of “separate but equal.” In the 60 years since (Brown v. Board of Education) was decided, “separate” has thankfully faded into history, and only “equal” remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.

We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history. An appropriate Order shall issue.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III,

May 20, 2014.

johnny (part two).

All I really wanted to do on Sunday was cut the grass and haul the summer furniture out of the garage, clean it up and spend the rest of the afternoon lounging on the front porch.

As we discussed yesterday, those plans were changed. I took a day off today to get all those things done; I was hoping to finish the toilet installation today and get some outside work finished in time to grill a pork loin and spend the evening outside.

Instead, the bathroom is in pretty much the same state it was when I started working on it this morning. I still have no idea about my toilet installation skills, because I’m still nowhere near being able to install the toilet, thanks to something in the subfloor that has left me unable to anchor a new flange.

And I am out patience and, because I have to work tomorrow, out of time as well.

I don’t have a problem with paying professionals to do these kinds of things. I just wish I hadn’t wasted two full days before figuring out that I’d need to do that now.

johnny (part one).

So how was your Mother’s Day?

Mine? Great, thanks. I spent it playing with sewage water, lead and 76-year-old toilet wax.

This began while Mrs. Crappy was getting ready for work this morning; as she summoned me to the upstairs bathroom, I knew immediately that my plans for the day — mostly stuff in the yard — were about to be altered.


She was right to be concerned about seeing water seeping from around the base of the toilet, especially when considering its age; a plumber we had in not long after we bought the house in 2008 noticed the stamp in its tank reading “1938″ — the same year the house was built, meaning that was the one and only toilet that’s ever called that bathroom home.


After a little online research, I settled on a suitable replacement. After some further research, I felt confident that I could get through the process of removing the old toilet and replacing it with a new one. Off to Home Depot to grab the new one, a new supply line and a few other little things I’d need.

How’d it go? At first, great. Drained all the water. Dug through the corrosion and removed the nut from one side of the bowl. And then I started to do the same thing on the other side. I dug. And I dug. And I dug. And when I got through 76 years’ worth of toilet gunk, I was met with a nut that would not budge.

This required another trip to Home Depot, for a can of WD-40 to break the nut (a trip that will guarantee that I find the can of WD-40 we already owned before the day is over). I eventually got that one off too — by stripping off the top of the bolt — and was met with a bigger problem: a flange that was buried in a 76-year-old wax ring that didn’t want to budge.


More digging, which revealed another problem: a flange that wasn’t bolted to the floor. Instead, it was held in place lead wings that are attached to … something. But by the time I got to this point, Mrs. Crappy had arrived home with a new flange that I may or may not use. Oh, and also a pizza. My patience had been tested enough, and with the exception of hauling the old toilet out to the curb after we ate, I had had enough for today.

What’s left? If there’s a wood surface under the current flange, I’ll remove it and use the new one. If there’s tile under there instead, I’m going to need further consultation with someone at Home Depot who knows more about this than I do. Once that gets done, dropping the new one in place will seem easy by comparison.


In the meantime — anyone have a need for a 1938-vintage toilet? It’s free to a good home.

lost hoppertunity.

I had my Kentucky Derby horse. And it would have been perfect.

A beer-related name. Trained by Bob Baffert, who is my guy. And he would have worn the silks of co-owner Michael Pegram — a big MP, which, by the way, ARE MY INITIALS AS WELL.

Hoppertunity would have been a solid choice too, opening betting after the announcement of post positions at 6-1. But after he limped through a practice run on Thursday, Baffert withdrew him from the race.

And left me without my most simpatico Derby choice ever.


That’s OK, though. Perhaps this is the right year to Dance With Fate instead.

pied piper.

A few years ago, I told you the story of getting a birthday present from Tiffany for Mrs. Crappy — and the subsequent discovery that carrying a bag from Tiffany through Ross Park Mall was the surest way to get noticed by women I had ever seen.

Over the weekend, Mrs. Crappy discovered the male equivalent.

As some of you know, Mrs. Crappy recently started working a big-box home improvement store. As per her preference, she is working in the lawn and garden department, which gives her a lot of time outdoors and around the fun, summer-y gadgets that seem to universally make everyone happy.

Especially guys, it seems.


While working over the weekend, she had to load up a big, fancy gas grill on one of the carts and haul it across the store to a customer who needed to finish his shopping in the contractors’ section. And as she pushed the grill from one side of the store to the other, she noticed that every single guy she passed stopped and turn to watch the grill pass by.

To summarize: To attract women, carry a Tiffany-blue shopping bag. To attract men, a gigantic grill will do the trick.

Superficial? Sure. But it would have worked for me.