Friday, Feb. 07, 2003, 12:13 AM

Random stuff

A famous dead white English writer once said that all writing is nothing more than a series of digressions. Or maybe that was Dr. Suess...

My first word was box. My grandmother still tells the story. She says I looked at my mom when she was saying, "Can you say mommy? Mo-mmm-ee." She says that I wrinkled my face all up, took a deep breath, and spurted in a forceful tone, "Box!" She said I smiled all day long and ran around the house pointing to the grandfather clock, the table, my father, the dog, all the while yelling "Box!"

Family is very important to me. I'm not sure if I told you this, and you're not here to stop me if I did, but one of the reasons that I have stayed in Pittsburgh despite the lack of job opportunities is because my brothers were 14 and 16 when I graduated from college. I knew that once they had left for college things would forever be different with my position as role model for the both of them. You see, My mother's stepfather (divorce seems to run a close second to alcoholism) was a wonderful man. When I was younger he and my grandmother would take me everywhere. We would go canoeing, camping, hiking, drive aimlessly about to read historic markers on the side of the roads, visit battle grounds long since reclaimed by nature, fossil hunting, go Herkimer diamond mining, and we would always make it to Meyersdale for the annual Maplefest.

While I was in college my grandfather became ill and died rather suddenly. It left me to wonder where my brothers would get a hands on education like I did. My grandfather had to divide his time up between the two of them, and his knees were failing, so they were already at a disadvantage by the time they were old enough to appreciate going on these trips. So I assumed the role my grandfather had played, to the best of my abilities. I took them spelunking, white water rafting, rock climbing, camping at the cabin, most of the museums in a fifty mile radius, and I tried to instill in them an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. An unparalleled predilection to learning. And I believe that as they grow they will carry some of those experiences with them like a grain of sand in an oyster, until they weave their experiences around some tidbit I planted and have a precious jewel of an intellect to share with everyone else that enters their lives. Oh yeah, I took them to their first concert too.

People don't look up enough. They told my friend JJ the first time he went to New York City that he shouldn't look up or they would realize he was a tourist and rob him. Well I think that whoever told him that stole something more precious. There is so much going on in the world that doesn't fall into the myopic vision of most people who set about to watch what is directly ahead of them (usually avoiding eye contact at all costs) or stare at the ground beneath their feet. For instance, did you know that the roof of the Park building is held up on all sides by an army of Atlas' bent with its weight to one knee. It is gorgeous architecture that goes unnoticed by the shuffling masses commuting to work everyday. We raise building higher than the surrounding mountains and what is the first thing anyone does when they approach the window? I'll tell you: Look down! You can see for miles and they watch all the people shuffling along and invariably comment about the cars looking like matchbox cars from way up here. No sense of wonder. Clouds drift by and they can't even have their heads in it then. It seems to me that the world should align it's priorities. I'm sorry, I should probably say that our society, rather than world, should be taken to the shop for adjustments. There are more important things in life than making money, having sex, and looking like the girl or guy in a Soloflex commercial.