Category Archives: Archive

An Allan First: I filled out an NCAA bracket

The entirety of the United States of America is about to descend into a peculiar psychopathy known as “March Madness”, surrounding the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

This, I need to say up front:  read this post here I hate basketball. This Site  I think the game is inane at any level. I just don’t find any enjoyment in watching, as I call it, “Bounce-bounce-bounce-SCORE! Other direction. Bounce-bounce-bounce-SCORE! Wash, rinse, repeat.”

Now, I know that mine is an unpopular opinion, and that most of my fellow Americans are preparing to be productiveless this Thursday and Friday as the drama of “Will underdog liberal arts school beat sports-factory mega-university?” unfolds.

Everybody’s been scrambling to fill out their tournament brackets, and enter pools, neither of which I’ve ever done for this sporting event. I’m not entering any pools, but I did fill out a bracket – and here’s how & why I made my picks.

Continue reading An Allan First: I filled out an NCAA bracket

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My Son’s Birthday, Scouting, and POPCORN!

My son Neil was born on September 28, 2005, so today is his seventh birthday! Just recently, Neil began his journey in Scouting with Cub Pack 85 of the Laurel Highlands Council.

Neil wants YOU to support Scouting!

I expect at our upcoming Pack meeting, Neil will receive his Tiger Cub Immediate Recognition Badge, as he’s successfully learned the Cub Scout Promise, sign, and salute. I have great hopes for the benefits Neil will get from Scouting. Scouting was a huge part of my life growing up, and I’m hoping it will be for him too.

Neil is a wonderful boy, although he isn’t always the best at acting his age or behaving appropriately – a not unusual circumstance for seven year-olds, as I’ve gathered. Certainly among his “improvement areas” is self-discipline, and Scouting will certainly help with that.

When he first put on his Cub Scout uniform and learned about all the badges he could earn, his immediate reaction was that he wanted to earn them all. I think its starting to set in on him that, even as a Cub Scout, it’s going to be a lot of work and require a lot of dedication.

I hope he sticks with it. When I’m ever asked what a regret of mine is, my ready answer is not completing the requirements for Eagle Scout. If Neil makes it all the way, I’ll be so proud.

So, since it’s his birthday, he’s new in Scouting, and I’m also getting involved as an adult volunteer with the Pack, could you please consider helping us all out by looking into purchasing some Trail’s End Popcorn?

Yes, I hate making the fundraising sales pitch, but there it is. If you use the above link and purchase, it will automatically credit to Neil. The Trail’s End products are excellent – I’m a particular fan of the Chocolatey Triple Delight – and most importantly, seventy percent (70%!) of the purchase price makes its way back to the Boy Scouts of America, our Council, and the Pack!

As anybody who’s ever read my blog knows, I’m a big supporter of our military and all the brave men and women who have served both in peace and in war. You can also purchase popcorn care packs (there’s a $35 and $55 pack option) to be sent to our men and women in uniform today, either domestically or overseas. I really encourage you to do this, especially if you’ve given in the past to similar efforts (as I have).

Come on now, who doesn’t like popcorn? 😉

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In Memoriam: Karen Kallenborn, 1942-2012

As my readers who either follow me on Twitter or are my Facebook friends probably already know, my Mother-in-Law, Karen Kallenborn, passed away this past Wednesday night, May 16, at about 7:30PM.

Karen had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia about a year ago on Memorial Day weekend, 2011. In those first few uncertain days after the diagnosis, of course, I turned to the Internet and learned that the prognosis for long-term survival wasn’t great. Regardless, Karen received the best care the anti-cancer varsity in western Pennsylvania – the amazing doctors and nurses of UPMC Shadyside and the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center – could muster. With sincere thanks to God for the miracle of modern medicine and for guiding the hands of her caregivers, her leukemia entered remission by July and she was soon home thereafter.

I first met Karen (to my recollection) on Thanksgiving Day, 1995. Missy and I had only be dating at the time for about two months, so being stuck in Pittsburgh away from family it was an honor to have been invited for Thanksgiving dinner.

In all honesty, she didn’t like me at first, and looking back I really can’t blame her. I was 24, didn’t own a car, and was working as an hourly contractor – plus I’m sure the beat-up woodland camo M65 military field jacket I wore back then as a winter coat didn’t breed confidence in suitor-potential either.

In any case, I grew on her and I have to be uncountably grateful to her (and her husband, Ron) for raising such a wonderful woman as their daughter who became my wife.

Karen absolutely doted on – and yes, spoiled beyond belief 🙂 – our two kids Penny and Neil. They were her only grandchildren and the center of the last 10 years of her life. Missy and I have been so lucky to have her parents close, as prior to Karen’s illness, they were ready babysitters for date nights or even entire weekends.

There are plenty of great memories and stories I could relate, but most would require too much “set up” to explain properly in context.

Although Karen beat the AML at first and fared exceptionally well through treatment, her immune system and bone marrow never came back. She required regular blood and platelet transfusions and was at continued risk in her weakened state from any infection.

Well, about two and a half months ago, Karen was hospitalized again at UPMC Shadyside with an aggressive infection. While the powerful antibiotics neutralized the infection, she was too weak to also sustain the post-chemotherapy treatments that she had been on – and that was the door the AML needed to come back.

On the afternoon of May 1st, we got the news that Karen’s blood was again massively leukemic and that there were no treatment options left. In her last days, she was cared for by the angels (and I do not use that term lightly) at Cedars Community Hospice in Monroeville, PA.

For those who are interested, you can find the visitation and funeral arrangements in the official obituary that appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Friday, May 18. If you are so inclined, I would ask that you make memorial donations in her name to either UPMC Shadyside, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, Cedars Hospice, or naturally, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Karen & Missy on our wedding day – September 27, 1997

I’d like to thank all the dozens of folks – known personally and not – who have offered their prayers, well wishes, and condolences over the last few weeks and for that matter, over the last year. It’s all been so comforting and reassuring.

We’ll miss you so much, Karen. In our sorrow, we are comforted that you are now without disease, without pain, and will never suffer again. We live with the promise of the resurrection and that we’ll see you again that day.

Rest in peace
August 24, 1942 – May 16, 2012
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4, NIV)
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One Moment in Time, A Cause Shown

One week ago, I was attending BlogConCLT, a fantastic event put on by the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity and FreedomWorks. As my regular readers know, the bulk of my content here is on the “Finest Hour” motif, and I don’t weigh in on other topics as often as I’d like to. I’ll admit, my original reason for going to BlogCon was selfish: I wanted to meet so many of the wonderful people I’ve interacted with via Twitter and other online methods in person.

I did accomplish that, and so many e-acquaintances I can now count as real friends. What I really took away from the experience though was completely unexpected.

First, I think I found a reason why I don’t write about topics relating to politics and current events very often here: my view has been national, and it’s all been covered. One of the panel discussions at the conference opened my eyes. The panel featured both Guy Benson of Townhall.com and Dana Loesch of Breitbart. They both made the point that the large, established new media outlets like Townhall and Breitbart have the national scene covered. What they miss are local and state stories and coverage. We’ve seen so many cases of local stories ballooning into ones with national impact. Those local items have to be found though.

Ok, that I can do. I can keep tabs on my local government and school board but, gosh, there’s so much more going on around here.

Then, as the conference was coming to a close, Melissa Clouthier took the podium and started running through the list of “swing” states for this year’s election, asking the bloggers from those states to stand as they were called. She called for those from Pennsylvania, and there was myself and one other (he being from the Philadelphia area).

Wow.

It didn’t really hit me at first, but I left Charlotte at about 7:30PM last Saturday and drove back home to the Pittsburgh North Hills – 8 1/2 hours including stops. I kept coming back in my mind to when I was there standing amid a whole bunch of folks who I think have accomplished a lot more through this medium than I have and I kept thinking, “gosh, I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

It wasn’t lost on me that I can’t just turn myself into a full-time blogger; I do, after all, have to keep a roof over my family’s head. What I can do is lay a foundation, find the right people to build with, and contribute what I can and get others to do the same.

It’s taken me about a week to sort things out in my mind on how to get this done, but tonight I’ve laid the corner stone. I’m pleased to announce the launch of Twenty-Eight Twelve. I wanted to think of a “catchy” name, and not being a marketeer, it wasn’t easy (I think I succeeded; feel free to tell me if you think differently 😉 ). “Twenty-Eight” refers to the twenty-eight sections of the Declaration of Rights in the Pennsylvania constitution. “Twelve” refers to the twelve counties in southwestern Pennsylvania that will be the focus of this effort. I purposefully chose a name not readily associated with a particular movement or political party because I’m perfectly happy to tear down a corrupt Republican as I would be a corrupt Democrat. Since part of Twenty-Eight Twelve‘s reporting will be on local liberal media, it will understandably have a conservative and libertarian focus.

I hope that Twenty-Eight Twelve will grow and I’ll find several great folks to collaborate with on it. Andrew Breitbart showed what was possible through citizen journalism. There is no reason why we in this area can’t do the same in our towns, cities, counties, and state. I’ve already reached out to some of the local folks I’ve found via Twitter, and I think I already have a few folks signed on.

I met so many wonderful people last week – too many to name them all – but there are several who really inspired me to take this next step, in no particular order of importance: Melissa Clouthier, Andrew Malcolm, Michelle Ray, Mary Chastain, Sister Toldjah, Phineas Fahrquar, Mandy Nagy, and Tabitha Hale immediately come to mind. Thanks to all of you.

Their Finest Hour will continue, naturally, and I’d expect that many opinion pieces I author will get cross-posted.

So then, if you’re with me in southwestern Pennsylvania, how are you going to help?

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From the mouths of those who’d know best…

According to the attorneys who have argued before the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals as cited in the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, just one of the 21 judges on the court is rated unfavorably for their temperment and conduct on the bench.

It can’t be Sonia Sotomayor. No way. She’s the shining star of the Federal Courts. Who cares how she acts as a judge anyway? It’s just her “life story” that’s important here!

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In Memoriam: Kirk Jacobs

Twenty years ago tonight, one of my high school classmates and good friend was killed in a car accident. My prayers today go out to the family of Kirk Jacobs and to my other friend who was driving that night; thankfully, he was relatively uninjured. I’m sure their grief still knows no bounds.

My life changed forever on Friday, October 28, 1988. That was the day I think I lost all of my youthful invincibility. I remember going to the funeral home the following Sunday night, and being closer emotionally to some of my classmates than I ever had been before.

School on Monday was a surreal experience. I unknowingly broke the news of Kirk’s death to one of my friends, the first time I had to tell another person that one among us had passed. I’ll never forget how our math teacher, Mr. Rodriguez – Kirk was in my class – just couldn’t go on that day. When the teacher lost it, I don’t think any of us in the classroom knew how to handle it.

I remember the shock and grief expressed by the principal of Bernards High School; in all his years, this was the first time he’d lost a student.

The Bernards High School Class of 1989, myself included, was forever going to be one classmate short.

I hadn’t come to the Lord then, but I do remember that I was able to scribble a Bible verse – one of the few I knew at the time – in the memory book at the funeral home, so I’ll close with what I wrote then, Ecclesiastes 11:9 (NIV):

Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.

I miss you Kirk. I’m blessed to have known you for the time we were given.

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