Chilling temperatures may have killed many outdoor stink bugs

Written by Doug Oster on .


oster stink bug photo2Good news from Virgina Tech, outdoor stink bugs might have been killed off by the cold. (Doug Oster/Post-Gazette)

Virgina Tech researchers think the Polar Vortex might have killed up to 95 percent of the outdoor stinkbugs according to the National Geographic.

The brown marmorated stink bug, which is an invasive species , was first found in Allentown, Pa in the late 1990's. Since then gardeners and farmers alike have battled the pest.

My garden was ravaged a few years ago, but since, hasn't been bothered.

The National Geographic article quotes Virginia Tech scientists who while studying the insect saw most killed outdoors in their experiments. They were housing bugs outside in insulated buckets which simulate the areas in homes where they wold overwinter.

After the cold weather most of the stink bugs were dead. You can read the whole story here.

I hope the research is right, it almost makes this cold winter worth it.






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Four-star Oscar speeches from top acting winners

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .



I haven’t had a normal Oscar watching experience since 1989. That would have been the last time I was home, eating popcorn or whatever snack food was then in fashion, and watching the show on TV like a civilian.

I’ve worked every Academy Awards from 1990 to now, usually in the office, sometimes in Los Angeles or Hollywood. So I watch the show with one eye on the clock and my deadline-driven editors and one on the TV. I’m usually typing most of the time, too, and sometimes trying to transcribe what was just said on stage.

But I thought Ellen DeGeneres did a good job as host. Not the best ever but not the worst and a warm, welcoming presence who wasn’t going to insult the A-listers in front of her or the Z-listers at home soaking up every detail about Cate Blanchett’s embellished gown or Jared Leto’s hair or Matthew McConaughey’s wife and mom.

DeGeneres was a soothing tonic after Seth MacFarlane and his famous song about women’s breasts. The show did something that rarely happens by awarding the first Oscar of the night within 10 minutes and making it count by giving it to Jared Leto.

Producers can caution winners about speeches but they cannot control them. Heck, even winners may not know how they’re going to react when they float to the stage and take the 8-pound Oscar in their hands.

Whether you liked the selfies or the pizzas, the 86th Academy Awards were notable for the quality of the thank yous, with special praise for Leto, Lupita Nyong’o, Blanchett and McConaughey. I especially loved McConaughey’s image of his dad in heaven, dancing in his underwear with his favorites in hand or nearby – a cold Miller Lite, a big pot of gumbo and some lemon meringue pie. Anyone whose own father has died had to smile in appreciation.

Leto was inspirational, Nyong’o was poetic and Blanchett funny and forceful in reminding the world that moviegoers will see a movie about a woman. None pulled out a folded piece of paper from a pocket or purse or décolletage.

The speeches should be what people remember about the show. If the host is the most memorable, something’s wrong. And in an endless season when the same foursome seemed to win virtually everything, that was a challenge.

They rose to it. Well done. 


Top photo by Todd Wawrychuk / A.M.P.A.S



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Picking the NEC award winners

Written by Craig Meyer on .

687 -northeast conference-primary-

With the NEC regular season ending Saturday and with the conference tournament beginning Wednesday, it's come time to pick the men of distinction in the league. The conference is announcing the winners of the major awards on Tuesday, but before those are given out, I figured I'd share my thoughts on the possible winners (but only in categories in which it looks like a Robert Morris player has a solid chance of winning).

For the sake of suspense and making sure y'all at least read until the end, I'll start with some of the smaller awards and work my way down.


RMU contenders: Lucky Jones

Other contenders:  Kenneth Ortiz (Wagner), Naofall Folahan (Wagner), Rashad Whack (Mount St. Mary's)

Jones' improvement as a defender has been pretty remarkable to watch this season. In non-conference play, much like the rest of his team, Jones struggled a bit on the defensive end. But in NEC play, particularly in the span in which the Colonials have had just eight guys, Jones has shined under difficult circumstances. As a long and athletic player who can play anything as small as a 2 or anything as large as a 4, Jones has been tasked with guarding every position imaginable in Robert Morris' past 12 games.

That alone is impressive and the fact that he's done so with notable success makes the feat even more remarkable.

With that being said, though, I think this is Folahan's award to lose. Ortiz is the reigning DPOY and as good/pesky as he can be on the ball, he can afford to take some of those risks because he knows that Folahan is waiting in the lane to clean up any possible mess. This season, he has blocked 14.2 percent of opponents' 2-point attempts, the 14th-best mark of any Division I player. To me, a great rim protector is the single most important piece of an elite defense and Wagner has been just that, giving up only 93.1 points per 100 possessions in conference play. The next-closest team in the NEC (RMU) gives up 99.5.

The pick: Folahan


RMU contenders: Karvel Anderson, Lucky Jones

Other contenders: Alex Francis (Bryant), Sidney Sanders Jr. (Fairleigh Dickinson), Dyami Starks (Bryant), Julian Norfleet (Mount St. Mary's), Kenneth Ortiz (Wagner), Jason Brickman (LIU Brooklyn), Jalen Cannon (St. Francis Brooklyn), Earl Brown (St. Francis PA)

As the league's leading scorer, you can pretty much write Anderson in pen for this one, so much of the remaining debate surrounds Jones. I'd also say that Francis and Sanders seem like good bets, so he's basically fighting for one of two spots.

Jones ranks 12th in the NEC in points per game (13.3) and, as we've discussed, has been one of the league's top defenders, so he's proven to be a strong two-way player. Starks has been strong this season, but would two first-team spots be given to the league's third-place team as opposed to its champion? I doubt it, whether that's fair or not. Norfleet's a strong contender, as he has strong per-game numbers and is nationally-ranked in effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage and assist rate.

Like Norfleet, Brickman is nationally-ranked in all of those categories (he's actually higher in all three and is No. 1 in assist rate) and he's the DI leader in assists per game. Plus, even though LIU struggled this season, he could always be in line to get a nod based on his career accomplishments, sort of like how it was with Velton Jones last season. It's also incredibly hard to ignore Cannon and Brown, perhaps the two best rebounders in the conference.

I try not to force all-conference teams based on position, so my predicted team may look a little unorthodox.

The pick: Anderson, Francis, Sanders, Norfleet, Brickman (with Jones and Cannon the first ones off the bench)


RMU contender: Andy Toole

Other contenders: Greg Herenda (Fairleigh Dickinson)

This is effectively a two-man race at this point and each candidate has a good amount of supporters touting his cause. They both certainly have the resumes befitting the title, albeit in different ways. Toole helped guide an eight-man team to a conference regular season championship while Herenda was responsible for a four-win improvement for the Knights in NEC play (from two wins to six).

The turnaround that Herenda has led at Fairleigh Dickinson has been remarkable. I remembered seeing them play at Robert Morris last year near the end of the season and they flat-out looked like a team that had quit. For Herenda to not only improve that program's win total but also make it competitive in just a year is commendable, to say the least.

Some may try to boil this award down to the coach of the first-place team against the coach of the most overachieving squad. That's not totally accurate. I think it's an absolute cop-out to give someone coach of the year just because his team finished in first (hell, even Gene Chizik did that in college football), but that isn't all Toole did. Most anyone reading this is aware of everything Toole guided the Colonials through this season and to be able to win 14 of their last 16 games under those circumstances is pretty damn incredible.

The pick: Toole


RMU contender: Karvel Anderson

Other contenders: Alex Francis (Bryant), Sidney Sanders Jr. (Fairleigh Dickinson)

Everyone has a different philosophy on what constitutes a player of the year and for the sake of brevity, I won't go too far into mine other than to say that unless an award is dubbed a 'Most Valuable Player' I always pick the most outstanding player in a league or sport as opposed to the one that is maybe the most valuable.

To make this discussion easier, I've put some of the more pertinent season stats in a table:

Player Pts/game Asts/game Rebs/game Off. Rating Eff FG% Ast. Rate
Anderson 19.6 1.5 3.3 130.4 63.6 12.4
Sanders 19.2 5.9 3.8 108.8 44.5 44.6
Francis 19.0 1.4 8.3 107.2 57.9 8.1

Choosing between these three is especially difficult considering they each play different positions and fulfill different roles on their teams. Each is a go-to-scorer, but each also excels in particular areas. Anderson's a two-guard who is the conference's most lethal scorer and shooter. A point guard, Sanders has been more responsible than perhaps even Herenda for Fairleigh Dickinson's improvement this season. Francis has been strong on the low post for the NEC's best offensive team.

It's a tough decision -- one I think ultimately comes down to Anderson and Sanders -- but considering all three are relatively even defensively, to me, it comes down to which one has been the most prolific offensive player. And though he doesn't have the assist numbers that Sanders does or the rebounding numbers Francis does, no player in the NEC has been quite as good on the offensive end as Anderson. Not only does he lead the conference in scoring, but he's one of the top 25 players in Division I in three important offensive categories -- offensive rating, effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage.

I've said before that I'm admittedly biased since I cover Anderson and have seen him do some absurd things throughout the season. With that being said, though, this is a call I feel confident making.

The pick: Anderson


Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

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Everclear bringing Summerland Tour to Stage AE in June

Written by Scott Mervis on .

everclear2It's safe to say that any package tour with the word "summer" in it is welcome right now.

The 2014 Summerland Tour, named for an Everclear song, has the '90s alt-rock band best known for "Santa Monica" headlining once again with Soul Asylum, Eve 6 and Spacehog.

It stops at Stage AE Outdoors on June 20. Tickets are $25 advance and go on sale Friday at all Ticketmaster locations, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or online at

Last summer, Everclear split off from Sugar Ray's Under the Sun Tour to do its own thing.

'It didn't work for me," Everclear frontman Art Alexakis told the PG about Under the Sun. "I didn't have fun. I had fun sometimes, but it was too poppy. It wasn't the kind of bands I wanted to do. I wanted to do something that was more rock. That's what I liked about the era we all came out of, even though I liked Sugar Ray back in the day. Even though they had some pop hits, they were more of a rock band. That wasn't what was going on last year. So I told them I wanted to do my own thing."

Both tours played Stage AE last summer, with Sugar Ray's bash with Smash Mouth drawing a much bigger crowd.

Here is the info they sent out about the Summerland bands:

EVERCLEAR: With hits like the modern rock radio staples "Santa Monica," "Everything to Everyone," "I Will Buy You a New Life," "Father of Mine," and "Wonderful," Everclear has sold more than 9 Million albums globally. Fronted by Art Alexakis, Everclear remains a potent force on the touring circuit. Two years ago the band released Invisible Stars (2012), their first album of new material in six years.

SOUL ASYLUM: Soul Asylum is an American alternative rock band that formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1983. The band recorded three albums with Twin/Tone Records and two with A&M Records to little commercial success. However, in 1992, they released the triple-platinum album Grave Dancers Union, featuring their Grammy Award-winning single "Runaway Train". They also scored a platinum record with the album Let Your Dim Light Shine three years later. In 1998 they recorded Candy from a Stranger. In 2006 they released The Silver Lining. Their most recent effort is entitled Delayed Reaction, which was released July 2012.

EVE 6: Eve 6 is an American rock band from Southern California, who are most well known for their hit singles "Inside Out" and "Here's to the Night". They signed to Fearless Records in the spring of 2011, and released their long-awaited fourth album Speak In Code, containing the singles "Victoria" and "Curtain", in April 2012.

SPACEHOG: Spacehog mixed glam rock influences, including David Bowie and T. Rex, into their wall-of-distorted-guitars sound, a combination that helped the band make a modest dent in the late-'90s alternative rock scene. The quartet formed in New York City in 1993, following British drummer Jonny Cragg's move from Leeds to the Big Apple. Almost immediately after the lineup coalesced, Spacehog attracted the attention of Sire Records and their debut album, Resident Alien, was released by the label in 1995. "In the Meantime" became the band's first hit; attracting audiences in several countries while becoming a number one rock single in America. Three years later, Spacehog issued a third effort, entitled The Hogyssey.

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A Travel Mystery, solved

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

I received an interesting email from a reader this weekend, with the subject "A Travel Mystery." He wrote:

"On Saturday, March 1, Maestro [Gianandrea] Noseda was in the orchestra pit until 5:30 p.m. for a Met Opera performance of "Prince Igor". He was scheduled to be on the podium at Heinz Hall at 8:00 p.m. for a concert with the [Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra]. I assume he made it on time.

What are the logistics for getting from Lincoln Center in NYC to Heinz Hall in 2.5 hours?"

It is a good question, so I asked someone at the PSO about it. She wrote: 

"There was a private plane provided by the Met that took the Maestro to New York and back for his appearance there. The weather cooperated and the timing worked perfectly for him to be able to appear in both locations."

Good thing that the weather cooperated (for once this winter). Thanks for the interesting question!

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