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Empty Netter Assists - 01-10-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Brian Gibbons (right) was named to the AHL All-Star Game.

-Getting a one-way contract for the first time can be a significant milestone in a player's career.

-The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins released forward C.J. Severyn, a native of Beaver, from a professional tryout agreement.

-Mike Condon made 25 saves for the Wheeling Nailers in a 4-2 loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones.

-Happy 47th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Jeff Serowik. A free agent signing early in 1998-99, Serowik's Penguins career amounted to 26 games and six assists that season. A head injury midway through that season brought an end to his career. One of two natives of New Hampshire to play for the Penguins (Ben Lovejoy was the other), Serowik currently operates hockey camps throughout the United States.

-After the Jump: Craig Patrick joins the Sabres.

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"The Real Men of Topiary"

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog noah and lesterNoah Briel and Lester Bivens from Artisan Trellis make these rustic creations by hand. I enjoyed meeting them. Phots by Doug Oster

blog lightsI love this nice trellis, would you pay $26 for it? I would.When Noah Briel and Lester Bivens shake your hand, you know they use their hands for a living. They both offer a firm handshake and their hands are rough to the touch.

Noah started Artisan Trellis because he loved architecture, gardening and traveling. The traveling comes into play getting his work delivered around the country. "We make something that looks good for the plant as opposed to what fits in the UPS box," he says. They use special delivery trucks to get the art to the right place.

His designs are simple, wonderful and incredibly affordable. These hand made creations start as a straight pieces of solid steel and are worked into shape to form a variety of wonderful rustic garden accents.

Noah has a display at the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show and when I saw his work, it stopped me in my tracks. One of the most wonderful things about being a show like this is meeting people like Noah and Lester. There's a lot of cools stuff to see here, but there's something about this work which stands out.

In 1994, he was one of the first artists to work in rust, he says. The steel isn't painted, it's left to weather. He's had pieces along the coast of California which are unfazed by the salt spray.

Standing under one a giant trellis standing next to Lester, he said with a laugh,"We're the real men of topiary." But added, "that might be an oxymoron."

I have a feeling he'll be bringing his work to a nursery in Pittsburgh soon.

blog tightMore cool stuff from Artisan Trellis.

blog lights horz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The beauty of non-conference play

Written by Craig Meyer on .

RUMgame-1

At the risk of exaggeration, I'm not really sure there's anything comparable to non-conference play in college basketball. Much is made about how every game in college football matters -- though that's not necessarily the case -- and in professional sports, there's a sort of consistency to the schedule where games pretty much have equal importance  until teams start trying to capture playoff spots in the final few weeks.

But college basketball's different, especially when it comes to mid- and low-major teams like Robert Morris. If you look at things from a purely theoretical standpoint, a team could lose all of its regular season games and still make the NCAA tournament by simply winning its conference tournament. This isn't completely true, as the Ivy League's bid goes to its regular season champion and other leagues like the NEC only have the top eight-or-so teams make their conference tournament.

Still, the basic premise is the same -- league play, and particularly the conference tournament, is fundamentally all that matters, at least to some.

I touched on this notion a little bit for a story in today's paper and for that piece, I asked Andy Toole a question before Robert Morris' practice on Monday. Simply, with NEC play starting Thursday, is this when the season effectively begins?

His response:

“The season started 15 games ago. If you’re going to take the attitude that the season starts once conference play starts, then why do you even schedule the other games? It’s such a defeatist attitude, it’s unbelievable. The season’s been going on since August 28 when we had our first team meeting preparing for this year.”

Part of the problem with sports is that outside observers -- writers like myself, fans, etc. --  see the end result, but don't often witness all of the time and work that gets put into the product (i.e. a team). When your livelihood depends on the development of that team to succeed for an entire season, as is the case with Toole, every game matters. It's the same for players.

His point is an understandable one. For someone like Toole, whose job is a time-consuming one, it's a little insulting to say that only two months of that grind actually amount to anything.

But there's more to it.

Non-conference play is sort of a feeling-out-process, a two-month period in which teams can get accustomed to one another and improve in areas of need. It will never, or hardly ever, define a season, but it helps set the table for it. For a team like Robert Morris, there is a certain trace of hope in this reality. The Colonials have six new scholarship players on their roster this season, a number which has been well documented. As have their struggles trying to adjust to those changes.

Whether or not they actually learned or gained anything from these first 15 games remains to be seen. Not until the end of the season will we know what effect it might have had.

Though non-conference play may not be worthless for the sport's lower-level programs, league play presents a second chance for teams that need one. Robert Morris' non-NEC games all add up to something, whatever it may be at this time, but they don't necessarily get them closer to where every program like it aims to be at the end of the season -- the NCAA tournament.

It's unfair to say that the Colonials' season starts tonight, but it'd be delusional to say that these games don't mean more. At this point, the past lingers, but it's firmly behind the team. It's always with them, but it won't dictate how they do in the coming two months and if things start to break the right way for them (or if they get that whole defense thing figured out), they can end up where they hoped to all along. Or not.

And perhaps that's the beauty of it all.

 

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

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ICYMI: Ira Weiss, school district solicitor extraordinaire

Written by Kim Lyons on .

When PG photographer Larry Roberts took the picture for this article, Mr. Weiss proclaimed himself a "thorn between two roses." 

He's adding two women as named partners to his Downtown law firm, but isn't planning to retire anytime soon, he says. 

 

Ira Weiss adds two women to the firm's shingle

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Nuns' decline, resilience shown in documentary

Written by Peter Smith on .

In 1965, there were nearly 180,000 Roman Catholic nuns in the United States. By 2013, that number was barely 50,000, and large numbers of them are now elderly and receiving the kinds of health care that many of them once provided.

A new documentary premiering tonight on WQED-TV looks at the impact of that change in and around western Pennsylvania. It shows vacated motherhouses and other ministries once run by large religious orders. 

"I don’t know who is going to take up the slack," wonders one relative of a deceased nun, recalling the "dedication these sisters had."

Still, the documentary, "Change of Habit," focuses on the resilience of the remaining sisters.

 

"Instead of complaining about it or feeling sorry for yourself, you just reinvented yourself," said Sister Patrice Hughes of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill. "... Old nuns never retire, they keep plugging away."

"I do believe girls will come and embrace this charism," said Sister Catherine Meinert, provincial superior of the sisters of Charity.

The documentary goes behind razor wire of the maximum security prison in Greene County to portray Sue Fazzini, a Benedictine nun working as an addiction counselor; and Sister Lyn Szymkiewicz, a former religious-education administrator who works in a garden at the Sisters of St. Joseph's motherhouse in Beaver County, producing food for local pantries and honey products for the sisters' gift shop.

And it portrays the Franciscan Sisters of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother in Steubenville, Ohio, a small order but one countering trends by growing with an appeal to younger women wearing the traditional habit. Sister Rita Claire, a former woman's professional football player for the Detroit Demolition, admits religious life is harder than the gridiron because "in football you can run people over when you're mad. In religious life you have to die to yourself and listen to the Lord."

The documentary goes into impressive depth on the lives of religious women past and present. It doesn't delve in detail into the big question looming behind all this: Why? Why did such a central part of Catholic life in America, and in the Western world, suddenly go on a trajectory toward a small niche? Many people have their pet theories, and one could take a lot longer than this documentary to try to answer it. But it succeeds in its purpose of offering a rich portrait of those who do continue to answer the call to religious life.

The half-hour documentary, airing at 8 p.m. on WQED-TV, was created by reporter/producer Michael Bartley and photographer/editor Paul Ruggieri.

 

 

 

 

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