Hi,

The Pittsburgh Festival of Lights starts this Friday at dusk in the Cultural District.  Ross Ashton will be back with four displays, one Old Bones a tribute to the Carnegie Natural History is basically a T Rex light, Splendors is a take off of the exhibit at the Heinz History Museum with relics from the Vatican called “Vatican Splendors: A Journey Through Faith and Art”.  Also, Cascade and Hope are done by Ashton.  There’s going to be a number of local light displays throughout the Cultural District, they are even changing some regular lighting in the District and some local light artists will be having some displays.  Ashton was here last year and had some pretty stunning light sculptures.

Speaking of lights, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (kind of like a Chamber of Commerce) started our Light up Night a number of years ago.  They had the name copyrighted and have been charging other cities (cities right outside the official city limits) a hundred dollar fee to use the name.  They came under quite a bit of local criticism for this.  It was just in the paper that they are donating proceeds to Project Bundle Up with a matching contribution.  How do you say Egg on your Face?

The County has been trying to find a new life for the old County Fair Grounds in South Park.  The County has a number of very cool parks with wave pools, bison habitat, and lots of spaces for family reunions, graduation, anniversary, birthday and any other events parties.  When I was young, they held county fairs there each summer and I have a lot of fond memories of them.  They were very agricultural and even though I lived in the country, I wasn’t overly familiar with cows and things.  The county is looking for feedback as to what can be done with the old fair grounds.  If you have any suggestions, they can be made at www.alleghenycounty.us/parks/SPFairgrounds.

What a day.  It was supposed to be slow, not guests tonight, so I arranged to take Betty exploring on the T (the T is the light rail that travels the south hills into Pittsburgh).  Betty just move into senior house in Beechview, right on the T line and she’s been nervous about using it.  It’s  a great system that will take her within a block of Mt Lebanon’s business district, right past a large grocery store and assorted other little plaza kind of stores.  So we ended up taking it all the way to the end in Library, PA and back.  I also plugged all Betty’s kid’s phone numbers in her new cell phone and we practiced using it.  All of this took about four hours.  OMG, my phone never stopped ringing.  I swear I picked up twenty room nights today and just finished showing the Inn to a potential bride for next year and am showing it shortly for a potential Bar Mitzvah this year.  All this and I didn’t have my rez book with me.

I’m not sure what this says about me, but my apartment is inundated with stink bugs.  I’ve been reading about them in the paper for awhile now.  Yesterday I had to kill 20 (and I’ve put screens in the open windows).  And they are all at my apartment.  I’ve see maybe two in the Mansion.  My apartment is at the one end and very back of the property, so I’m assuming they are migrating over from my neighbor’s either next to me or behind me.  (I hope it’s not personal)  :)  As long as I don’t start having issues with them in the Inn, I’ll be OK with battling them in my space.

I had a wedding this past weekend.  It was a great event and everyone had a wonderful time.  After it was finished, I got my breakfast prep work finished and the kitchen put back together and it was a little after midnight.  I said good night the the group of wedding guests still hanging out on the Veranda and took da boiz up to bed.  I was in bed shortly after that and I thought that was the end of the story.  Since the weather has changed, I haven’t been diligent in latching the door going into my apartment.  The next morning, the guests that were on the Veranda until 3 a.m. told me RJ came down, opened the Ballroom door (that’s how we go upstairs) and partied with them.  After awhile, they figured he should go back up stairs, so they opened to Ballroom door and shooed him in  and latched the exterior Ballroom door.  He was gone for awhile and the next thing they knew, was he has the lace curtains pulled back on the Ballroom window that looks out on the Veranda and his paws are on the window sill.  So they let the party animal (pun intended) stay up with them until they went to bed.  Too funny.

Well, my last tour of the day just showed up, have a good night,

ed

Hi,

Welcome to the United Nations.  Of my four guest rooms sold last night, I have a lady from Columbia, a gentleman from Japan and a couple from India.  (The other foreign guests are from that foreign country Ohio).  :)  They’re all playing nice, why can’t we do this on a global scale?

What a beautiful day we’re having today.  It is the perfect Fall day, bright, sunny, low eighties.

OK, time for me to vent a bit, I haven’t in awhile.  This morning I read where Charles Munger the VP at Berkshire gave a speak at the University of Michigan.  He told the students the public should “suck it in” during the hard times, this while we the people are facing the largest foreclosure rate in history, joblessness is next to double digit, small businesses are collapsing and bankers are getting their multimillion dollar bonuses.  And I like Warren Buffet, I hope he has a chat with Munger.  Even if that disgusting opinion is his, he should never rub his arrogance in our faces.

On a lighter note, my good friend Myra (the one the gave me the baked oatmeal recipe) is taking the plunge.  Her and her husband Phil just purchased a functioning bed and breakfast near Harrisburg.  By functioning, I mean it has an active b& b license and the physical structures are in good shape.  The previous owner has already sold all the furnishings.  So besides dealing with all the legal things of starting a business, the marketing things of starting a business and the frilly things, they have to outfit the Inn.  Luckily for her (and me), she’s the one that’s editing my manuscript, so they should have some good basics on starting and running an Inn.  I guess that ends the editing process, though.  ):  But that’s OK, I love to see people going off on their own.  More to follow as I get updates.  They’re a great family (son Alex actually usually travels with her when she comes to PGH, Phil has to stay at home for his regular job) and I have the utmost confidence they will do well.

Getting ready for the winter, I inventoried all eight fireplaces to see what I need for this coming winter (one is missing the remote control box and three are missing the remotes).  The place I bought them in 2006 was a real PIA.  A nice lady, but only worked when she wanted to.  So I went to the Monessen web site and they don’t deal with retail customers.  They did have a nice feature that you put in your zip code and they list all the local distributors.  So I put my zip code in and she’s not even listed anymore.  But there’s one right down Ohio River Blvd, almost to Swickley. I went there with my information and the lady their looked my Monessen up and found the “kit” the has the remote control box and remote for $100.  She couldn’t find just a remote listed and said I was going to have to buy kits for all three fireplaces.  I politely threw a fit.  The remote was dropped and broken and I have to buy a whole new system?  That’s like telling me I broke the remote for my TV and I have to buy a whole new TV.  Her associate asked me if I’d like to pursue this further and I said absolutely (they obviously don’t know me).  So they called their distributor and he said I had to buy kits.  We decided to call Monessen directly.  Guess what, you don’t have to buy the kit.  You can buy the remote separate.  Their name is Comfort Living Fireplaces, if anyone needs a fireplace or fireplace insert, very nice people.

Well, I think that’s about it for today, have a great one,

ed

Hi,

I’m sold out this weekend and basically the next four weekends (I have one room left October 8 & 9 and one October 15 & 16).  Derronda’s here doing all the breakfast prep and checking guests in, so I have some free time.  I checked my rankings on the search engines and I dropped from the #1 spot on Google, but I’m still in the top five of Google, Yahoo, MSN, ASK and AOL.  Also, I always calculate how many visitors I’ve had each day since I last checked my rankings and I’m running on average 75 per day, AWESOME.

I’m taking Tree Tender classes to be a certified City Tree Tender.  The main purpose of this is so I can properly care for the two trees they’re planting in the new sidewalks in front of my Inn and I plan on planting two new trees in my parking lot.  I want to replace the purple plum that was so seriously damaged during Snowmageddon last February and plant a new tree in back of the parking lot by the kitchen window.  The main reason I am bringing this up is at the class, one of the instructors said the Urban Tree Forge is still in operation.  If you remember, I spoke of it several months ago.  John Metzler set up with the City to take trees they needed to cut down and recycle them into flooring, cabinets, sculpture, etc over in the Point Breeze are.  John was tragically killed by a rental truck that broke loose from the one towing it and hit John.  I just assumed Urban Forge was closed, but she said it was still in operation.

On a related note, Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest is having their yearly fund raiser at Guardian Storage Solutions, 2839 Liberty Avenue on October 29th from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m.  It’s $25 in advance and $30 at the door with all proceeds going to Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest.  The space is pretty interesting, it’s a 100 year old building that’s been completely remodeled with the high ceilings, refinished hardwood floors and brick walls.  They’re going to have local food and libations, a silent auction, a cello performance by Gordon Kirkwood, the Mon River Ramblers will be performing and incredible art work made from salvaged wood.  Artwork will be for sale.

Garden updates, the hibiscus I moved once and was doing so good is really stressing out, I think it’s the heat and dryness of this summer has finally gotten to it.  I spoke with my Hort friend Tony and that’s his call on it.  I have been watering them basically twice a week, but maybe that’s not been enough.  The banana that gets a lot of sun is huge, the other is still pretty small.  The white clematis on the arbor is this massive explosion of flowers.  I have a bunch of zucchini and tomato plants growing in my garden from last year’s compost.  Hopefully this year I’ve done better and the composting will be more effective and reduce the seeds down also.  A funny thing is I have grape tomatoes growing in my garden and I never use grape tomatoes.  Seed companies take different strong seed stock and hybrid them, I think this is the seeds reverting back to what they really were.

Well, I’m gonna run, take care,

ed

Hi,

OK Myra, you embarrassed me into dealing with the crystal chandelier in the dining room.  I replaced the burnt out bulb when I saw your comments. I’ve been reluctant to fix the  two unlit bulbs, because I thought I had to rewire the whole chandelier.   I’ve already done that with three others and this chandelier is the biggest, it’s Waterford crystal (the individual crystals have a W stamped on them) and the center piece over my breakfast table.  I didn’t want to get in the middle of fixing it, run into some problem and have to stop leaving my dining room unlit.   So today, I took one of the two that wouldn’t work apart and took the section you screw the bulb into out to Lighting by Eric in Mt Lebanon.  Lighting by Eric has some pretty exotic lighting fixtures, as well as some fairly generic offerings and furnishings.  But hugely, they have Moe.  Moe is their light repair person, he is a wealth of information, expertise and parts.  As soon as Moe looked at what I was holding, he said “That’s European, you just need an adapter”.  European bulbs are metric and so our bulbs don’t fit (Waterford Crystal‘s British).  So I bought four adapters (two for back up) and for the first time since I’ve owned it, all the bulbs are working.  Thanx Myra and good luck Saturday.

I’m a corporate sponsor for the Carnegies (small fish in a big pond), that’s how I get the discounted tickets.  As a corporate sponsor, I also get their quarterly magazine.  I haven’t seen the new dinosaur exhibit that’s just opened, but have been hearing rave reviews (both in the newspaper and my guests that have been there).  What I didn’t realize was that they took a courtyard and enclosed it for the new exhibit.  That should add some architectural interest to the exhibit and the reason I’m even commenting on it is it’s silver LEED certified.  Way to go Carnegies.  Apparently the Sports Works down at the Carnegie Science Center also has an LEED certification and that is the new standard for the Carnegies.

It’s amazing what the Carnegies own.  What you see when you visit the museums is just a fraction of their collections.  Everything you see is just a tiny fraction of other objects just like it they have in storage. Academicians from all over the world come here for research.   From art to fossils to jewelry and clothing.  They’ve pulled out a bunch of stuff on birds and have an exhibit that’s just opened where you pair yourself to a bird.  It’s one of those A vs B personality traits comparisons.  Some people are aggressive raptors and some are meek sparrows.  Must of us fall in between somewhere.  They’ve made this some what permanent in that they can package it up and move it to new locations.

The Warhol has a new exhibit that looks kind of interesting, if not a bit bizarre.  It’s called Ordinary Madness and it’s a whole slew of things from a drain, a stack of broken glass, targets, etc.  It was put together by Dan Byers, Carnegie’s associate curator of contemporary art.  He wants visitors to embrace and enjoy the unease that contemporary art can inspire.  Barry Paris, a long time PGH Post Gazette film critic is assembling an exhibition on Marilyn Monroe that starts the end of October.  Paris has done acclaimed biographies on Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn and Louise Brooks.

The Science Center’s new movie in the Imax theater will be based on photos taken by the Hubble  Telescope.    The pictures that have in the Fall Carnegie Magazine are pretty incredible.  It’s amazing what’s out there in our universe.

I see my last guests are pulling into the parking lot, so I have to run.  We’ll chat  soon again,

ed

Hi,

I haven’t blogged in awhile, so I thought I’d do a short blog explaining my absence of late and brag a bit.

Why is it I seem to loose employees right before a holiday.  It happened at Memorial Day and now Labor Day.  New hire Alyce actually started on Labor Day and is working in nicely.  She misses some details, but every room she cleans, she walks out of a clean room.  That’s my biggest priority, CLEAN.  So I’m very happy.  The details will come in time.  The Parador isn’t a Marriott, each room is unique and there’s a ton to remember.  So today is her one week anniversary and she’s in the Mansion alone.  I’ll go over shortly to check on her rooms, I’m sure if I find anything, it will be minor.

I use Papua New Guinea fair trade organic coffee.  Iron Star Roaster here in Pittsburgh roasts if for me.  I was running low on the in room coffee packets about a month ago, so I called them and ordered more.  They were out, but supposedly it was in route.  I spoke with Tim a number of times, the coffee was in LA, but held up in customs.  Tim kept calling his supplier for updates, he even started calling around to see if anyone else had the beans.  Finally they arrived last Friday late morning, he roasted them, packaged 50 in room packets, and two five whole been bags for me AND DELIVERED THEM AROUND 5 P.M.  Talk about customer service.  Their web site’s sort of week, but they’re great people and carry great products and they ship anywhere.

Now, to brag, The Parador Inn of Pittsburgh is now 100% HD.  All guest rooms have HDTV.  These new TV’s are so much lighter than the old style.  I replaced Ruellia’s 32″ with a new HDTV and carried the new TV up with one hand and the new DirecTV box in the other.  I really struggled getting the old monster down those stairs (and then down the basement stairs).  Anyone want one or three analog TV’s for free?  Too late, I just donated them and the old style DirecTV boxes to Goodwill.

Busy last couple of weeks.  Two weeks ago we had a Steeler’s home game on Thursday and then Labor Day weekend.  I was sold out for four nights.  This past weekend, the Steelers played Sunday and the few guests room that weren’t booked for three nights, I sold those rooms on the open nights and ended up sold out for three nights this weekend.  Yeah.  :)  Also, I’m sold out the next five weekends.  Nina & Jeff are getting married this weekend (not here) and are housing their guests here and the following weekend I’m hosting Jamie & Randy’s wedding (they live right over on the Mexican War Streets).  Then there’s two more Steeler home games and the other weekend is just sold out for no particular reason other than everyone loves to come and visit me.  :)

By the way, I believe I’ve talked about my search engine ranking.  I have been diligently working on improving my ranking.  Most all of my business comes from the web.  When I was in Florida, I was happy with 30 visits a day to my web site.  When I moved up here, I kept my web page.  I went from being The Parador of the Palm Beaches to The Parador of Pittsburgh.  Well, talk about messing with the search engines.  At one point, Google dropped me totally (I did a search “bed breakfast pittsburgh pa” and stopped looking after 1,000 listings).  At the same time, Yahoo had me in the 200′s.  A guest stayed here and he was pretty knowledgeable about web pages and we did a barter thing and he definitely helped.  Kevin brought me to within 100 in Google and Yahoo was around 150.  Then he got me to Google within twenty and Yahoo 60.  I was the half way point between Kevin and his girlfriend.  They’ve since broke up and I haven’t seen him in a year (we E-mail periodically, if you’re reading this Kevin, I still owe you a weekend).  My printer Vollkommen hired this fantastic web guy, Kirk.  Since Kirk and myself reworked my web site, I’ve been in the top five of Google, MSN, ASK and AOL.  PIA Yahoo has kept me between 20 and 30.  Last week when I did my weekly search Google HAD ME IN THE #1 SLOT AND I’VE BEEN THERE SINCE.  Sorry for shouting, I’m just supper excited.  Yahoo has even had me in the top five lately.  If you depend on your web site to drive business, I definitely recommend contacting Joe (owner of Vollkommen) and have them look at your site.

And this was going to be a short blog?

Frustration.  I swear, when I find something I like, they drop it from production.  I’m not against change and improvements, but they seem to drop excellent products and replace them with these new products that don’t live up to the old.  When I was in Florida, there was this lo flo water conservation shower head call Euro Flow sold at HomeDepot, I haven’t seen it in years.  All the ones I see now have all these bells and whistles and don’t give have the added pressure these little babies did (I still have one in my shower, they last).  All of my ceiling fans/lights have two pull chains, one for the fan and one for the light.  I like consistency, I have a dolphin for the fan and a seahorse for the light (get it sea/seehorse).  I can’t find the seahorses anymore.  I’ve had this dust pan on a stick for a number of years.  Two years ago it developed a crack and I started looking for a replacement.  Lots of dust pans you bend over with, lots of lobby pans (the ones that fold up when you lift them from the floor), but for two years I haven’t been able to find a dust pan that doesn’t fold up.  Blankets, I have used the same blankets on my beds for years, I love them.  The cloth is solid and fuzzy with satin borders.  They are long enough that they reach from the pillow to the foot of the bed and can be tucked under the mattress.  The sides drape nicely over the mattress and are comfortably covered by the bed spread.  Out of desperation, I have bought retail micro fiber blankets (that don’t fit properly), blankets that sort of look like bed spreads and other frustrating excuse for blankets.  I went to Atlantic City Delaware last winter to a trade show trying to find what I want.  Did hook up with a commercial distributor, Mills Distributing and thought I had things covered (pun intended).  Well, we’ve been back and forth for months now and I still don’t have my blankets.  One of my watering cans has a small leak, so I was at Lowe’s two weeks ago and the closest thing I could find to what I wanted, I bought.  When I got home and filled it with water, I had to use two hands to carry it because of how the handle was cutely positioned, the weight of the water pulled the nose down and the water would pour out if you grasped it anywhere on the handle with one hand.  I hope it’s looking cute back on Lowe’s shelf.

OK, I’ll quit whining, for now.  With Alcyce, you should be seeing more of me here.

bye,

ed

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