This weekend is the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500.  I didn’t realize they were racing cars in 1911!  It is the anniversary of the Connemaugh Dam bursting due to heavy rains causing the Johnstown Flood (1889), birth anniversary of Don Ameche (1908), Norman Vincent Peale (1898) and Walt Whitman (1819).  It is also the anniversary of the copyright law being passed (1790) and the first airing of Seinfeld (1990).

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy are the people that plant all the flowers around the City.  They’re having a hard time, as most non profits are these days.  Their individual donations have fallen off 22% last year, corporate donations has dropped 9%.  They lost 50% of their RAD funding since RAD’s income is based on the 1% added sales tax in Allegheny County and that was way down last year.  The good news is RAD’s income is coming back up and they’ve had a jump in volunteers of 20%.  If you have time or money to help them out, visit their web site or call 412.288.2777.

Lisa Lampanelli recently had a show in Topeka, KS and heard the Westboro Baptist Church planned to protest her show, she decided to donate $1,000 to the Gay Men’s Health Crisis organization for each protester that showed up.  44 protesters showed up and so she send 44 checks for a thousand dollars.  Which means Westboro got 44 thank yous from the GMHC.  Too funny.

Bill Vorn’s having a free exhibit at the Wood Street Galleries, “Bill Vorn: Hysterical Machines” through June 19.  There are two full-room installations that showcase two dozen of his creations.  Vorn, a Canadian artist and professor at Concordia University has been working with robots since 1992.  These robots, hanging from the ceiling, are writhing, gyrating and otherwise clamoring machines.  He explains it may not be art, but then it is entertainment and he’s fine with that.  They even react to stimuli generated by patrons.  More info can be found at their web site or by calling 412.471.5605.

Gill Scott-Heron passed away on Friday.  I was a big fan of his in the 70’s.  Actually, when I started paying closer attention to Reggae, when I first heard Luciano, I thought he was Mr. Heron.  Something I learned in his obituary is he was frequently referred to as the god father of rap.  I haven’t heard anything of his of late, but his music in the 70’s didn’t sound at all like rap.

There’s a web site focused on helping Vet’s in business find more business.  Buy Veteran is a national organization and they list by city.  Click the link to see Pittsburgh businesses owned by Pittsburgh Veterans (I’m one).  I was just at the web site and found several I intend to follow up on.

OK, call me weird.  I just read a fairly detailed interview with Ajay Banga, the CEO of MasterCard.  As anyone that knows me, I’m way anti big.  So MasterCard doesn’t fit in with my normal ramblings.  But he made I point I really enjoyed.  His focus is not to steal business from Visa, AMEX, Discover, etc.  He says 85% of all world wide transactions are in cash and that is the market segment he is after.  One of the initiatives he’s working on is in India, they are working on a system of doing transactions through finger prints.  It would be a lot more cost effective having finger print reading machines around that your typical credit card processing machines.  Just thought it was an interesting take.

Have a great Memorial Dan and thank a Vet,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of the evacuation of Dunkirk, France (1940) where they safely evacuated all the British, French and Belgium soldiers across the English Chanel in any and every kind of water craft in the face of the vastly superior German forces.  It is also Al Jolson’s birth anniversary (1886) and Julia Pierpont Day, in West Virginia Julia started Decoration Day in 1866 which eventually grew and evolved into the Federal Memorial Day.

PNC bank announced they were the ones buying up property along Wood Street between Fifth and Forbes Avenue recently and are building a 43 story office tower.  This is because they have grown so much since acquiring National City Bank.  Their processing center, Firstside Center, down by First Avenue was the largest greenest building when it opened in 2000.  They are shooting for this to be the greenest skyscraper on the planet when it opens in 2015.  As you know, I hate big, but I do have to take my hat off to them for this goal.  🙂

Mr Proponent of small businesses had two set backs.  ):  I hired Arborel Tree Service last fall to replace my purple plum tree in the parking lot that was so damaged in the snowmeggedan event February 5, 2009.  I got three prices on replacing the plum tree and adding another tree in the back of the parking lot.  Arborel had a competitive bid and I liked their suggestions on replacement trees.  Afterward, anytime I called their phone number listed in the Yellow Pages, it always went to VM and they never called me back.  I ended up getting snippy in the VM because of this.  There’s a cell number listed on their business card that they did answer.  So if I didn’t have that business card close, I would waste my time leaving a message.  When I did get a hold of them, they were very nice and apologize.  Only to not answer my next message.  Why did I keep calling them?  Because when I finally would speak with someone, they’d say “The tree should be in in two weeks and we’ll be out then.”  In two weeks no tree, no update, nothing.  And we would go through this routine again.  When they finally did show up with the trees, they did a nice job planting the trees and the trees were of a nice size.  But they dug the holes and planted the trees in the rain.  So how did they clean my parking lot?  With a leaf blower.  Leaf blowers aren’t very effective with mud.

Now for the small business that got my goat yesterday.  I need tile for the construction work going on in the Carriage House.  So I went down to Architectural Clay Products, right over the hill from me.  When I entered their show room, and the one clerk there was on her computer, she never looked up, she never spoke.  There was a contractor there laying some display tile and he spoke.  I was looking for original subway tile, with square sides instead of rounded.  I didn’t see it, so I went up to the clerk, who at this point was talking to another clerk that had arrived.  They looked at me, no one greeted me.  I told them what I was looking for and the original clerk said she knew what I was looking for, but she didn’t work the day before and another employee didn’t put the catalog back where it belonged.  The new clerk came around the counter and started doing some slightly inappropriate scratching.  When she saw the look of bafflement on my face, explained she had surgery lately.  The first clerk continues to complain about people not putting things back where they belong.  So clerk #2 says there’s a sample of what I’m probably looking for on a cart in the back room.  Clerk #1 and myself went back to look and it is what I was looking for.  We come back out and I explained I was also looking for more authentic bull nose tile.  Clerk #1 complains no one puts catalogs back where they belong and proceeded to show me the back of a sample display that had tiny sketches of what normally came with the bull nose.  I then asked the dumb question, I guess.  I asked them to quote me a price for the tile.  Clerk #1 said ABOUT $2 a square foot and clerk #2 said ABOUT $2.30 a square foot.  I don’t consider ABOUT to be a quote.

For those of you that still haven’t been to the Pittsburgh Public Market in the Terminal Building in the Strip, here’s another vendor worth checking out, Chris Johnston’s Blighty.  He specializes in pasties (pronounce the a like in fast), flaky dough with fillings, looking somewhat like calzones.  This form of British food dates all the way back to the 11th century, but became very popular in the 19th century with tin miners and others that got their hands dirty.  They would eat this “sandwich” to the edges where their dirty hands held it and throw the edges away.  Pretty interesting history.

Pittsburgh’s first distillery in about a century, Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries, in Glenshaw has been open since 2008.  Pennsylvania Pure makes Boyd & Blair Vodka.  A new distillery Wigle Wishkey will be in the Wool Company’s first floor space by 24th and Smallman Streets (by the new Otto Milk Condo’s).  This is a family afair, Dad & Eric are the main movers and distillers, brother in law Alex will be the #2 distiller, Marry Ellen (mom) will be in charge of marketing, brother Jeff will be librarian and museum curator (they plan on opening a museum in their space talking about the history of distillery and whiskey.  Having grown up right down the street from Mingo Creek Church, one of the centers for the Whiskey Rebellion, I’ve always been interested in it), and sister Meredith (Alex’s wife) will be co-marketer.  Meredith and Alex founded Burgh Bees). I grew up in Washington County, right down the road from Mingo Creek Church, one of the main planning places for the Whiskey Rebellion. The name of their whiskey, Wigle is named after Phillip Wigle, one of two men convicted of treason for the Whiskey Rebellion and hanged in 1794.

Antiques on Washington in Bridgeville make signature hand crafted kitchen islands and dining room tables from reclaimed barn wood.  Each piece is a unique piece of art for you to enjoy and enjoy showing off.  It will be one of those pieces that always spark conversation.

Well, that’s about it for today, have a great evening,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of the founding of the Anti-Saloon League (1893), the first baseball game played under lights (1935), the Brooklyn Bridge opened (1883), it is the International Tiara Day and the anniversary of Morse opening his first telegraph line (1844).

Oh my, it’s been almost a week since I last posted.  Time flies when you only have one housekeeper.  Quey started today, she seems like she’s going to fit in well.  She definitely was a quick learner.  And she was taking initiative.  In her first room, while I was on the first floor, she figured out how to fold the “basket” for our toilet paper presentation.  I’m excited.

The free concert series,”Final Fridays” returns to the Allegheny Court House courtyard from noon to one.  The kick off for May will be Madie George, June 24 will be CAPA Jazz: Past, Present and Future, July 29 will be The Vagrants and August 26 will be neo-soul pop artist Joy Ike.

From the ashes of big box book stores spring small businesses.  Mike Paper (no kidding on the name) is the Prez of Bradley’s Books with locations  in Macy’s 9th floor Downtown, Station Square, Greentree Road Shopping Center, Penn Avenue in the Strip, Zombieland Century III Mall, the Washington Crown Center and malls in Uniontown, Indiana and Youngstown.  What they do is offer major books highly discounted.  They do this by buying remainders-big box and on line sellers make most of their money on 10% of their inventory, when the hardback comes out in paperback, they have all these books that aren’t moving.  They also buy “hurt” books, volumes returned to stores for various reasons that may have scuffed pages, etc.  Most of his books are half off the listed recommend retail.  So Bradley’s carries the recent (not necessarily the newest) and a lot of other books like large print, cook books, etc.  Mike Bradley Paper (hence the name) got into book selling by accident.  His father, an attorney was handling the liquidation of six Atlantic Book Stores and reopened what they figured had the best chances or success (this was in 1993).  Mike has malls calling him to open stores because malls like the clientele bookstores bring.

There’s a new exhibit at the Society for Contemporary Craft (in the Strip) that looks pretty interesting.  Lia Cook, Mariko Kusumoto and Anne Drew Potter are the latest in the Bridge exhibit.  CC started the Bridge exhibits in 1988 to show how unrelated craft styles work together.  Lia, from Berkeley, photo shops old pictures and then with a Jacquard loom making tapestries of these images.  There are ten on display.  Mariko, from Lexington, MA, works in metal and she has a hand held jewelry box she made on display and in it are pins and brooches she made.  Some of them are sort o Salvidor Dali isk. Then there’s Anne (put her first name and middle name together and you get Andrew :)-I bet I know her parents first names.)  She is a potter from Berkley as well.  Her installation is titled The Captain’s Congress and is 15 distorted female figures arranged in a circle and take on every imaginable human characteristic as they appear twisted and enraged in a heated discussion.  The exhibit is scheduled through October 22, so you have plenty of time to see it from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Saturdays.  More info on their web site or call 412.261.7003.

Today, we’re going to look at Oleander.  This was the original master bedroom, if you look up at the border by the ceiling, that is original to the house, from the 1800’s.  The first picture is the before, I really didn’t do a

lot to this room.  It had the old canvas wall paper all over which I removed, patched the walls and painted.  I added a shower in the bathroom that ended up causing some issues.  To get my Occupancy for the seven double occupancy guest rooms, I had to do a number of things.  One was to create a second means of egress in case of a fire.  If you notice the mirrored door (to the left of the screens in the first picture and kitty cornered in front of the love seat in the second picture), that is the closet for Oleander.  At the back of that closet, is another door that goes into Bougainvillea.  It is on the fire system, if the fire alarm ever goes off, the dead bolt on the door releases so guests in the front have access to the back stairs and guests in the back have access to the front stairs.  Well, under the tub/shower of Oleander is a junction box for the fire system and when it gets wet, it sets the fire alarm off.  This has happened three times.  I not only very clearly point this out when I give new guests a tour of their room, it is also in their welcome letter.  Since making such a point of it, the fire alarm hasn’t gone off because of this in almost a year.  The ceiling light fixture is pretty amazing.  I have seen them around at antique sales/stores, in houses, etc.  Seldom have I seen one as intact as that one.  I am afraid to touch it for fear of knocking some of the strings off.  The wall sconces on either side of the window seat are pretty incredible as well, I don’t know for a fact, but I believe they are Murano.  Have you ever heard of the term “boulevard shopping”?  Picking up other peoples discards from the street.  That trunk at the foot of the bed I relatively recently found in the trash.  I removed the beat up canvas, refinished the wood, painted the metal strappings and cleaned the interior.  It holds the extra pillows and blanket for the guest room.  The end tables I bought at Karin’s in West Palm Beach.  Unfortunately, she closed two years ago.  You’ll find pieces from her store all over my place.  I loved it.  She’d go down to Mexico an bring back trailers full of stuff.  All the ceramic wall art in Bougainvillea is from her, the round table in the sun room and many other pieces.  The green ceramic tiles over the fireplace are pretty amazing, you need to see them in person to appreciate them, they are original (the wooden mantel, Joedda, the previous owner put in).

One day, I’m going to feature my “artwork”, the green tissue box on the night table has my renderings of fish.  As long as people can tell the difference between my fish and my birds, I’m happy.  They are fun.  I also have some more serious faux finished furniture and mosaics.

Have a great evening and tomorrow,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling of Brown vs Board of Education in 1954, it’s the anniversary of the first Kentucky Derby (1875), first same sex marriage in US (Massachusetts 2004) and the establishment of the New York Stock Exchange (1792).

OK, I haven’t whined in awhile (I checked).  🙂  I work hard and benefit from my labors.  Although I don’t really draw a salary, my asset, The Parador, had been steadily increasing value.  I don’t deserve the compensation someone with more responsibility like the CEO of Ford Motor, nor do I deserve the compensation someone with more education than I deserve, like a brain surgeon.  I understand that there needs to be people that earn/make more money than others.  Not to disrespect a fry cook at McDonald’s, but I think I deserve higher compensation than he/she receives.  But ……….. West Penn Allegheny Hospital CEO Christopher Olivia received a 40% increase in compensation from 2008 to 2009.  This is while “steering” his company through difficult financial times at a consistent loss.  And I’m not saying a consistent loss that keeps getting smaller either.  Through his leadership, the hospital system is doing worse and he’s getting better compensated, to the tune of 40% raise in one year!!!!!!!!!

Oh no, I’m not finished.  John Cavanaugh makes (notice I didn’t say earns) $27,500 Chancellor PA Higher Ed System; James Preston makes $319,999  CEO PHEAA; Scott Miller makes $290,000 Director of Federal relations; Alan Van Noord makes $269,302 Public School Retirement System Chief; David Werner makes $253,428 as Indiana U President; Greg Weinsenstein makes $241,935 as West Chester U President and Angelo Armenti makes $227,160 Cal U President.  I doubt you want me to continue listing the 3,600 PA state workers making more then $100,000.  I high lighted our educational system that is “broke” and need more tax dollars from me to survive.

No, I’m not finished (almost though).  PA Judiciary has been whining they need more money.  This is when record numbers of citizens are loosing their homes, PA Basic care has closed because of lack of funding, need I say more on this point?  If you remember, these are the same scoundrels that accepted the midnight pay raise that was later revoked for the legislature and they claimed because of separation of powers, they didn’t have to give their illegal (or at least immoral) raises back.  In the last six years, their payroll has increased 20 percent.  Supreme Court Chief Justice Castille is the third highest paid justice in the country.  Yeah, lets give him more money.

For those of you filling your summer schedules, the Three Rivers Arts Festival is scheduled from June 3 through June 12.  Pride in the Streets Fest kicks off Pride Fest with a street party again on Liberty Avenue on June 11.  And then it’s Pride Fest on June 12.  Three Rivers Regatta is Fourth of July weekend.  The Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District will be held July 15.  The Pittsburgh Blues Festival is out at Hartwood Acres again on July 22-24.  The Oakmont Yacht Club Regatta is being held the same weekend (July 22 – 24).  Pittsburgh’s Vintage Grand Prix is again being held in Schenley Park right after (July 23 & 24).  African Arts in the Park will be held August 13 in Point State Park.  Pittsburgh’s Renaissance Festival is being held the end of August and beginning of September in West Newton.  18th Annual Pittsburgh Irish Festival will be held in West Homestead from September 9 – 11.  A Fair in the Park will be in Mellon Park September 9 – 11, is sponsored by Craftsman’s Guild of Pittsburgh.

There’s a ton of concerts this summer.  Altar Bar in the Strip has a ton of smaller events, as does Brillobox in Bloomfield, Mr Small’s in Millvale, Diesel on the Southside, the Rex Theater also on the Southside, Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville, Pepsi-Cola Roadhouse in Burgettstown, Trib Total Media Amphitheater on the Southside, First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown, Hartwood Acres and South Park Amphitheater.  Heinz Field is hosting U2, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley and Kenny Chesney.  Stage AE has a ton of concerts scheduled, but they don’t seem to think they need a web site.

The James Street Gallery & Event Space is for sale, $975,000 for any of you with some pocket change and want a new venue.  They have a ballroom, conference room, gallery, auditorium and dance studio with off street parking.  It is very cool space, I think $1M’ s a bit high, though.


Tomorrow’s the Pittsburgh Marathon, and the course is right in front of The Parador again.  It is Brian Eno’s birthday (1948), the anniversary of the release of woman’s nylon stockings (the first totally man made fiber by Du Pont), Lyman Baum’s birth anniversary (1856) he wrote the Wizard of Oz series, the most famous became the film The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  but he wrote may other children’s books and many featured the Wizard of Oz.

So Ashton Kutcher is replacing Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men.  I’ve never seen Two and a Half Men, but I’ve followed Sheen’s recent exploits.  I think it’s kind of funny.

OK, they’ve found a new way to torture me.  I don’t know what’s causing it, but I keep getting these phone calls where the person on the other end asks for someone by name and there is no one with that name staying here.  The one thing in common is it’s always one of those on-line schools.  Their phone number is never blocked, they are always professional and politely apologize for any inconvenience.  Usually they ask for a different name each time (sometimes they will ask for the same person, but it’s from different schools.)  Any of my longer term blogging fans might remember the last annoyance with the phone I complained about.  I would get calls at the same time (usually around 10 a.m. and then around 2 p.m.) from the same phone number and when I would answer, not one said a word and the call was terminated.  Once I realized it was the same number and the same time of day, I quit answering it and the calls stopped.  (This has happened occasionally for the past two years.  It will be the same number until I quit answering it, then it quits.  Several months later it will start again, but with another phone number).  Weird.

Tis the season for house and garden tours.  The Ligonier Valley Home Tour is 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on June 18th, admission is $30 (discounted if tickets are purchased before June 12).  Visit their web site or call 724.238.9030 for more information.  The Mount Lebanon Library Garden tour is scheduled July 10 from noon until 5 p.m.  This self guided tour lets you meet with the local gardeners, Penn State Master Gardeners and Pittsburgh Rose Society members.  Tickets are $20 ($15 if purchased in advance and more information can be found at their web site or 412.5311912.  Brighton Heights Chocolate House Tour is back in conjunction with KS Kennedy Floral and Gourmet.  No silly, the houses aren’t chocolate, the houses have gourmet chocolate you can sample.  The tours are June 12 from noon until five and cost $15 ($10 if purchased prior to June 11).  More information can be found at 412.734.0233 or their web site.  The Botanic Garden’s Open Garden Tour is $55 ($110 if you opt for the bus tour).  The 14 gardens can be toured on June 26 from 8:30 until 5.  More information at 412.444.4464 or their web site.  Phipps Conservatory is spicing their summer show up with having local artists create works of art out of recycled materials showing “Living Harmoniously with Nature” is possible.  It runs today through September 27 and their normal operating hours and prices are in effect.  Here’s something that’s not a garden tour, but will offer a unique view of the City, Venture Outdoors will be hosting a moonlight kayaking excursion, this Tuesday.  The cost is $35, reservations are required and it takes off from Washington’s Landing from 7:30 until 10.  More information is at their web site or 412.255.0564.

Available at the Pittsburgh Public Market, in the Terminal Building in the Strip is Clarion River Organics.  This food is organically grown by an Amish collective up in the Clarion River area.  Now how, you might ask, do Amish have a web site, or get their food all the way down here?  Well there’s a marketing group that’s doing all the things the Amish won’t for them (at a fee of course).  They are offering organic vegetables, meats and cheeses.  The one Amish farmer they interviewed has 15 children and 20 grandchildren working his farm with him.  🙂

GE’s building a brand new manufacturing facility in Fort Worth, TX to make locomotive cars.  They’re spending $96M, between the new jobs and 250 new jobs at their Erie plant, their locomotive work force will swell to over 10,000 employees.

Have a good night and a great tomorrow,



Tomorrow is Stevie Wonder’s b’day (1950), the anniversary of the official start of the Mexican War (1846) where we lost 11,300 troops and ended up annexing Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Utah, California, and Colorado.  It is also the anniversary of the Philadelphia dropping the bomb on the headquarters of the radical MOVE which concluded with eleven people dead (1985).

Lots of brightly colored tents around da ‘burg lately.  Cirque du Soleil has set up shop behind the Terminal Building in the Strip with a very vivid tent.  And over in Oakland, in conjunction with Pittsburgh’s International Children’s Festival, the Labyrinthine Luminarum is set up.  This 200,000 square foot tent is a brightly colored labyrinthine for kids to play in.

How about those two restaurants in Southside’s Works with the rodent problems.  ):  The board of health stopped counting rodent droppings after they reached about 1,000.  Gross.

Today, we’re going to look at the before and afters of Allamanda.  the first image is the before of the bedroom.  If you look closely, on your left side of the bed’s foot board, there’s a round knob missing.  When I bought the property, the bed was made into a California queen (longer than standard) and the job was pretty shabby.  The bed rocked all over the place.  Grimes Interiors was doing some other work repairing pieces of furniture for me and I brought Dwayne up and asked him to make new side rails so the bed was again a standard sized queen.  I indicated the missing knob and suggested he remove the two off the armoire in the living room (see the forth picture, there’s two over either side of the mirror).  We could then put something similar on the armoire and no one would notice.  Dwayne said, “Oh no, we’ll just carve a new one.”   I’ve had wood workers go back and forth trying to find a flaw in the new knob and not able to find it. The carving and coloring are identical to the originals.  There still are craft people around.  The third picture is the other side of the bedroom (I never got a before of the living room).  If you notice that little bench under the book case in that third picture, that is actually heated.  When Mr. Rhodes had the house built, he had three heated seats (with hot water pipes underneath).  The one in Allamanda and the two window seats in Chenille and Oleander.  In the fourth picture, shows how crazy I am.  🙂  On the left, you can see the corner of the desk and I had the sleep sofa between the windows.  So my guests had to sit on the one side of the couch to watch television (which is hidden in that armoire).  This was because if I put the couch where the desk is, it would partially block that narrow useless closet you see in the fifth picture.  I hated the idea of blocking a door, thinking that it would look odd.  For two years, I tortured my guests.  Finally, you can see how I broke down and placed the couch where it should be in the fifth picture.  This is like the dilemma I had in Bougainvillea with the sleep sofa in that room.  See blog dated April 17.

Have a great day,



Tomorrow’s the Astor Place Riot anniversary (1849).  A British actor, William Charles Macready was performing Macbeth at the Astor Place Opera House and complained about the “vulgarity” of the American life.  Led by American actor Edwin Forrest, angry crowds rioted smashing windows, etc.  The riot was quelled by troops and 22 people were killed and 26 injured.  Better think twice before complaining about the way we dress.  🙂

How energy efficient is your house?  The non profit EfficiencyPA is looking for a few homes to take part in a home energy efficiency audit.  Participants will get a home energy savings kit from Duquesne Light and be audited by Federal Department of Energy.  Hopefully, several will be named Home Energy Heroes.  Dead line for registering is May 25.  More info at their web site.  Awards will be given at the Allegheny County Green and Innovation Festival at Hartwood Acres on October 8.

I’ve heard of a bed in a box, but a bath in a box?  Yes, Bath Simple has a web site that lets you design you’re own bathroom and they then send you all the “parts” in a box (I assume multiple boxes).  Hire one of their installers, your own installer or if you’re handy, do it yourself.  You can put the old “parts” back in the box and send it to Bath Simple for recycling.  Kind of weird, kind of different.

They are giving free admission to the Clayton and the Frick on May 18 as part of National Museum day.  Reservations are strongly recommended.  More info at 412.371.0600 or their web site.

I don’t understand how anyone can own a business these days and not have the best web site they can afford, particularly in my business.  I just finished a project for the Bed and Breakfast Association of Western PA, of which I’m a member.  I’m co-chair of the membership committee and took it upon myself to find Bed and Breakfasts from Centre County west that don’t belong to our association.  I came up with 130 through various searches (I’m sure there’s a lot of other Inns I missed).  Almost a third of them don’t have web sites of their own.  Some just have listings on places like Yelp, Manta, Google Places, etc.  All very good sources of potential guests, but you need your own web site that conveys all the information someone deciding where to stay need.  While I’m ranting about this, it’s amazing how many of those web sites I did go to that do not have ez e-mail.  Some make you fill out a form and some just plain don’t have e-mail on their site, the only way to contact them is by snail mail or phone call.  When I started my on line reservation system, my very first reservation through it was for a one night stay, mid week from a couple touring America from Australia. I guarantee I never would have seen them if they had to book via a phone call or snail mail request.   Then there’s my favorite pet peeve, when you go to the the effort to find a particular web site, a page appears with a picture and an Icon that says “Click Here to Enter”.  OMG, I just went to all this effort to find you, now you want me to Click Here?  Guess who never Clicks Heres?  🙂

What brought this tirade up (besides my quest for new Inn members)  is there’s two things I was planning on talking about and neither have a web site.  There’s an Inn that has recently opened in Sistersville, WV.  It’s a pretty big place, the article I read on them didn’t give the number of rooms, but I can tell it’s pretty big.  I don’t believe it’s an overly fancy Inn, but they don’t have a web site.  They have 49 reviews on their Google Places, they even have one review from the United Kingdom!  But no web site!  Here’s an article in today’s Trib if you want more info.

Finally, the Muddy Cup Coffee in Bellevue has just expanded to the corner of East Ohio and Cedar Avenues over here on the Northside.  They are in the space formerly occupied by JR’s Bar, a long time nuisance bar.  Renee Tokar now has two coffee shops and no web site!  Again, I can do a Google search and find out that they exist.  I can even find out details about them, but no site (or sites since there’s two).  Renee seems to be trying to set herself apart from the other Northside coffee shops Crazy Mocha, Buena Vista and Amani.  She is encouraging professional and amateur musicians to stop by and play, practice or play.  To keep my theme going about whining about web presence, I read about the Muddy Cup in this month’s Northside Chronicle.  When I went to THEIR web site to link to the article like I just did with the Trib, the article doesn’t appear on the Chronicle’s site.

OK, I’m going to stop whining now, I’m going outside to enjoy this courgeous day.  I hope you can get outside as well,



Tomorrow is Peter Tchaikovsky’s birth anniversary (1840), Johnny Unitas birth anniversary (1933-born in Pittsburgh), the anniversary of the first Presidential Inaugural Ball (1789-Prez Washington) and the anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania (1915).

There’s quite the trend of locals trying to save their local single screen theaters.  The Dormont’s deco Hollywood Theater is opening this weekend.  They don’t seem to have a web site yet and the article in the Trib was missing a lot of needed information (like contact phone number, hours of operation, etc).  But anyway, in celebration of re-opening, they are offering free movie screenings this weekend of a mix of classic silent films and cult classics.  Night of the Living Dead, by Pittsburgh’s George Romero, is one of the films this weekend.  The non profit Denis Theater Foundation is trying to raise $4.5M to reopen the 1930’s Denis Theater that closed 7 years ago in Mt Lebanon.  There’s The Strand in Zelienople (built in 1914 and recently reopened in 2009) and the Valley Players in Ligonier (built in 1920).  The Valley Players has survived by offering a mix of film, comedy, musical theater and musical tributes for musicians such as Johnny Cash and the Rat Pack.

There’s a new temporary bookstore over in East Liberty, called (and I love their name) Fleeting Pages.  It’s in the old Border’s bookstore and will be open Monday’s through Saturdays 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. and 10 a.m. until 7 p.m Sundays.  Jody Morrison moved back to Pittsburgh and is living in none other than Mayor John Fetterman’s Braddock.   Mayor Fetterman is the creative mayor trying to bring this formal steel town back to life  has actually made it into Wikipedia.  Jodi is trying to encourage purchasing local and unknown authors as well as other  independent book sellers like Caliban Book Shop in Oakland and Wilkinsburg and the Big Idea Bookstore in Bloomfield.  Fleeting Pages is a new trend in New York and overseas of small independent book sellers.  Go and support local and non big box. Did I say I love the name?

We’re going back to my before and after project:  here’s Bird of Paradise.  The first two pictures show the wall to wall carpet (I hate wall to wall carpet, the few times I patronize a big box hotel, I always have slippers or flip flops to walk on the carpet) and horrid wall paper.  You can also see the old gas insert I removed and replaced with a Monesson.  The chandelier is now in the middle dining room.  The next two pictures are the current room.  The floor is bamboo and drapes are these really cool tapestry tropical drapes I bought from the previous owner with birds sewn in the fabric.  If you notice that last picture, the focal point has quite a story.  When I was in Florida, I found this super cool pecky cypress door at a salvage yard.  I was building my last room, African Tulip and needed a closet, so I bought the door and framed the closet in to handle that door.   When I sold The Parador of the Palm Beaches, the buyer was going to level the property and build townhouses, so I took anything worth saving.  This door was sitting in the Ballroom up here after I moved here and wasn’t working out for anything I thought of (I still loved [love] that door).  Bird of Paradise was finished and all furnished and I was standing in the room thinking “I need a focal point over the bed”.  Guess what popped in my mind?  ………….

Well, I have a wedding tomorrow and have to go to bed, have a great night, a great weekend and happy Mother’s Day,



Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, Karl Marx birth anniversary (1818), the Kentucky Derby kicks off tomorrow with the main race on May 7 and it’s the anniversary of the stock market crash of 1893.  The stock market crash is significant to me because that was the one where Joshua Rhodes (the great industrialist that built my Inn) decided to keep his skilled workers working, even though he had no orders for the steel pipes from his new company National Tube (US Steel now owns), because he was afraid of loosing them.  Joshua paid their salaries out of his pocket until the economy recovered.

I would like to talk about something I posted last.  Before I wrote my post on Bin Laden, I did have a soul search on how I felt about it.  I don’t think we should celebrate someone else’s death.  After reading about Rashard Mendenhall’s Tweet, I’m OK with my post.  No, we shouldn’t celebrate the execution of a serial killer or any other death caused by man.  But the scale of evil Bin Laden created was not of the scale of Hitler, but the same kind of blanket evilness crossing all kinds of lines.  So I’m OK with being very happy his worldly influence is over.

The art works of Croatian immigrant Maxo Vanka can be seen this Friday and Saturday at St Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.  Vanka painted these labor, war and social justice themed religious paintings from 1937 to 1941.  The $20 donation includes viewing of the art work in the church’s sanctuary and a performance of the one hour drama “Gift to America”.   There’s also a cocktail reception and performance tomorrow starting at 6:30.  Tickets for this is $75 and all proceeds go to restoration of the paintings.  More info and reservations can be made at 412.394.3353 or the pro artists tickets or vanka murals web sites.

The Pittsburgh Blues Festival at Hartwood Acres is scheduled for this July 22 through 24.  Acts include Tedeschi Trucks Band, Janiva Magness, Kelly Richey, Johnny Winter, Tommy Castro and other national as well as local artists.  Tickets are between $22 to $50 (for two nights) and more info can be found at 412.460.2583.

I don’t watch it often anymore, but I still love South Park.  Trey and Matt rang up 14 Tony nominations with their irreverent musical “The Book of Mormon”.  This is just one nomination less than the record setting 15 for “The Producers” in 2001.  🙂

If it doesn’t stop raining soon, I swear I’m going to blow my brains out.  I know I shouldn’t complain, we’re lucky we’re not in Cairo, IL, but we have averaged MAYBE one day with sun a week for the past several months.  I am sooooo tired of this over cast skies and rain.  And, with everything being so wet, they can’t clean out Lake Elizabeth so they an fill it with water and da boiz can go swimming again.  Razor’s really bummed.

Finally, construction has started on the Loft.  YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!  Chuck, the general contractor thinks he will be able to finish it in about a month and then we start on the new guest room Hibiscus.  That should also be about a month, just in time for Kenny Chesney.  I have past guests that are already asking for it.

Have a great one,



It was announced last night that Bin Laden has been killed by the US Special Forces.  From what I understand at this point, he was shot, not “taken out by a missile”.  I knew we would get him, I’m surprised it took so long, but I was very concerned that they would just blow up some compound somewhere.  That our troops actually looked him in the eye when they shot him makes me happy.  And I’m sure that he now realizes mass murderers don’t don’t go to paradise.  May he rot forever.

Tomorrow is Paranormal Day, the day for paranormal enthusiasts can get together and share their unique experiences, it is the anniversary of CBS Evening News first broadcast (1948) and it is Lumpy Rug Day-this is the day to celebrate teasing all the bigots and trigots for shoving unwelcome facts “under the rug”.  The defenders of the status quo get a new rug when they’ve shoved too many inconvenient facts “under the rug”.  🙂

The owners of Serro Scotty campers are a cult unto themselves.  Built in North Huntingdon, just off the Turnpike by the late John Serro, they are those cute little aluminum and wood bubble shaped trailers you see around.  The “convention” is next week at the Scottyland Camping Resort in Middlecreek, Somerset, PA from Thursday through Sunday.  More info can be gotten at 814.839.4084 or at their web site Serro Scotty Camper Enthusiasts, 1,400 member strong group.  Possibly more interesting than the exterior of these unique campers are what these enthusiast have done with the interiors, and they want to show them off.  🙂

OK, the secret location is out.  East End Brewery is moving out of their currently location on Susquehanna Street (4,000 square feet) to their new location on Frankstown Avenue (17,000 square feet).  And instead of renting, they are buying the new location.  I think they should have bought the old Iron City Brewery,  they probably could have gotten it for a song.  🙂  They’re pumping out around 18,000 barrels a year.  At 31 gallons per barrel, that’s quite some beer.

Here’s an interesting piece of trivia, did you know that until about a century ago, pistol dueling was an Olympic sport?

I had never considered or heard anything about this before.  Did you know America nuclear power plants’ insurance is capped at $375M?  They probably spent that in the first hour at Fukushima Daiichi power plant.  ):  Germany, the country with the strongest regulations requires each plant to be liable with ALL of it’s assets and $3.7B.  Germany had set a goal of eliminating nuclear power, prior to the Japan disaster.  I hear they are looking into how they can speed this up.

It’s our Civil War’s sesquicentennial and the Appalachian Regional Commission has designed a web site showing maps of places of interest commemorating this major American event.  The Civil War was a lot more than the Battle of Gettysburg, the Battle of Shiloh and the Battle of Bull Run.  There was a lot of smaller skirmishes and non battles that made us what we are and this site tries to give access to these lesser known events.  For local locations, visit the PA State Office of Tourism.

I had a phone call earlier last week, this lady that promotes urban walking tours asked if they could stop by my place on Sunday (yesterday) for a quick peak at my place and if I could give them some history, they’d appreciate it.  Well it rained all morning and early afternoon yesterday and I kind of figured they canceled and never called me.  Well, right around noon, forty some people (with umbrellas) showed up at my door.  Between Mr. Rhodes design of the Mansion and my furniture placement, it’s very easy to have a flow of people come through.  So they filed through, I gave a short speak on the history of the Mansion and myself and they then asked to see the Ballroom.  So we went back there and then they were off.  A very nice group of people, particularly since they were trudging through the rain.  🙂

Have a great day and keep dry,