Happy Leap Day.  I hate posting on the last day of the month, there are so many anniversaries and special days on the first of the month.  Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Articles of Confederation being ratified (1781), the eightieth anniversary of the Lindbergh kidnapping, the anniversary of the raid on Richmond (1864), the start of the Salem Witch Hunt hysteria (1692), Yellowstone National Park was established (1872) and admitted to the Union was Ohio (1803) and Nebraska (1897).  Birth anniversaries of William Gaines (1922-Mad Magazine), Glenn Miller (1904), Pete Rozelle (1926) and Dinah Shore (1917).  For you teenies, Justin Bieber was born on 1994).  :)

I’ve certainly finished joining the 21st century.  Two years ago I got my iPod, last year I got my iPhone, this year I got my Prius with Bluetooth and a Garmin.  I really like Bluetooth, it is so much easier (and safer) to speak on the phone while driving.  And Garmin is such a change from Mapquest.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used it and tried to find someplace at night, pulling off the road trying to read directions in the dark.  :)  Not only does it tell me when to turn, give me a “heads up” of the next move, it also gives an estimate of when I should arrive.  I know, you people that have been using GPS for years now are laughing at me, but I’m happy.  :)  I’ve heard people complain about Mapquest, but I’ve always had pretty good luck with them.

I belong to Netflix, I’m not overly current, but do keep up on things.  I saw one of the strangest movies.  Cowboys vs Aliens, what a weird movie.  :)

Slick.  With TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline in limbo, they’ve decided on a new tactic.  Because a pipeline within the United States does not need a presidential approval, they are going ahead with a pipeline from Texas to Oklahoma.  There’s a bit of a squawk in Texas about this pipeline because the “for profit” business is using eminent domain to acquire permanent easements against landowners.  These easements include a clause that you can’t drive heavy equipment over the easements, which specifically will block farmers from driving their tractors over the easements which actually blocks them from direct access to parts of their farms.  With this mega company using their high powered (and expensive) lawyers to concoct this, makes you wonder how responsible these players would be in the event of an oil spill.  I’m even more against the Keystone KL pipeline.

Those poor people at Brunton Dairy in Aliquippa are finally reopening.  Next week I think.  If you remember, they closed last summer because of a bacteria scare.  Several people got ill that had consumed their dairy products.  As far as I recall, they only actually found this bacteria once in a package of their ice cream.  This dairy founded in 1832 makes fresh pasteurized milk, butter and cheeses.  Their store also carries locally produced eggs and other farm products.  They are about thirty miles west of Pittsburgh at 3681 Ridge Road, Aliquippa, PA 15001.  More info at their web site or by calling 724.375.5910.

The Mongol Studios on Thirty-first Street in the Strip went through some ownership changes last year.  The financial backer to the project back from the guy whose idea it was for back payments.  This new leadership seems to be doing the right things.  The Thirty-First Street Studios, as it is now called, is a 300,000 square foot facility in ten acres in what was the Pittsburgh Flatroll Company.  Chris Breakwell, founder, has deals with Paramont On Location (the equipment side of Paramount) and Knight Vision Studios (the brains behind the special effects of Avatar).  Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Program is also partnering with the group and will be sending graduate level student interns to learn the film making craft hands-on.  James Knight is creating a “motion-capture” studio in the complex, which will be the only one outside of Hollywood.  That is the process where they create computer animations using action recordings of live actors.  Film making brought an estimated $100M to Western Pennsylvania each of the last four years, according to Pittsburgh Flim Office.

Speaking of film making in Pittsburgh, Michael Kadrie is working on opening a Pixar/Dreamworks kind of studio also in the Strip.  The founder of zoetifex has a number of things in it’s favor for a start up. Todd Eckert of Knight Vision Studios (see above)  :) is on their board of advisers.  The tax incentive that has encouraged more than a dozen films to be shot here in the last two years.  The number of skilled animation professionals either from the area or underemployed in other locations like California that would love to live and work in our less expensive cost of living area.  Kadrie got the rights to two of Michael Garland’s children’s books Christmas Magic and Icarus Swinebuckle which he would like to turn into film by Christmas.  Kadrie also go the rights to Queensryche’s album Operation Mindcrime. Creation of a film based on this 1980′s metal band’s concept album would definitely be a lot darker than the films based on Garland’s children’s books.

Have a happy March,



Tomorrow is the Daytona 500, the anniversary of the World Trade Center bombing (1993), the founding of the Grand Teton National Park (1929), the Grand Canyon National Park (1919) and the publishing of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto (1848).  It also is the birth anniversary of Fats Domino (1928), Johnny Cash (1932), Jackie Gleason (1916), William Cody (Buffalo Bill 1846), Tony Randall (1920) and Levi Strauss (1829).

Energy advocate and author Jason McLennan from Portland, Oregon is giving two lectures at Phipps new Center for Sustainable Landscapes on Monday.  The lunch (and lunch) lecture starts at 11:30 and is $35 and the 5:30 lecture is $10 (no lunch :) ).  This short series is timed to coincide with the Center for Sustainable Landscapes opening in the next several weeks.  More info at Pipps’ web site or by calling 412.622.6914.

It looks like we’ve lost.  The Buncher Group, the fat cats that own all that land behind the Terminal Building in the Strip got the city approval to demolish almost a third of the Terminal Building for Buncher to place an access road there to service their new development.  I adamantly am against this.  If they want to develop access, why not improve the intersection at 15th Street and Smallman (by Lydia’s)?  Oh, that street is not in the center of their property easily dividing their development and it doesn’t go all the way up to Liberty Avenue.  So we’re going to let them demolish a third of this iconic building for the sake of convenience of the Buncher group?  When I was just in Florida, I have a series of salvage yards I go to that specialize in selling pieces of iconic buildings Florida allows developers to tear down “for the sake of development”.  I think Buncher reads my blog because just to rub salt in my wound, the first piece to be built (and the only piece at this point officially being built) is an apartment building all the way down between the convention center and the veteran’s bridge.  But they need to tear down that section of the Terminal Building this year.

I’ve spoken of the power of social media in the past, but thought it was worth revisiting since consumers have such a voice now that can count.  Twenty-three year old Stef Gray, an unemployed recent college graduate, was upset the Sallie Mae a private college education loan company was going to charge her a fee for deferring payments until she found a job.  Stef went on line, got 76,000 people that agreed with her and delivered her petition to Sallie Mae and Sallie Mae agreed not to pocket the fee, instead in the future Sallie Mae will put the fee towards the balance on the loan.  Not total vindication, but definitely a step in the right direction.  One of the most successful petition campaigns was done by twenty-two year old Molly Katchpole who was upset with Bank of America decision to start charging a $5 fee on debit cards.  She got more than 300,000 people to sign her petition last year and BoA backed off the fee.  Molly was not about to stop there, she started a petition against Verizon’s plan to start charging $2 for various ways to pay your bill.  Molly got 130,000 signatures and Verizon backed down.  In addition to the standard Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other commonly known social medias, there’s Change.org that puts like minded people in touch with each other.

Interested in buying one of the oldest barns in Allegheny County?  This 177 year old historic landmark is owned by Penn Hebron Garden Club, whose decline in membership has made the upkeep more than they can do.  The barn, at 237 Jefferson Road, Penn Hills has the original exposed hand hewn roof timbers and stone foundation.  The garden club bought the barn in 1928 and the lower level where the animals had been stabled was turned into a kitchen, dining room and lounge.  The second floor was converted into a meeting room and dance floor with stage.  There’s a pen and ink rendering on their web site, but it certainly doesn’t look much like a barn.  They say that details are on Pittsburgh’s History and Landmarks Foundation, but I wasn’t able to find anything there.

Northside’s Thaddeus Mosley has recently had a documentary made on his art and life.  I first stumbled on him in 2009 when his cousin from Maryland stayed with me for the opening of a show he had at The Mattress Factory.  Born in 1926 in New Castle, he has a degree from Pitt in English, but taught himself the art of wood carving.  Generally he uses local cherry, walnut and sycamore logs for his creations.  He taught summer wood working classes for over twenty years at Touchstone Center for Crafts in Farmington, Fayette County.  David Lewis authored Thaddeus Mosley: African-American Sculptor through the University of Pittsburgh Press in 1997.  They claim you can view the documentary through humanitydocs.com, but I didn’t see it there.  There was some pretty cool other documentaries there you may be interested in seeing, so I included the link.

The first annual Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week from April 20 through the 28th will be celebrated in about two dozen restaurants and microbreweries (including Penn Brewery, the Church Brew Works, Rock Bottom Brewery and I assume the East End Brewery.  More info on the Craft Beer web site.

I seems we have a replacement for Right By Nature in the Strip.  Late spring, Marty’s Market will be taking over the space.  They don’t have a web site yet, but this link tells a lot about what Regina Koetters plans to do.  She wants to do a fresh, local grocery store option.  I would think with the Cork Factory, Otto Milk as anchors right there and all the other housing options springing up in the Downtown/Strip area a grocery store should be a compliment to the specialty stores of the Strip.

I opened the Trump Plaza Casino in Atlantic City and had a fairly short stint working for Donald and, at that time, Ivana.  What “interesting” people to work for.  Since then, his fame has dramatically increased as has his annoying behaviors.  It’s his way, only.  His latest is he has laid out a blistering attack on Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond over the Scottish plans to build a wind farm off the coast of his latest golf resort.  Despite environmentalist concerns about Trump bulldozing the rare sand dunes and other destructive building practices, Mr. Salmond gave Trump the OK to do this and they were best buddies.  Mr. Salmond has decided to support an off coast wind farm to help Scotland towards it’s goal of clean energy and energy independence.  Trump says the First Minister is “hell bent on destroying Scotland’s coast-line  and therefore Scotland itself.”  Don’t you think it’s a bit of a stretch that a wind farm is going to cause the decline of Scotland?

In preparation for it’s 22nd annual Mt Lebanon Public Library Garden Tour on July 8, once again they are leading up to it with several gardening lectures and workshops.  First up is a free series featuring a master gardener that will be teaching a three part course on sustainable design, use of hardy native plants, ground covers and the use of rain barrels geared toward novices.  the classes start at 6 p.m. and will be held on March 5, 12 and 19.  On June 9 they will be hosting the Pittsburgh Rose Society’s June Rose Exposition (kind of extra words :) ).  This all day event includes lectures and plants on display.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.531.1912.  On March 10, the Mt Lebanon Courtyard Gardens will have it’s fifth annual vegetable and herb seed-sharing event.  This begins at 9:30 a.m., requires preregistration and costs $7.  It is limited to 20 participants.  To register, contact Mary Beth at 412.736.8216 or e-mail her at mbthakar@yahoo.com.  Somewhat related to this, the Mt Lebanon Historical Society is hosting a lecture by Tribune Review columnist John Conti “Ideas that shaped Mt Lebanon”, celebrating their 100th anniversary.  This event will take place March 28 at 7:30.  More info on their web site or by calling 412.563.1941.

Have a great weekend,




Tomorrow would have been Steve Jobs 57th birthday, Estonia’s independence day (1991), Wilhelm Grimm’s  birth anniversary (1786-of Grimm’s Fairy Tales fame), Pittsburgh’s own Honus Wagner’s birth anniversary (1874) and Chester Nimitz’s birth anniversary (1885-commander of all forces in the Pacific Theater during World War Two).

OK, OK, OK.  I don’t hate Catholics, stop being mad at me.  I hate organized Muslims, Catholics, Presbyterians, Jews, Hindus all of them and the ones I missed.  In my world, things are right and things are wrong.  I acknowledge there are degrees, running a stop sign is less wrong than stabbing a man to death.  But it’s still wrong.  Killing a human is wrong, it is one of the most wrongs.  To say it’s OK to kill the infidels to take back the holy land was wrong.  To kill inocent people in the name of Jiah is just as wrong.  And that was a church that not only sanctioned those killings, they offered special dispensations to the crusaders.  As does the current Muslim Jiadist clerics.  Organized churches sanctioned slavery, killing young women accused of being witches, gays and anyone else that didn’t fit in their mold of what they wanted.

Here’s a novel idea, why not rent your kids toys?  Toy sales is a $21.8B industry.  Toddlers in particular loose interest in new toys quickly.  As kids get older and define their interests, toys have more longevity.  Nikki Pope founded Toygaroo that operates a lot like Netflix.  You choose a membership level and can receive from four to eight toys at a time.  Membership runs from $24.99 to $52.99.  There are no due dates or late fees.  You keep the toys until you are ready to trade them in.  More info at their web site.  Locally, thee’s the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library that has a similar program at 5401 Centre Avenue, Shadyside.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.682.4430.

The old Pittsburgh Morgue at 542 Fourth Avenue Downtown has been designated to become a county office building by 2013.  (If you remember the morgue moved to a county building in the Strip between Penn & Liberty by the 16th Street bridge.  After extensive renovations, including adding a floor, it is one of the most modern morgues in the country).  The county is expecting to spend about $4.5M to upgrade the mechanicals in the building as a comprehensive approach.  They also are going to add a second floor in the space over the old actual morgue.  They intend to move the law offices currently in the Fort Pitt Commons to the new facility.  There will be no alteration to the exterior or any of the historic interior facilities.  I believe the morgue was designed by HH Richardson, he worked all over the country.  In Pittsburgh he did our Courthouse and connecting Jail as well as Emanuel Episcopal Church right down the street from me.

There’s an interesting art showing at the Box Heart Gallery at 4523 Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield through March 3.  Photographer Nadim Sabella is from San Francisco where property values don’t allow a property to deteriorate too bad.  He became fascinated with abandoned house and has taken photographs of houses in the process of returning to the earth.  He’s taken these photos from abandoned houses in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and New Orleans after Katrina.  Not only has he taken these thought provoking images, he actually created a miniature house complete with decaying rooms.  Old abandoned buildings have always been a draw to me.  I love going into them and seeing the depressing deterioration while enjoying details you’ll never see in modern buildings.  I love the uniqueness as opposed to the cookie cutter approach in current building projects.

There’s a new web site that seems kind of cool.  Nextdoor.com is a site that links neighbors together, like chatting across the fence, but virtually.  A neighborhood group starts a site and to join, you need to verify that you live within the boundaries.  There is currently 13 registered Pittsburgh neighborhoods with around 600 involved.  I think this concept has a lot of potential.  Instead of waiting for the monthly neighborhood meeting and then missing it because you were in Florida and having to wait another month, you have instant access.  You could pass on relevant information, ask local questions and if your neighborhood association is a part actually have the minutes of the monthly meetings posted.  Overall, I prefer face to face interactions, but have no problems with enhancing the world with virtual options as well.

I met Patty Knouse a couple of years ago when I ran the Allegheny West Gift Shop during their holiday tours.  Her and daughter Nicole had a booth and were selling teas and tea accompaniments.  She was talking about starting a tea house.  Well apparently she opened one with a partner and then decided to go off on her own.  Her and her daughter (that makes jewelry) started AntiquiTea Tearoom and Gift Shop at 454 Perry Highway in West View.  They are open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and offer the high tea experience as well as regular lunches.  They also host larger shower type teas upstairs.  They have a gift shop with Nicole’s jewelry, tea acrudements, bagged and loose tea.  More info at 412.301.0283 or their web site.

Penn Forest Natural Burial Park, in Penn Hills, has been certified by the Green Burial Council.  The Green Burial Council out of Santa Fe accredits funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries that offer eco-friendly products.  Penn Forest, founded last year specifies that no toxic embalming fluids can be used, caskets and shrouds must be biodegradable and grave markers must be made of local wood or stone and be flat to the ground.  They only have one grave in the 32 acres cemetery, but have sold 20 plots.

Watch out Betty, Peter Kantorowski, 71 has filed to evict his 98 year old mother.  :)  Peter became owner of Mary’s home several years ago as part of a financial planning move (I assume to avoid inheritance tax).  This is not as cold blooded as it first appears.  Mary’s ability to fend for herself has deteriorated to a point that she’s somewhat of a danger to herself.  And she doesn’t want to leave the house she’s lived in for sixty years.  We just went through that with Betty two years ago (not evicting her, but convincing her that moving into an independent senior apartment was best for all.  It was very hard on her [and us] to give up the old homestead.)  I can only imagine trying to convince her in another 10+ years to make the move.  My heart goes out to both Peter & Mary and wish them a smooth solution that will ensure her safety and care and his nerves.

Ten month old Sea Monster made her public debute last week at the Pittsburgh Aquarium.  She’s a Great Pacific Octopus that was caught up in a fisherman’s net.  She arrived in Pittsburgh last June.  This twelve pound little cutie changes the color and texture of her outside “mantle” to blend in with her surroundings to hide from potential predators.  Eric Kellar, her keeper, said if Great Pacific Octopus aren’t continually stimulated, they will go insane.  (When I mentioned this to some guests the other day, that asked how can you tell if an octopus is insane).  :)  To keep her stimulated, Eric hides tasty morsels in her aquarium to keep her on her toes (actually six foot tenticles).  :)  She recognizes people by their smell and clothing.  When Eric is not working with her, he locks a lid over her enclosure.  She’s frequently seen probing the lock to see if she can get loose.

Well, that’s about it for today,



Well, the big thing tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday, the start of the Mardi Gras.  The Washington Monument was dedicated (1885-I had no idea it was that old), Paczki Day a Polish Shrove Tuesday tradition where sugar coated fruit filled pastries are consumed in mass quantities :) , the assassination of Malcolm X (1965) in Harlem and Richard Nixon started his historic trip to China (1972-the first time a sitting president visited a country not diplomatically recognized by the U.S.

Well, I’m back in da ‘burg.  Two years ago when I was last in West Palm, they had the coldest snap they’d had in fifty years.  This year they had a drought until the day I arrived.  It rained every day I was there, but at least I was in short sleeved shirts and shorts.  And in Florida it can rain and twenty minutes later the sun’s out.  Saw friends I haven’t seen in awhile (planned and just bumped into), had some nice shopping and I’m not a beach person anyway, all was good.  I then went hang to with Jeff from The Inn on the Mexican War Streets, they own a condo in Tampa.  I did a map quest between West Palm and Tampa and a large segment of the trip was through the center of the state was on a two lane road, Route 60.  Well, it’s citrus harvesting time down there and there was all these huge trucks hauling oranges and grapefruits from the orchards.  I had to pass these lumbering beasts quickly and get back in my lane, in my new Prius hybrid.  The little guy did great.  It has a pwr button that gives it a turbo boost kind of thing that really does work.   The Prius does have a good amount of spunk, but that pwr button really does a nice job.  This Prius is rated 51 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway, if I’m reading the gauge correctly, I averaged 50 mpg for the entire trip.  I read a disturbing article on hybrids, they peaked in sales in 2010, sales of hybrids actually dropped in 2011.  Hey, if you’re not worried about the climate and earth, gas supposedly is going up to $4.50 – $5.00 a gallon this summer!  One final note on the trip, I got as far as the North Carolina/Virginia border and it was around 9 at night and I could continue to PGH and arrive around 2 in the morning and have a fitful night sleep and be out of sorts the next day.  Or I could pull over and find a cheap motel room.  Which I did, for being a boring little motel, The Surry Inn in Dobson, NC was actually a well run little place.  The amenities were pretty small (soaps, shampoo-not that I need that) :), but their towels were of a nice quality, the room was clean and had everything expected in a motel and in good working order. I digress, so I head off to bed and get up around 4 in the morning.  I take a shower and am on the road and it’s dark with just the truck drivers and myself cruising along.  I admit, I was doing 80 in a 70 zone, but it was five in the morning!  You know where this is going, yeps I now have my first moving vehicle violation in almost 15 years.  I’m a criminal.  :)

There’s a famous painting of Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary, that has hung in the Illinois governor’s mansion for years.  The story behind the painting is that Francis Carpenter painted it for Mary as a gift to Abraham.  Unfortunately he was assassinated before it was finished.  The painting was sold to the Lincoln family in the 1920′s for about $2,500, apparently in a scam.  One of the descendants gave the painting to the state historical society in 1976 and it was then hung in the mansion.  The mansion is undergoing renovations and so they sent the painting out for maintenance and this is how the deception was discovered.  Apparently there’s an anonymous woman that was painted over to resemble Mary and the signature of Carpenter was added at a later date.

Frankferd Farms in Saxonburg recently received an award from The Association for Sustainable Agriculture for their work in providing sustainable and renewable farming practices.  The Association, out of Centre County, is one of the largest such organizations in the country.  T. Lyle and Betty Ferderber wanted to do sustainable farming long before it became a trend (like thirty some years ago) and developed their farming business into $4M business with over 4,000 items.  Not only do they farm, they also produce a variety of ground flours and pancake mixes at the flour mill as well as a myriad of items.  More info at their web site or by visiting their store at 717 Saxonburg Blvd, Saxonburg, PA 16056.  724.352.9500.

OK, I hope any of you that know me are sitting down.  I am going to endorse a candidate in the Republican campaign.  I officially support the nomination of Rick Santorum, the weasel.  :)  Seriously, I hope he wins their nomination.  He’s the anti-Christ to me, he is everything I don’t believe in or support.  But he seems to be tailor fit for the Tea Party right wingers.  Let’s let America go to the polls this fall and announce who we are.  Are we a republic that supports corporate greed and wealthy entitlements at the expense of educating and feeding our children, or are we a nation that maintains safety nets for our less fortunate.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not out for a welfare state.  There’s a lot of waste, bloated agencies, redundancies and undeserving people getting aid they shouldn’t.  But to take an axe and eliminate programs that take care of basic necessities is just wrong.  The weak (and that includes a lot of definitions) deserve the support of the strong.  And the strong owe the weak this support.  “Christians” like the intolerant Santorum and the Catholic church in Italy sneaking chapels in their “bed and breakfasts” so they don’t have to pay taxes on the income the generate in their lodging establishments is the reason I am no longer a Catholic or a “christian”.  l pride myself in being a “human”.

Sorry, you know me, sometimes I just can’t help myself.

One final note tonight, I found this to be pretty ingenious.  The Apollo-Ridge School District built a new media center, that seems to have been brought in on budget.  Now the problem is to fill it.  They created a “bridal registry” kind of thing on Amazon.com and are looking for people buy anything from an iMac desk top computer for $1,133 to a 24 count single-serve hot cocoa cups for the Keuring K Cups brewer (one of their goals is to teach the high schoolers to open and run a coffee shop) for $10.50.  Somebody at the Apollo-Ridge School District deserves a gold star for creativity and thinking outside the box.  If you are so inclined, go to Amazon.com and click on the “Find a Wish List or Registry” and enter Apollo-Ridge Education Foundation.

Have a great tomorrow,



Well, Friday was a busy day.  Started by going to Shell World (used to be Shell Man years ago) in Key Largo.  They have the best collection of shells and other beachy things around.  The drive down was quite the challenge, torrential rains half the way down and I was lucky.  While down in the Keys, Palm Beach Island got three inches of rain.  And typical of Florida, the rain came and left and then the sun came out.  Shell World didn’t have what I was looking for (a bag of the same size, type of shells), but that was OK.  I can always spend money.  I traveled down to the Keys on I95.  The stretch of I95 between Palm Beach County and Miami is one of the most dangerous roads in the country right up there with the Schuylkill Expressway.  It’s not the road itself that causes it to be dangerous as much as the drivers.  Also, they have taken the HOV lane and made it an HOV/tolled Express Lane.  They have also taken one of the normal traveling lanes and added that lane to the HOV/Express Lane.  And it only accepts Sun Pass.  I don’t know how they were able to do this and Pennsylvania can’t toll I80 (not that I think they should be able to toll I80.  If they want a toll road, they shouldn’t be able to take a road I already paid to be built and restrict it.)  The worst part is they also took part of the regular traveling lanes and made them narrower to make room for the barrier.  Coming back up to Palm Beach County, I decided to use the Florida Turnpike.  It used to be annoying with these toll booths every so often that you had to plunk fifty cents into.  Now they have these overhead sensors that read Sun Pass, if you have it.  If you don’t have Sun Pass, they take your license plate number and bill you.  Not sure how this is going to work, but it was a lot easier than slowing down periodically.

Then I went to David Culpepper’s marine salvage on the corner of 16th Street and Dixie Highway in West Palm.  David has the most extensive collection of nautical items I’ve seen anywhere.  Mostly vintage as well as a bunch of the touristy kind of new stuff like hand carved pelicans and funny signs.  The picture below is just one of his rooms with old ship lights.

And finally, they have the parts you can build yourself a boat.  Complete with cannon.  :)

I then went to Adam and Eve Architectural Salvage.  I love architectural salvage yards, Adam and Eve is like Construction Junction gone wild.  What’s funny is they have some really cool vintage Florida planters, building pieces made from coral rock, etc which if you could find in Pittsburgh, they would be very expensive.  But a hot water radiator for my house in their place was $400 ($60 at Construction Junction).  Florida is so busy tearing down old hotels and classic buildings that they have a plethora of old iron railings, marble balusters, and so much more.  I could load a semi with stuff, but I think my neighbors would have a problem with Ed’s Architectural Salvage.  :)

Well, I’m now in Tampa visiting Jeff that owns The Inn on the Mexican War Streets and my curse continues.  HIm and Karl own a condo on the water here.  If it doesn’t get warmer soon, I may as well just head back up north and start shoveling snow.  :)  It’s going down into the 30′s tonight.  I’m wearing the one pair of jeans I was wearing when I left Pittsburgh last Sunday and a flannel shirt.  Not very tropical attire.  One of the best parts of visiting Jeff is he’s a chef.  He taught culinary all his life and that is definitely a fringe benefit visiting him.  Meals are always a treat.

Take care and keep warm,





Well, I’m in Florida.  The last time I was in West Palm they had the coldest snap in 50 years.  This year, they’ve had a drought the past few months.  The day I arrived, the drought broke and it’s supposed to rain every day I’m here.  At least here it rains and then the sun comes out and it may rain again and then the sun comes out again.  Also no coat and I’m in shorts.  I’m happy.  :)  Also I don’t have my copy of Chase’s Almanac, so no anniversaries to list until I get home.  Sorry.

Traveling down I77, there were several signs warning about fog coming up.  It was bright and sunny and I was crossing the top of a mountain.  (For you familiar with I77, it’s that last hill in Virginia that has that dramatic view of the flat farm lands below).  I cressed the mountain and bam, it was a white out.  It reminds me of a trip I made to Philly two winters ago.  The warning on the signs just past Breezewood said to beware of snow and ice.  There were all these Penndot salt and plow trucks on the highway.  The road was dry, the sky was cloudy, but not overly threatening and the temperature was probably in the low forties.  So I though they were over reacting.  Again I cressed the mountain and there were cars off the road to my right in the median and left on the berm from the snow.

My friends that own the Hibiscus House up in Northwood didn’t open this year, so I stayed at the Palm Beach Hibiscus West Palm Beach.  Pat is doing such a nice job.  He’s very comfortable, welcoming and truly concerned that you have a great stay.  The accommodations are very comfortable, nicely appointed and clean.

This is not to say the last place I stayed.  I’ve written Comfort Suites corporate offices (two days later I’ve received three auto replies) and negative reviews on Yelp, Trip Adviser as well as Google Maps.  One of them (I think it was Yelp posted my review on Facebook and the common response I got from people was WOW).  Sunday, I got up at six as normal to make breakfast for my guests, after serving them and pretty much cleaning up (Dee was going to finish up) I loaded my stuff in the Prius and took off.  After ten plus hours later, I enter Georgia and pull off I95 and parked in a common lot between about four of those travel hotels.  I pulled out my iPhone and pulled up Google Places, the first hotel came up was Comfort Suites directly in front of me.  Comfort Suites is a three story hotel, generally meaning they had three hundred rooms, there were twelve cars in their lot.  So I called and a man answered the phone (it turns out to be the manager) and I asked “what the rate would be for a single, this evening.”  Considering it was after nine, his quote of $39 didn’t seem out of line-I had seen that rate on a number of electronic billboards on the highway.  I told him I was in his lot and would be right in.  I entered the lobby and presented him with my  ID and credit card.  He processed my information and put a computer generated form and told me to initial in two places and sign the bottom, which I did.  He ripped the form in half and wrapped my key around my half.  As I walked away, I noticed there was nothing about the charge on my half.  I turned and asked him about the receipt and he said I would get a  receipt under my door overnight.  When I got up at five, there it was and he had charge me $79.  I got cleaned up and gathered my things and stopped at the front desk to inquire about the charge.  The clerk pulled out the form I had initialled twice and signed.  She pointed out the top initial and asked if it was me and I said it was and there was the room rate of $79.  She said there was nothing she could do about it and I dropped the issue.  Shame on me for being tired and not paying attention to what I signed (I had just spoken with him).  Shame on him for being a thief.  This is the same as Enron, AIG, MF Global and the other dishonest organizations that have made headlines of late.  It doesn’t matter if you steal $40 or $40B, theft is theft.  If Comfort Suites ever contacts me to withdraw my three negative reviews, I don’t want the $40, I what proof that they have started an Ethics in Business course and are ensuring that all their managers get certified.

One of my favorite stores down here was Karin’s out on 45th Street.  The ceramic sun as well as high top table and chairs in the Sunroom, Oleander’s end tables, all the colorful ceramic pieces in Bougainvillea came from Karin’s.  I was so disappointed a couple of years ago when she closed.  I was driving down Dixie Highway (6405 South Dixie, Bay 103, WPB, FL 33405 to be precise) and saw a colorful Mexican furniture/accessories store and pulled over.

To my pleasure, she has reopened.  She doesn’t have a web site yet (she’s just reopened), Facebook or Google Places page, which I strongly encouraged her to do.  She says someone is working on a web page.  Look at the two adorable Dia de los Muertos dolls I found there:

Aren’t they cute for dead ladies?  Here’s a final picture of some furniture and accessories in her shop:

I was great seeing and talking to the owner of Karin’s, named after the owner’s daughter, again.  She’s so cool, has great taste and is very reasonably priced.

Also, another store I visited was Music, Movies & More to pick up several new Reggae CD’s.  One of my favorites is Sister Saw (there’s a song they’re playing on my DirecTV of her’s, so I picked one up and I found one of my old time favorites).  My other favorite is Collie Buddz.  Anytime I visit West Palm, I stop by to pick up a couple CD’s.  They don’t have a huge selection of Reggae, but it is nice and they can look for a CD and mail it to you.  They recently passed their 31st anniversary.

I frequently have the TV on when I’m working on my desk, usually I have the DirecTV Reggae on.  I’m obviously not at home, so I have the Ellen Degeneres Show on.  I used to listen to her a lot in the past before I got my Reggae station.   I don’t know if you follow the news, but JC Penney’s hired Ellen as a spokesperson for them.  The group, One Million Moms, who happens to have 40,000 members, says she is an inappropriate spokesperson because of her sexual orientation and have threatened a boycott last week.  JC Penney didn’t back down and has said they will continue to use Ellen as their spokesperson.  She is frequently the object of some far right’s tirade and I have never seen her acknowledge it.  Well, she’s struck back today, click on the link above it you’d like to see it.

Enjoy your evening,



Happy Super Bowl Sunday.  Tomorrow is Bob Marley’s birth anniversary (1945), Babe Ruth’s birth anniversary (1895), Aaron Burr’s birth anniversary (1756), Eva Braun’s birth anniversary (1912) and Ronald Regan’s birth anniversary (1911)-lots of famous people born on the sixth.  It is also the anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth (1952) and the crash of the British air crash outside Munich that killed 21 people including 8 Manchester football players (1958).

I have been having problems posting pictures.  My hosting company, Beenanza finally got if fixed.  I assume most/all of you saw this picture last week, but just in case you didn’t, here’s the picture of the Delta Mariner that took out a bridge in Tennessee last week.  This happened in the middle of the night and some guy was going to work and luckily stopped in time.

Phipps‘ new green house that opened in 2006 has it’s third theme, Tropical Forest India.  The first one was Thailand, the next one was the headwaters of the Amazon.  Ben Dunigan assistant curator of horticulture and program specialist Jordyn Melino spent three weeks researching in India to be sure they would create an authentic recreation of India’s tropical rain forest.  Most of the plants they installed they were able to acquire from tropical growers in Florida and Arizona.  The plants they removed, they recycled to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium and the National Aviary.  The big palm trees and many of the common plants between both the Amazon and India were left.  They took pictures of all the plants they wanted to use in their natural settings so they could present them as true to their natural habitat as possible.  The India exhibit will be here for at least two years, if past precedence is any guide.  It is included in the regular price of admission ($12, $11 for seniors and $9 for kids 2 – 18).  Hours are 9:30 until 5 daily and until 10 on Fridays.  More info at Phipps web site or by calling 412.622.6914.

Champis, the five year old Swedish rabbit has been watching his fellow pet, a sheep herding dog too much.  Champis is now herding sheep.  Check out the You Tube clip, it’s pretty funny.

Sarris Chocolate and Candies in Canonsburg caught fire Friday night.  This family owned chocolatier has been in business for fifty-two years.  Bill Sarris. president vows to reopen early next week and be in full production in time for Valentine’s Day.

I don’t understand why people drink unpasteurized milk.  There’s another outbreak that seems to be winding down of milk infested with Campylobacter jejuni bacteria.  I really like local, small farms and fresh foods.  But we need to temper this with common sense.  It’s legal for inspected farms to sell unpasteurized milk to the public as long as there’s no middle man.  Of the 8,500 dairy farms, there’s 153 with permits to sell raw milk.  That means the farm has been initially inspected and then pop inspections four times a year.  When they inspect, they check for any bacteria in the milk or facilities.  There’s a lot of time in between where the cows are out foraging out in the mud that has had birds flying over doing what birds do and other sources bacteria infection.  I don’t eat raw meat, poultry, fish or dairy products.

James Cargnoni, of the family owned Collier Development LP company is the name on the deed for the old Iron City Brewery in Lawrenceville.  Collier Development is best know for Trader Jack’s flea market right of I79 south.  Surely he’s not planning on putting a big flea market there.  :)  Actually, it’s kind of cool what’s happening in Pittsburgh.  A couple of our biggest development challenges have been addressed by Pittsburgh developers.  We have the Piatt family doing all that work Downtown and now the Cargnoni family takling this jumble of 22 buildings in the middle of the Strip, Lawrenceville, Bloomfield and Polish Hill.  Some of these buildings date as far back as 1868 on this 9.5 acre site.  Then there’s Collaborative Ventures of Mt Lebanon that partnered with Zukin of Philadelphia to start redeveloping the Garden Theater Block over here on the Northside.

I bought a Prius last week.  The 2011 Prius is rated at 51 miles per gallon, the 2012 is rated at 45, go figure.  I’ve been thinking about getting a new vehicle for some time now.  I’ve been interested in the Prius all along.  But while shopping, I ran into some real “used car sales men.  They are truly annoying.  They never listen to what you have to say.  They take part of what you say and then twist it around for their benefit.  I bought this at Rohrich Toyota.  Paul, the new guy there was easy to deal with and other than a few minor mis-communications, offered the best deal.  Not to mention corporate Toyota was offering a 0% financing for five years.

Well, that’s about it for today, enjoy the game,