Tomorrow is the anniversary of the British invasion of Washington DC (1814), the eruption of Mt Vesuvius (79 AD), Ukraine received it’s independence from USSR (1991), St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (in 1572 thousands of Protestant Huguenots were murdered for the religious beliefs), Yasser Arafat’s birth anniversary (1929) and Duke Kahanamoku’s birth anniversary (the Hawaiian Olympic swimmer from the 1920 games, born 1890).

Have you seen the two new twenty foot metal sculptures gracing South Shore’s Riverfront Park?  They were just installed in the park from where local artists created them over in Hazelwood.  Appropriately, the sculptures were created using pieces of closed steel mills and even parts of the hot metal bridge that used to carry molten iron across the Monongahela.  “The Workers” were created from 26 tons of steel and they have a ladle savaged from the steel mill between them.

Unless you live there, you probably may not have even noticed the McArdle Roadway bridge has been closed for re-hab for the past year and a half.  In case your not familiar, it’s that little bridge that connects Arlington by the Liberty Tubes down into Southside.

Speaking of reopening, it looks like the Route 65 bridge over Marshall Avenue will be reopening two months early.  They are now planning on opening that next Friday, August 31.  That will be a major relief for commuters using Ohio River Blvd.

Unfortunately, it’s that time of year again.  Fall is approaching and those great people over at the Rainbow Kitchen has started their coat drive for this winter.  The need gently used coats of all sizes, particularly larger sizes.  They are also looking for gently used Halloween costumes for kids.  You can drop them off at their headquarters 135 East 9th Street, Homestead.  They are staffed Monday through Friday 9 am until 4 pm.  More info by calling or e-mailing Marlene Murphy.  412.464.1892 marlene.murphy@rainbowkitchen.org.

While there, maybe stop at my friend’s Blue Dust Restaurant on Amity between 8th Avenue and the entrance to the WaterWorks.  (Right next the the railroad tracks).  Dad Jerry is famous for all of his smoked meats, Daughter Sarah besides being an excellent culinarian, she’s also quite the artist if you need any murals painted in your house.  And Mom, Rose keeps everything running on an even keel.  Always a great casual eatery.

Wildcard at 4209 Butler Street in Lawrenceville will be hosting Pittsburgh’s Etsy Craft Party 2012 tomorrow from 5 – 9 pm.  Etsy, the on-line crafters community boasts 800,000 shops and 17M members.  Wildcard carries hundreds of items handmade by local artists.  Their theme is Wish You Were Here challenging people to think about what they love about da burg.  Admission is free, but reservations are required.  More info by calling 412.224.2651 or by visiting their web site.

Hartwood Acres is hosting one of their last summer concerts, The Allegheny County Music Festival.  Festivities start around 5 on Sunday with Rusted Root taking stage around 7:30.  This “free” concert, technically isn’t free.  They are requesting a $20 donation with proceeds to benefit children receiving services from Allegheny County Juvenile Probation and Department of Human Services.  Rusted Root really don’t play together much anymore, except for special performances for worthwhile causes.  So it’s a great opportunity to see them.

Shadyside’s big Art Festival on Walnut Street is the Saturday (10 am till 9 pm) and Sunday (10 am till 5 pm).  this 15th annual event will be featuring 150 artists from 30 states with obviously a plethora of offerings from $25 to $30,000 in all mediums.  They are now produced by Howard Alan Events, a Florida art show exhibit producer.  I haven’t been there for a while, but can attest they do get quality artwork there.

The Renaissance Festival is being held each weekend in September again this year in West Newton (exit 51A of Interstate 70).  Admission is $16.95 for adults and $8 for kids at the door ($14.95 and $7 in advance) and gives you access to all activities, the space was increased 33% for this year’s Fest with new stages and more vendors/participants.  You can come in costume or as you are.  They will have fire eaters, jousters, music, food vendors, even the Washing Well Wenches comedy act will return.  More info at their web site or by calling 724.872.1670.

Coming up soon is the Mexican War Streets Annual House Tour on September 9.  Tickets are $20 at the door and $18 in advance.  This self guided tour highlights select houses and gardens.  In the past they also featured an art show and flea market on Monterrey Street, I don’t know if they are doing this again.  More info at their web site.

Venture Outdoors is featuring a family & community festival this Sunday down the street in Allegheny Commons from from 1 pm till 5 pm. There will be kayaking on Lake Elizabeth, treasure hunts, biking events, rock climbing and more.  More info at their web site.

Well, I’ve given you lots to do this weekend, enjoy :)



Tomorrow is the birth anniversaries of Mae West (1893 or 1892), Davy Crockett (1786) and Harrison Chase (the co-founder of Chase’s Annual Events-the almanac I use for all of this first paragraph 1913).  It is the anniversary of President Clinton’s famous “It depends on what your meaning of is is” while dealing with the Monica Lewinsky inquiry (1998), the first balloon crossing of the Atlantic (1978), Fulton Sails Steamboat (1807), the devastating Turkey earthquake (1999), Gabon Independence (1960), Indonesia Independence (1949) and Hawaii was admitted to the Union in 1959).

Facebook’s being greedy and nefarious.  They are doing a test where advertisers can pay them to send you unsolicited ads.  Currently, you have to Like a business to get their ads.  This new thing they are doing is advertisers can drop ads in your news feeds, even though you have no relationship with them.  This “test” is to see what kind of an uproar it causes.  I predict that they will start slow, get people used to it and then just keep expanding it.  It’s not surprising this was announced after months of slowing revenue growth and the fact the the value of Facebook stock has plunged 40% since it’s initial offering in May.

Anyone that knows me, knows I’m a bit of a nutcase as for as personal information goes.  I have systems in place at The Parador Inn that I believe keeps all my guests’ information safe.  For example, I don’t take credit card numbers on repeat guests, I just print a copy of the confirmation letter I send them and keep it in my suspense file until they arrive.  Even though there’s no credit card info on this letter, it has their names and address.  That gets shredded just as a confirmation that did have credit card info.  This leads this conversation to a new free search tool that just came out.  Not in My Back Yard will scan the Internet social sites, publications and other sources to see what’s being said and held on you.  I have Google Alerts on myself and The Parador Inn and it’s pretty good at notifying me when something is published.  This goes much deeper.  It’s easy to install and use.  I just downloaded it and started a search on various forms of my name.  It’s currently stalled after retrieving a ton of information.  I imagine this is because the article on it just came out today and I image they are getting bombarded. (I was in the New York Time’s article 36 Hours In Pittsburgh the year after I opened and back then I was averaging 40 hits a day, the Monday after the article hit the stands I had over 400)! You can put in your name, organization, company and social security number.  I don’t know how comfortable I am with the latter.

I finally made it to that new restaurant on Broadway in Beechview, Casa Rasta.  What a great and inexpensive little place.  One table inside and maybe four outside (so plan on visiting in nice weather).  I ordered two tostadas that they made in front of me.  They placed sour cream on the fried tostada shells (I toast them in the oven when I make them, it’s healthier), a healthy portion of Jerk chicken, fresh mango, lettuce and cilantro and topped with drizzled guacamole and roasted red peppers.  All for just $2.50 each.    They also carry Jarritos Beverages, I had the tamarind.  It looks like Mendoza Express is going to have some fierce competition when I get a hankering for a Spanish lunch.

Did you recognize the #2 cop in Dark Knight Rises?   It’s none other than Penn Hills native Aldo Bigante.  The best part of the story is Aldo has been living in LA pursuing a career in entertainment and got the part while in Pittsburgh!

The Dewey Decimal system seems to be on the way out, at least for smaller library collections.  The massive collections of books larger libraries will probably require the Dewey system for a long time yet, if not forever.  But smaller libraries like the Brentwood Public Library have switched to the BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) which groups like bookstores do (they never used the Dewey Decimal system.)  Most non-librarians don’t know how to use the Dewey system.  The main branch of the Carnegie system in Oakland has converted the first floor to the BISAC, leaving the Dewey system for their massive collections upstairs.

Next Friday from 6 to 9 pm, the Fern Hollow Nature Center will be presenting their second annual Alfresco Italian Garden Dinner fund raiser.  Last year they had 80 participants and raised $4,000 for the Nature Center.  All the food will be freshly prepared from family recipes and will include zucchini fritters, to types of fresh pasta, meatballs in a roasted tomato sauce, green beans with olive and garlic, home made gelato, espresso, limo-cello and more.  The price is $75 for members and $100 for non members. More info at The Italian Garden Project.

Also at Fern Hollow this Friday at 7:30 will be a program Bees, Bees, Bees at 7:30 pm.  New apiarians Norm and Linda Diebold will show the four hives (holding around 20,000 to 30,000 bee apiece) and talk about beekeeping.  Norm got interested in beekeeping after going on a hike after going on a hike by Venture Outdoors through SteffesWood Apiary where he tasted fresh honey and cheeses.  The attendees will see frames of bees and try and locate the reclusive queen.  These new beekeepers have had the challenges any new farmer or business experience, like no honey production (his mentor, Robert Steffes suggested he feed the bees homemade sugar patties), queen bee battles and cranky bees that will crawl all over him and even follow him into the parking lot. Tickets for the event are $10 for Fern Hollow members and $20 for non-members.  More info at the Fern Hollow web site or by calling 412.741.3633.

I said in a blog or two ago that I now have full control of my web site.  This is because Kirk put it in WordPress, the program I have been using for my blogs.  Since converting, as I’ve noticed things on my web site that aren’t totally clear, I can change them.  Like I had guests recently that asked for a AAA discount on arrival.  I will only honor discounts or specials when requested at booking.  It says so in bold on top of my Specials page.  I also have a Reservations page that mentions AAA discounts, but there’s no mention that you need to request it at the time of booking.  It does now.  :)  Also, while typing my blog, there was a full screen mode and a partial screen that shows additional options.  While typing, I would have to leave the full screen mode to the partial screen to do a spell check, I’m a terrible speller-if I could spell I would be so much better at my crosswords.  :)  This new version offers spell check as I type.  So much nicer.

Well, John from All Pro Plumbing and Heating is installing attic vents today to relieve pressure on the A/C unit.  Hopefully that makes a big difference.  I am so tired of fighting the A/C to keep the place cool on really hot days.  John’s the guy that last year realized on of the intake vents was way too small for the space it was handling and figured out a way to install a much bigger vent discretely.  That made a big difference.  The A/C units are sized right for the size of the Mansion, hopefully after spending over $60 on the A/C this may be the final piece of the puzzle.

Have a great day and enjoy this sun before tomorrows rain,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of V-J Day (the surrender of Japan in 1945), Social Security was enacted (1935), the longest softball game between the Cager’s Diner and Bend’n Elbow lasted 365 innings in 1976 (by the way, the Cager’s won 491-467), it was finally called on day two because of fog.

It looks like Southside getting a new institution.  Tom Tripoli of Pius Street Associates (the developer of Angel Arms Condominiums over there) is joining forces with Anne Marie Toccket the director of the Pittsburgh Hostel Project to open a hostel on the Southside.  The building is on the corner of 14th and Carson Streets has retail/restaurants on the first floor and they are planning on opening the second and third floor as a hostel.  The location is much better than the last hostel attempt up in Allentown.  They are planning a 60 to 70 bed accommodation made of dormitory type bunking set up in 10 bunk rooms mixed with private rooms some with private baths.  Rates are expected to be in the $25 to $50 rates.  I wonder what kind of uproar that this is going to bring by Southside’s locals.  :)  I don’t see where they are going to be offering breakfast, so I guest I’m safe.  :)  More info on Pittsburgh hostels at www.notanotherhostel.org.

Speaking of Southside, did you see where they’re considering extending the residential parking from 7 pm until midnight.  Wow, that’s going to cause riots.

I want to weigh in on the bicycle lane issues in the city.  If you’ve read any of my past blogs or spoken with me more than a minute, you know how green focused I am.  I am all for alternative means of transportation other than cars.  But shoving bicycle lanes down our throats just to have as many as possible is insane.  The streets were built for vehicles.  Instead of just putting stickers on busy city streets and Share the Road signs on telephone poles, why don’t we plan this thing out.  I’m in favor of doing a master plan, figuring out bicycle highways closed to vehicles (even if this means closing some city streets) allowing bicyclists safe routes.  Or eliminate parking on one side of the street and making real bicycle lanes.  Then we share the side streets and everyone should get along together.  Also, this new ordinance/law that vehicles have to give bicycles four feet of clearance puts you in the path of opposing traffic.  My final thoughts on this issue is bicycle activists that insist on pedaling in the middle of the lane making it impossible for a vehicle to pass should be ticketed.

There’s an exhibit at the Fe Arts Gallery in Lawrenceville titled The Art of War that runs through September 1.  It is a show of a dozen area vets from Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq in mixed medias of pencil, photography and ceramics.  It’s free and runs from 4 until 8 pm Thursdays and Fridays, noon until 6 pm Saturdays and noon until 4 pm Sundays.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.860.6028.

There’s two exhibits at two of the Cultural Trusts galleries at SPACE 812 Liberty Avenue and 709 Gallery at 709 Penn Avenue.  Photographer Jerry Irwin from south of Philly has been taking pictures since before 1974.  His most known were taken while skydiving (he was on the cover of Life magazine) or motorcycles, his other passion.  There’s a picture he took of Billy Gibbons on a custom bike built by Mad Dog Custom Chopper in Louisville.  Also in at SPACE is retro paintings by Jonathan Chamberlain and Brian Brown from Bloomfield.  Chamberlain took a brochure from the 1950′s of a lady astride a horse, scanned it into his computer, worked it and then the final image became the source for How I Imagine Your Mother.  Brown is famous for his huge canvases (one is 14 feet tall.)  Daisy Lane is a compilation of various mid 20th century imagery including a butler serving two men, a tiny Jackie Onassis type character standing in a little car, King Kong and even a little space ship.  This picture is so large, that he has to bring a canvas stretcher when it goes on display because it doesn’t fit through doorways.  There are additional paintings by Brown at 709 Gallery.  Free admission, and is open until this coming Sunday (August 19) from 11 am until 6 pm Wednesday and Thursday, 11 am until 8 pm Friday and Saturday and 11 am until 5 pm Sunday.

I have issues with 60 minutes since they trashed Greg Mortenson and the CAI a year ago.  It was very one sided and biased.  Greg is far from a saint and has his flaws, but he does incredible work.  60 Minutes did a great job on the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste, the poorest nation on earth’s symphony.  Armand Diagienda was a pilot for a Congolese airline that went out of business.  So in 1992, he decided to pursue his other passion, music.  He started recruiting musicians and just regular people that wanted to learn music.  This low budget, actually no budget started with locally donated instruments and using local volunteers, they reconditioned them into playable instruments using things like wire from bicycles to restring violins, no kidding.  Two brothers walk ten miles five days a week to practice.  They teach each other how to play music.  For 17 years, in obscurity in the impoverished nation, he has grown his symphony from a hand full of musician to a full orchestra.  Finally in 2009, some Germans made a short film on them and they’ve started getting some recognition.  Armand started getting donated used musical equipment from the Germans who saw this film and several Germans traveled to his conservancy.  Can you image German speaking musicians “talking” to French speaking Congolese how to sing an Italian aria?  Oh, to be a fly on the wall.  The link from the Orchestre Symphonique will take you to part of the 60 Minute special, well worth the four minutes it takes to view.

It’s a beautiful day out there today, enjoy it,




Tomorrow is David Atchison birth anniversary (1807-he was President of the US for one day waiting on President Taylor to be sworn in on Monday, March 4, 1849), it is Chad’s Independence Day (1960), Mike Douglas’ birth anniversary (1925-a pioneer in talk radio), the Aberdeen Asset Mgmt Cowes Week is tomorrow (since 1826, it is the largest, longest and most prestigious international sailing regatta in the world), Alex Haley’s birth anniversary (1921) and it is the Anniversary of the Watt’s Riots (1965).

There’s a great group over here on the Northside doing great things.  I’ve seen the “Off The Floor” truck scooting around.  They are associated with the Pittsburgh Presbytery and don’t even have an office.  This low key group of just two persons and several volunteers has assisted 112 in need families this past year.  People donate used furniture in good condition and Off The Floor stores it in a warehouse next to the Presbytery.  They are so small, they don’t have the ability to screen potential recipients, so they farm this function out to other churches that identify the needs and relay this info on to Off the Floor.  They try hard to not just “drop of a coffee table”, instead they try and pair things together or match current furnishings so the recipient has pride in their home.  They are always looking for bed frames, mattresses, box springs, cribs, high chairs, small end tables, night stands, box fans, kitchen and dining room tables and chairs.  They also accept lightly used bedding and bath linen.  They do not accept TV stands, large desks, book cases, outdoor furniture, any electronics, exercise equipment, clothing, small wares, dishes or utensils.  More info for donations at their web site or by calling 412.926.5053.

I doubt this will surprise you, but I hate telemarketers.  #1 they make use of the phone I pay for to #2 disrupt some portion of my day by #3 talking out their butts about how wonderful their product is and how much it’s going to save me.  They don’t know what I am paying or using, they frequently don’t even know whom to talk to.  This annoyance is incessant, as many at ten or more calls a day, frequently from the same people.  The most annoying are the robo calls that want to lend me money, please press 2.  I have repeatedly asked them to take me off their solicitation lists, I have filed FCC complaints and I still get the calls from some of the same people.  Most calls are for credit card processing (they’re going to save me 30%), low interest loans I qualify for and Verizon trying to get me to bundle (Verizon even sends people door to door wanting to see my current phone bill so they can show me how much they can save me.  I treat them like Jehovah’s Witnesses and chase them with a broom).  :)  Well, it should come as no surprise that I took great pleasure in getting three of their goats in the past week.  The other day a telemarketer called and when I called her a telemarketer, she go all huffy and explained that she wasn’t “a telemarketer, she is a account executive” and then this morning I got one and explained “I don’t pay for a phone for you to sit on your a** and annoy me”.  Well, she really took offense at my “unprofessional” use of the word a**.  I said it three more times and hung up.  :)  And finally I had one that asked me why “I wasn’t interested”.  I told him I don’t deal with telemarketers, if I want to buy ad time in the Penguins Yearbook, I’d conact them.  And he said that he had such a great offer.  When I asked him what part of “I don’t deal with telemarketers” he didn’t understand, he hung up.  :)

When I bought The Parador Inn, I bought sleep sofas for in the living rooms of the suites.  Even though they had Sealy mattresses, they were still thin and fairly uncomfortable mattresses.  I hate those metal day beds and found a wooden day bed at Macy’s that has a nice appearance and changed two rooms to day beds last year (Bougainvillea and Ruellia) and just changed Lady Palm.

And, if you go to my web site, you’ll see the new image I just inserted, now that I have total access to edit it.  :)  There’s also a new picture of Bird of Paradise showing the lace I draped over the pecky cypress door I use as a focal point over the bed.

Back in June, I bought a printer with WiFi capabilities.  I couldn’t get it to work, called a Techie I know and he even had problems getting it to work.  It’s a Samsung and I don’t know if he did something wrong installing it, but it takes forever to print.  I can’t just go in and print Welcome Letter after Welcome Letter.  There’s a delay and there’s kind of a grinding when it prints.  New printers come with a “starter” cartridge and in just over a month, it was warning me that the ink was low.  I initially went back to HHGreg to get a refill, the sales clerk looked and said they didn’t have any, so I went to Stables and they didn’t have a matching cartridge.  I went to Office Max and they didn’t either.  The sales clerk at Office Max called another store and was told we could substitute another cartridge, so I bought it.  When I went to install it, it was the wrong cartridge.  I have a couple of reservations I need to process and Welcome Letters for today’s check-ins and I’m up a creek without a paddle.  I did get two Welcome Letters printed, but the third room, Lady Palm, I had to put a letter from the other day with someone else’s name, the wrong date and room.  At least they have the WiFi passwords and other info I pass on in my Welcome Letters.  This afternoon, I went back to Office Max and returned the cartridge.  I then went to HHGreg to complain about all this with the manager.  He said they had cartridges and they’ve had them for a week.  So he sold me one, because of my tirade about the poor product, etc, he discounted the cartridge $20.  I brought it home and it doesn’t fit.  I could shoot someone.  It turns out I’m going to have to shoot me.  :)  I took the cartridge out of the packing slip and tried to fit it in.  The lid wouldn’t close.  So I took it back to HHGreg and it slipped right in the floor model.  There was a piece of plastic and felt packaging on the cartridge that I hadn’t taken off.  I’m my own worst enemy some times.  ):

Speaking of banking (don’t be confused, we weren’t).  I’m a very happy customer of Slovak Savings Bank here on the Northside.  They are currently a one branch bank that has expanded to include checking accounts and business accounts.  I get such great service, I couldn’t be happier.  I’m a big proponent of small banking and found some links you might be interested in following if you are considering dropping the mega banks.  To look into credit unions, try www.asmarterchoice.org, www.creditunion.coop or www.culookup.com.  If you are looking for a non credit union smaller bank you may try www.bankrate.com, www.moneyrates.com, www.findabetterbank.com, www.bankfox.com or www.mybanktracker.com.  If enough of us pull our funds from the banks of those theives, maybe they will start providing service with reasonable rates, service, fees and less forclosures.

I talked about mobile food vendors a few blogs back.  They are going to have to make room for a new wave coming that’s already making in-roads in New York, Boston, LA, Portland and other towns.  Retail.  Such things as shoe stores, clothing, accessories, massage, even a mobile hair cuts, neck messages and shoe shines in The Man Cave in Phoenix.

The Pennsylvania Master Gardener’s annual Garden in the Parks Field Day will be held next Saturday (August 18) in both North and South Parks.  This runs from 9 am until 1 pm at North Park Demonstration Garden at Wildwood Road and Babcock Blvd and South Park Demonstration garden at Corrigan Drive and McConkey Road.  There will be beekeepers, the Pittsburgh Mushroom Club will be in attendance as will the Pittsburgh Botanic Club.  Master Gardeners will be there to answer questions and give advice.  If you have garden questions, here’s where you need to be.  More info at 412.473.2540.

Speaking of the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, they added rain gardens this year to their Great Garden Contest.  One of the entrants was a 7 acre rain garden in the 87 acre Wingfield Pines Reserve that was build in an abandoned coal mine that had been spilling 43 tons of iron oxides into Chartiers Creek.    This passive system, designed by Bob Hedin, does that job, as well as giving a great place to get ideas by walking along all the boardwalks constructed for visitors to view this natural way to help clean up past mistakes.

Rain Barrels are all over the place this fall.  StormWorks that sponsored the artist painted rain barrels will be auctioning them off in September on-line.  They can be seen at The Children’s Museum, Coffee Tree Roasters (where I get my coffee) at their East Liberty store, US Steel Plaza, PPG Zoo, Aquarium, Schenley Plaza, Construction Junction and the Biddle Building in Wilkinsburg.  StormWorks has been working with Nine Mile Run Watershed Association in clean up Nine Mile Run.  StormWorks is selling 133 and 65 gallon rain barrels for $295 and $199, they send a consultant out for $75 (deductible from the price) to advice you on installation, etc.  You can find rain barrels on-the-cheap at places like ACE Hardware for around $99.  In September and October the Pennsylvania Resouces Council will present rain barrel workshops starting at 10 am and go for $50. More info at their web site.  On September 15 at Cooper-Siegel Community Library at 403 Fox Chapel Road, Fox Chapel, PA 15238 will have a workshop on rain barrels and will receive a $10 coupon that can be used at Penn Barrel Company.  There’s no info at either web site, but there’s contact info and directions to get you started, if you are interested.  On October 6, the Mattress Factory can receive a hardware and a 55 gallon drum coutesy of Coca Cola.  This will be in conjunction with the exhibit Feminist and …….. .  Which includes works by artist Betsy Damon who founded Keepers of the Water, an organization that strives to restore, preserve and remediate water resources.

Well, have a great weekend,




















Tomorrow’s birth days include actress Lucille Ball (1911), poet Lord Tennyson (1809) and artist Andy Warhol (1927), it is the anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima (1945), the disappearance of NY Supreme Justice Joseph Crater (1930), Colordado’s admittance to the Union (1876), the emancipation of both the Bahamas (1834) and Grenada (1834) and Jamaica’s Independence (1962).

Somerset’s 42nd Annual Antique Show will be held this coming August 11 from 8 am until 4 pm.  This is a clean antique show, no flea market or crafters are let in (nothing against them, it’s just not their thing).  Sponsored by the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, this well organized affair has memorabilia, furniture, glassware, jewelry, quilts, etc.  More details at the web site or by calling 814.445.6431

Paint Monkey is a welcome addition to the growing artist community centering in Lawrenceville.  Owners Joe Groom and Mary Lou Bradley have lived in Florida and New York (Mary Lou’s originally from da burg), they rented space in the Ice House on 43rd Street and opened a BYOB painting studio.  The sessions run for two or three hours for $35 and $45 respectively.  They supply stretched canvas with the image sketched on for you to get started.  They supply the image you select from their web site ahead of time, paints and other materials as well as glassware and ice.  You supply the BYOB.  :)  I couldn’t find an actual web site, they seem to be promoting their business through social media like Facebook, Yelp, etc.  So the link is to their Yelp page.  Pretty cool alternative to going to bar, sitting at home watching TV or going to a movie for entertainment.

ALCOSAN has been placed under court order to clean up the storm water runoff that is flowing into the rivers carrying pollutants.  Typically, they are planning on using old school grey water treatment plans at a cost of up to $3.6B instead of a green project.  I have talked about putting a rain garden in my Courtyard to handle my roof runoff.  When it is time to replace my parking lot surface, I intend to use a non-permeable asphalt.  Why can’t ALCOSAN take a comprehensive look at this problem and figure out a way to make a green solution that treats the problem at it’s source?  ALCOSAN’s excuse is they can’t force the many municipalities in their jurisdiction to comply with a master plan like this.  Have they tried?  Look at what Lancaster is doing in conjunction with Live Green.  Philadelphia is even using a green solution to their EPA mandated storm water runoff problem.  Back in the 80′s when I worked in Atlantic City, people couldn’t tear down the old buildings fast enough to make parking lots for the casinos and attractions.  After awhile, the city mandated that these barren pieces of asphalt be at least edged with green space.  This was for aesthetic reasons.  But I had always been impressed with how much nicer these looked.  Why don’t we (ALCOSAN in conjunction with the county and local municipalities) come up with a minimum master plan.  The the city and municipalities can take greening one step further if they want.  There’s a ton of expertise out there that would be glad to offer incites into getting this up and running for free (all these environmental organizations have a wealth of knowledge they would be more than willing to share.)  For example, the experts could tell us how many trees and planting swells would be needed to cover a Sears parking lot.  That would be one easy solution to much of our problems.  Something I hate about all of our parking lots is the trees that are placed there, they are ornamental.  Every time I leave my truck or Prius in a lot, they are steaming when I come back.  I leave da boiz at home many times because I don’t want them to bake in a parking lot.  If they planted full sized trees, not only would my vehicles stay cooler, the overall temperature in the surrounding lot would be lower, lowering the cost of air conditioning the businesses, absorbing more CO2 and creating more oxygen.  Parking lots could be sloped to rain gardens/swells to capture extra runoff.  This could be huge.  We should have mandatory building requirements for these large lots.  ALCOSAN does not “charge” us on what we put into the sewer system, they can’t track it.  They do track our water consumption and our sewer bill is based on that.  But, factored into the sewer bill is a percentage over what water we take out of the system.  Why not offer incentives to take our roof runoff out of the equation?  $3.6B would buy a lot of rain barrels.  :)  There’s a lot of vacant lots and abandoned lots and buildings in the city.  Why not approach neighborhood associations and see about turning these over to the neighborhood for community rain gardens where multiple houses divert their roof runoff to a central locations?  We’ve gotten rid of an eyesore, we’ve taken rainwater out of the equation and we’ve created little neighborhood parklets that the residents could enjoy and take pride in. When they rebuilt Western Avenue several years ago, I thought they had come up with a great idea.  They tore out the old storm water catch basins and filled stone in the whole.  I thought what a great idea, put a storm water catch basin without a bottom, that would safely eliminate a sizable amount of storm water going into the system.  Let some of it leach into the soil below the street.  Wrong, the put catch basins that were completely contained.  I sent ALCOSAN an e-mail with my suggestion and never heard from them.  I know I’m a dreamer.  I’m looking for some sense to come out of a city hall that doesn’t have a noise ordinance in place and  a city counsel woman that hasn’t responded to my complaint about noise for three weeks and counting.  This could be wonderful.  Think what our city would look like if we spent $3.6B on greening the problem!

I spoke of this up coming weekend’s Bantam Jeep Festival in Butler (the home of the iconic jeep) in a past blog.  It runs from this coming Friday through Sunday and drew 35,000 people last year (their first Fest).  They are planning a Street Festival Friday from 6 – 10 pm with vendors, demonstrations and shows at the Big Butler Fairgrounds Saturday from 9 am until 9 pm and Sunday from 9 am till 3 pm Sunday.  More info at their web site.

Mt Lebanon is celebrating it’s 100 year centennial this year.  On September 8 they plan on having a parade on Washington Road with a Street Party afterward starting at 3 pm.  On September 15 they will be giving period dressed guided tours of the St Clair Cemetery where many 18th century soldiers are buried.  And on October 1 - 5 about two dozen “plein air” artists will be working on new works, the finished products will be on display at the municipal building starting at 7 pm on October 5.  More info at the Historical Society of Mt Lebanon  web site and the Mt Lebanon Municipality web site.

Mt Lebanon started in 1912 as a “Trolley Suburb”, obvious why that title.  When they completed the Liberty Tunnels (or tubes if your native) in 1924, Mt Lebanon pretty much exploded and luckily they had great city planners and developers that incorporated some great ideas.  Commercial areas mixed in with residential areas, a commitment to schools within walking distance for the kids, developments that were designed with the hills instead of against them.  In the 1930′s, Mt Lebanon had more cars registered than residents, the dawn of the two car family.  :)  One of the first projects of Lawrence Stevenson, one of the premier develops at the time who saw himself as a community developer was Mission Hills.  Being from the south hills, one of my first jobs after high school was painting houses and we did a lot of work in Mission Hills, Virginia Manor and many of the other 1920′s developments.  All of these homes were so well constructed with quality building materials and craftsmanship that they don’t look like they’re ninety years old.

Well, have a great week and we’ll chat again soon,



Tomorrow’s birth anniversary include Louis Armstrong (1900), American composer William Schuman (1910), poet Percy Shelly (1792), hockey great Rocket Richard of Canada (1921) and Barack Obama (1961).  It is the anniversary of Lizzie Borden’s ax murders (1892), the 50th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s arrest and the finding of the slain bodies of three civil rights workers in Mississippi.

There’s a group here in Pittsburgh that’s part of a loosely aligned group called Awesome.  Awesome Pittsburgh is a group of I believe ten sponsors that kick in $100 for a $1,000 grant they award to people/groups that wouldn’t normally qualify for grants.  You go to their site and fill out a very simple form explaining why your idea is Awesome and if you impress them with your idea for something that’s unique and creative, bang, you get $1,000.  One was recently awarded to a dental clinic on the Hilltop (Beltzoover, Mt Oliver, Allentown, etc) that provide dental services for the poor.  One of the things the dentists wanted to do, but couldn’t get funding fo,r was fluoride treatments for kids to stop or slow cavities.  At around $2 a treatment, that’s a lot of little kids that will be able to have some decent preventative treatments.  Another award was for a puppet photo booth (more than just getting your pictures taken with puppets, but I don’t want to blow there shtick.)  :)

Bike-Pittsburgh is kicking off two weeks of events this Sunday with Pedal Pittsburgh starting and ending at SouthSide works.  Start times are 6, 7 and 9 and the courses go from just two miles for the timid to 63 miles for nut cases like my brother Tom.  (I say that in the kindest of means).  :)  After the event, they are having and expo featuring food and equipment vendors, a beer garden (put those pounds you just worked off back on) :) , BMX riding demonstrations and music.  Admission varies from $30 up to $100 for the VIP pass.  More info on their web site or by calling 412.325.4334.

Murrysville own Kathy Campisano won PFAFF’s World’s Most Creative Sewer Contest in June.  She’s sewn since she was a girl, this project was her first quilt after attending a baby shower.  On the gift registry cars was one of the things listed.  So Kathy incorporated cars and used primary colors for Nathan.  Each patch on the 45″ by 60″ quilt has two, so as Nathan grows, he can learn from his “baby blanket”.  Kathy ended up submitting it to PFAFF’s web site and won the June award which includes a framed certificate and fame.  At the end of the year, the twelve winners will go before an expert jury to pick the year’s Most Creative.  This contest is being run to celebrate PFAFF’s 150 year anniversary.

Ohio River Trail will be having a Fall Fest October 14 at the Lodge in Brady’s Run Park in Beaver County and runs from 9 am until 5 pm.  Events will include a mountain bike ride, 35 or 50 mile run and walk, kayaking, canoeing and other activities like trail tours, music and beer tasting.  Admission is free for kids under 12 and $20 for the rest of us.  More info at their web site.

From 8 pm until midnight Mean Streets Racing race will be situated Downtown and racers will encounter obstacles like Dumpster Diving, Wall Street, Traffic Jam and Cat Burglar.  Admission is $60 per individual, $50 for members of teams.  More info for this less than traditional race is on their web site.

I don’t understand the hoopla about installing parking meters that are missing in the area.  #1, they are city streets.  If you want free parking on your street, move to the suburbs, or West Virginia.  I have meters in front of my business.  Guilty as charged, when I lived on the Southside Slopes, I went in to work at the William Penn early and would come down Arlington and make the hard right onto Carson and park for free along that wall that the city’s now going to turn into a bike lane.  I think they should meter any legal spot on Penn and Smallman Streets.  I know if I lived east of the city and came in to work, I would know where the “free” spots are and park there and then walk or bike to work.  That’s what people are doing now in that area.  The residents are upset about loosing their free and convenient parking.  Yo, you live in a city.  Some in the business community are complaining people won’t plunk quarters to shop there, get better merchandise or lower your prices.  If you have a product someone wants, a meter isn’t going to slow them down.  And you will get rid of all those All Day Parkers, freeing up space for lots more temporary shopping kind of parking.

Highland Park’s Lake Carnegie, built in the 1870′s as a pumping station from the Allegheny River to the Highland Park Reservoir.  It is a lake that has these cement walkways over it and it is the set for Quantum Theatre’s latest play Golden Dragon.  It is set in a Chinese/Thai/Vietnamese restaurant in Germany where 17 unrelated travelers meet and how their lives interconnect.  This is the second play by Ronald Schimmelpfennig’s they performed.  Quantum does nice productions and this would be a great setting for this play.  It runs through August 26 at 8 pm Wednesdays through Sundays.  More info on their web site.

Well, enjoy your weekend and keep hydrated,