Hi,

Birth anniversaries tomorrow include Al Capp (1909), boxer Max Schmeling (1905), Ed Sullivan (1901) and the organizer of the first free kindergarten Kate Wiggin (1856).  This weekend is the Mt Pleasant Glass and Ethnic Festival, home of glass still made for Tiffany glass products.  Tomorrow is Cabrillo Day, the founding of California (1542) and the first night football game (1892)

Some drunk tried to steal RJ!  I was weeding in the back of the parking lot (by the Ballroom) and RJ was sniffing and snorting around the parking lot.  I had an eye on him.  This fairly inebriated man comes up the sidewalk from down by Shamrock and half way across the sidewalk in front of my parking lot he spys RJ and enters my parking lot and calls him.  As always, someone to play with, RJ bounces over.  I’m now watching closer.  He’s petting and fussing with RJ and then he straddles him and is playing with RJ’s choker.  I think he’s assuming RJ’s a stray and was looking for contact info.  Next thing, he walks out of the parking lot and goes around the corner.  I clicked my fingers to get RJ’s attention and then hand signaled for RJ to come to me.  RJ comes trotting back to me and I hear the drunk say “Come here puppy”,  “puppy come here”.  He’s not a good Samaritan, he’s a dog thief.  I go stomping down the parking lot fuming, and he’s at the passenger door of his car parked right around the corner in the first parking spot before my lot.  He was going to call RJ and get him to jump in his car!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If you’ve not sure if you’ve ever seen me angry, trust me if your not sure, you haven’t seen me angry.  It pours out of every pore of my body.  He puts his hands up and stammers “Don’t worry, I like animals”.  I won’t repeat what I said in case some children are reading this, suffice it to say, he left quickly.  I got his description, the car’s description and the license number.  I called it in to the police, but never heard anything.

The group of people trying to turn the old Denis Theater (opened in 1938) into a community theater and event center just got an anonymous $100,000 donation.  The donor also offered another $100,000 if the non-profit can raise the $200,000 they have set as a goal by February.  They are encouraging donors to take advantage of the Pittsburgh Foundation’s Day of Giving to capitalize on the added donation the the Pittsburgh Foundation supplies on it’s yearly event on October 3.

Old Economy Village is having their yearly Erntefest, the traditional German harvest festival that shows how 19th century Western Pa communities prepared for winter.  Activities will include broom making, wine making, meat smoking, coopering and beekeeping.  For the kids they’ve included playing with the fire pumper, walking on stilts, sack races and rolling hoops.  Admission is $12 for adults, $6 for kids, tots are free and it runs this Saturday from 10 am until 5 pm and Sunday from noon to 5 pm.  More info at their web site or by calling 724266.4500.

Why do the newscasters ALWAYS say something happened in “Myanmar, sometimes called Burma” and when talking about the new oil and gas extraction method they ALWAYS say “Hydrolic Fracturing, also known as Fracking”.  Do they think we forgot that we’ve heard these words for years now?  :)

Here’s an idea for you, why not dining on the tracks?  We have a number of restaurants in old train stations.  The grand dame everyone knows is The Grand Concourse in Station Square.  That’s the old P & L E railroad station built in 1901 for Joshua Rhodes’ railroad (the guy that built my Inn-and I cooked in the Concourse- in the 1990′s-kind of scary, huh?).  Chuck Muer converted it into one of the best seafood dominated restaurants in 1978.  It has since be bought by the Landry group.  In Wilmerding, there’s the Station Brake Cafe.  This cafe, opened in 1986, has retained much of the old architecturals.  The menu strives for local and organic products, much of the vegetables they grow themselves.  Out in Latrobe is DiSalvo’s Station Restaurant.  This restaurant was converted from an Amtrak train station 1989 into an Italian restaurant.  The atrium has an Italian feel to it with cobble stones, a limestone fountain and lots of plants.  On the weekend you can book exclusive dining in the 1901 refurbished train car called Prima Classe, reservations only.  While out east, there’s Greensburg’s Supper Club.  This two year old restaurant shares space with other tenants in this station built in 1910 for the Pennsylvania railroad.  They try to use as much sustainable foods as possible in this American style menu and is near Seton Hill University.  Finally, over in Tarentum is JG’S Tarentum Station.   The station was originally built for the Norfolk Southern railway originally in 1870, torn down and rebuilt around 1914.  The restaurant has had various owners and personalities since first opening in 1984.  The current owner, John Greco (hence JG in the name :) ), has a casual/fine dining theme.

Saturday, Canonsburg is having a unique dinner experience. Their Dine in the Pool (yes, you got that right, in the pool) is a fund raiser.  Tickets are $40 and $75 for two and they are raising money to replace the liner in this pool built in 1935 (the liner was last replaced 15 years ago).  It may be sold out at this point, last I heard they had sold 100 tickets.  The ticket includes valet parking, hors d’oeuvres, dinner and dancing from 5 until 9 pm.  More info at 724.745.1800.

Aspinwall Riverfront Park is growing by almost an acre due to the city of Aspinwall leasing them an old parking lot for $1 for 99 years.  This parcel opens up the area so this fledgling reclamation of water front can proceed.

I had a call from Captain Joe with the Gateway Clipper fleet today.  He invited me to join their concierge service, I love people in business that don’t wait for new customers to fall out of the sky.  I support all local business around here (as long as they do a good job).  :)  In particular, when a guest checks in to The Parador Inn, after all the formalities of registration, breakfast times, etc I always ask “Are you all set, or do you need directions or recommendations.”  Always.  Tip for you travelers, even if you have your trip all planned out and the Innkeeper offers tips, take advantage of it.  You don’t have to act on any suggests we give, but having options is always a good thing.  And even if you’ve done all your home work, the Innkeeper might know something new, close, temporary that might peak your interest.  Why am I belaboring this point when I was talking about the Gateway Clipper.  You know, when someone stays in my Inn, 90 some % of the time, they are looking for things to do, restaurants to eat.  Two things, point one is when I first opened, I would go around to local restaurants I recommend and get copies of their menus.  After suggesting that the restaurants should take over this task and drop menus off instead of me soliciting business for them AND doing the ground work of getting the menus, I quit.  I still recommend the restaurants, but don’t carry menus.  If I owned a restaurant, I would be pounding the pavement to get my menus out.  I would make a deal with all Innkeepers that if the Innkeeper made the reservation, the guests would get a free glass of wine, dessert, something to make them feel special.  As a business person hustling my brochures where ever I can, it drives me nuts that they don’t even distribute their menus locally.  Point two is when I opened, I never recommended the Gateway Clipper fleet.  I haven’t been on one since John Connoly (sp?) owned that and the Sheraton.  Insolent staff and mediocre food is the best I could say about them.  Things change, Innkeepers add and subtract from our list.  Two years ago, when two guests checked in and I asked them if they needed directions or recommendations, they said “No, we’re going on the Majestic for a dinner cruise”.  You never tell a guest they made a poor choice, so I just said OK.  The next morning when I asked about food and server, they were quite upbeat about it.  I have since had a number of guests patronize the Clippers with similar responses.  I’ve been recommending the Clippers since.  What I like about Captain Joe is #1 he called me and introduced himself.  #2 He requested that I participate in their concierge program.  #4 He’s dropping his menus off (well actually brochures).  #5 He’s requested a meeting to see how we can both work together for mutual promotion.  Since opening up here, I’ve had restaurants mail me menus requesting that I put them out for guests.  I’ve never eaten in that restaurant, don’t know anything about it, never had an introductory phone call, offer for a free meal (or even discount) to see if they are worthy of my effort and reputation.  That’s pretty nervy, in my opinion.  I had an Innkeeper that wasn’t even in town yet, opening an Inn and asking me to refer guests to her.  This is my reputation on the line.  I just don’t recommend anyone.  OK, I’m done.  :)

Saturday is my last wedding.  Kate & Jordan seem to have all their i’s dotted and t’s crossed.  I’m amazingly prepped for this and look forward to my last wedding being another tremendous success,

ed

Hi,

Today is the birth anniversary of John Chapman (better known as Johnny Appleseed 1774), TS Eliot (1888), George Gershwin (1898), Pope Paul VI (1897) and Shamu (1985).  It is also the anniversary of the West Side Story premier (1957), the first televised presidential debate (1960) and it is Yom Kippur.

Here’s one of my re-occurring themes.  UPMC claiming that it’s non-profit.  To qualify for non-profit status, a hospital has to provide just 4% of their income for indigent care.  Each year, UPMC just barely makes the 4%, that’s with all their “skilled” accountants.  They grossed $9.6B fiscal year ending this past June.  To the city, which they pay no property tax and refuse to join other non-profits that voluntarily pay a portion of property tax, they said they netted $7M, yet at their board of investors they said they netted $220.7M !  They are now mounting a reputation campaign costing thousands to try and cover this up.  UPMC owns at least $1.3B in property in Allegheny County.

Pittsburgh has more sets of city steps than any other city in the country.  In fact, we have more than both San Fransisco (#2) and Cincinnati (#3) combined.  That’s a lot of steps!  I wonder what the public works department’s title is for the person in charge of steps.  The stepmeister?  :)

This Saturday will be the third annual Allegheny Green & Innovation Festival at Hartwood Acres from 11 am until 4 pm. Food will have Conflict Kitchen, Soup Nancy’s, Franktuary, and Sito’s Middle Eastern Foods  (an offshoot of Khalil’s Restaurant) to name a few.  They will be collecting used bicycles, bike parts, the food bank will be collecting non-perishable foods and they will be collecting gently used medical equipment like canes, wheel chairs, etc.  There will be lots of kids stuff like reuse-a-palooza, the Science Center will be there and more.  There’s going to be dozens of exhibitors, vendors and demonstrations in addition to about two dozen craft vendors. This is timed to coincide with Hartwood’s Hay Day, a Fall Hay Day featuring hay rides, face painting, a corn maze, a pumpkin patch with pumpkin painting, petting zoo, puppet show and a petting zoo.  More info at their web sites.

Growing up in Pittsburgh, I’m familiar with John Brashear, the 19th century Industrialist that was in opitcs.  I didn’t realize what a cool guy he was.  Born in Brownsville (down the Mon Valley), he only received the equivalent of a middle school education.  As a boy of 9, his grandfather took him to see a traveling telescope that was in town and it became an obsession with him.  He moved to South Side and taught himself how to make optics in a small coal shed on Holt Streets by lamp light.  He didn’t patent most of his many inventions because he published them “for the good of science.”  I knew he was the driving force behind the observatory being built in Riverview Park, what I didn’t know was his and his wife Phoebe’s ashes are buried under the observatory with the quote “We have loved the stars too much to be afraid of the dark”.  Besides telescopes, he pioneered a revolutionary process used in spectroscopes that permitted scientist to determine the chemical composition of 300 astrological bodies.  A mirror he built in 1886 was used in Einstein’s theory of relativity by calculating the speed of light.  Optical products he made are  treasured as Stradivarius violins are to violin enthusiasts.

Just Ducky just passed their 15th anniversary.  I thought I talked about them in the past, I did a search for past blogs and not much came up.  I wish I remembered the details.  They started with just one of those amphibious vehicles (I guest 15 years ago) kind of like on a lark.  At the time, they weren’t particularly mechanically inclined, but put their noses to the grind stone and the rest is history.  They have an entire fleet of vehicles now and last year, they bought the Pittsburgh franchise of Molly’s Trolley.  I first noticed Molly’s Trolley down in West Palm when I lived there.  I didn’t realize the company started here.  The founder decided to live full time down in West Palm and sold Molly’s to Ducky.

We’re in the middle of RAD Days. RAD, Regional Asset District, takes 1/2 of the extra 1% sales tax in Allegheny County and distributes it to different arts groups (looks like Port Authority may be thrown in the mix now as well (who can call them part of the arts community?)  So in celebration, the recipients of this money have free admission days. I was at the Mattress Factory on Sunday, their free day.  Thursday will be free admission to Heinz Field (no game :) ), Friday will be free admission to the Cultural District’s Gallery Crawl, Saturday will have free admission to The Frick, Fort Pitt Museum, free admission to Young Men and Woman’s African Heritage Association at 1205 Boyle Street here on the Northside (they’re the group that brought Gee’s Bend’s Quilters here two years ago and those amazing ladies stayed at The Parador) and the above mentioned Hartwood Acres event.  Sunday’s free admission include the Heinz History Center, the Young Men and Woman’s African Heritage Association (again), the Oakland Carnegie Natural History/Art/Architectural Museums, the Children’s Museum and a special presentation at the Carnegie Library next to the museums in Oakland.  Monday will have free admission at the Soldier’s and Sailors Memorial Hall.  Wednesday, Manchester Craftsman’s Guild will have free events at the center here on the Northside.  Next Thursday, The Pittsburgh Center for the Performing Arts will be giving free special tours.  October 5 will have free special tours of the Davie Lawrence Convention Center and Pittsburgh Glass Center (and PGH Film Makers).  October 6, free admission will include Bulgarian-Macedonian National Education and Cultural Center, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and Pittsburgh Film Makers (again).  Sunday, October 7 the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium will have free admission.  Monday, Soldiers and Sailors will again have free admission.  Finally, as a close out, on October 13 Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will be featuring a free Sketch Crawl, WQED will be giving free tours, the Pittsburgh Symphony and South Park’s Hay Day will all be free.  I’m tired thinking about all this.

That was a lot of links I had to do :)

ed

Hi,

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Mexico City earthquake that killed nearly 10,000 persons in 1985, the colony of Jamestown was burnt to the ground during Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 and the “Iceman” mummy was discovered in the Austrian-Italian Alps in 1991 (a 5,300 year old frozen mummy-he was found with his clothes, shoes and weapons still intact).

I survived my third round of jury duty this year today.  #1  I forgot about the Friday jury selection until Saturday.  #2 I showed up in shorts, they don’t like shorts.  #3 today I went in and wasn’t called. :)

OK, I’m going outside my normal here.  But Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu got my goat.  A lot of the middle east animosity towards us is because of the Israeli unfair treatment of the Palestinians and the BILLIONS in aid we give the Israeli nation.  Don’t get me wrong. both sides are wrong in their treatment of each other.  But Israel is still allowing settlers to build housing on internationally accepted Palestinian land.  The far right in Israel will not give up until all of the land within the boundaries of Israel are Israeli controlled and inhabited.  Leaving the Palestinians homeless.  I took offense at Mr. Netanyahu’s insistence that our President agree to a specific “red line” that if Iran crossed would mean we would commit to going to war with Iran (I may not have an issue with going to war with Iran, but I have an issue with a foreign politician demanding that commitment).  He then snubbed Mr. Obama and is now going to the American general public talking about the upcoming elections on multiple talk shows.  Who is he and where does he get the audacity to try and sway a sovereign election!  I guess giving them BILLIONS in aid allows their prime minister to take liberties with our elected officials.

OK, I’m done here.  :)

After thirty years in moth balls, the Carrie blast furnace fired up again for a special tour last weekend.  Well, actually that’s not true.  The real blast furnace that used to crank out 1,250 tons of iron a day wasn’t fired up.  Local artist Ed Parrish of Hot Metal Happenings fired up his smaller personal blast furnace that he uses to melt recycled bathtubs and radiators that are then funneled into his molds making plaques and artwork.  This was for a tour and celebration of the importance the Carrie furnace playing in our steel making heritage by Rivers of Steel.  The Carrie furnace, first fired up in 1884 made iron, most of it was shipped across the river to the Monongahela to the Homestead plant of the Carnegie Steel Works that eventually became US Steel (currently the Waterfront shopping center sits on the site, that’s why those four huge smoke stacks are down toward Sandcastle.)  The Carrie site is part of the 38 acres Rivers of Steel is spearheading to create a national park in remembrance of the significance of this area in the Industrial Age.

Chicago transplant Randall Sulkin settled in Lawrenceville about a year and a half ago.  He and some other locals are spark interest in the Allegheny Arsenal.  The Arsenal was the largest manufacturer of munitions during the Civil War.  The day before the Battle of Antietam (September 18, 1862) a series of fires and explosions broke out at the Arsenal that killed 78 people, 70 of them were girls, some as young as 12.  The Arsenal liked young girls because their small fingers made packing munitions easier and generally speaking they didn’t smoke.  The Arsenal, founded in 1814 was owned by the Army that sold the last piece in 1926.  Visitors to the Arsenal included John Quincy Adams, Charles Dickens and Marquis de Lafayette.  The property currently stretches from Penn Avenue down to Butler Street (it used to go all the way down to the Allegheny River).  The Arsenal tragedy was so over shadowed by the Battle of Antietam (23,000 Union and Confederate troops were slain), it has always been a step-child in history.

Good news for the city of Monessen.  The coke plant there, shutter in 2009 may be reopening in about a year.  The small crew maintaining the plant will be joined by about 500 new employees once renovations are completed.  ArcelorMittal, the the largest steel producer in the world from Luxemburg is filing for federal and state permit to commence a $50 investment in equipment, water and pollution controls.  Related, US Steel’s Clairton’s coke plant should be fully operational within the next several months after a $500M investment in efficiency improvements and pollution controls.  The Clairton plant is the largest coke producer in the United States churning out 960,000 tons annually.

Did you know much of the Empire State Building is owned by 3,000 investors that plunked out about $10,000 each decades ago.  The building was appraised at $2.5B last year.  The Malkin and Helmsley families that run the Empire State Building are trying to get these people to surrender their ownership for stocks in a REIT. The securities and exchange commission has to approve this change in ownership status and could come out with a ruling.  If the SEC approves, then it’s up to the current owners to vote on the change.  If 20% don’t want to sell, the deal can’t go through.  Some of the small owners are trying to band together to organize a defeat of the proposal.  The mortgage is only $209M which would give them plenty of leverage to purchase a larger stake in the building and build their equity.

A REIT is a tax shelter which generally do not look for a profit, they are looking to see growth year over year.  More money passing through their hands gives them more money to work with.  One of the reasons I left the corporate world in 1999, was the owners of the Palm Beach Hilton, where I worked, were negotiating with Starwood Properties, a REIT.  I could do a whole blog on this, suffice it to say, REITs are controlled by big money people that just want to make more big money.

Frank Lloyd Wright has much more of a connection to Pittsburgh than just Fallingwater.  He designed a number of significant buildings that were never built for one reason or another.  One was for a very futuristic parking lot next to the Kaufmann department store across Forbes where Macy’s parking garage is now.  One was for an apartment building up on Mt Washington that later Trimont admittedly took liberties with his design.  But the main reason for this post, you should see what he had planned for Downtown and the Golden Triangle.  Back in the late 1940′s he designed this gargantuan structure that would have encompass all of The P0int, Gateway Center and beyond.  Point Park Civic Center was designed to hold theaters, arenas, shops and more.  Check out the link.

Have a great rest of the week,

ed

 

Hi,

Tomorrow is independence day for much of Central America: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua all in 1821 from Spain.  Greenpeace was founded in 1971, birth anniversaries include Agath Christie (1890), Fay Wray (1907) and William Taft (1857).  It is also the anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham that killed four young girls (1963).

The Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens out in Oakdale is kind of open.  It officially opens next spring, but they have areas that are pretty much finished that they are offering sneak previews.  Much of this 460 acre garden is reclaimed strip mines.  They are dividing the space into various “gardens”, the first one they are working on is Appalachian Plateau.  This 60 acre site already has a pond so fouled with mine acid drainage, even mosquitoes wouldn’t breed there.  This first section will not have just native plants to our area.  They plan to have plants and trees from Europe and Asia also that will be closely monitored to ensure they do not become invasive.  142 year old barn will become the Bayer Welcome Center and a place for classes and social events.  They are planning on spending $30M over 30 years to bring this up to speed.  They are located at next to Settlers Cabin Park.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.444.4464.

Jenn Morris has started a campaign to recycle something that’s in abundance but is not easily recycled.  She founded Cork PGH that collects those pesky wine corks.  (I save mine in a drawer until I find some artist looking for them).  In eight months, Jenn amassed 140,000 corks-enough to fill two pick-up trucks from landfills.  She has collection sites at The Pittsburgh Public Market, Carlo’s Wine Garage, Glades Pike Winery and Eclipse.  (Whole Foods has their own cork recycling program).  She’s hoping to get restaurants caught up in the program and keep even more out of landfills.  You go girl.  :)

I’ve talked about the food truck plying the streets in the past.  I found some more.  The Polish Pierogi Truck can be found at the Whitehall Farmers Market on Mondays, Tarentum Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays, Greentree Farmer’s Market on Thursdays and Mt Lebanon Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.  More info on the web site of this New Kensington based traveling truck (they also sell pierogis from their web site).  Dozen Bakeshop that specializes in cupcakes started over in the West End, but closed that store to open stores in Lawrenceville and Oakland.  They now have a dessert truck that travels around special events.  More info on their web site.  Moonlite Express does a pseudo-Asian take just off CMU campus on the corner of Margaret Morrison Street and Forbes Avenue.  Besides it being one of the most colorful trucks in Pittsburgh, you will find da ‘burg influenced Asian food like Kielbasa and Kraut fried rice.  :)  My last find is PGH Taco Truck.  James Rich fell in love with the concept of food trucks after working on the Burrito Buggy outside Ohio University’s campus.  He’s brought the concept of upscale tacos to the streets of PGH with locally sourced and fifty percent of his menu is vegetarian friendly.  Because of the PGH City ordinance that food trucks can only be parked for 30 minutes on the street, he advertises his locations by Twitter.  Check them all out.  Van Appetit (get it?  Bon Appetit-I slay me sometimes).  :)

Bugs, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has more bugs than you can shake a stick at.  With The Parador Inn being a corporate sponsor, I get to go to behind the  scenes events.  I think I talked about it after attending a presentation by the bug people at the museum.  They have roughly 11M bugs categorized, labeled and many on display.  THEY HAVE AROUND 20M MORE IN STORAGE!  During the tour, Curator John Rawlins explained the entomology has a lot of fans.  When a professor of entomology, or some other bug professional passes away, what does the widow/widower do with the collection?  It ends up being donated to The Carnegie.  The presentation probably is one of those things that will remain with me the rest of my life.  I’m still not in love with bugs, but certainly have a greater appreciation for them after that.  Curator Rawlins has teamed up with a group of professors and students at CMU’s School of Design and they created a new exhibit to teach, engage in and easy to understand style.  They have also recruited famous bugs like Z from Antz, Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web, Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio and the Honey Nut Cheerios bee.  Sounds like a pretty cool presentation.

Well, that’s about it for now.  Enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend’s supposed to have,

ed

Hi,

I assume all will take a minute to remember all those that perished eleven years ago.  It is the anniversary of another dark day in American history, the Mountain Meadows Massacre happened in 1857.  Emigrants traveling by wagon train were stopped by John Doyle Lee, a Mormon leader in Utah, on their journey to California.  140 adults were massacred and seventeen small children were parceled out to Mormon families.  Tomorrow is Pakistan’s founder’s day, a state holiday commemorating the death of Qaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of modern Pakistan in 1948.

OMG, I can’t believe he may have out done himself.  My frequent subject of conversation, Steve Bland from the Port Authority, is unbelievable.  He’s asking for $3M from RAD (the Regional Asset District-the body that takes 50% of the added Allegheny County 1% sales tax and RAD divides it between deserving arts programs).  In exchange for taking $3M from that arts (and I’m not necessarily against this), he’s offered to put that wraparound advertising they put on their buses, on one or two buses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Did I say OMG, he thinks a bus or two’s advertising is worth $3M!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  This may be better than his quote in 2006 (before the Northshore  extension was approved) when asked if they would provide extra trains on Steeler home game days and he said “No, that would require overtime”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If Florida offers him that job in Jacksonville, I’ll pay to subsidize his move.  :)

Extras the credit card companies are trying to get you to sign up for so they can make even larger profits.  Payment Protection is set up to pay the minimum payment on the amount you owe if you loose your job or are disabled.  #1, the GAO found banks charge between .85 and $1.35 per $100 on your credit card.  That is one of the highest rates of any insurance.  #2, there’s a ton of fine print excluding them having to pay in the event you loose your job or are disabled.  The GAO found that in 2009, customers paid $2.4B into this program and redeemed $518M.  Pretty hefty profits.  For around $15 per month, your credit card company will monitor your credit that someone doesn’t make unauthorized purchases on your credit card.  #1, they are required by law to do this anyway.  #2, they are required by law to do this anyway.  I’m going to let you figure out what #3 is.  The best thing you can and should do is monitor your own credit.  When the bills come in, don’t wait until the due date to look at it.  Look at the charges as soon as you receive it.  Anything you don’t recognize, call the phone number next to the charge.  If the phone number doesn’t work (this has happened to me), or the person answering the phone doesn’t satisfy you-immediately contact the credit card company and file a dispute.  You should also look at your free credit report yearly for inaccuracies.  You can get this report by visiting annual credit report or by calling 877.322.8228.

West Homestead acquiring another free standing casual restaurant, Dorothy 6 Blast Furnace Cafe hopes to open soon on Eighth Avenue.  Olivia Crocker is joining Nelda & Jeff who opened Smoke Barbeque Taqueria down the street a year ago May.  Olivia doesn’t have a web site yet, so I can’t send you there.  Also, around the corner is one of my favorite little casual family restaurants, the Miller family’s  Blue Dust on Amity Street and farther down Eighth Avenue Tin Front Restaurant is doing a nice job.  So if you are down in Homestead visiting The Rivers of Steel Heritage Museum and looking for lunch or dinner, you have options.  If you are shopping at the Waterfront, why patronize one of the box chains when you can have some pretty exciting food, instead of the boring box restaurants and support small business.

Next weekend, the sleepy little town of Bridgewater will be hosting Bookfest 2012: a Celebration of Reading, Writing and the Arts-this will be their fifth.  Fifty regional authors will be on hand Saturday talking about their works.  Friday from 7 – 10 pm they will have a block party featuring conga drumming, African dance lessons and refreshments.  Saturday from 10 am until 4 pm the authors will be on hand as will crafters, refreshments and children’s readings.

Nittany Greyhounds is a rescue organization for the ex-racers.  They have been around since 2009 and they run a separate boarding operation to help pay their mortgage.  A soulless neighbor that owns storage facilities takes objection to this “money making” operation next to his property and has filed complaints with the township’s zoning department.  He objects to the “traffic” the boarding operation brings to the neighborhood.  How much traffic does dropping a pet off and then retrieving him/her later create?  A lot less than trucks and minivans dropping off items in his storage units.  My opinion, running the boarding kennel is like a fire company having a bingo, with less traffic.  Nittany Greyhounds is seeking financial help with their legal battles with soulless Houtz.  You can visit their web site or like them on Facebook.

Dave Messersmith of the Penn State Extension Office will be hosting a number of webinars on shale gas drilling.  The first one, this Thursday will address an overview of  trends in shale-gas drilling.  The next one on October 18 will cover reading royalty checks (I wish I needed this one :) ), November 15 will feature gas utilization, December 20 will discuss what a water study means and putting them in perspective, January’s topic will be ethane cracker plant impact in a community and finally on February 21 the discussion will be on environmental organizations perspective on natural gas impact on forestry and wildlife.  I think it will be a good source of unbiased information on this controversial subject.  More info on their web site.

Well, if you weren’t aware before, Fall’s right around the corner.  Low humidity and 70 degrees right now.  This part I like.  :)

ed

 

 

Hi,

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the first Continental Congress was convened (1774), Jesse James birth (1847), the first observance of Labor Day (1882) in New York, Babe Ruth’s first pro homer (1914), Arthur Nielsen’s birth anniversary (1897-marketing pioneer), the 40th anniversary of the Israeli Olympiad Massacre in Munich (1972) and the assassination attempt of Prez Gerald Ford (1975).

I have problems with two of my bathrooms since buying The Parador in 2005.  Lady Palm’s tub has either overflowed or the guest didn’t close the shower curtain tight and the bathroom doesn’t have a water proof tile floor, so the water flows down into the ceiling of Bird of Paradise’s bathroom directly below it.  It has been a consistent problem.  Two years ago, I couldn’t patch Bird of Paradise’s bathroom ceiling anymore, so I put a layer of 1/4″ drywall over it.  I’ve had problems since and a couple of weeks ago, a big chunk fell down.  Chuck, the owner of Metro Classic Builders, suggested a drop ceiling so I could replace panels as needed.  I couldn’t see having an industrial looking office ceiling anywhere in my Inn.  He showed me a newer look, it looks like a paneled ceiling.  I decided to go with it and I will faux it to look like wood this winter.  I think I can live with that.

The Pittsburgh Irish Festival is back this coming weekend, Friday from 4 pm until 10 pm, Saturday from 11 am until 10 am and Sunday from 10 am until 4 pm at Riverplex in Sandcastle.  They have quite the line up and quite the variety, even Irish ghost stories.  Go to their detailed web site for the entire schedule or call 412.422.1113.

Coming soon are two films shot in Pittsburgh.  Won’t Back Down is about two mothers fighting a failing school system their children attend and they won’t back down. I like that.  :)  It is scheduled to be released September 28.  In October, Perks of Being a Wallflower is the story of a shy college freshman that is taken under the wings of two seniors.  It looks cute.

Have you heard of William Adams, the founder and CEO of Adams Industries?  He was a librarian in Pittsburgh Public Schools in 1981 and got fed up with it.  He decided to start his own business, much to his wife’s displeasure (at the time).  He started with making suction cups and sold them from the trunk of his car from Ohio to Washington, DC.  ACE, True Value and Do It Best hardware stores all carried his wares.  He has grown this small business up to $50M a year and 265 employees.  They now make hangers, patio furniture, Adirondack chairs and his latest is an ergo-dynamic stackable bar stool.  He’s now in CVS, Walgreen, even my arch nemesis Walmart.  He’s had offers from the likes of Wall Street investors and refuses to even open the letters because he knows they will move the company and take his hometown jobs elsewhere.  Don’t you love this country?  :)

Pittsburgh native, Gina Brown, is becoming quite well known.  Her husband Brian got tired of tripping over all the stuff she’s collected from flea markets, yard sales, etc in their basement and asked her to sell some off.  So she started re-purposing/re-doing them and was pretty successful at selling them at a profit.  It has become her passion.  When they moved to a 188 year old farm house in Ohio, she re-purposed the barn and went into production.  She hooked up with her agent Caroline Galloway of Mouth 2 Mouth PR and started getting national attention.  She’s been on the DIY network several times.  She has since made 18 videos “Two Minute Design Tips” and msn has picked them up and they cycle through their web site.  Go to the link to see one, Google her if you want to see more.  Some are pretty interesting

Shadyside’s A Fair in the Park is having their 43th event this weekend.  It’s in Melon Park out there and has over 100 quality craft persons with art from glass blowing, wood working and turning, scherenschnitte (German scissor art), pottery and so much more.  It is open Friday from 1 to 7 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.  More info at their web site.

In 1972, Edgar Kaufmann Jr Charitable Trust founded Pioneer Crafts Council that later became Touchstone Center for Crafts in Farmington.  It is an art and teaching facility that is open three seasons (closed in winter) and they get students from all over the United States.  They teach blacksmithing, ceramics, fiber, glass, metals, jewelry, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, weaving and more.  They are having an exhibit of over 100 objects in the Speyer Gallery at Fallingwater through October 30 and viewing is included in the price of admission to Fallingwater.

Well, that’s it for this time, talk again soon,

ed

Hi,

Holy cow, it’s been a week.  World War II started when Germany invaded Poland in 1939, the Titanic was discovered in 1985, Rocky Marciano’s birth anniversary (1923), it is the anniversary of the Soviets shooting down Korean Air Lines flight 007 after straying over Soviet territory killing all 269 persons on board, Germany returned it’s capital to Berlin in 1999 and it’s Chicken Boy’s birthday (the 22 foot statue of a boy with a chicken for a head that was the mascot of a fried chicken restaurant, when the restaurant closed, the Future Studio of Los Angeles rescued it and put it on a roof top on Route 66.  It has become quite the icon).

I know it’s been a week, sorry guys.  I will have another post with pic’s on why I’ve been remiss on my blogging.

Briefly, I would like to weigh in on this health care debate.  Health care needs addressed, but creating a voucher system for our seniors is totally out of the question.  I’m sure I’m not the only middle aged adult that has difficulty figuring out what what’s covered and what’s not covered and why in my health care policy.  And I’m sure I’m not the only one dealing with an elderly loved one that would be required to make these chooses through the voucher system.  Luckily, my mom has me and my sibs to help her navigate all this stuff.  There’s a lot of elderly that don’t have younger people to help them make sense of all the complications of life.  Assuming an 84 year old could make good choices is ridiculous.

My squirrels are gone.  I read an article in the spring about a cyclical/drought related prediction that the oak trees were going to have a poor acorn harvest this summer which would lead to a major decline in the squirrel population in western Pennsylvania.  I wasn’t seeing as many squirrels lately and so bought a bag of unsalted peanuts at the store (acorns of any kind are hard to find in grocery stores).  :)  I spread them around the base of the locus tree in the Courtyard a couple of days ago.  They haven’t been touched and I haven’t seen a squirrel in over a week now.

Fossil Free Fuel, LLC got the green light (pun intended) to install their first 5,000 gallon tank and pump at 228 Braddock Avenue in Braddock.  Fossil Free processes used oils from restaurants into a fuel that can be used in diesel kind of vehicles.  Their sister company, Optimus Technologies, LLC converts standard diesel vehicles into bio-diesel vehicles.  They have plans to increase the “gas” station to four pumps.

Speaking of Braddock, Mayor Fetterman has another project breaking ground.  Trek Development is breaking ground on 24 new townhouse apartments on the site of the former UPMC Braddock Hospital.  Did I mention that the greedy “non-profit” UPMC tore down the Braddock hospital in this distressed area of Allegheny County (ie lower household incomes) and just opened a $250M facility six miles away in a more affluent area, Monroeville.  Oh, and they build this brand new hospital directly across the street from their rival’s Forbes Regional Hospital.  Such scum bags.  No wonder health care keeps getting more expensive.  What galls me is not the blatant greed on UPMC’s part, but that they continually get away with it.

What to “get” a friend?  CelebCalls.com offers celebrities pre-recorded messages.  There’s one with Ben Roethlisberger’s voice that says “I’m here with (your name) and he told me that you are a big fan of  (another football team’s name).  I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are worse teams out there, let me rephrase that:  They are one of the worst teams out there”.  You get this for $3.99 per message.  There’s other celebs, athletes, entertainers and other performers.  Some of the celebs take the income, most donate it to a charity of their choice.  CelebCalls rolled out two years ago with Ice T and his wife Coco, since then they have added other stars that ended up collectively recording tens of thousands of messages.  Although Ben’s message is less than a minute, it took hours to record all of the names, phrases, teams they had to record.

What a mess Randy Travis is these days.  He seems to be taking the spot light of f Charlie Sheen.  He was arrested six months ago on public drunkenness in Plano, TX.  He was arrested last week passed out in a car he wrecked, naked.  And just this past Friday, he was again arrested in a church parking lot for public drunkenness and even threatened the police officers.  Randy and his wife (who was his manager) divorced in 2010 and those relationships have taken a big downward spiral.

There seems to be growing opposition to ALCOSAN’s $2B water treatment white elephant.  County Controller Chelsa Wagner has joined County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in calling for them to explore green options.  Instead of constructing HUGE underground aqueducts to hold the excess storm/sewer waters until the plants can process them, lower the amount of run off with green programs.  ALCOSAN said that option was impossible because they have no authority over all of the municipalities they service.  I would imagine Rich Fitzgerald could weigh in on that.  Why don’t the petty bureaucrats try looking outside the little boxes that keep them penned in?

Here’s a little factoid for you.  Twenty-six companies paid their CEO’s more than they paid the federal government in taxes.  I’m not even going to go here.  ):

The Buhl Planetarium will be closing this coming Tuesday for a fairly substantial renovation.  The main point is to get the ceiling repainted.  The old paint was fine for the old projector, but since install the new one in 2006, the images haven’t been as crisp as possible.  And since it’s closed, they are replacing the incandescent bulbs along the perimeters (right under the ceiling) with LED bulbs that they can coordinate with the laser shows.  New upholstery and carpeting are both in the plans.  Buhl is scheduled to reopen September 22.

The Rib Fest is again this weekend at Heinz Field.  Sorry for the late post, lat night the Clarks played.  Not much today because of the Pitt Panthers vs Youngstown State game.  Sunday, .38 Special will playing for free starting at 7:30.  Monday Uncle Kracker will perform starting at 4 pm.  The Steelers Grand Hall will be open showing the six Super Bowl trophies and the evolution of the Terrible Towel.  The original towel will be on display and then each official change in it’s design.  More info at their web site.

Speaking of rib cook-offs, they are having one at the South Park Fairgrounds also this weekend.  Hours are noon until 10 tonight and Sunday and noon until 8 on Monday.  Admission is $10 and headlining will be the Gin Blossoms tonight at 8:45, Little River Bands same time Sunday night, and the former lead singer from Bad Company Monday 6:45.  More info at 412.405.9631 or at the web site.

Allegheny County Parks Department, Citiparks and Pittsburgh Conservancy will hold meetings this month about oak wilt and the emerald ash borer.  The meeting September 11 from 10 am until noon will be held at the Buffalo Inn across from the South Park Fairgrounds and both oak wilt and emerald borer will be discussed.  On September 12 the meeting will be held at Riverview Park Activities Building from 6 until 7 on oak wilt only at Perrysville and Riverview Drives.  The meetings are free and more info can be gotten by calling Denise Schreiber at 412.835.1201.

That’s it for this post.  The remnants of hurricane Issac seem to have hit Pittsburgh as I write this.  It’s supposed to mainly be south of us.  Keep dry and enjoy your Labor Day,

ed