Tomorrow is the birth anniversary of Anna Nicole Smith (1967), painter & sculpture Charles Alston (1907), poet artist William Blake, cleric & author John Bunyan (1628 no relationship to Paul) :), French anthropologist and philosopher Claude Levi Strauss (1908 no relation to the jeans guys) and musician and composer Jean Baptiste Lully (1632).  They light the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center and it is the anniversary of the oldest scientific society in the world, The Royal Society (1660).

I am a major fan of Mayor John Fetterman and just when I thought he had impressed me as much as he could, he puts a new feather in his cap.  He’s opening his very cool home Saturday, December 8 for a pig roast/cocktail party for 100 guests in collaboration with Chef Kevin Sousa of Salt of the Earth for  a charity Mayor Fetterman started a few years ago.  Proceeds of the fund raiser go directly to buy winter coats and Christmas gifts  for Braddock’s youth.  A little back ground on Mayor Fetterman, originally from York, PA and Harvard graduate with a master’s degree in public policy came to Braddock after graduating as an AmeriCorps volunteer and fell in love with the gritty little town.  Mr. Fetterman and his wife, Gisele, bought an abandoned warehouse across from Andrew Carnegie’s first free public library in Braddock.  After renovating it, to expand they got two shipping containers that they raised onto the roof with a crane.  Mrs. Fetterman, a third generation vegetarian wanted to space for a yoga studio.  So if you would like to meet Mr. Fetterman, enjoy Chef Sousa’s creations, see this amazing home, call 412-441-7258 or e-mail Kevin at unionpgh@gmail.com.  Tickets are $100 and if it wasn’t a Steeler home game weekend, I definitely would be there.

Turner Dairy, that great Penn Hills dairy that takes pride in not using hormones or other unnatural products in their dairy recently won a first and third place awards at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI.  Their Fat Free Skim Milk crushed the competition with the highest score of 98.74%.  Their 2% milk came in third.  Other awards brought home to Pittsburgh was the Church Brew Works won Best Large Brewpub at 2012 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO.  Brew Works master brewer Steve Sloan won Best Large Brewer of the Year.

Restaurant Expansions, it looks like after opening Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina, Chef Lynett “LBEE” Bushey is opening a new concept restaurant in Lawrenceville-Tender.  It’s going to be at 4300 Butler Street.  I guess opening a restaurant next to Kevin Sousa’s Salt things rubbed off.  :)

Continuing with holiday tours, out in Venetia (right up the street from where I grew up) The Wright House Museum will be holding it’s sixth annual Soup and Stroll at their restored 1780′s log house on December 2.  More info at the Peters Creek Historic Society web site or by calling 724-941-5710.

Kennywood having their second annual Holiday Lights with over one million lights lit up.  There will be 50 live pine trees lit, Santa will be in a larger than life roller coaster next to The Racer and instead of flashing the ride’s name, it will flash Santa.  There will be live shows around the Lagoon, holiday music piped around the park and a number of rides will operate (mainly in Kiddie Land).  It will be from 5 – 9 on Fridays and Saturdays through December 30 and December 26 & 27 thrown in as a bonus.  Tickets are $16, more info at their web site or by calling 412-461-0500.

Guess who’s turning 100 this year?  Tarzan!  I find the back story even more interesting.  Edgar Rice Burroughs was born in 1875 to a wealthy Chicago family and was expelled from prep school and then graduated from a military but didn’t qualify for West Point.  He joined the Army, but that lasted less than a year.  Teddy Roosevelt rejected him as a recruit for the Rough Riders.  He lived out West where his venture into gold mining went bust, he bombed  with his stationary store in Idaho and railroad cop in Utah.  He returned to Chicago and tried selling patent medicine and managing stenographers at Sears, Roebuck and Company.  A few years later, selling his wife’s jewelry for cash while working for an advertising company, he was reading pulp magazines making sure his ads were in there and correct and decided he could do a better job than what he was reading.  So he sat down and wrote Under the Moons of Mars (which later became the Disney movie John Carter) and sold it for about $400 ($9,300 in today’s money)!  Always curious about science and interested in Darwin, he came up with this tale about a titled English couple that take an ill fated sailing trip to Africa their son John Clayton ends up being raised by apes.  Tarzan of the Apes was an 80,000 word adventure that really hit a nerve in the October, 1912 issue of The All-Story Magazine and was published in book form two years later.  It spawned 24 sequels in 35 languages, it’s significance has been recognized by the Library of Congress and has created 52 authorized films, a radio show, a comic strip even a Broadway musical.

The seven county Southwestern Pennsylvanian region saw a 24.7% increase in exports from 2010 to 2011.  We blew past Milwaukee, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Detroit, Richmond, Cleveland, St Louis, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Boston and Indianapolis.  With all the turmoil in Europe and China’s slowing economy, they are predicting a more modest growth of 15 to 19% growth over last year, still not bad.  Our region has 89,000 people in manufacturing (10% of all jobs).  Manufactured goods are our largest export (47%) followed by Services (29%)  and the rest are agriculture/commodities and fuels.  Our largest trading partners are Canada (19%), European Union (14%), Mexico (13%) and China (8%).

Am I overly intelligent or moral?  I don’t understand what part of honesty, integrity, transparency Penn State has missed this past year.  On Monday, a PSU spokesperson “clarified” the status of Spanier.  In case you don’t remember, he’s the arrogant guy that was at the helm at PSU when the Jerry Sandusky case broke (not to mention he was the boss throughout the time Sandusky was molesting boys) and testified that he only “learned of Sandusky’s actions when the grand jury indictment was released”, later after he was booted from the post and couldn’t cover things up anymore, e-mails were discovered implicating him with a cover up “for years to keep PSU’s name in tact”.  (Both statements in quotation marks are paraphrased by me).  Earlier, PSU stated Spanier “was receiving no additional compensation from the university”.  Oops, they forgot to mention the $600,000 he receives as a tenured professor.  I don’t know, that sure sounds like compensation to me.  And the best part?  PSU REFUSES to release the terms of his separation contract!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  They really need to fire everyone up there above the level of janitor.  (Nothing personal janitors).  :)

Well, that’s about it for today.  I’m currently finishing up deep cleaning the dining rooms getting ready for holiday decorating.  It looks like this weekend will be great weather to hang my outside stuff.  I remember some years it was bitingly cold.  I found out what that chandelier in the front dining room is, Tiche.  More to follow on my next post.

Be well,






Tomorrow is the birth anniversary of baseball legend Joe DiMaggio (1914), Andrew Carnegie (1835), John F Kennedy Jr (1960) and temperance leader Carry Amelia Moore Nation (1846-the hatchet wielding smasher of saloons).  Also, it is the anniversary of the presidential order dropping the speed limit to 55 mph due to the  1973 oil crisis and the Mirabel sisters murdered by dictator Rafael Trujilo in the Dominican Republic (1960).

In reference to a post I made a few months ago, I just found out the answer.  I was confused why the news providers kept referring to “Myanmar, formerly known as Burma”.  The former ruling junta summarily changed the name of this country 23 years ago.  The democracy advocates resisted this name change and continued to refer to their country as Burma.  As a result, most countries refused to officially change the name and Burma still appears as the name of the country in official American documents.  Aung San Suu Kyi recently was scolded by the military for using the word Burma in a public address.

Are any of you quilters?  If so, I assume you already know about The Quilt Company out in Allison Park.  They stock over 5,000 fabrics and  quite the assortment of tools.  They have bus tours come to their shop and even hosted 40 quilters from Ireland.  Karen & Carey Montgomery opened their store in 1993, closing in on their 20th anniversary. In a related topic, the traveling Original Sewing and Quilt Expo stopped at the Monroeville Expo Mart last August in their first stop in Pittsburgh and 2,000 hobbyists attended, even with the Squirrel Hill Tunnels closed.  It was such a success that they have already scheduled August 22 to 24 in 2013.  If you are a quilter or just a sewer, you may want to look into the Pittsburgh branch of the American Sewing Guild’s local chapter.  They have about 260 members that meet monthly in nine Pittsburgh neighborhoods in member homes to hone current skills and learn new ones.

Quilting is just one of the many crafts that make up the $30B craft industry.  The #1 hobby (in terms of sales $) is woodworking.  Rounding out the top three, drawing comes in #2 and food crafting comes in #3.  The food ranking seems to be attributed to all the cooking shows showing up all over TV (shows showing was a deliberate pun).  The Craft and Hobby Association estimates that at least one craft project is completed in 56% of the American households each year.

Do you know what drives me nuts?  (I know, that’s a long list).  :)  I receive tons of junk mail and spam.  I assume Constant Contact has my name and e-mail address on file and they probably sell the mailing list to other businesses.  I am always getting e-mails from some business I’ve never heard of and it’s powered by Constant Contact.  So I always hit the “Unsubscribe” button (which takes time and effort out of my life), which takes me to a web site that then wants me to fill in my e-mail address to unsubscribe (more time and effort on my part) and then the icing on the cake is when they want me to fill out a form saying why I don’t want their stupid advertising filling my in-box.

There’s a cute UTube video, Gotham High.  It’s a parody of Batman and what’s cute about it is it uses actual film footage from teen movies staring real Batman stars like Christian Bales, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom hardy and Anne Hathaway in their youth.

It’s that time of year, Christmas house tours in our area.  The oldest and largest is right here in my neighborhood.  The Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas Tour (who won’t feature my Inn because I’m not Victorian enough) hosts in excess 1,500 guests.  The tour starts at Calvary Methodist Church (noted for the two huge Tiffany windows and recently spent $5M in renovations) and tour six homes, a holiday gift shop and an optional tour of a toy train collection ($10).  These guided three hour tours cost $25 and leave Calvary every 12 minutes like clock work.  More info at their web site or 412-418-2027.  The Zelienople Historical Society 20th annual Christmas House Tour.  This self guided tour of 10 homes decorated in a variety of themes and cost $22.  More info at their web site or by calling 724-452-9457.  The Scottdale Historical Society annual House Tour starts at the society’s Louck’s Homestead at 527 N Chestnut Street and high light the Homestead, the Alverton Center Bethel Church of God and four homes cost $15.  More info at their Facebook page or by calling 724-887-5045.  The Sewickley Christmas Santa House Tour is sponsored by the Edgeworth Garden Club and features six rooms in their clubhouse stuffed with all kinds of Santa Clauses and other folk art.  Tickets are $10 and proceeds go toward a scholarship to a qualifying student majoring in plant sciences.  More info by calling 412-818-5329.  Finally, the Greensburg Garden Center’s tour this year will feature five historic churches decorated for the season with the pastors talking to the tours about the history of the church and it’s architecture.  More info at 724-837-0245.

The Toonseum is featuring a show by and of Kensington Falls Animation that has been a on the cutting edge of scoreboard animations and  TV ads for the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates (as well as the deceased Spirit and Maulers).  More info at both Toonseum and Kensington’s web sites or by calling 41-.232-0199.  The show runs through January 27 and costs $5.

Have a great day,



Tomorrow is the birth anniversary of Dick Tracy creator Chester Gould (1900), Senator Robert Byrd (1917), broadcaster & author Alistair Cooke, astronomer Edwin Hubble, Bobby Kennedy (1925) and actor Gene Tierney (1920).  It is the anniversary of the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights by New Jersey (1789) and it is the anniversary of the start of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials (1945).

Every year, before putting the holiday decorations up, we deep clean the public space on the first floor and paste wax the floors.  This year, when we moved the Library table out of the way, as we were rolling up the carpet under it, I discovered fairly extensive moth caused damage to the rug.  All damage is in a circle directly under the table base.  No damage outside the parameter of the base.  The little bastards hid under the table and had a feast.  Insidious.  As much as I hate chemicals and pesticides, I think I’ll spray under the base of the table before putting it back.  And nervous Nelly will probably move the table throughout the year to see if they come back.  Luckily the rug in the Library is not one of the better rugs.  It’s OK, but the dining room rugs are of a much higher quality.

My favorite piece in the Mansion is the Shepard boy and his dog in the Dining Room by Moreau.  My second favorite piece is the Murano chandelier in the Parlor.   Not only is it beautiful, it is very unique.  I don’t know when, but at some point, Murano found out that the dye used was poisonous to the glass blowers.  They still make this model, but not in the color I have, so it is a very unique piece.  I get a lot of very favorable comments from guests about it.  And I certainly appreciate it.

All the pieces come apart.  As I was cleaning the daffodils, again I was taken by the beauty and craftsmanship each one is.

People frequently over look all the details seeing the forest instead of the trees, that’s why I’m taking a minute to highlight the piece.

Speaking of craftsmanship, I went to the Monroeville Craft Show I talked about this past weekend.  I always try and get my holiday gifts from crafts persons of one sort or another.  This craft show was advertised as the largest in the area.  Well, they might be the largest, but there certainly weren’t selective.  In addition to the crafts persons, there was a chiropractor, several roofers, gutter guard persons and other persons you wonder how they qualified.  Worse than that, they had a lot of shop keepers.  As I was browsing along, I was noticing the same thing in many of the booths.  Probably half of the “crafters” were shop keepers that bought quantities of product from some wholesaler that brought their goods in from China.  I tarried at one of the booths too long and the shop keeper approached me.  He informed my that the knitted hat I was looking at was made from genuine Alpaca wool.  I asked where it was made and he said he didn’t know, probably China.  Not to be discouraged by all the shop keepers, I connected with a number of true crafters, and made my purchases on handmade items created right here in Pittsburgh.  I now have all the little nieces and nephews covered, but can’t go into details in case one of my sib’s reads this.  I’ll talk about them after the holidays.

I like shopping small businesses, as anyone that’s ever met me or read any of my blogs.  Don’t forget, this Saturday is Small Business Day, support your local small businesses (come to The Parador).  :)

Continuing along with my cleaning, as I said, one of the yearly holiday goals is to paste wax the first floor floors.  We clean, dust, vacuum, etc throughout the year.  But to paste wax the floor is such a major undertaking and so disruptive, I only do it once a year.  And I have THE tool

It’s a commercial quality Viper floor scrubber/buffer I got at Colker Janitorial Supplies on Penn Avenue in the Strip.  After doing this for six years, I definitely have it down pat.  The machine is quite powerful, #1 and in general can real toss you around if you’re not careful.  Particularly when you first put the wax down, it’s like wet ice.  Balance is extremely important.  Also, the amount of wax you put down is also very important.  My first year, I put too much wax down and it never really did dry right.  The floors look so nice when their freshly cleaned and waxed.  It’s like the Murano freshly cleaned.

It looks like I’m going to be in the Trib again.  I think I may be becoming THE local source.  :)  When my good friend, printer, web master passed away back in September from that bizarre viral meningitis, the Trib contacted me about Joe.  One of the feature writers is writing an article on Airbnb, the Internet lodging Satins.  The government does work in logical ways, sometimes.  :)  There are different codes depending on how a building is used for living.  If it’s your house, you should know where the front and back doors are in case of a fire.  If it’s an apartment building, they figure you should be familiar with where the rear fire escape is.  And you should have at least a battery operated fire alarm.  Short term lodging is a different story.  Hotel/Motel/Inns frequently get guests arriving fairly late for just one night on their way to someplace else.  If an emergency happens, these unfamiliar guests need taken care of.  Code calls for two methods of egress.  My smoke and fire alarms are required to be hard wired (into the regular electrical system with battery back up) and continuously wired (if the alarm goes off in one room, the adjoining room’s alarm wakes those guests as well).  My system has to be professionally monitored 24/7.  I had to install a sprinkler system that ended up costing me over $50K.  These people that are renting out rooms in their houses have none of this.  And they are ADVERTISING this on the Internet.  This isn’t a causal one time deal.  AND, they are not collecting 7% bed tax or 7% sales tax.  I periodically go back to Florida in the winter to get away from the cold and visit friends.  About three years ago I was in West Palm at the Hibiscus House B & B.  Back when I was still living in Florida, developers were grabbing up all the property they could (mine included)  :)  and building town houses.  They were selling them pre-construction to speculators who inter would flip them to other speculators and they ended up being sold several times before they were even finished.  Most of the money was coming from New York and believe it or not, Brazil.  When the housing market crashed, there was all these investors holding over priced town houses.  They could take the loss and let the bank foreclose on it, loosing a bundle.  And having a foreclosure in their credit score.  Or they could hold on to them and wait for the market to come back and at least get their money back.  Remember these are investors with money.  So when I was down in West Palm, I saw all these lights on in many of these town houses.  The next morning when I said something to Collin about they seemed be to finally selling the town houses I got a scowl from him.  He said, no, the owners bought some cheap china and sheets and were advertising them on line for around $800 a month.  Again, none of the safety issues were addressed, nor was any taxes being collected.  How can a Bed and Breakfast compete with $800 a month.  The Hibiscus House was fine, they owned their Inn, they were the grandads of the area.  But Collin said all the other Bed and Breakfasts were either in foreclosure or on foreclosure’s doorstep because of Airbnb and other web site like it.

Well, that’s about it for right now.  Have a great Thanksgiving and don’t eat too much,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of Lewis and Clark reaching the Pacific Ocean (1805), it is the anniversary of the very colorful Louis Riel‘s hanging (1885), the anniversary of Saint Eustatius, West Indies first salute to the American Flag by a foreign government (1776) and it is the birth anniversary of blues man William Handy (1873).

I like to view myself as a reasonable man.  I am a preservationist and environmentalist, within reason.  Generally speaking, I’m against dams.  I think we artificially alter nature and frequently pay a high cost when Mother Nature responds.  I like seeing the state removing old dams because they are structurally deficient returning moving bodies of water back to their natural courses.  When it comes to dams and locks on the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio, we do need them for flood control and river traffic.   Why not turn them over to private businesses?  They are in terrible condition and seem to have an eminent threat of failure.  Turn them over (or sell them) to one of the energy companies.  They can rebuild them to generate electricity and collect the fees charged for going through the locks.  There’s green power potential just sitting there and I would imagine a power company could figure out a way to amortize the cost of construction and make it work.

NPR had a ditty on non-profits.  One example of a non profit they gave was the American Bureau of Shipping.  Of the $600M in profit they generated, they compensated their CEO $20M, invested $60M in hedge funds over seven years.  When MPR questioned ABS, they said they did nothing illegal and that America has a more favorable tax climate than most other countries.  The MBA recently changed their status from a non profit to a for profit company.  The NFL (who pays their commissioner $11 1/2M)  and NHA are both still non profit.  They estimate we loose $10B a year in potential taxes because of these companies hiding behind non profit status (like UPMC).  To hear the segment, just click on the NPR hyperlink at the beginning of this paragraph.

Also, from NPR, the Swedes built trash to electricity plants around their country several years ago.  The have started a green campaign that has been so successful that they are now importing trash from neighboring countries!  :)

Dan Brown, the owner of Loggerhead Tools in in a battle with Sears.  He invented and patented the Bionic Wrench out of Illinois.  Because of the volume expected, he hired Penn United Technologies in Jefferson, Butler County to produce the wrenches.  They sold 250,000 through Sears last year.  Sears started dragging their feet this past spring about placing their Christmas order.  Penn Technologies couldn’t wait and so started new production runs assuming is was just bureaucracy.    Sears made some cosmetic changes, had the wrench made in China under their brand name Craftsman Max Axess.  Dan’s suing them for patent infringement, expects to win that battle, but loose the war to a cheaper import by one of our soulless companies.

Westmoreland Museum of American Art has come up with an innovative idea to maintain their collection.  You can “adopt” a painting in need of repair.  They have all price ranges, depending on the severity  of the damage.  In turn, you get a plaque next to the picture and free admission for a year.  WMAA is doing a $15M expansion/renovation, but is still open.  More info on their web site or by calling 724.837.1500.

Which reminds me.  I recently learned that frequently, computers don’t recognize how I present phone numbers.  If you use a dot instead of a dash, some programs see that as blank space.  Hmmm.

Don’t forget it’s Light Up Night this weekend.  Tons of activities.  In addition to lighting the tradition trees outside the City/County building and in the ice skating rink at PPG Place, there’s odd one in Market Square.  Fireworks Friday night, the life sized creche at Steel Plaza, the annual gingerbread contest in in PPG’s windows and new this year will be the Winter Garden in Market Square with vendors in Chalet looking booths.  I haven’t seen it yet, but have talked to people who saw them being erected say they were pretty cute.  In fact, I heard Allegheny West was having trouble finding vendors for their holiday shop this year for their annual Victorian house tour December 7 & 8.  Go to Light Up Nights web site for schedules of events and AW’s web site if interested in their house tour.

There’s a free exhibit at the Box Heart Gallery through November 24.  Minimally Charged: Drawings and Paintings by Jackie Hoysted takes a different view on the human body.  For example, Thoughtful explores the difference between nudity versus nakedness.  Jackie strives to highlight the person/emotion more than the traditional emphasis on the body.  Box Heart is at 4523 Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.687.8858.  (I gotta quit using dots) :)

I like Halloween, I love Day of the Dead.  I really enjoy the artwork associated with Dia de los Muertos and the overall concept of this Mexican holiday.  My friend Kerry that owns KS Kennedy Floral has relatively recently gotten into the Day of the Dead as well and gave me this really cute Catrina:

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




Tomorrow night is a new moon and there’s a total solar eclipse that will be visible in the south Pacific around Australia, if anyone’s traveling there.  :)  It is the 85 anniversary of the Holland Tunnel, India’s Diwali (Deeppavali) – their festival of lights.  It is the birth anniversary of Robert Louis Stevenson (Scottish author 1850), associate justice Louis Brandeis (1856), British physicist James Maxwell (1831) and English traveler and writer Edward Trelawney (1792).

Sorry, I was a bit busy last week.  I went to the Western PA Bed and Breakfast Association Meeting at the House at the End of the Road in Summerville on Tuesday.  I love that organization, it is such a grass roots and no one has an attitude.  And then Wednesday and Thursday I went to the first PA Bed and Breakfast Association’s conference.  Saw some Innkeepers I’ve met in the past and met some new ones.  And as at most conferences, I walked away with some new insights.

Today is Veterans Day, please thank a vet for his/her service to this great country.  Many just quietly did their duty and you don’t realize what they gave up.  Many served and carried away a larger price and are just relegated to be a statistic in the newspaper so many troops were “injured”.  These valiant citizens are now walking around with missing limbs and worse.  This may be worse than the troops lost in action, they have these scars that we, as a country, we don’t seem to be stepping up to the plate for them. Did you know that Western Pennsylvania has one of the highest concentrations of Veterans?  There’s an estimate

The fifteenth annual Greater Pittsburgh Arts and Crafts Spectacular will be held this weekend at the Monroeville Convention Center, at 209 Mall Blvd.   Friday hours will be 10 am until 9 pm, Saturday, 10 am until 6 pm and Sunday, 10 am until 5 pm.  Admission is $6 for adults.  They anticipate 260 arts and crafts booth filling two of the convention center rooms.

The ninth annual Handmade Arcade will be held at the David L Lawrence Convention Center on Saturday, December 8 from 11 am until 7 pm.  That’s where I found the really cool monster hoodies I got for my nieces and nephews last year.  They are a regular hoodie with horns and other scary things sewn on them.  They were a hit.  This is a very grassroots show for independent crafters to show and sell.  Their web site doesn’t give the cost of admission nor a contact phone number.  You can go there and there’s a link to send them an e-mail.

Ben Mankiewic and Eva Marie Saint will be at the Byham Theater on tomorrow to host the TCM’s Classic Film Festival Road to Hollywood showing the classic On The Waterfront staring Marlon Brando and Ms Saint.  It is part of this year’s Film Festival.  Free tickets are available on line or by calling 412.456.6666.  I would direct you to the schedule of movies playing during the film festival, but apparently PGH Film Makers don’t seem to worry too much about letting us see the schedules. More info at their web site

Single named Pittsburgh artist (actually, Mt Lebanon) is having a showing of his works at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild.  There will be abut 55 of Wayno’s work.  Flat Files, the name of the exhibit run through January 4, 2013.  Wayno’s work has been featured in The New Yorker, Nickelodeon and is a frequent guest artist in the Bizzaro comic strip.  He has a lot of fun light hearted creations.

Through next Sunday, there’s a free exhibit at the 790 Penn Gallery called Book.  The curator of the show’s father had an extensive collection of books that were lost in a fire.  So she pulled together four Pittsburgh artists we called together to give their interpretation of the importance/value of hard copy books (as opposed to e-books).  Seth Clark’s installation “T” (no, not our light rail) :) is a collage of 107 interpretations of the NY Times famous logo T.  Randie Snow used actual books and “accessorized” them as did Dana Ingham.  For his take on books, Brett Yasko made two book shelves to hold four books appease.  The books were blank with no writing on the covers and he wrote the male part of a break up/being dumped or profession their love and on the other shelf is the female side of this drama.  They are taken from famous books or movies, but he doesn’t disclose what book/movie they are taken from.  That’s up to you.  :)  More info at their web site or by calling 412.456.6666.

Don ‘t forget this weekend is Light Up Night.  Friday will host fireworks off the Roberto Clemente bridge, the lighting of Highmark’s Unity Tree (formerly the Horne’s tree that was on that location for about 50 years) that has been up dated to LED lighting and now uses just over 6,000 watts as compared to the old tree that used over 47,000 watts.  A new tradition in Market Square will be the Winter Garden modeled after a German tradition going back centuries and Steel Plaza’s Creche will be installed for it’s 13th season (it is the only authorized replica of St Peter’s creche outside the Vatican).  Much more is planned and much more info at the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s web site.

Well, I got all my delicate plants dug up and in the basement for the winter.  I have most of the vegetation cut out and in piles I will work into my good friend Jeff from Peppi’s cheese stakes’ dumpster.  I still have to cut down and then cup up those huge Arondo donex that line the front of my “Beach” along the sidewalk.  I emptied my summer’s collection of organic compost and the strangest thing.  The compost was fabulously processed, but there was some kind of root system all through it, I had to really fight to get it out.  I think the honey locust tree that it sits under found a new source of nourshment.  I’m not sure what I can do about that.

Have a great night and Go Steelers,




We’re skipping to Wednesday, it is the anniversary of the Battle of Tippecanoe (1811), the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway (1885), the adoption of the Republican symbol (the elephant was adopted 1874), Roosevelt was elected to his fourth term, the first black governor was elected 1989 (L Douglas Wilder in Virginia) and the USS New York was commissioned in 2009-this $1B amphibious transport was built with 7 3/4 tons of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center.

Josh Verbanets of the rock band Meeting of Important People has teamed up with Gab Bonnesso also of Pittsburgh’s indie-rock and comedy scene.  They have started teaching school kids about bullying and what to do about it.  The idea came from Gab being approached by her alma mater Montour School District to come up with a program to teach youngsters about bullying.  They worked with guidance counselors and other school personnel to come up with the program.   Instead of trying to get the  attention challenged kids to listen to another school lecture, they present their material in a musical and comedic format.  Definitely keeps the kids attention.  They’ve written songs specific for this and are planning on recording an album with this work and will even be performing it at First Night.  The Josh & Gabe Show has become so popular through word of mouth that they already have 20 schools booked.

Anyone that’s read any of my blogs and/or knows me knows I’m a pretty environmentally focused guy.  Not judging them, but I think Ted & Kathy Carns of Ligonier have gone a bit over the top.  :)  They have created a totally off the grid home out there on 5 secluded acres.  (Well, not totally off the grid, no wires, pipes, or other hard connections.  They do have cell phones and Internet access).  They make their own electricity any way they can.  The have the traditional solar panels, bio-diesel fuel, thermoelectric, a wind turbine, they are working on a federally permitted ethanol production that will have built in food drying racks to take advantage of excess heat given off during the process and they even have a bicycle powered generator for quick charges on their cell phones and such.   They have a wood chipper that they use to grind plastic foam packaging, cups and trays into insulation.  The running water in their house comes from  a series of cisterns that are gravity fed.  You can follow them on their web site The Stone Camp   or buy their book Living Off-Grid in Comfort on amazon.com and Barnes and Noble Bookstores.

Luke Wholey, the prodigal son of the Wholey clan, has returned to Pittsburgh and opened his restaurant Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grille at 2106 Penn Avenue in the Strip (I guess he’s going to save a lot on delivery fees from his family’s wholesale business at 1711 Penn Ave.)  :)  Part of the reason for the Alaskan in the name is he spent time up there leading fishing tours and in other parts of the country like Montana.  The focus of the restaurant obviously is fish and it’s a fairly paired down simple menu.  It’s the building Rob Sunseri owns with the big aluminum garage doors that used to be a night club.  A pretty contemporary filled space using things like sanded down wooden wire spool tables mixing with the sleek modern tables from the former night club.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.721.9590.

The 31st annual Three Rivers Film Festival recently started and runs through November 17.  Screenings will be at the Regent Square Theater, the Harris Theater and the Melwood Screening Room.  Tons of all kinds of films to fit every taste.  Check out their web site for movie listings and which theater they will be at.

Free Libraries are popping up all around, even as far away as Europe and Africa.  Many of them look like bird feeders.  Todd Bol came up with the idea in 2009 and already the phenomenon has taken off.  Bol, an avid reader, decided to put books he already owned out for neighbors to borrow and the idea has really taken off.  You can order your own “pre-built” library from The Little Free Library web site or build your own.  Some people even take those free newspaper dispersion boxes to use.  The only real requirement is that your Little Free Library needs to be water proof.  How you gussy it up is your business.  I know of one woman that planted a garden around her’s with a park bench for people to preview books prior to selecting which book to borrow.  In some neighborhoods they have become quite the hit and community builder with neighbors that have never met, meeting.  Madison, Wis has 250 official Little Free Libraries (Bol is from Wis, so it’s not surprising they are on the forefront).

The Monsour Brothers founded Monsour Hospital in Jeanette, bled it dry and walked away from it.  Now the little town of Jeanette’s faced with so many challenges.  When Monsour  closed, they literally locked the doors and walked away.  Equipment, furnishings, patient and doctor information, medical equipment, everything was just left behind.  Now, years later, several arsons, many homeless breaking and entering and vandalism Jeanette is facing the need to secure the building and figure out how to get the million it’s going to take to raze the building.   #1 the Monsour brothers and their heirs should be held responsible, I don’t care if they’re in their nineties.  They walked away with plenty of money.  #2 the last board of directors that closed the hospital also should personally be held responsible for the razing of this dangerous structure.  It’s a state law that non-profits have to be liquidated when they close.  #3 abandoning property is nothing new to the Monsour brothers, they did that in Sarasota, FLA where they abandoned a hotel after they made their money and didn’t re-invest in the property.

I remember when I first moved back up here, Race Street in Homewood was in the news several times for shootings and other violent crimes.  The wonderful people there got fed up and decided to take their street back.  Most of them pitched in and started cleaning up the vacant lots and keeping the streets clean.  They formed their own citizens watch and not only kept their collective eyes on the activities on the street, but acted as one voice to get the city to address their concerns.  Night and day what we can do as citizens.  In decent weather, you’ll see me sitting on my front porch.  I was sitting on my porch one day this past summer when two people got in a car in front of my Inn and the passenger placed a soda can on the sidewalk.  I came down from my porch, tapped on their window and asked if they would mind waiting until I got my car started.  I wanted to follow them to their house and throw their trash in their yard.  They opted to take the can with them.  :)  It’s not a shooting, but you get my drift.  A couple of years ago, late at night, there was a domestic with two males and a female leaning on my porch causing a disturbance.  I came down from the back (with my guard dog RJ) and call 911.  As I’m standing, not ten feed from them giving the police descriptions of them, one of them noticed me and said “Let get out of here, that m****r f****r is calling the cops.”  I have many other stories from when I was in Florida chasing drug dealers and prostitutes out of my neighborhood.  You go Race Street, we can do this.

Tomorrow is election day.  Please go out and vote.  Please be civil.



I’m not a major fan of the Trib’s Eric Heyl, but this article in yesterday’s City Region Section was so on point (and funny) I had to do my first Parador Inn Blog Special Edition.

A s part of the Sunday sermon, let’s open the ’Burgh Bible for a reading from the Book of Rooney:

“And the Art summoned Sports & Exhibition Authority officials to His side, and they trembled for they could see His mood was foul.”

“And the Art pointed to the large structure at the confluence of the three rivers and said unto them, ‘Gaze upon my temple. Did I not build thou this unremarkable but adequate facility for the faithful to worship on Sundays?’

“Authority Executive Director Mary Conturo said, ‘Thou did my Art, but the public put up $158 million for the temple. Though my Art generously kicked in the $97 million thou received for naming rights and seat licenses, thy direct contribution amounted to just $26 million of the temple’s $281 million cost.”

“To which the Art said unto her, ‘Silence!’ as thunder roared across the skies.

“When the sound died down, the Art said, ‘I bestowed upon you this building of unparalleled functionality and asked nothing in return — save for that modest public subsidy, and thy patience when one of my 350-pound defensive angels occasionally attempts to run down Praetorian Guard members with his SUV.’

“The Art continued: ‘So I believed thou would leap at my recent proposal to have thou assume two-thirds of the cost of a modest $39 million expansion of the temple. I thought thou would want to display thy gratitude to me for showing unto thou the power and the glory of the Steelers, as well as the occasional Super Bowl trophy.’” SEA officials glanced down at their shoes.

“‘I seek the additional 3,000 seats so more of the faithful can congregate at the temple,’ the Art said. ‘I seek the state-of-the-art video board so their souls can be enriched through instant replay. These things thou would deny me?’

“Conturo said, ‘We mean no offense, my Art. But the public barely could provide thou with the $2.5 million thou desired to help build Stage AE, thy majestic concert venue across the street from thy temple where Jane’s Addiction recently performed. To demand $26 million in these unsettled economic times, when Forbes magazine has valued thine own Steelers kingdom at $1.02 billion —’

“ ‘Silence!’ the Art bellowed, as blinding lightning flashed across the skies. ‘Does the sacred lease not stipulate that thou assume these costs? Are thou telling me thou are violating its commandments?’

“ ‘My Art, please,’ Conturo said. ‘We want to contribute to thy divine expansion, just not to the tune of $26 million.’

“The Art said, ‘For leading thou from the wilderness of an outdated stadium, I am repaid by treachery? Begone then from my kingdom and hire thyselves a good attorney. Thou are about to be sued to compel thou to pay thy fair share to enlarge the temple.’ ”

Thus did the Art teach a valuable lesson not just to SEA officials, but to all who might consider committing sacrilege against the Steelers.

Do so, and thou risks suffering a fate more terrible than any towel.

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or eheyl@tribweb.com.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/ericheyl/2883527-74/thou-art-million-temple-thy-steelers-conturo-cost-eric-heyl#ixzz2BNt1mtES
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What more can I say?



Public Television debuted today in 1969, a Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens runs today in Pine Mountain, GA, birth anniversaries include Texan Stephen Austin (1793), actor Charles Bronson (1921), chief justice Edward White (1845) and poet William Bryant (1794).  It also is the anniversary of the newspaper headlines Dewey Defeats Truman, 1948.

Pittsburghers seem to be pretty big on remodeling.  Of the 366 markets surveyed, we’re #7.  There are a number of reasons for this  (in my opinion).  Money’s easier to get from a bank for a remodel as opposed to a new mortgage.  And Pittsburghers are also more “neighborhood centered” than most other cities in the country.  Our roots are in our neighborhoods.  That was always my explanation for the rude conduct so often seen in Florida when I lived there.  There were no roots.  Grandma wasn’t around to see you speeding down a road and tell your mom or wife.  The lady that used to baby sit you wouldn’t be in the store when you are being rude to the clerk.  You’re second grade teacher won’t walk past your new home with music blasting out your window.  That is one of the big things that really makes a neighborhood.

I guess attorneys for Ronnie Wood’s divorce from Jo cost them.  After about 25 years, Ronnie (of the Rolling Stones) dumped Jo for a much younger cocktail waitress named Ekaterina.  They had a “yard sale” at Julien’s Auctions in New York recently and sold velvet & leather jackets, a lithograph Ronnie made of of Eric Clapton and singed by both, an original Fender guitar Ronnie used on stage and I think there may have been some old china and linens as well.  :)

The Steelers wants to expand seating at Heinz Field by 3,000 at the far end by the river.  They have now sued the SEA (Stadium Authority) because the SEA is balking at paying 3/4 of the cost.  The Steelers are bragging they payed $100M in taxes since the stadium opened (actually the Steelers collected that amount of taxes from us on ticket sales) on the $208.8M stadium.  They also claim they paid $123M towards the initial construction, but $57M came from HJ Heinz Company for naming rights and $40M from seat licensing sales.  In my math, the Steelers has actually only contributed $26M.  Listen to me, only $26M, you’d think that’s drop in the bucket.  :)  But in the grand scheme of things, just like the Steelers trying to steal more Northshore land for development, they really need to start ponying up.  (I talked about the sweet deal the Steelers have on development rights on the Northshore and were poised to pay less than 1/4 of the value of the land until the owner of Alco Parking stepped in with a counter offer).  I wish I was a CPA and had access to their financial records to expose just how greedy they are.

I saw something that brings out the OCD in me.  I’m a little crazy (now most of you stop right there)  :) about my social security number, my credit card numbers, my bank account numbers.  Anytime someone asks for one of those numbers, I immediately challenge them, “What do you need that for?”  “Is it required”.  It’s amazing how many doctors’ offices, utility companies, etc like to get your social security number on file for no real purpose.  When I shop on line, they like to keep your credit card on file for you next purchase.  I always shop as a guest and in the comments section request that once the purchase has been processed, to remove my credit card info.  I’ve been told “it’s encrypted and the only thing anyone can see is the last four numbers”.  If it’s encrypted, it can be un-encrypted.  The State of South Carolina’s tax department was hacked and millions of small business’ social security, Federal tax ID and credit card numbers were compromised.

The gentleman that owns The City Oven on Banksville Road and some partners bought the property on the corner of Washington Blvd and Bower Hill Road in 2007.  They tore down the buildings that were there and were planning on a fairly substantial development.  They applied for and received a $1.78M TIF and spent it.  Because of the economy, the land has sat empty of buildings, just ruble, weeds and fencing with No Trespassing sings all over since.  Because of the way TIF’s are written, time runs out in January for the State to get it’s reimbursement, and if they don’t pay back the TIF, they get to keep the property-free and clear.  Am I the only one that sees something wrong here?

Lynne Kropinak is lugging five hundred pound converted cigarette vending machines around town selling merchandise from local artists.  Her concept Craft-o-Tron uses came from an article she read while waiting in a doctor’s office.  The article talked about artist Clark Wittington and his Art-o-Mat machines, re-purposed cigarette machines.  Lynne “upcycled” products like jewelery made of recycled flatware, “Teeny Kreepy Dolls” and wool knitted pierogies among other wares.  Her traveling Craft-o-Tron is currently in ToonSeum on Liberty Avenue and Cats and Dogs Coffee House in Lawrence.

The North and South Park ice skating rinks are opening this Thursday for the season.

Also, remember to turn your clocks back when you go to bed Saturday night.

Enjoy this weekend’s break from all the rain,