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
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

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,



Tomorrow is Devil’s Night, it is the anniversary of Orson Wells initial broadcast of The War of the Worlds (1938) and also the anniversary of the closing of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 where that evening the Mayor of Chicago was shot and killed.  It is the birth anniversary of the second president John Adams (1735), Charles Atlas (the skinny Italian immigrant that went on to be the famed body builder-1893), Emily Post (1872) and poet Ezra Pound (1885).

I heard something on NPR that has me concerned.  The European Union is sending election monitors to the United States on our election day.  What, have we become a third world country?  In the last major election (presidential), of the millions of voters, 63 were caught doing voter fraud.  Now there’s the big push for voter ID that they’ve screwed up so bad in their rush to put this in place.  One of the problems with the Pennsylvania law was it specifically said the ID’s had to have an expiration date and that college picture ID’s were OK.  Some Pennsylvania college ID’s don’t have an expiration date.  🙂   Senator Mike Turzai of the 28th District here in Allegheny County was secretly recorded saying “Now that we have the voter ID law passed, Pennsylvania is Governor Romney’s”.  Of course that was misinterpreted, according to Turzai’s people.

I don’t know why I keep noticing things about Angry Birds, I’ve played it a couple of times and never was too impressed.  But Rovio (the maker of Angry Birds and Star Wars Birds) is releasing Bad Piggies soon.  This is a blend of physics game and a building puzzle, the stages are brain-tickling but not difficult enough to frustrate.

Here’s a new slant on thrift store shopping.  The Shop Till You Drop consignment bus tour is set for November 10 from 9 am until 5 pm.  Yes, you heard me right, a bus tour.  🙂  The $40 tickets include lunch, bus, beverages and chocolate.  You must pre-register by this coming Thursday by calling 412.262.0833 or 412.788.0899.  The tour will meet at the Consignment Cottage in Moon and then travel to Eco Chic in Robinson, Savvy Fox in Peters and Mt Lebanon, Kindred Spirits in Pine and Ambiance in Oakmont.  That’s quite some territory to cover in just 8 hours.

It’s about time for you pumpkin cutters to get your tools out.  Here’s a few tips from the pros.  When purchasing a pumpkin, one of the things to consider is the stem.  Only buy a pumpkin with a healthy stem, even though the pumpkin is cut off the vine, the stem is still providing nutrients to the pumpkin.  On this note, don’t make the traditional cut around the top to scrape out the pumpkin.  This keeps the nutrients from circulating into the pumpkin flesh.  Cut the opening in the back.  Scrape as much of the inside out as you dare.  The dryer the flesh will last longer than all that moisture hanging out inside.  Although, other than with photography, there’s no way to “preserve” you pumpkin.  You can use “delay” tactics.  You can soak your pumpkin in water when not on display.  You can treat the edges with a lemon juice/water mixture, vegetable oil, petroleum jelly or you can buy Fruit Fresh in the baking aisle of your grocery store (you can use this throughout the year to preserve fresh sliced fruits while on display.  This is a mild taste to this, but works great when you want to present fresh fruits like apple slices).  For more inspiration, go to The Maniac Pumpkin Carver’s web site, The Pumpkin Gutter’s web site, The Pumpkin Geek’s web site and Villa Fanes Studios.  There’s also a ton of UTube videos you can peruse for ideas.

Charitable donations are a good habit, like teaching children to save.  If you create the habit, it’s just like brushing your teeth in the morning or at night.  I believe in our social safety net programs, but I think a lot more of our charity should come from us, individually.  We should take direct responsibility for our neighbors.  There’s the big headline practices like Warren Buffett and Bill & Melinda Gates’ program The Giving Pledge where they ask billionaires to commit to donating have of their wealth to charities.  They have nearly 100 individuals and families have signed up for this.  Just last month, another 12 have signed on.  And you don’t actually have to be a billionaire to participate.  🙂  With this challenged economy, last year charitable contributions climbed 4% from 2010 to 2011.  Pretty impressive, particularly when you see that hard number of $218B for 2011.  It doesn’t take a lot to make a difference (ie, you don’t have to be a billionaire to make a difference).  You can pick a charity you find deserving like the Food Bank, CAI, Brother’s Brother, Northside Common Ministries, etc.  I always look for smaller groups that don’t have the high overhead of organizations like United Way.  There’s a bunch of small groups that pool their money and democratically select where the money is to go each time (frequently quarterly) like the One Percenters that’s geared towards a younger crowd to get in the habit of donating.  If you are so inclined to start your own charity, Giving Circles is a grassroots group that gives tips on how to start up you own charity.  Another resource is Giving Circles Network.  Remember, it’s not how much you give (although it’s always nice to give as much as you can), it’s more important to create the habit of giving.  Just as one of the most important aspects of saving is to “create the habit”.

Pittsburgh had another minute in the spot light this month.  Architectural Record Magazine highlighted da ‘burg as a prime example of New Life for the American City.  It has three articles about us, one on the new PNC tower being built and they have an emphasis on the building being the tallest office building to use natural ventilation, rather than being a hermetically sealed box.  The magazine also talks about Phipps new Center for Sustainable Landscapes Building and the David L Lawrence Convention Center and how all these buildings are setting new standards for sustainability.  Also, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Institute of Architects gave out several design awards.  One is for the old Lantern Building (next to the new PNC/Fairmont tower that used to be a Liberty Travel) and both AIA and Architectural Record mentioned Perkins Eastman Architects rendering of the Allegheny Riverfront Boulevard.  This is a comprehensive look at a possible way to develop the Allegheny riverfront from the Convention Center up to the 40th Street Bridge.  (Of course this award winning design is being totally ignored by the Buncher group that want’s us to give them $50M AND allow them to tear down 1/3 of the iconic Terminal Building so they can create some more white-bread space on prime real estate.

OK, I’m through whining.  Keep dry these next couple of days and keep safe.

Happy Halloween,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of the New York Subway’s first trip (1904), Turkmenistan Independence Day (1991), Theodore Roosevelt’s birth anniversary (1858), discoverer of Australia & New Zealand James Cook’s birth anniversary (1728), pop artist Roy Lichtenstein’s birth anniversary (1923), the 225 anniversary of the publishing of the Federalist Papers and Hurricane Mitch that killed 7,000 people in Honduras in 1998.

October 26 and 27 and then again November 2 and 3 at 9 pm, Midnight Radio, a production of Bricolage Production Company will be performing The Haunting at there center on the corner of Smithfield Street and Liberty Avenue.  This quirky performance is based on a reproduction of the 1940’s radio shows with stories of suspense, vintage sound effects, musical guests, fake breaking news, game show segments and spoofy commercials.  All around fun entertainment.  More at their web site or by calling 412.471.0999.

Rusted Root, the band that won’t go away (I say that in the kindest of terms).  🙂  Every time they release an album, I hear they are breaking up and going there own way.  Well, The Movement is due to be released Tuesday.  I understand that it’s less experimental than some of their more recent releases.  More in line with the Latin/African influences of the two smash albums Cruel Sun and When I Woke.  With the general state of the economy and their diverse interests, cash was a little tough to get this album cut, so they turned to a Kickstarter kind of financing they called Fortunate Freaks Unite.  They collected enough donations from this from fans, family, friends to have the album recorded.  One of the things that always amazes me about Rusted Root is it seems like anyone you talk to in Pittsburgh is either friends with one or several of them or knows someone that is.  November 10 they will be performing at The Palace Theater in Greensburg and on December 21, The Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.

Harry Clark’s massive Indian Creek Valley Railroad Display has been under cosntruction since just after World War II. The project started in his kitchen and eventually moved to his garage.  Most recently, it was at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, but it had to be moved so the resort could build their Lady Luck Casino.   Terry Shallenberger bought his friend’s display had this 25′ x 50′ model railroad in storage until this past weekend when they closed bridges and streets to squeeze the display into the center of Connellsville (where they also still make glass for the Tiffany company).  Mr. Shallenberger, of Shallenberger Construction paid for the move.  Mr. Shallenberger built the walls of the display’s new home on a concrete pad a Stone and Company donated.  The display was lowered into this building by a All Crane Rental Company that donated the use of the crane.  The building’s metal roof should be completed this weekend.  The building will look like the old Connellsville B & O train station and it will have a Canteen Cafe and gift shop.  Hopefully the proceeds from both will help keep the project afloat.

London born, Pittsburgh based project photographer Brian Cohen came up with the idea of chronicling the impact of Marcellus Shale drilling and quickly came to realize it was probably a bigger project that one person could cover.  So he approached Laura Domencic, the director of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts who quickly saw the value in this project and they recruited several more photographers for this year long project.  Instead of a Michael Moore kind of documentary (not that that’s necessarily bad), this collection of photographs really speak for themselves.  Marcellus has been a boon for many people in royalties, construction and construction jobs, local housing, apartment rentals, restaurant and retail sales in a lot of rural areas normally missed by other projects.  On the other hand, known side effects of polluted water spills, vehicles too heavy for rural roads decimating the roads, destruction of habitat and other negative results of this industry.  Add to that the unknown effects of potential ground water pollution and other less obvious side effects of Marcellus and other new oil/gas extraction methods is having all around the world makes this a topic that needs to be seriously studied.  The 220 page paper back book is available for $25 and the photographs printed in editions of five to ten are available with prices ranging from $300 to $3,000.  However you weigh in on this topic, some of these pictures are VERY powerful.  Marcellus continues through January 6 at 477 Melwood Avenue, Oakland.  Hours are noon until 7 Monday through Thursday and noon until 6 on Fridays.  Admission is free and more info is available at PGH Center for the Arts web site or by calling 412.681.5449.

Michael Henrichsen is having the birthday of a lifetime.  After a two year campaign trying to get Billy Idol to come to his part, he finally succeeded.  This 26 year old from Seattle decided two years ago to get Billy Idol to play at his birthday party.  He got a friend to create a web site www.playmybirthdaybillyidol.com and started a campaign to convince the rocker to play at his birthday party.  Michael has done all kinds of antics to get Billy’s attention and was officially turned down last year.  So Michael started a campaign to get stars and celebrities visiting Portland to pose for a video shot plugging for Billy to play at Michael’s party that he added to his web site.  Tonight, Billy is playing for Michael’s party.  This shows what persistence will do.  Ask me about when I started college with for Vet buddies and how I got PHEAA and they didn’t not because of persistence.  The success of The Parador in Florida with income of $4k a month and bills of $8k per month was because of persistence.  I’m a BIG fan of persistence.

Well, this is about it for today, have a great night, wonderful tomorrow and Go Steelers on Sunday.




Tomorrow is the birth anniversaries of artist Pablo Picasso (1881), Grand Ole Opry star Minnie Pearl (1912) and English poet and writer Geoffrey Chaucer (1400).  It is the anniversary of the first female FBI agents (1972), Grenada was invaded by the U.S. (1983) and Taiwan was expelled from the UN so mainland China could be admitted (1971).

My blog is again posting on Facebook, and you may notice I’ve changed the heading.  🙂  Morgan, from morganHDcreative says I should do that so it picks up on Twitter better.  She had some other suggestions that makes a lot of sense.  The world keeps pushing me into social media and I’m not going easily.  Some may say kicking and screaming.  🙂

ALCOSAN is taking public comments on it’s $2B to $3.6B plan to meet mandated upgrades by the EPA.  As I’m sure you are aware, ALCOSAN is planning on totally meeting this standard by creating a grey system (hard construction) without any green solutions included.  They claim they have no authority to force surrounding municipalities to comply with any green solution (although Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald is in support of at least including some green in the process).  You can leave a comment on their web site or if you want to leave a more detailed message, snail mail one to ALCOSAN 3300 Preble Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15233.

A 14 year old boy stole a Jeep in Churchhill in August and police started chasing him because of erratic driving down I376 until he rolled the Jeep.  The kid’s mother is blaming the owner of the Jeep because she left her keys in the car, the police had no right to chase her son because maybe he just wanted to take a joy ride, or possibly wanted to go further than he felt like walking.  What is wrong with people?  Follow this link if you want to see the details.

Kraynick’s Bike Shop at 5003 Penn Avenue in Garfield is very cool.  Jerry Kraynick runs the shop kind of like a hybrid between a school and co-op.  If you’re bike’s broken, you can bring it in, he has several work stations and you can borrow tools and if you don’t know how to make the repairs, Jerry or one of the volunteers working there will give you pointers on what to do.  Jerry sells bike parts and does a lot of bartering (he got roof repairs done this way, even anesthesia for a hernia surgery).  Starting around now, Jerry and a group of volunteers start repairing donated bike to donate to kids at Christmas time.  If you happen to have an old bike laying around, not a bad idea for a new use for it.  🙂

Amy Garbark, aka Garbella was an art teacher and started selling handmade goods in 2006 and in 2010 left her teaching career and started doing this full time.  One of her best sellers is a dumpling with the words “p is for pierogi” under it.  Surprisingly, it’s quite popular in Canada.  In addition to her T-shirts, scarves, skirts, aprons, even clocks.  Other themes are bike parts, typewriters and many other whimsical  things.

Governor Corbett just gave four of his inner staff raises hovering around $10k to “level the playing field and bring senior staff into the same pay grade”.  $10K is the yearly salary of many of his constituents make who he’s cutting the social safety nets from under.  How can our elected officials be so clueless?  Governor Corbett blasted Governor Rendell repeatedly for over spending for staff positions and questioned his yet Rendell’s average senior staffer was paid $116,440 as compared to Corbett’s $129,303.

Extreme Tree Service did a massive trim on the honey locust tree in the Courtyard.  It desperately needed manicured.  So the tree’s going to be healthier next year, less seeds in the spring, less leaves clogging the loft’s gutter in the fall.  And it looks so much neater.  Very nice people to work with, very professional and cleaned up nicely when done.

Enjoy this beautiful day, are we going to make a record high today and go over 80?



Birth anniversaries tomorrow include geneticist Nobel prize winner George Beadle (1903), photojournalist that covered five wars from the Spanish Civil War to Vietnam Robert Capa (1913), Jerome Lester Horwitz (Curly of the three stooges 1903), prominent psychologist Timothy Leary (of hippy LSD fame 1920) and composer Franz Liszt (1811).  Tomorrow is the 50th Anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the anniversary of the New York Metropolitan Opera House (1883) and Zambia’s Independence Day (1964).

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department employs a Horseshoer.  They don’t own a horse, nor have they for decades.  This position pays just over $56,000 a year in wages and benefits.  John Riehl, president if the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 207 says “it’s impossible to eliminate positions.”  This with the Detroit system using twice as many employees per gallon of water as Chicago does.  I come from a very blue collar family, my dad worked in the Steel Mills.  But big evil unions are as bad as big evil corporations.  Corporations are not inherently evil, nor are unions.  It’s idiots like Riehl that ruin life for the working stiff.

Speaking of evil, Lamar advertising is making the news again.  They’ve started a billboard campaign against Pittsburgh City Council President Darlene Harris and Councilwoman Rudiak because they are proposing a tax on billboard advertising.  I don’t know enough about what taxes Lamar (the largest billboard company in the country) pays here versus elsewhere.  What I do know is I take offense at Lamar thinking it’s OK to interfere with politics in my city.  Just as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has no business endorsing a presidential candidate in a foreign country, a business has no business trying to influence the general population like this.  They seem to think we may have forgotten they tried illegally to bribe our city officials to get a sweat deal on an electronic billboard on the Grant & Liberty Transit Center, but got caught.  When the city made them stop, Lamar tried taking us to court to get their way.  How much do we have to take from them?  As most of my regulars know, I only include hyperlinks to businesses I support.  The reason I have a hyperlink to Lamar is not that I support them, I’m hoping they have Google Alerts and see my post.

The Pittsburgh Glass Center in Friendship (5472 Penn Avenue is always a good bet to visit.  They’ve extended John Moran’s American Idols to January 21.  John has sculpted the heads and faces of past presidents and dressed them in whimsical clothing.  You can even vote for your favorite.  Currently, the top three are Obama, Washington and Jackson in that order.  Normal hours are 10 am – 7 pm Tuesday through Thursday and 10 am – 4 pm Friday through Sunday.  More info at either web site or by calling 412.365.2145.

OK, it’s that time of year.  In keeping with the season, here’s my list of haunted houses for your perusal.  In Renfrew you will find The Beacon, which has family friendly No Scare Sundays from 1 pm – 4 pm.  Out in West Deer Township’s Bairford Park you will find West Deer Nightmare.  Rated one of the scariest Halloween attractions by the Travel Channel is Scarehouse in Etna.  The Haunted Hills Hayride over in N Versailles is celebrating 13 years of scaring you.  Proceeds from Haunted Hills benefit Autism Society of Pittsburgh.  Fright Farm 2012 is an association of haunted houses and the ilk.  You can go to their web site and find haunted houses all over the country.  Not to be confused with Cheeseman’s Fright Farm out in Portersville (near McConnell’s Mill).  There’s Demon House 2012 out in Monongahela/Carrol Township.  South Park’s having Haunted Hundred Acres again.  In Perryopolis Allen’s Haunted Hayrides is scaring people again.  Kennywood’s Phantom Fright Nights is back.  Mischief Manor (formerly Victory Haunted House) is open in Elizabeth Township.  Terror Town is back in the Strip on Smallman across from the Terminal Building.  KDKA Zoo Boo for kids is coming back this year, great non scary event for the smaller goblin fans.  ExScream Nightmares has been in Clairton’s pool since 2008.  The Boy Scouts will be hosting The Haunted Cabin in Oakdale.  There’s a ton of other scary houses around the area, follow this link to events outside Allegheny County.  This web site even lists scare houses that have been open in the past on the bottom of their list.  Molly’s Trolleys is featuring Terror Trolley Tours Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 pm and 9 pm leaving from Station Square.  The Trolley Museum out in Washington County is hosting a pumpkin patch trolley tour as well.

There’s a start up over on the South Side that’s goal is to make money off free water and in the process help the environment.  Evive has set up water filling stations at WVU and California.  The system is set up to either clean the water bottle and then fill with chilled filtered water for free or just will the bottle with chilled filtered water (skip the cleaning step).  The bottles are part of the system, they have a microchip in them that when you swipe it to get water, personalized ads appear on a 32″ screen. You buy the $10 bottle and fill in a questionnaire with general preferences, like you like to ski or hike, music you like, etc.  The machine will display custom ads on a screen as you fill the bottle based on your preferences and ad space Evive was able to sell.

Project Bundle Up, the charity that supplies cold weather coats and jackets to seniors and children are looking at a fairly bleak future now that UPMC has pulled their support out of the Hartwood Acres Celebration of Lights, Bundle Up’s major funding source.  It’s not going to effect this year, Bundle Up works a year in the future.  So they are highlighting their shopping-trips sponsorships.  This is where donors can accompany the child buying winter outerwear.  This program looks for a donation of at least $2,500.  Business Records Management, this great company over here right down the street from The Parador Inn became a shopping sponsor and hopes to raise at least $15,000 for Bundle Up.  (I had all these old boxes of financial records and guest info from Florida I wanted to shred, BRM only wanted $6 for it.  When I had a wedding and there was a Pitt game, they let my guests use one of their lots without charge).

I’m not a big fan of Tom Cruise, but his new film set to be released in December, Jack Reacher has lots of Pittsburgh identifiable shots.  Pittsburgh police cruisers, PNC Park, Heinz Field, Ft Pitt tunnels, lots and lots.

Have a great day,



Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the Water Pollutions Control Act, the anniversary of the first newspaper comic strip (1896-there had been individual comics, but the first comic stretched over several panels was in the New York Journal) and it is Azerbaijan Independence Day (1991).  Tomorrow is the birth anniversary of James Brooks (born 1906, he was one of the muralists employed during the Great Depression’s public works program-his most famous, the one in the Marine Air Terminal at La Guardia Airport and was painted over in 1950.  In 1980 it was restored).  It is also the birth anniversary of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

For you Angry Birds players, I assume you already know the Angry Birds Star Wars is coming out next month.  Those cranky birds and pigs dress up in Star Wars garb and take on their characters personas.

South Baldwin firefighters did a UTube video with a take off of the Korean Gangnam Style promoting fire safety.  It’s very cute.

While recovering from a knee injury and bored, second year Steeler running back Baron Batch he decided to take up painting.  He started making art for his bare walled home and has progressed since.  This he added to his already passion for photography.  Sherry Jo Matt with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation saw his work and arranged for his debut art show November 16 at Pavilion X at 120 Boulevard of the Allies.  Tickets are $75 and you can bid on any of his exhibited art work.  More info on Baron’s art work and blog is at his web site.  More info on the art show by calling 412.321.4422 (there’s nothing on their web site).

What’s up with those WVU students?  They’re happy they won, they burn couches in the streets.  They’re upset they lost, they burn couches in the street.  A world event occurs, they burn couches in the street.  These fires have wasted precious safety resources.  These fires have caused extensive damage to buildings and vehicles.  It’s criminal.  I bet if WVU didn’t have a similar “old boys club” attitude like PSU the fires would stop pretty damn fast.  I’d say felony arson and permanent expulsion would have an immediate effect.  These are not “pranks” and the “responsible adults” in charge of this university should be held accountable just as those at PSU should be.

There’s a free heating solutions workshop being offered October 20 from 1 – 4 pm in the Park Place, Pittsburgh.  High Performance Homes, the Next Frontier in Home Renovation will be held at the Environmental Charter Lower School at 309 S Braddock Avenue (Mayor Fedderman strikes again)  🙂  I love that guy.  More info at their web site, at 888.728.9288 or by e-mail info@deawp.org.

Have you seen a picture of Miley Cyrus?  I’m not into country, nor into the celebrity gossip columns.  I occasionally see something that peaks my interest, like when her dad was pushing her recording a few years ago.  There was all that controversy about “robbing the cradle”.  I just saw a  picture of her in the newspaper, granted newspapers don’t have the clearest pictures, but OMG, that 20 yr old looks 35 – 40.  What a shame.

Phipps Conservatory (my favorite space in the city, next to The Parador Inn) 🙂 just opened their fall show themed after the Chinese “Year of the Dragon”.  In the Sunken Garden they have a dragon made of oak leaves (and other things), in the East Room you’ll find Under the Sea.  There are many other dragon and fall themed displays throughout the conservatory.  Normal rates and hours prevail, more info at their web site or by calling 412.622.6914.

With the State closing Liberty Pet Control over in McKees Rocks (the place owned by the 70+ that kept failing State inspections), the Western Pa Humane Society is over run with animals.  They’ve doubled up the kennels, they have 30 – 40 animals in foster homes and they’re even in the offices.  They are running a promotion of $30 adoptions for dogs older than 2.  If you’ve been thinking about a pet, now’s a great time.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.321.4626.

The city’s giving Buncher $50M in TIF money, allowing them to tear down 1/3 of the iconic Terminal Building and creating a boring white bread development.  No one is mentioning all the great small businesses rescuing many of our buildings.  There’s the huge building along Railroad Street in the Strip between 28th and 29th Streets.  There used to be the International Carpet Company (I think that was there name), followed by Mod Cloth (who’s now in the West End in an old grocery store).  Whoever owns the building tore down a ratty addition to it across from the metal recycler’s location on 28th and are in the process of replacing the metal facade and windows with energy efficient ones.  They are even dressing up the parking lot.  Then there’s the building down around 18th Street and Smallman in the Strip that some some independent seems to be totally redoing the brick facade and also replacing the windows (it’s building that houses Kaya restaurant on the first floor, Odyssey computer company on the second and a good bit of newly renovated retail/office space available.  Then there’s Brian Mendelssohn in Lawrenceville, not even a Pittsburgh native.  After graduating CMU he bought a place in Lawrenceville to live and fell in love with Lawrenceville.  Mendelssohn, the principle with Botero Development, has restored row homes along 48th Street, the Omega Credit Union Building, the Arsenal Bank Building with lofts on the second floor.  His current project is the former Starr Discount store, the largest building in Lawrenceville and he’s putting a 72 seat single screen theater, a restaurant, some retail space and bottle shop.  There’s the two guys (I don’t recall their names) buying up individual buildings in the Strip and Lawrenceville corridor, rehabbing them and putting them back on the market.  I’m OK with the profit motive.  I have a problem with the greed motive, all about making as much money as you can, it doesn’t matter that you’re tearing down 1/3 of an icon building to make the maximum profits you can, it doesn’t matter that a cash strapped stupid city administrators are willing to give you $50M so you can suck the city dry.  Why doesn’t Buncher apply for a job at Bank America?  The city should start some sort of recognition program for entrepreneurs that invest their own money in the city.  There are a lot of local entrepreneurs like ed menzer at The Parador that have invested a ton of there own money and sweat making a real impact on the city.  🙂

Have a great day tomorrow,