Tomorrow’s the independence for Albania (1912), Panama (1821), Mauritania (1960) and Chad’s Republic Day (958).  Birth anniversaries include English poet William Blake (1757), African American painter Charles Alston (1907), French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss (1908)

Well, I hope everyone enjoys this Thanksgivukkah, it’s the last time Hanukkah and Thanksgiving occur together for the next 79,000 years.  What will we do with all those hybrid recipes that I’ve been seeing on the Internet?

Although they are already decorated, the Cathedral of Learning is officially opening their Nationality Room on December 8 with guides dress in ethnic clothing from noon until 4.  There will be ethnic dance and music as well traditional food and crafts for sale.  The rooms will be open to the public daily until January 17 (with the exceptions of December 24, 25 & 26 as well as January 1).  More info about the tours or rooms in general can be had at their website or by calling 412-624-6000.

Don’t forget, this is Small Business Saturday, support your local small businesses.  Just because The Parador Inn does not have worldwide name recognition as some of the big boys like Marriott and Exxon, combined, we’re  a powerful engine.  I know I’ve said this in the past, while attending business school at Penn State, a professor pointed out the 93% of the economy is fueled by small businesses.  I’ve seen that stat several times since, most recently in an article about a year and a half ago.  There’s a lot of small neighborhood shopping districts around that just might have that special gift you are looking for.  Sewickley, Shadyside, Southside, Oakmont to name just a few.  There’s also the Hand Made Arcade at the convention center next weekend that always has tons of vendors selling their homemade wares.

Instead of scrapping plans for multi billion dollar warships (which I’m not saying we don’t need to keep our defense updated, it’s just  we don’t need to buy all the new toys the generals want), we cut social net programs because they don’t have high priced lobbyists.  The temporary expansion of SNAP benefits expired at the same time the government did a 5% reduction in their participation in the nations food banks.  That figures out to average 20 fewer meals a month for a family of four.  Of the 87 million recipients of food vouchers in Pennsylvania, 87% are a family that includes a child, a senior or a person with a disability.  Our most vulnerable.  With the reduction in government assistance, many families run out food benefits by the third week of the month, then they turn to the depleted food banks go help them through the last of the month.  I donate to the Northside Common Ministries trying to keep as local as possible.  Our regional food bank, The Greater Pittsburgh Community is another source that needs assistance.

As if having 3,000 natural lakes (the most of any country on Earth), Canada is giving the go ahead to Syncrude to create artificial lakes to store the contaminated waste water from processing the oil sands.  They estimate that by 2022, they will be generating monthly enough toxic waste to fill New York’s Central Park 11 feet.  The plan is to fill the old fields where they removed to oil sands with this sludge and then put 16 feet of fresh water on top to force the pollutants down to the bottom.  And then make another “pond”.  The industry says there are naturally occurring microbes that help break down that break down some of the pollutants.  Or at least this is what happened in their “test kitchen” they say.  They also say in their “test kitchen” ecosystems of insects, amphibians and fish eventually developed.  Maybe they can film the next Star Wars bar scene there.  :)

The National Cathedral will start charging $10 admission for tourists to cover upkeep ($6 for children, seniors and military).  After all the expense they had to shell out since the earthquake (insurance only covers so much), I think that’s fair.

Well, The Parador is almost ready for the holidays.  I hope to get the outside decorations up this weekend, the weather’s looking a little better than it’s been for the past few days (bitterly cold with the wind, I even turned the furnace on low in the Ballroom at night to keep the pipes from freezing).  The coconuts in the windows have all been repainted and I’m trying a new way to hang them so they don’t get all snaggled together when they’re stored off-season.  I still have a few tweeks to do inside.  Many of you have received the yearly holiday card featuring The Duck.

This year, I was able to convert the address book in my data base into Excel and my printer, Raff Printing, was able to print the cards with the addresses.  Saved a ton of time (3,600 addresses!).  Next year, we’ll do postage as well.  By the time I’m ready to through in the towel, this job’s going to be a piece of cake.  :)

Well, I wish each of you a very Happy Thanksgiving and if you are traveling, please take your time.  They say a key is to rest up before leaving, I’m a big believer in naps.  :)




Tomorrow is the anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy (1963), where were you?  Also, the anniversary of the first China Clipper flight delivering mail to the Philippines (1935), Lebanon’s Independence Day (1943), Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was first published (1859) and Margaret Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister (1990).  Birth anniversaries include pilot and stunt parachutist Wiley Post (1898), French President Charles De Gaulle  (1890) and novelist George Eliot (1819).

When I talk, you better pay attention.  Apparently, Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority did.  :)  PWSA is planning on spending $155M to comply with the EPA mandate to keep raw sewerage out of our waterways during heavy rain. PWSA plans on dedicating $10M out of the first $80M investment on green infrastructure.  The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (PWSA’s county counterpart) intends to include green infrastructure in their $2.2B plan.  GM George Hawkins wouldn’t commit how much would be earmarked for green infrastructure and I don’t expect a lot after hearing his comment “We don’t think we’re going to save money by going green, though we do get all of these other benefits.”  Well, for one thing, passive rain gardens and swells don’t need much maintenance.  Porous paving is pretty permanent.  I have sent a suggestion to PWSA on numerous occasions that I am sure would greatly reduce the volume of storm water entering the sewer system.  When they rebuilt Western Avenue out front of The Parador a couple of years ago, I was excited because I thought I saw a very ingenious way to reduce storm water runoff going into the sewers.  They replaced the catch basins.  They dug the old ones out, put a healthy layer of crushed rock in the hole and the new cement catch basin was sitting next to it, five sides of concrete.  One had the hole for the pipe to take water out of the basin and one side was totally open.  I thought if they put the open side down over the crushed rock and raised the pipe opening, water would naturally percolate through the rock into the ground.  If this was the new standard throughout the city, we would keep tons of water out of the system.  PWSA has never even acknowledged my suggestions.

How about Mayor Elect  Bill Peduto?  Once again he’s impressing me.  He’s offered current city employees an early retirement package if they’re concerned about the performance bar being raised.  Other than his inner circle, hiring will be done through an organization set up by the Pittsburgh Foundation.  The committee will review applications and forward the most qualified to his office.  This should keep politics and “the old boy” patronage system out of government new hires.  The Mayor Elect does not have to accept them, he has the option of rejecting them and asking the committee to find another candidate.  He’s also set up advisory panels of volunteer city residents to meet and come up with solutions to the many problems the city faces.  He’s had nearly 900 residents volunteer for these positions.  I’m not saying Joe Residents knows how to fix all the problems in the city, but when you pare concerned citizens with experts you start thinking outside the box.  This could truly be huge.

Starting Saturday at 6 pm, as part of Light Up Night, they are having a candle light horse drawn carriage parade from the convention center down Liberty to the Gateway “T” stop.  More than 100 horses, 30 carriages decorated like Cinderella’s pumpkin and other themes.  Clydesdale and miniature ponies and mascots including the Pirate Parrot, Iceberg and the Pierogies  will join Mr McFeely in the parade.  Sounds pretty fun.  There’s so much scheduled for Light Up Night, it would take forever to list them in my blog, please visit their website for details.

Thanx Ravenstahl, back when you were running for mayor, you showed up for the Veteran’s Day parade.  But now that you don’t need our votes, you’re too busy hob knobbing with the rich and powerful to honor Vets.  We’ll remember.

I’ve been against ethanol since the fad started.  Yes, the burning of an ethanol and gasoline blend gives off less carbon dioxide.  But my first concern about it is there’s millions of people starving around the world, many hungry right here in America.  Farms should farm food.  As time goes by, more and more scientists are getting on the bandwagon showing how when you add the cost of actual farming (tractors, etc), trucking the grain to processing plants, trucking to ethanol to blending plants it’s a net negative for the environment.  And, because corn prices are at near record levels, farmers in the mid West and Western states are tearing up virgin grazing lands releasing pent up carbon in the soil below the grasslands.

Fifty years ago this week, touch tone phones were first introduced right here in Carnegie and Greensburg.  Developed in Bell Labs, they ran the experiment in these two local cities because of their relative size, average income and isolation from larger sections of the old Bell Telephone system.  What’s kind of interesting here is with all the advances with cell and i phones, the key pad is basically the same as it was 50 years ago.  Some ideas last.

The basic books in my foodie collection that I highly recommend are the reference books A Food Lover’s Companion, a dictionary of culinary terms, many you probably never heard before.  For all there is to know about beer, wine and spirits, Grossman’s Guide to Wine, Beer and Spirits is the source.  For all things cooking, the Culinary Institute of America’s New Professional Chef is a must have.  These aren’t so much “cook books” as much as reference books.  The reason for these three recommendations is I  read one of my favorite writers for the Trib, John Conti’s article in Sunday’s Trib “Bigger and Glossier Doesn’t Always Mean Best Book.”  Although John isn’t an architect, his insight always amazes me and if you are looking for a reference book on architecture, whether it’s architecture in general, Pittsburgh’s architecture or even hiring an architect, you really should read this article.

A belated congratulations to Center Fielder Andrew McCutchen’s landslide winning of the National League’s MVP player.  He’s just one of six Pirates to receive the honor since the award started in 1931.

Pittsburgh’s indie market of local artisans “I Made It” is being held at the Waterfront Friday from 5 pm until 10 pm and Saturday from 11 am until 6 pm.  Since 2007, local crafts persons have offered unique gifts of photography books, reclaimed wood wall hangings, housewares, apparels, ceramic, baby items, furniture, Pittsburgh themed items and much more.  There will be more than 90 local crafters located in the former Abercrombie and Holister retail space.  If you want a unique gift and meet the creator, here you go.

Have a great day,


Tomorrow is 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, the cold war officially ended in 1990, the first automatic toll collection machine was introduced in 1954 at the Union Toll Plaza on New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway, Pele scored his 1,000 goal (1969) and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union was organized (1874) and the first Presidential Library was dedicated to Franklin Roosevelt (1939).

I had a conversation with a guest that’s visited since 2007 (after his son, daughter-in and granddaughter stayed here when relocating to Pittsburgh).  Bob said that although he frequently reads my blog, he doesn’t always agree with me.  That’s the point of my political ramblings, I don’t want people to agree with me.  The purpose is to stimulate conversation, either with me through the Comments section or by e-mail if you feel the topic warrants it.  Or possibly stimulate conversation among your family and friends. As any of you that read my blog know, it’s not just political ramblings that I talk about, mainly I try and cover events people might be interested in attending and happenings at The Parador.  Speaking of happenings, we’re finishing up with the deep cleaning and paste waxing of the floors in the Parlor and Library this afternoon in preparation for the holiday decorations.  Also, I’m working on the coconuts I hang in the front windows.  In case you’ve never been here over the holidays, I came up with the idea while in Florida to take coconuts, spray paint them and then paint holiday images  on them like snowmen, candy canes, Christmas trees, etc.  Well, I haven’t done anything with them in over eight years and they were really looking pretty shabby.  I’ve put a fresh coat of paint on them all and are now re-painting the images.  They’re looking pretty sparkly.  :)

Speaking of my blog, theirs a counter on it (don’t worry, it doesn’t show who read blogs or when they did), it just shows the gross number of people that have read individual blogs.  I’m closing in on 5,000 on several blogs!

The Netflix feature Orange is the New Back has a Pittsburgh connection.  One of the writers is Lauren Morelli from McCandless.  The story line is about a nice middle class woman imprisoned for prior association with a drug dealer.  I haven’t seen it, but it’s supposed to be pretty good and is available in their streaming service.  The first season was such a success that they are currently filming season two.

I’m reading the most interesting book, Last Ape Standing by Chip Walter.  The book explores the evolution of man, did you know there were 27 forms of us before homo sapiens turned out with our final form?  The book is well written and not too technical that it’s hard to read, in fact Chip makes the book very entertaining as well as informative.   It is the first book I can recall where I actually would Google things in the book like the alien looking aye-aye from Madagascar, the blobfish of Borneo and the bizarre mating rituals of porcupines and anglerfish.

Looking for unique holiday gifts?  Try the Holiday Artist Market in the Cultural District.  They have 30 local artists that belong to the Craftsman’s Guild of Pittsburgh.  The diverse offerings include hand crafted works in jewelry, glass, clay, wood, sculpture, textiles and paper with prices from the inexpensive to fairly pricey.  It’s being held at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s 709 Gallery on Penn Avenue and is open during the gallery’s normal operating hours of 11 am – 6 pm Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11 am – 8 pm Fridays and Saturdays as well as 11 am – 5 pm Sundays and runs through January 5.  More info at their website or by calling 412-456-6666.

Through the rest of the month at Gallerie Chiz has four artists featured including Pittsburgh Mitzi Hall who works in colorful mosaics of pieces of glass, mirror and ceramic.  She really “dolled” up everything from shoes to violins.  Very colorful.  Venezuelan artist Salvador Di Quinzio takes a light hearted colorful use of acrylic.  Not as colorful as the last two artists, there’s 32 paintings by Romanian artist Manulela Holban.  Although much darker (in shade, not theme), they are very interesting works in oil.  Finally, Masha Archer makes jewelry from objects she collects from around the world.  We’re not talking simple strings of pearls here.  :)  Though I don’t see me with one of them, I can still appreciate the creativity.  The gallery is open 11 am – 5:30 pm Tuesdays through Fridays and 11 am – 5 pm Saturdays.  More information on this show in Shadyside at their website or by calling 412-441-6005.

After 206 years, the iconic Pleyel piano company is closing it’s doors.  Favored by such greats as Chopin, Lizst, Ravel and Stravinsky it was the standing in all upscale Paris parlors and salons for generations.  Ignaz Pleyel, a composer and music publisher studied with Haydn and was always on the cutting edge of their craft.  They’ve been on the decline for many years and are down to just 14 employees being under cut by budget pianos from the East and the change in consumer tastes for the bulky pianos.

Be happy,





Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day.  Originally set up in 1919 as Armistice Day to commemorate the soldiers on both sides of World War I that lost their lives fighting for their countries.  Be sure to say Thank you to any Vets you know.  It’s the anniversary of the Anglican Church’s first permitting women priests (1992), Irving Berlin’s God Bless America’s first performance (1938), independence anniversaries include Angola (1975), Maldives (1968), Poland (1918) and Washington was admitted to the Union (1889).  Birth anniversaries include Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821), General George S Patton (1885), the last Italian king Emmanuel Victor (1869) and American novelist Kurt Vonnegut (1922).

The Evil Empire Buncher group strikes again.  They sent a letter to City Council that if they don’t get there way and be allowed to tear down 1/3 of the Terminal Building, the project won’t go forward and harm will be caused to so many people counting on the project.  They also say that no other developer would consider the project without approval to tear down 1/3 of the Terminal Building.  If I understand things correctly, Buncher OWNS the 200 acre parcel behind the Terminal Building and they have an option from the URA on the Terminal Building.  #1, let me get this clear, they own 200 acres of extremely valuable vacant land next to a major river (Allegheny) and within walking distance Downtown and the Strip and they are going to walk away from the project?  Really!  I  guess the mayor of Toronto isn’t the only one smoking crack.

I’ve been seriously trying to quit smoking for over four years now.  I’ve been on Chantix four times and it works for awhile and the next thing you know, I’m smoking occasionally and then regularly.  I don’t think being on Chantix full time would be healthy either.  :)  (I had those nasty nightmares the first time I was on Chantix and took it by their dosage of once in the morning and once in the evening.  But anytime I would only take it once a day, I had no problems).  So I decided to try those E-cigarettes.  I opted for V2 and that seems to be working fine for me.  In case you aren’t aware, E-cigarettes look like a cigarette with a rechargeable lithium battery where the tobacco would normally be and a cartridge where the filter would be.  The cartridges contain nicotine, but none of the tar or carcinogens associated with regular cigarettes.  My lithium batteries are not holding the charge for long, so I went to their website to order two replacements (I thought).  While on their website I clicked on the Icon that says Batteries, three images popped up showing two batteries in each.  I chose which one I wanted and then clicked Buy Now and the next screen popped up, again showing two batteries and I made my purchase.  One arrived today and I thought they had just mispackaged them, so I called them.  When I spoke with their customer service rep, he explained that the reason they show two batteries is there’s actually two models in each of the three pictures, a manual and an automatic version.  Even with him explaining this to me and me being at the website looking at the pictures, I had to squint to see the difference.  And there was no verbiage saying you’re buying one and we’re showing two for this reason.  I explained him that I thought I was buying the automatic, not the manual, but that’s not the point.  I thought I was getting two batteries.  Well he kept explaining to me why there was two pictures and how I could return the manual for an automatic.  I was obviously getting nowhere with him, so I told him good bye and went to the Contact Us section of their website and sent them an email explaining my concerns.  In less than an hour, they called me!  The lady I spoke with was so nice, I felt bad complaining.  I think she totally understood I wasn’t looking for something for free (which I believe the first guy thought), I was upset with my shopping experience.  I don’t think they ware deliberately deceiving their customers, it’s just that their website is misleading.  I explained how I run my Inn so everything is so totally clear, there’s no confusion when a guest arrives about what room they are going to be in, how long they are going to be here, what the charge is going to be, etc.  I think because I wasn’t screaming and hollering and politely explained my beef, she’s sending me a pack of cartridges.  What does a pack of cartridges actually cost them?  Going above and beyond, she has a loyal customer as long as I smoke E-cigarettes and they got a free link in my blog.  I love good customer service.

How about the Mayor-Elect Bill Peduto?  I wasn’t 100% behind him in the past.  As you know, I really hate that constant bickering in politics you see all the time and I saw him and our current ghost mayor at each other all the time (and other squabbles).  He held his election celebration event in Homewood.  He’s named cabinet and it includes two white males, a black male, a black female, a Hispanic female, an Oriental female and a white female.  All with some amazing credentials.  This may be too good to be true, but I’m really looking forward to see what he does.  And I don’t seem to be the only one that took notice.  VP Joe Biden called him to congratulate him.

What a great Veteran’s Day story.  Illinois native Stephanie Hare, living in England called the USO at O’Hare and told local USO volunteer John Colas that her fiance Pravin Rajan would be passing through with his fellow Marines on their way home from Afghanistan.  In just an hour and a few phone calls, John got 15 Chicago police officers and fireman to come to the airport who were joined by airport security and others to present a water salute the plane went through and then as the Marines got off the plane, they went through an honor guard of the uniformed police and fire fighters, as well as other airport staff.  Then, American Airlines has a policy of upgrading uniformed service members to first class whenever there are empty seats.  So seven of the Marines received upgrades and 6 first class guests gave up their seat for the remaining Marines so they could all sit together.  It didn’t take a lot of money, planning or resources.  Just effort and a little thinking outside the box.  It created memories for these heroes (flawed I’m sure as I am, but Americans that did the best they could) that will never forget.

To celebrate their 20th anniversary, the National Aviary has created an new exhibit, Canary’s Call.  It’s an educational exhibit that shows how the impact of man (and women) :) is affecting the environment.  Through over population, habitat loss, invasive species and over consumption we are having a real impact on so many species.  Add this to other diseases like the white nose bat syndrome our co-inhabitors of earth are really taking it in the shorts.  They have rehabbed the rhinoceros hornbill’s cage for this exhibit, they rhinoceros have been at the Aviary for awhile, but they have these amazing beaks that are topped with horns.  The Aviary has added the fruit eating Malayan flying foxes, which are bats (bats are technically mammals, but they fly and look like birds, so we’ll give the Aviary a free pass card here) and are about 16 inches long but have wing spans up to 6 feet.  Pretty amazing.  More information at their website or by calling 412-323-7235.  By the way, there are several National Aviaries, but Pittsburgh’s is the largest of them all.

Pittsburgh’s 53 annual Light Up Night‘s just around the corner (November 22).  They are expanding the event this year, it seems Smithfield Street will be closed to vehicular traffic.  The classic rock groups The Elliots and Totally 80s will perform from Mellon Square facing down to Smithfield for street dancing.  Gloria Gaynor will perform in front of Macy’s for the unveiling of Macy’s holiday windows.  They are also adding a laser effects and bubble machines.  Santa will light the holiday tree at Market Square at 5:45, the European Market opens again and has expanded and live Christmas carols will be song by Jeff Jimerson as well as other family friendly activities.  PPG’s ice rink opens that weekend and the free Fifth Avenue Holiday Trolley will also debut.  More details at their website.

I hope you’ve winterized your house, if not, you better get hoppin, it’s getting close.  :)

Happy Veteran’s Day,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of the commissioning of the USS New York, the $1B warship has 7 1/2 tons of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center (2009), the Battle of Tippecanoe (1811), the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway (1885), the Republican Symbol was started by Thomas Nast in a satirical cartoon (1874), President Roosevelt was elected to his fourth term (1944) and the first black governor was elected (in Virginia) (1989).  Birth anniversaries include opera star Dame Sutherland (1926), scientist Marie Curie (1867), American actor Dean Jagger (1903) and French writer and philosopher Albert Camus (1913).

Did you vote yesterday?  If not, shame on you.  You don’t need to vote for each position up, if I’m not familiar with particular candidates for a position and can’t make an informed choose, I by pass it.  I vote knowledgeably on the candidates/issues I am familiar with.  Please, make a commitment to the American system and commit yourself to vote in each election in the future.

It’s unbelievable.  After all the controversy at Penn State over the last few years, the power elite still don’t get it.  They are selecting a new president to replace retiring interim president Rodney Erickson.  The process is totally secret and even the trustees are being kept in the dark.  Transparency is not a difficult thing to do, if you are upright and don’t have hidden agendas.  I think the 96,000 students should have an armed uprising.  :)   Just kidding, NSA.  :)  And do you know the best part?  The people selecting the new president met in a BASEMENT in a hotel off campus.  How ludicrous can they be?

The last 8 residents in Centralia can live in there homes as long as they want.  If you are not familiar, Centralia is that coal mining town in NE Pennsylvania that a seam of coal ignited and has burned since 1962.  The fire has followed several seams in and around the town and seems to have tamed down these days, but in it’s hay day, fissures would open up and smoke and fire would come up through them.  Most residents left, but a hardy 8 remained refusing the government’s attempt to buy them out.  Besides it being their “home”, many felt it was a conspiracy to steal the mineral rights.  The state government tried all kinds of tactics to get them out and the last 8 wouldn’t budge.  It all pretty much died a decade or so ago.  Recently, the state started again to try and evict them and they filed a federal lawsuit and came to a compromise.  The state bought their houses, the residents can stay at their own risk, but they can’t sell the house or bequeath it.  Sounds fair to me.

Why are our gas heating bills going up this year?  Natural gas prices are raising an average of 6% I’m hearing (Equitable, my provider is raising their rates 8.9%) during the largest glut of natural gas in history!  Now I understand Columbia gas is doing a capital project replacing all (I think it’s all) of their old lines.  I can understand paying for that.   And I thank all the heavens that we have Tanya McCloskey as our head of the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocacy, when asked why the PUC is permitting these increases she said “The reason additional supply does not necessarily mean lower prices is that customers’ gas prices depend on several factors”.  Oh, I understand now.  Thank you Tanya for clearing that up for me.  I’m not advocating that she be fired, maybe shot?  Just kidding NSA.

The oldest public park in Allegheny County recently received the country’s highest designation.  The Commons, originally an Allegheny City pasture designated for common grazing of animals, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  I don’t think that will affect the battle with the railroads that wants us to pay to raise the truss bridge on West Ohio Street to accommodate their double stacked cars.  The bridge needs replaced, it’s in pretty poor shape and I’m fine with paying to replace it, but not to raise it so they can make more money off the tracks.  #1 it’s going to do some serious visual disruptions to the park.  #2 quite a few of those stately London Plane trees will have to be removed.  #3 our fore fathers had the foresight to put the track below grade to minimize the noise, dirt and visual of having a train go through their park.  #4 if the rail company wants to be able to double their profits, they should pony up and either A-lower the track bed to accommodate the higher cars or at least B-pay for the added cost of bridge replacement to accommodate them.

The Federal Reserve Bank downtown is going to be converted to a Drury Inn and Suites by next year.  They are looking to create a 180 room hotel in the upper floors leaving the grand first floor pretty much as it is.  Drury is an international company (with a really annoying website) with 130 room hotels.  Currently they only have 4o parking spots, not sure what they’re going to do there, but Drury runs higher end hotels, the the room rate would probably warrant carving out the multiple basements into parking.  This will be their first hotel in Pennsylvania.  They will be joining Hotel Monaco under construction in the old Reed Smith building on Sixth Avenue that plan 250 rooms and is also pretty upscale.  Watch out  Fairmont, competition’s on it’s way.  :)  An Embassy Suites is under construction in the old Oliver Building on Smithfield Street and the new Hilton Gardens down by Market Square.  A little bed and breakfast on the Northside better watch out, the big boys are moving to town.  :)

Want that unique holiday gift?  Try checking out Tucker-Jones House Tavern Puzzles.  Blacksmith Dennis Sucilsky hand crafts forged steel brainteasers.  Going back to colonial times, tavern owners supplied iron puzzles to their guests to entertain (and retain) them.  They frequently used iron puzzles because of their durability.  One of Denis’ puzzles, the Patience Puzzle takes 43 steps to solve, if you even can.  They start at around $20 and box sets run just over $100.

Anyone that knows me or follows my blog know I follow the news a lot.   I used to watch BBC World News Tonight, until they quit broadcasting it a couple of years ago.  DirecTV now carries Al Jazeera on channel 347 and I’ve been watching it a fair amount. It’s not that I’m against American news broadcasts, and Al Jazeera doesn’t come off with an “agenda”, it’s the same news American networks are covering with a slightly different slant.  And they cover things American new broadcasts don’t cover, and I’m not talking controversial topics, just things outside the box.   Also, they have noticeable less commercials!  I’m not against commercials, in general.  Companies need to make money, it’s the over saturation of commercials during prime time on the major networks that bother me.

The oldest company in America making the original product they were founded making is Waterbury Button Company.  When the war of 1812 stopped the import of buttons from England, Aaron Benedict started making buttons at his company in Connecticut.  Brass was hard to come by then and Aaron scrounged metal from everywhere he could find it.  Every time they make a mold, they save it.  They have 40,000 dies for various button designs they made.  They have been the major supplier for the US Military, all the way back to before the civil war.  They provided the buttons for the staff officers on the original Titanic and when the movie producers recently made the remake, guess where they got their buttons?  Pretty cool, a made in America product.

I’m going to the Pennsylvania Bed and Breakfast Association Second Annual Conference.  (PABBI)  It’s just one evening and a full day, but there’s always lots to learn and it’s great seeing other Innkeepers I already know and meeting others.  There’s always new stuff to learn and stuff to see.  I’m looking forward to it.

That’s it for today, have a great one,