Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Donner Party leaving from Springfield, IL for California that led to an arduous journey that included famine and cannibalism (1847), the Statue of Liberty was dedicated (1886), the Czech Republic’s Independence Day (1918), Harvard University was founded (1636) and the first woman US Ambassador, Helen Anderson (1949).  Birth anniversaries include artist Francis Bacon (1909), French chef Georges Escoffier (1846) and polio vaccine inventor and Pittsburgh native Jonas Salk (born in New York 1914).

Historic Harmony Village will be having their annual WeihnachtsMarkt November 9 from 11 am – 6 pm and November 10 from 11 am – 4 pm.  Admission is $7, $5 for seniors and $3 for students.  Besides finding hand crafted gifts, you’ll see trades persons plying their trades like black smithing and other colonial efforts.  More info at their website or by calling 724-452-7341.  After nearly closing because of cut government funding, Harmony has re-grouped their mission and ramped up fund raisers like this.

Picking up on my past comments about big charity fund raising, organ transplant organizations are coming under the microscope.  A Trib investigation found 58 organ transplant organizations with multiple improper and undocumented spending.   For example, The California Transport Donor Network spend $19,200 for a retirement party for former CEO Phylis Weber $9,600 of it taxpayer money.  That’s one hell of a retirement party.  And it doesn’t clean up from there, Phylis’ successor said the expenditure seemed “reasonable” based on Phylis’ length of service.  One Legacy, also of California, spent $327,000 on a Rose Bowl float, football tickets, hotel rooms and other “necessities”.  And it’s not just in California, next door in Ohio Life Connection traveled 146 miles by private plane for a cost of $3,900.  You can always check a charity’s track record by going to Charity Navigator.  Charity Navigator is in a bit of controversy themselves lately.  They are planning on changing the way they rate charities from just how much comes in compared to what they spend on overhead to also include how effective the charities are in their stated mission.

The Pittsburgh Public Market has re-opened in the Strip at 2401 Penn Avenue.  They are opening with 15 vendors and 10 produce growers and will be open 10 am – 4 pm Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays and 9 am until 5 pm on Saturdays.  They left the Terminal Building last month for several reasons.  One was for more space, they will be able to double in size now and they have a working commercial kitchen in the new facility.  The Public Market has been a major spring board for several local businesses like the East End Brewery that through exposure at the Market, they gave up their leased space in the East End and bought a building that quadrupled their capacity.

Happy Birthday, Mad Mex.  Tom Barron, a New York transplant, was working Wheel Deliver with childhood friend Juno Yoon when he came up with the idea of a fun place to eat with healthy food (as much local as possible back then) and with a Mexican slant.  They created menus based on basic Mexican stables, but with their twist.  The name Mad Mex comes from a play on Tom’s son Max, a toddler at the time that was throwing a fit.  🙂  A year later, Bill Fuller, joined the team.  Bill, still the exec chef was working on a chemistry PhD in California when he decided to move back home (Pittsburgh) and pursue his true passion, cooking.  They now have 10 Mad Mex’s as well as Kaya, Casbah, Soba, Umi and Eleven.  They have over 700 employees at corporate as well as the restaurants.  The masks you see throughout Mad Mex comes from a woman in Arizona that sells them to support a ranch for orphaned animals.  The metal sculptures are by Rich Bach, the metal artist that did my Aztec  calendar on my Courtyard wall blocking my neighbor’s dusk to dawn sodium vapor light.

See my name over the center face?  🙂

I’m a big fan of John Conti, contributor to the Sunday Trib.  This past weekend he posted an article on the Wood Street corridor by Point Park University and how Point Park is saving and restoring most of the area.  There’s other buildings along that street unrelated to Point Park that are also under going restoration and revitalization.  They are counting on the impact the new PNC green building will have on the area.  John’s point is how he appreciates the old and the new co-existing side by side.  One of the things I like about John is he’s not even an architect, but has such an appreciation of the medium that he gives a great insight into it.  Maybe that’s why he’s so good at it, he’s not formally an architect and that gives him a fresh perspective.  “Upcoming Downtown Projects” was a great article.

The free speech movement stated where else, but on the campus of the University of California, Berkley in 1964.  To celebrate the 25th anniversary of this, the Berkeley Art Project held a national public art competition to design fitting monument.  The winner was Mark Brest van Kempen a graduate student at the San Francisco Art Institute.  “He created an invisible sculpture that creates a small space completely free from laws or jurisdiction. The six-inch circle of soil, and the “free” column of airspace above it, is framed by a six-foot granite circle. The inscription on the granite reads, “This soil and the air space extending above it shall not be a part of any nation and shall not be subject to any entity’s jurisdiction.”” That is a direct quote from the Roman Mars article at KAWLNews.  Once the Berkeley Art Project selected the winning monument, they tried to give it to Berkeley who continued to try and not accept it.  This six inch circle of monument goes 60,000 feet into the air and when Mark was asked why so many people miss it, he said “Maybe I should have made it bigger.”  Here’s a picture of it:


Oops, you missed it?  🙂

Do you want a 1897 HK Porter0-4-OT Locomotive and a P & LE Bobber Caboose?  Before making an offer, you can view it Sewickley’s Riverfront Park along Chadwick Street.  The city has determined it’s a liability waiting to happen and want to sell it and are hoping to get $1,000 for it.  I’d kind of like to snag the caboose, Joshua Rhodes, the industrialist that built the building that became The Parador Inn founded the P & LE Railroad (Station Square was his train station). We could just put it in the Courtyard as an additional guest room?

Finished the latest window replacement Thursday, that’s 30 windows this year and sixteen I previously installed.  That leaves 46 regular windows in the Mansion (these numbers don’t include the stained and leaded glass windows which total 20).  96 windows in just the Mansion.  Wow.  I certainly hope is notice it in my gas bills this winter.  With the construction and three of the rooms torn apart for it, we really did a nice job deep cleaning them.  It’s amazing the dirt you can find in a “clean” room when you tear it apart.

By far a record breaking year, after a sluggish start.  Really kicked some butt this past two months, thanx Dee and Jeff for keeping me from going insane.  Biz is slowing down, but November is actually over last year already.  It’s weekdays that are fairly slow.

Well, that’s it for today.  It was cool and sunny this afternoon, but certainly has turned blustery by late afternoon.  Keep warm,



I’m posting this early in case you want to participate in Bridge Day on the New the New River Gorge, West Virginia’s largest festival and the biggest extreme bungy  jumping competition in the world.  Over 500 BASE jumpers participate and they get crowds of over 100,000 people.  Tomorrow is also the anniversary of the Saturday Night Massacre when President Nixon fired many of his legal staff over the Watergate Affair (1973), the Sidney Opera House opened (also 1973), General Douglas made his famous Return to the Philippines (1944), and the Moscow Soccer Tragedy where 340 people were killed  (1982) and Guatemala celebrates it’s revolution over dictator Jorge Castanada (1944).  Birth anniversaries include horror movie star Bela Lugosi (1882), baseballer Mickey Mantle (1931) and actor Jerry Orbach (1935).

Spoiler Alert:  If you have followed me in the past and heard me whine about Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, you may want to sit down.  I am in favor of their proposed rate increase, on one condition.  They say they want to raise our rates to fund a comprehensive infrastructure replacement, if that’s what the rate increase funds, I’m 100% behind it.  You can live life without having a phone or cable, you can survive for a number of days without food, you can’t survive without water.  Most of us pay more for our phones and cable (individually) than we pay for water.  I understand it’s all around us, but clean, potable water isn’t free.  We have lines in the system that are over 100 years old.  PWSA should have the information available to them to know which lines are in the worst conditions and start there and work our way forward for our children.  He’s a novel idea for them, maybe coordinate with other utilities so they only dig a trench once, less invasive for us residents and a significant savings if they share the cost.  Obvious partners would be the gas companies and ALCOSAN (who’s still major on my negativity list).

What’s with Ravenstahl, after disappearing for months (on an extended vacation?), he’s re-emerged saying what a wonderful mayor he’s been and that he’s been working hard for the city.  Working hard at the exclusive golf club he was at for hours last week during a work day?  Or networking for his next job?  Besides me paying him (and you) over $100K a year, he’s mayor for a major American city, to just disappear for months is unacceptable and then to come back to tout his accomplishments, please, it’s obvious to me he’s posturing for his next position.  How could some politician justify placing him in some plum job after his Houdini trick.  I don’t forgive him.

Yea!  We almost won.  The Historic Review Commission recommended that the Terminal Building be designated a historic building, now we just need City Counsel to approve the application and we’ve derailed the Evil Empire Buncher group from tearing down 1/3 of this iconic building.  Of course, there was griping by Buncher and one of the Commissioner’s.  They said they were blind sided by the application for historic designation.  What’s with that?  There has been a vocal group that has been opposed to the destruction of this building, myself included.  That a petition was filed for historic designation when Buncher refused to modify their plans wasn’t back handed.  Go Historic Review, thank you.  🙂

The Carnegie Park (in Carnegie) is hosting their second Trail of Terror on Forsythe Road from 7 pm – 11 pm Friday and Saturday, October 25 & 26.  This is a fund raiser to Pitcher Park Memorial Skatepark that’s being build in Carnegie Park.  Last year, they threw it together in three weeks, this year they’ve been planning since July, so it should be a lot better.  A school bus takes you to the top of the hill and you walk down through their haunts.  It’s supposed to be fairly graphic and gory, but they have a pumpkin patch for the young ones.  The admission is just $7 for adults and $5 for kids.  More info at 412-853-0515.

While working as a hunting guide in Knox City, Texas, Joe Maringo was shocked at all the stray dogs.  He brought two home and started Southwestern PA Retriever Rescue Organization in 2000.  He added Shades of Grey Sanctuary for senior dogs in 2009.  Pretty low keyed and family run, they took in 153 dogs their second year in operation.  They’ve limited the number of dogs they could handle and put up for adoption since.  Friend and pet groomer Kim Tamburri at the Barker Shop also in Plum is organizing a fund raiser from noon until 8 pm at John Anthony’s Italian Restaurant also in Plum (see a theme here?  friends helping friends).  🙂

I never donate to those big advertised campaigns, in my experience they are rip-offs that some well-to-dos are making money off a very worthy cause. Case in point, the NFL’s Crucial Catch campaign for the American Cancer Society.  Of the $4.5M collected since 2009, 8% actually goes to cancer research.  There’s the manufacturers cut, the retail cut, the NFL cut, the franchise cut and even the Cancer Society’s cut for administration fees doesn’t leave much for research.  When interviewed on this, the NFL tried their double speak, but the bottom line is 8% of  $4.5M is a fair amount of money, but no where near what people expect to benefit the cancer research.  I donate each year to both NPR stations WYEP and WESA here in Pittsburgh, Brother’s Brother, the Pittsburgh Food Bank and the Western PA Conservancy and CAI religiously each year.  I also donate to individual causes as they come up and donate gift certificates to most any Pittsburgh organization that asks.  I never donate to the big guys, if they’re not actually scamming, their overheads are way to high.

I was audited by the county this week to ensure that I’m paying the proper amount of bed tax (7%) and they found no deficiencies.  I received a notice in the mail that this was going to happen about a month ago.  I received a certified letter from the county about a week later with the same notice in it.  I received a phone call from the county last week ensuring that I was going to be available with the financial records for them to audit.  The last time I went through this two years ago, there was four county auditors here for two days and one on the third.   So for the roughly 70 hours the county paid these auditors, they found about $700 in unpaid taxes, mainly from me not charging non-profits the bed tax, non-profits are not entitled to this discount by the county (they also found four room sales that I couldn’t justify the tax being collected).  So this year, the county hired that function out to a CPA firm here in Pittsburgh.  Dominic was here for about four hours.  OMG!  At least the county figured out it would be more cost effective to outsource.  But my beef is this auditor called me today to let me know that he found no discrepancies with my book keeping and he was going to send me a form he wants me to sign acknowledging this.  I asked if I was going to get a copy of his report and he said no, the county wouldn’t let him.  #1, the county scheduled an audit and never told me it was going to be a third party.  #2, I voluntarily gave this auditor highly sensitive information (to me anyway).  And I can’t get a copy of what he says?  I don’t owe any money, that’s not the point.  I trust his integrity not to divulge my personal information to a competitor or such, that’s not the point.  The point is he’s writing things about me and I don’t get to see them.  Supposedly the county will send me a re-cap.  This is the same county that wouldn’t support me when I was preparing to open in my battle with the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority that ended up costing me $48K to open my doors.  This is the same county that finally kicked Steve Bland, the incompetent person in charge of Port Authority, and hired a new crony from the Turnpike Commission that luckily was indited for “pay to play” shenanigans before he actually started.  I know it’s petty, but I don’t believe I have to sign this form, so just to irk some bureaucrat it’s going to remain unsigned and unsent.  🙂

The twelve windows have the insides all stained and two coats of polyurethane on them.  I have the first coat of finish on the outside and should have time to do the second coat this weekend.  Then it’s just clean the windows and touch up and I’ll be all set for the install next week.

So far October is running about 20% over last year and we have two weeks left.  I already have more on the books for November than I did all of November last year and have a pending group reservation for 28 more room nights.  Holy cow!  🙂

Enjoy this Fall weather, the winter cold’s just around the corner,








Tomorrow is the anniversary of the first manned flight in a hot air balloon in Paris, France (1783 by Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois Laurent Marquis d’Arlandes), Mata Hari’s execution (1917) and when the Crow Reservation was opened for settlement (1892).  Birth anniversaries include economist John Kenneth Galbraith (1908), German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844) and pugilist John Sullivan (1858).

Well, it’s official, September was the best month I’ve ever had since opening in Lake Worth in 2010.  🙂

The next 12 windows are in the Ballroom.  I’ve stained and 2 coats of polyurethane are on the insides, two coats of finish on the outsides and I’ll be ready for installation next week.  That’s 30 new widows this year!

My favorite room in the Mansion is the front foyer.  The paneling and hand tolled leather cornice are absolutely amazing.  I believe I’ve talked about it in the past.  It’s very poorly lit to show off the craftsmanship in there.  I won’t just install any kind of lighting, I wouldn’t damage anything with drilling holes, etc and have waited the eight years I’ve owned The Parador until the right solution came along.  I knew it would.  I also believe I spoke about the architects that were in last July that recommended Environmental Lights that specialize in LED and other high efficiency lighting.  Well, I ordered LED strip lighting and just had it installed.  Here’s a picture of the foyer with just the sample they sent me installed:

And here’s a picture with the strips installed:

Amazing?  Thanx John & Kerry.

The Balmoral Classic0 is back November 8 & 9 in Shadyside.  It is a celebration of drums and bag pipes and will have the US Junior Solo Bagpiping and Drumming Championship on Friday.  And on Saturday, Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and American Cellist Natalie Haas will offer a concert.  More info on their website or by calling 412-323-2707.

I don’t if any of you are into “Slow TV“, but the Norwegians who pioneered it are coming out with a new show.  Slow Knitting, you can watch them shear the sheep, spin the wool and then knit a sweater.  They expect it to take four or five hours.  Past feats was watching a fire burn for 12 days in this past February and  5 1/2 days of a cruise ship plying the Arctic coast in 2011.

Originally a Tucson, AZ native that lived in NYC for 10 years, Matthew Buccholz has been in Pittsburgh for awhile.  While working at the gift shop Wild Card in Lawrenceville and started taking old maps and photographs and photo shopping them with a touch of the comic strip Bizzaro.  You’ll see an old photograph of Downtown with a flying saucer hovering between buildings and an old map of the city with Minnie the Monongahela Monster rising at the point.  He created a map showing the Living Dead Outbreaks in the city from 1875 and the map was provided by Romero & Sons.  🙂  To go with this, he also has created a BEWARE poster warning of any contact with zombies.  Kind of fun and whimsical.

Greedy SOB.  Michael Svonavec is suing the Federal government saying the land he owned in Shanksville is worth $23M.  The heroic actions that caused that tragedy aside, what was his farm worth prior?  Even considering the added value of the deaths that saved possibly thousands of more American lives gave to that land by making it a destination for solemn reflection, $23M?  Maybe we should send him to Afghanistan for a year to appreciate what he has here?  Now don’t get me wrong, the value has increased from the what ever it was before the crash, but $23M?  It’s a memorial, not a casino.

The Garden Club of Allegheny County (a member of the American Garden Club since 1914) is having their annual fund raiser Pizzazz October 17 from 9:30 am until 7 pm and from 9:30 am until 3 pm on October 18.  Admission’s $10 (there’s a “preview” on the 16th from 6 – 9 pm for $75).  Besides the door, the vendors also give a portion of their proceeds and last year they raised $80K which the garden club distributes as grants to such organizations as Phipps, Allegheny Land Trust, Tree Pittsburgh among others.  The garden club is pretty selective on accepting vendors.  Two highlights this year is 1000 Jobs Haiti, where all items are made by Haitian woman, frequently the sole provider for their families.  And handbags made by The Purlettes + One, these seniors from the Redwoods community that hand-knit their hand bags from Peruvian wool.

Well, that’s it for now, it’s a bit drizzly and overcast, welcome to Fall.  ):



Sorry about the long delay, it’s been super busy.  September was 40% over last year.  And it seems to just keep going (I’m not complaining).  🙂  The latest 12 twelve windows are being delivered tomorrow.  That will bring up to 30 I’ve replaced this year.  Hopefully I will see a difference in the gas bill this winter.  Anyways, even with having to stain and put two coats of polyurethane on the insides and two finish exterior coats, I will be back to blogging more regularly.  Have you seen the Duck?

If you have followed my past posts, you know I am not a hawk or a dove.  Being a veteran, I strongly believe in a strong defense.  But abhor wasting my hard earned tax dollars.  I really hate this sequester thing and how bureaucrats are using it to defend their fiefdoms by crying that the sky will fall if their budgets are cut.  They are using the sequester as an excuse to lay of public defenders paid $75 and hour and outsourcing to private attorneys at $125 per hour here in Allegheny County.  It just doesn’t make sense.  The Stimson Center has just released a report showing how the military can “shave” $50B off the books.  (shave 🙂 ).  The panel included four former members of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, I’d say they should know what they are talking about.  One of the big things they are suggesting is a reduction in the number of ground troops.  With the advent of drones, cyber technology and other modernization coupled with a reduced presence of American ground troops on foreign soils, why does the military need to be so big?

While I’m being Mr. Negativity, they are phasing out the Federal subsidies for flood prone areas starting last week.  Congress passed a law in 2012 that will raise flood insurance premiums paid to insurance companies to reflect “true-risk”.  The premiums will go up 25% per year until the true-risk amount is reached so property owners aren’t hit with a  one time wallop.  I feel bad for coastal residents and people living in flood prone areas, but particularly in these times of budget cuts to essential services like education and food for the less fortunate, it’s a good time to start this.  It’s wonderful to wake up to the surf pounding through your window, I have many times.  But if you want to build in a flood prone area, you need to be prepared to pay the full cost of it.  It should also cause people living or having a business in a flood prone area to think twice about the location.  In particular I’m thinking of areas like the Route 51 corridor that continues to flood and the property owners keep wanting someone to stop the flooding.  Move or make your structure flood proof.  That generally can be done, but again, you’d have to pony up with the cash.

Watch out you evil cable and satellite companies, since 2007, people opting to drop their expensive price tags has grown from 2M to 5M.  Besides the corporate greed to generate higher profits each year, the big driver of these increased rates is licensing fees paid to sports leagues.  Even if you don’t watch sports, it’s bundled to all customers to spread the pain.  An obvious option if you live in a metropolitan area is to go with broadcast TV that’s still available using HD rabbit ears.  You can also stream on line using on-line options like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus.  Now these options don’t carry live and local broadcasting, but you can view most of the major shows a day later (for a price of about $25 versus $135 on average). A new service that’s expanding across the country is Aereo , they have tiny antennas that pick up local channels and then broadcast them over the internet for just $8 – $12 per month.  You can go to their website, but your zip code in and they will tell you if you are in an area they serve.  I use Comcast for my Internet, they raised my rates twice this year bringing the bill 20% higher than last year.  When I called Comcast, the “Customer Service” rep I spoke with to complain about 2 increases in one year and the 20%, his response was to e-mail me a cancellation form.  What audacity!

The National Aquarium in Washington, DC. which opened in 1885 and closed September 30.  It had to move from the US Department of Commerce because of extensive renovations to that building and is not slated to move back in.  They’re shipping the 1,500 animals to various aquariums around the country.  There’s still the National Aquarium in Baltimore and many other significant aquariums around the country.  We have a nice aquarium right here at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium.

Alcoa just celebrated their 125th birthday this past week.  That’s one company that really has it’s ups and downs.  The latest was another down grade by some British analyst firm.  Alcoa is predicting huge things with the new minimum gas mileage average of 54 mpg coming up in a few years.  That will spur auto makers to use the less weight aluminum more that the heavier steel.  They have also come up with an aluminum with an adhesive for auto manufacturing that is durable and pretty cost effective.

Believe it or not, I’m OK with the rate hikes the airlines are starting.  They are taking what years ago were standard and offering the same service for a fee.  It’s my overall opinion if you want a cheap place to stay, go to a Motel 6.  If you want luxury, go to a Fairmont. If you want a nice place to visit with great accommodations, congenial host 🙂 and two wonderful boiz, come to The Parador.  (Shameless plug) 🙂  They used to have decent food they served on airplanes and in cost cutting over the years, it got worse and worse until they dropped it.  You can now pay for a decent meal.  Want more leg room, you can pay for that as well.  Priority boarding is available for a price as well as many other “upgrades”.  If saving money’s your thing, just go for the standard fare and wait.  I prefer this than every time I turn around they are adding baggage fees, raising prices, etc.

There’s a start up robotics company in Lawrenceville that has CMU roots, Carnegie Robotics.  CMU researchers are always developing ideas and they just exist as ideas until someone puts them to practical use.  John Bares and Dan Beaven founded the company and one if their applications is the Line Scan Sortation System-the real name.  🙂  Strawberry plants last just two years and so sorting out the good plants from the less desirable plants (why plant a strawberry plant that won’t bear fruit?) and it is very labor intensive task in strawberry production to sort and plant the new viable strawberry plants.  The volume this machine can sort it 60,000 plants per hour.  They use high powered blowers, laser lights and other technology to sort the good plants from the not so good plants.  They even have a system that takes so-so plants to be re-evaluated.  Other systems they manufacture are explosive devise and tunnel detection systems.

Quirky Nikola Tesla has been called The Greatest Geek Who Ever Lived, The True Father of the Electric Age and even the simplistic Badass.  🙂  An amazing scientist that had famous bouts with JP Morgan and Thomas Edison to name a few.  Pittsburgh’s Michael Anton is writing a biopic he hopes to make a film from next year on the man.  There’s a red carpet event hosting the writer (and soon to be director) October 18 at 301 Fifth Avenue Downtown  which will also showcase a mini Tesla museum.  Tickets can be purchased at showclix.com.  Tesla was such an interesting person, besides all the ingenious ideas that emerged from his mind.  Eons ahead of his time, he even talked about sending messages to Mars and texting way before the technology was there.

Be back soon,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of the first American newspaper being published Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestic (1690), the first female Supreme Court Justice (Sandra Day O’Connor 1981), Greenwich Mean Time began (1676), the Pacific Ocean was discovered (1513) and National Parks Sequoia & Kings Canyon were established (1890).  Birth anniversaries include novelist William Faulkner (1897), composer Dmitri Shostakovich (1906), actor Christopher Reeve (1952), baseballer Phil Rizzuto (1917) and cartoonist and children’s author Shel Silverstein (1930).

To me, two things are in concrete and indisputable.  Global warming is happening, just look around the globe.  And the most profitable companies lobby hard to keep us using carbon based fuels.  Exxon brags they spend $100M a DAY searching for new sources of carbon fuel.  And gun violence in America is out of control.  We have the most lax gun laws in the world, I believe.  (If not the most lax, we definitely are one of the laxest).  The NRA lobby is as powerful as the energy lobby and they insist on stopping any sensible solution, this is just nuts.   This “It’s absolutely my way or your gonna be fired” has to stop.  We need compromise on all kinds of things, we have too many important issues we need to find common ground to find solutions.  The two politicians in Colorado were recalled for their belief in gun control, not for their overall performance.  Professor David Guth, of the University of Kansas, is suspended indefinitely for Tweeting after the Naval Shipyard shooting “Blood is on the hands of the #NRA.  Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters”.  I agree, poor taste and judgement, but to be fired?

Hunt Auctions in Exton will auction off memorabilia from Pittsburgh favorite son Bill Mazeroski‘s collection on November 6.  A short list of items on the auction block include the home jersey with champagne stains from after winning game 7 in the 1960 World Series, a bronzed bat from that series as well as his cleats.  Also included will be a bat given to him by Roberto Clemente, six of his eight Gold Glove Awards and much more.  Bill and wife Milene decided it was time to clear out “the clutter”, he’s keeping his rings and many other significant pieces.

A short while ago I read about a woman that was in a relationship with a man in Florida and posed for provocative pictures for him.  They had a nasty break up and he started posting them on line.  She was embarrassed and wanted him to stop.  The quote she made that has stuck with me is “Why doesn’t someone help me make him stop?”.  #1, why did you pose for them?  #2, and this is my big deal, why should “someone help” her?  She did it, I feel bad she’s embarrassed, but she did it.  She was in a relationship that didn’t work out and there’s prices we pay in life for choices we make.  I’ve made plenty of poor life choices in my lifetime and basically either figured out how to make it better or live with it.  I never would have wondered “why doesn’t someone help me”.  That’s a problem with our society, we are always looking for someone else to bear the burden.  When I was in Florida, the country subsidized hurricane insurance.  I lived in paradise and wasn’t going to say no to the subsidies, but the entire time I thought it wasn’t right.  You can construct a house in hurricane zones that are hurricane proof (at least to a Cat 5), if you make the lifestyle choice to live in paradise and not have properly build housing, you need to pay the higher insurance rates.  If you live in a fabulous house with fabulous weather in California on a hillside prone to mudslides, have the insurance or be sure it’s built to withstand mudslides.  That’s not to say I’m so cold that I’d turn my back on people effected by catastrophes, I frequently donate to relief funds.  But once you are back on your feet with food, water and shelter; you need to make a lifestyle choice about your future.

Now on to a lighter subject.  In the 1970’s, Kermit the Frog made the iconic song “It’s not easy being green”.  The word green has so many meanings, environmentally friendly, money, envy, etc.  The Silver Eye Center at 1015 E Carson Street, Southside has an exhibit Green.  They took seven photographers and tasked them with creating exhibits of “green”. Dylan Vitone, associate professor at CMU curated the exhibit and one of the photographers, Joe Johnson, decided to look at green as money and has a series of pictures he took at casinos in Reno, NV.  Kim Beck decided to look at all the different aspects of green grass in lawns.  She focused on how weeds, fertilizers, lawnmowers and other factors effect grass.  Also taking a gardening view on green, Sue Abramson decided to look at variations of green in her garden.  In particular, she highlights elephant ears she has in her garden (having spectacular elephant ears here in my garden, I can relate to how spectacular they can be).  😉  Peter Beste chose to look at green in an urban environment.  Peter is actually teaming up with author Lance Scott to create the book Houston Rap, a pretty gritty work.  Other artists showcased include Judy Natal, Ed Panar and Adam Amengual.

The historic Terminal Building in the Strip took a step toward preservation this week.  Preserve Pittsburgh  and Lawrenceville architect Sarah Kroloff made the nomination and the nomination went before the Pittsburgh Planning Commission this week and the nomination was strongly endorsed by our city historic preservation planner.  The Commission could issue a recommendation during their October 15 meeting.  If they recommend approval, the nomination then goes before City Council to decide whether to grant the historic status.  The Evil Empire Buncher Group 🙂 says they will continue with their development behind the Terminal Building even if it gets historic designation.  Well I guess they would, they own all that property back there.  They might just have to put some work into making the project doable by re-work their plans.

If you’re one of those hunter enthusiasts that love the sport, but are not into venison, there’s a solution for you.  Hunters Sharing the Harvest program, underwritten by Consul Energy has approved meat processors in Washington, Westmoreland, Fayette and Greene counties that will process the meat, then donate the venison to food banks at no charge to you.  For a list of the approved butchers, go to their website.

They are having the 19th annual Arts and Crafts Festival at the Washington County Fairgrounds the weekends of October 18 – 20 and 26 -27.  They expect 230 vendors to have booths.  So if you’re looking to do a little early Christmas shopping, they’re waiting for you.  🙂  More info at their website or by calling 724-862-4577.

Enjoy your early Fall weather,




Tomorrow is the Independence Day celebrations in Armenia, Belize and Malta.  Monday night football premiered in 1970, Hurricane Hugo hit the east coast in 1989 and Nez Perce Chief Joseph died in 1904.  Birth anniversary include actor Chuck Jones (1912), Declaration of Independence signer Francis Hopkinson (1737) and English novelist HG Wells (1866).

As an addendum to my last post on ALCOSAN, so much for me trying to be less critical.  ALCOSAN paid their consultants $500,000 for financial advice.  The only question I have is for a half a million dollars in fees, why do the rate payers have to cover the $70,000 fine for the consultant’s mistake (s)?  What did we pay them a half a million dollars?  OK, it was two questions.  🙂

I wanted to get that out of my system before I went to the fun part.  Remember the Big Yellow Duck is coming to Pittsburgh next Friday, September 27.  He’ll be stationed right down on the Allegheny River until October 20.  The duck is the creation of Dutch artist Florentijin Hofman and has been all around the world and he (she ?) has been drawing hordes of people.

RAD days are back.  For accepting RAD dollars, the various attractions they support, the attractions have to give the general free admission once a year.  Tomorrow, The Frick will offer free admission from 10 am – 5 pm and from noon until 2 pm they will teach lawn bowling.  Monday, September 23 Phipps Conservatory has free admission and is featuring local glass artists’ work displayed throughout; free admission.  Soldiers and Sailors Hall is offering free admission all day.  On Tuesday, September 24 Soldiers and Sailors again has free admission.  Wednesday, September 25 Soldiers and Sailors again has free admission as does the Audubon Society of Western PA-Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve is offering a free senior hike from 9 am until 10 am.  Thursday, September 26 PNC Park and Heinz Field are both offering free stadium tours from 10 am until 3 pm.  Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is offering free 1/2 hour docent tours from 2 until 3 pm of their facility.  Squonk Opera will have a free performance of their Mayhem and Majesty at 8 pm at the New Hazlett Theater.  On Friday, September 27 the Convention Center is offering free 45 minute tours of the facility at 10 & 11 am, noon or 1 pm, reservations are needed.  The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will be having a free Gallery Crawl from 5:30 until 11 pm.  And the Audubon Society will have free admission for their Owl Prowl from 7:30 until 9:30.  Saturday, September 28 will feature a free event from 10 am until 5 pm Enough Violence: Artists Speak Out.  The Audubon Society will feature a Kids Walk from 10 – 11 am.  WQED public television will offer free tours of their facilities from 11am until 1 pm.  Hartwood Acres will be offering free hayrides from 11 am until 4 pm.  The Young Men & Women’s African Heritage Association (YMWAHA) will host an open house showcasing their work with quilting, etc from noon until 6 pm.  This is the organization that brought those wonderful ladies with Gee’s Bend Quilters to The Parador for their show at the New Hazlett Theater back in 2010.  The Oakland Carnegie Library will present a sneak preview of The Devil’s Arithmetic from noon until 1 pm.  Finally, for Saturday the Pittsburgh Opera will feature their resident artists’ favorite arias from 6 until 7:30.  Sunday, September 29 The Warhol will have free admission from 10 until 5.  The Carnegie Science Center will have free admission from 10 until 5 as will the Children’s Museum. RiverQuest will give free tours of their green educational vessel-the world’s first from 11 am – 3 pm.  The Carnegie Museum of Art, Architecture and Natural History will have free admission from noon until 5 pm.  YMWAHA will again have an open house from noon until 6 pm.  Free admission to The Mattress Factory from 1 until 5 pm.  The Pittsburgh Opera will have another event, a close of of Aida with an in depth look at the music as well as the story.  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the Soldiers and Sailors will again hold open houses.  Also on Wednesday, October 2 Manchester Craftsman’s Guild will showcase what they do from 5 – 7 pm with a Jazz and Youth and Arts Festival.  And the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts will again have free admission to their galleries from 6 – 8 pm.  On Thursday, October 3 Pittsburgh Center for the Arts will again open their doors from 2 until 3 pm with docent led tours. Friday, October 4 the Pittsburgh Glass Center will offer free demonstrations of glassblowing and flame working from 10 am until 9 pm. Pittsburgh Filmmakers will have free screenings at 7:30 and then 9:15.  Saturday, October 5 the Bulgarian-Macedonia National Education and Cultural Center will have free admission from 9 am until 3 pm in their museum of artifacts and their gift shop will also be open where you can purchase ethnic gift ware.  The Fort Pitt Museum will have free admission from 10 am – 5 pm.  Boyce-Mayview Parks will have free guided nature hikes, geocaching, crafts and campfires from 2 until 8 pm. Allegheny Land Trust will have free nature hiking, tours of bird watching, bat sightings and such from 2 – 7 pm at Wingfield Pines Conservation Area.  City Theatre Company will have Storytellers with Dance, Mime and Movement from 11 am until 8 pm.  Pittsburgh Filmmakers will host two more film series, same times.  The Senator John Heinz History Center will have free admission on Sunday, October 6 with lots of activities from 10 am – 5 pm.  The National Aviary will have free admission from 10 am – 5 pm.  Pittsburgh Center for the Arts will again have activities from 1 – 4 p.  The City Theatre will have a puppetry workshop for those aged 11 – 18 (I assume parents are invited to attend as well) 🙂 from 2:30 – 4 pm.  The main Carnegie Library again weighs in with a group playing clarinet, euphonium and trombone featuring music ranging from Renaissance to Ragtime from 3:30.  Skip a few days and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts again has free activities on Thursday, October 10 from 2 – 3 pm.  Saturday, October 12 will have a Sketch Crawl from 10 am – 4 pm.  South Park will have Hay Day the following Saturday, October 19 from noon – 4 p. with hayrides, pony rides, etc. from noon until 4 pm.  Ending the festivities will be the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium free day Sunday, November 10 from 9 am – 5 pm for their free day.

Surely there’s something in the above that will grab your interest.  Whatever you do, don’t come over to the Northside on Sunday.  Sell out crowds for the Pirates vs the Reds for an afternoon game (1:35 pm) quickly followed by the Steelers and the Ravens at 8:30.  Parking and traffic will be a nightmare.  I’m sold out and 3/4 of my guest rooms are regulars, it’s going to be like a family reunion.



Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam (1862), our Constitution was ratified unanimously by all 12 states attending (1787) and it is the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah.  Birth anniversaries include Chief Justice Warren Burger (1907), Israeli ex-general & UN delegate Chaim Herzog (1918), the Prussian general that fought in our revolution Baron Friedrich Von Steuben (1730) and country musician Hank Williams Jr (1923),

It’s not in concrete, but it appears The Parador will be hosting it’s first Paranormal Weekend, the weekend of Friday, November 1 and Saturday, November 2.  (Friday is the start of the South American holiday of Dia de lost Muertos, the day of the dead.)  The price of $200 per night plus tax will include a welcome wine and cheese before the psychic readings on Friday and then Saturday will be the paranormal investigation by an investigator that used to work with SciFi’s Ghost Hunters before they became big on SciFi.

I’m sure you’re aware of ALCOSAN, the agency responsible for treating the sewage in the greater Pittsburgh area.  They are under the magnifying glass with the EPA for consistently dumping raw sewerage into our waterways.  The problem basically is the sewer treatment plants can’t handle the volume of water coming through when we get heavy rain.  So ALCOSAN basically opens the gates and lets all that storm runoff AND raw sewage dump into our rivers.  ALCOSAN finally received an ultimatum from the EPA to come up with a concrete plan (pun intended-read on).  🙂  ALCOSAN came up with a plan the will cost in around $3B that TOTALLY relies on building HUGE retention vats and a vast network of pipes feeding into the new vats.  ALCOSAN has REFUSED the help or suggestions of Friends of the Riverfront, or any other expert in reducing the amount of actual storm water run off. ALCOSAN’s arrogant response to these offers for help was “We’ll tell them what we’re going to do when we make our plan public,” I’m paraphrasing here.  ALCOSAN’s directors lack of transparency has caused two board members, Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith and Point Park executive Kristen Baginski to resign.  ALCOSAN is facing a $70,000 fine from the IRS for issues with a bond issue they had.  These things are complicated, pretty much beyond my financial abilities, so I don’t overly blame them here.  Although they hire enough “experts” that make me wonder why the “experts” were paid.  What I totally don’t understand is how they failed to renew a basic permit and were fined $52,600!  Who’s running the show there?

There’s a free app out, Redlaser, that lets you use your smart phone to scan the bar code on the product to see if you are about to pay the lowest price and access reviews from other buyers.  I assume it also will alert you what stores nearby offer the same product at a lower price.

On September 21, the Origami Club of Pittsburgh will be celebrating their 25th anniversary at the Carnegie Library of Squirrel Hill (they meet there the third Saturday every month) with free classes.  The classes are for both beginners (noon) and advanced (1:30).   Sue Neff, practiced origami since childhood.  25 years ago, as a graduate school for art student, she decided to put an invitation out for anyone else interested in origami to meet at the Squirrel Hill library.  Two people responded and the club was formed.  Sue likes teaching children origami because it also teaches various mathematical concepts like fractions, quadrants and geometry. If you are interested in origami and can’t make their anniversary, the club is open to all on the third Saturdays of each month.  Congrats Sue Neff and the Origami Club for your longevity.

You’ve missed the first two (August and September) but still have time to attend Sharon’s WaterFire Festival October 12 starting at 10 am.  This free event started in Providence in the mid 1990’s as a way to celebrate Providence’s 10th anniversary of their first night festivities.  Providence’s WaterFire generates $55M in revenue for their festival.  Sharon is a cute little town on the Shenango River on the Ohio boarder and with this being their first year, I doubt they will reach the $55M. 🙂  The festival will feature ethnic dance, fire performers, food and art.  They will have 50 cedar and pine bonfires floating on the river.  If you go up there and want to make a trip out of it, a friend of mine runs both the Buhl Mansion Inn in Sharon and the Tara Inn nearby in Clark.

Here’s a cool way to help out children, volunteer to be a tutor through Oasis.  Oasis is a national non-profit with a location here. Oasis has partnered with the Pittsburgh Literacy Council, Pittsburgh Public Schools and Woodland School District.  There’s two five hour training sessions you need to complete and then they place you either in a school with the highest needs or one more convenient for your location.  You then spend several hours helping tutor these kids.  One of the big things Oasis pushes is improving the kid’s self-esteem.  These at risk kids frequently, if not mostly, suffer from low self-esteem.  Giving frequent pats on the back and high fives might seem hokey to you, but go a long way with this age group.

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



Tomorrow’s the anniversary of California being admitted to the Union (1850), the battle of Marathon between ancient Persia and Athenia (490 BC),  the battle of Salerno (1943), Tajikistan Independence Day (1991) and Japan’s Chrysanthemum Day.  Death anniversaries include William the Conqueror (1087) and Mao Tse-‘tung (1976); it’s the birth anniversary of novelist Leo Tolstoy (1828).

I apologize.  I recently lied to you, but not on purpose.  I read an article that they were re-opening the second north bound lane on Route 28 early and thought that meant a more or less permanent opening.  Here they are just opening it in about a week until January when they will again close it for a significant amount of time.  Sorry guys.

It looks like the Children’s Museum may be taking over the city owned Carnegie Library in the Commons.  It was severely damaged by lightning several years ago, which gave the library system the excuse to build a new facility to service the Northside.  (The old library was not handicapped accessible and needed new mechanicals.  The library said it would be too costly to upgrade the building, I don’t know, it seems to me the cost of a brand new building would have to exceed the costs of upgrades.  But it wouldn’t be all new and shiny).  I wasn’t aware that the city was exploring tearing the iconic structure down and Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation made the city think twice about demolition.  Apparently, the Children’s Museum has a number of other associated non-profits that operate out of the museum like Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University Food City Fellows and Youth Alive that need more space.  It looks like it would be a pretty pricey endeavor, $6.5M to move in and $12.5M to make it sustainable.  I do hope something works out to save the second public library built by Andrew Carnegie.

The Northside’s Mattress Factory is expanding into it’s second space at 516 Sampsonia Way, a block from the original Mattress Factory proper and right by the Mattress Factory Annex at 1414 Monterrey Avenue.  The new (as yet unnamed) gallery adds 2,500 square feet of exhibit space and was purchased in 2001.  A series of grants has enabled them over the years to upgrade the Victorian building including wheelchair accessibility, new heating and mechanical systems.  They didn’t over renovate, leaving exposed brick, some broken plaster and many of the original fixtures creating non-sterile exhibit spaces. The first artist to open the new wing is Chiharu Shiota of Japan with studios also in Germany.  Shiota uses everyday items that are shrouded in black string like spider webs.

I assume most Pittsburghers have noticed the Gulf Tower again has the top lit up to give the weather forecast.  It’s been doing it for a year now and since it’s LED, the capabilities are large and so instead of the old it’s going to rain or it’s going to be dry, there’s all kinds of info it puts out.  If it’s red, that indicates it’s going over 80, orange is 66-79, amber is 50-65, light blue is 33-49, medium blue is 0-32 and dark blue is – watch out – below zero.  Red purple says rains over a quart inch and blue purple indicates rain less than a quarter inch.  Dark green indicates 50% humidity and above and light green is below 50%.  Winds of over 10 mph are indicated by magenta and less than 10 mph is indicated by pink.  Now to add to all that confusion, they have teamed up with the Pirates.  The Tower will flash black and gold for home runs and runs scored.  At home or away, once the Pirates win, the Tower will continuously flash black and gold for the rest of the evening.  Although the Pirates thing is controlled from a box in the Park, the Pirates can control it from any computer with Internet access and passwords.

Move over deceitful plumbing contractor Gillece, we need room for another low life.  Apparently mega construction contractor Sota isn’t content will all the millions of dollars in contracts he already has, he’s decided to scam disabled American veteran contractors out of business.  Sota “partnered” with his employee Jason Harris to form a new company with Harris (a vet) as token head  president.  Sota has 49% ownership and Harris has 51%, all the construction jobs listed on Battalion, LLC construction company are also listed on Sota’s.  The slogan of the newly formed Battalion construction company is “Demand the strength of an army”.  #1, shame on both Sota and Harris.  #2, I wonder if either will “man up” and actually take responsibility for this disgrace.

I drink a fair amount of coffee, but don’t partake in those energy drinks.  I definitely won’t be partaking in the new Sprayable Caffeine hitting the market.  Yeps, you got that right, you spray this concoction on your flesh to be absorbed through the skin to give you an energy boost.  A starter pack costs $15, said to last two to three weeks with a maximum 20 spritz’s per day.

The Mexican War Streets annual self guided home and garden tour is next Sunday from 11 am until 5 pm.  It’s $18 in advance, $20 the day of the tour.  Tickets will be available next Sunday on the corner North Avenue and Monterrey Street (where the big YMCA is).  The many folks over in the War Streets are a special breed (and I mean that in the nicest way, I’m in that boat as well) and you see a lot of unique adaptations of their Victorian homes.  After all, Randyland is in the War Streets.  More info on their website or by calling 412-848-1083.

Next Saturday, the airport’s holding an auction.  No planes, hangers or deicing machines, but plenty of other stuff.  Abandoned vehicles, old airport vehicles, lawn mowers, contraband the TSA confiscated, etc  It starts at 10 am and is a strictly cash basis.  It will be held at the Airport Heavy Equipment Building on Cargo Road in Moon.  More info at Flypittsburgh‘s website or e-mailing dromitz@pitairport.com.

There’s a new craft beer in Pittsburgh, Roundabout Brewery at 49th and Butler Streets has recently opened. Owner Steve Sloan has worked at other craft breweries around the country, even in New Zealand and Hawaii (actually that is part of “the country”).  🙂  His last position before spinning off on his own was brewery manager at the Church Brew Works where he won several awards.  What’s cool about the craft beer movement is they are a small community in themselves.  Scott Smith of East End Brewery gave Steve an old walk-in cooler and some other refrigeration equipment.  Bill Larkin of Arsenal Cider House and Wine Cellar lent all kinds of tools to Steve as he was getting ready to open.  They view themselves much as I do us Innkeepers, it’s us against the Goliaths.

The Northside Leadership Conference is exploring the idea of creating an artist’s market and co-op here on the Northside.  Something akin to the School House in Braddock or the Brew House on the Southside.  Emily Honhart is spearheading the concept and is seeking input from artists and what they might be looking for in the space.  NSLC is just in the exploratory phase to see what is needed as far as the amount of space the individual artists would need, accumulative amount of space needed under roof, special requirements (higher electricity amperage for welders say).  To get on board with the planning stage, contact Emily at emily@pittsburghnorthside.com.

Speaking of the Northside, next Saturday will be German Heritage Day over here.  Festivities will start at 9:30 with an antique car show over in the Allegheny Commons East.  A parade will follow at 11 am on East Ohio Street featuring antique German, German folk dancing and singing.  A lunch at the Teutonia Mannerchor at 857 Phineas Street over in Deutschtown will follow the parade.    Tickets are $15 in advance at the Priory Bakery and $18 at the door.  The Northside has a very strong German heritage from the Victorian era emigration.  There’s more info at the Teutonia website.

Coming soon (October 19 to be exact) will be Fineview’s annual Step-a-Thon.  This five mile race will ascend Fineview’s hills, streets and most notable staircases and is sponsored by the Fineview Citizen’s Council.  The course covers 12 public staircases for a total of over 1,600 steps.  You can register individually or as a team (prizes are given out for first place male, first place female and first place team).  There’s also a half-thon available as well.  The race starts at 8:30 and as your doing the race, the amazing skyline is only a twist of your head away.  🙂  I can’t provide more specific information, their website is under construction.  The above link will take you to that site with at least a phone number and e-mail address.

Have a great week and Go Steelers,




Tomorrow is the anniversary of the founding of Los Angeles (1781), civil rights school integration Little Rock Nine (1957) and the first electric lighting of lower Manhattan (1882).  Birth anniversaries include French poet Francois Rene De Chateaubriand (1768), radio broadcaster Paul Harvey (1918), American architect and city planner Daniel Burnham (1846) and Austrian composer Anton Bruckner (1824).

Business has been great.  Last August The Parador hosted 142 guest rooms and this August we hosted 177.  Last September we hosted 103 for the month of September and we started this September with 140 on the books.  🙂

Be prepared, the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a very cold winter with lots of snow.  In print for 197 years, it seems to have an 80% accuracy in predicting weather.  I just ordered another 12 windows for installation this fall.  I better see improvements in may heating bills this winter.  (These 12 are in addition to the 18 installed this spring).

OK, what was going on in Russian artist Konstantin Altunin’s mind when he hung three of his works in a public display?  After how the Russian judicial handled Pussy Riot’s performance in a church, did he really think he was going to get away with making and then showing a picture of Vladimir Putin in woman’s undergarments fixing Dmitray Medvedev’s hair (he’s also in woman’s undergarments).  🙂  The picture is too funny and Vladimir doesn’t seem to have a sense of humor, other than “leading a flock of geese home piloting an ultra light, noiseless aircraft” (I hear the picture was staged).

The word Twerking is official, it makes it into next year’s Oxford dictionary.  That’s the grinding dance moves that’s the rage with youthful dancers across the nation (actually, I imagine it’s global).  Mt Lebanon High School has been battling it at their school dances for several years now.  Miley Cyrus actually did it the other night on stage at the MTV VMA music awards.  As if Miley didn’t already have a trashy reputation.  🙂

Birds don’t have fingers.  They also don’t have teeth.  So they have to get pretty creative with their Beaks and Talons.  The National Aviary has created a double header line up to show how they utilized both of their beaks and talons to accomplish eat, grab, grip, court, preen, climb, build nests and groom each other.  These fall shows run through January and as the weather becomes less pleasant, a nice break from gloomy weather and a chance to see these amazing creatures that you may have seen a robin do, but when the emcee at the show points out what’s all involved, you see how amazing these creatures are.  The shows are no longer included in the general admission, the individual shows are $5 on top of the admission price, you can do both for $9.

Trib reporter and a regular guest at The Parador, Brad Bumsted is releasing his book Keystone Corruption next Monday.  Brad’s a reporter for the Trib that lives near Harrisburg and frequently covers events out there.  He personally knows (I don’t believe as in friends, but has interviewed, followed and done other reporter duties) many of the recently convicted as well as many of the older political convicts from past disgraces.  Brad doesn’t just treat the book as a ledger of crimes committed, but also ads humor and insight as to how people that were once respectable have been corrupted by power and influence.  I’ve read many of Brad’s articles in the Trib, haven’t read his book yet, but it’s on my list.

The second biggest polluter of Pennsylvania streams is acid mine drainage.  The state has plugged many mines up to stop the flow of sulfur leaden water into our waterways and there are a number of active and passive treatment facilities around for years.  The active treatment facilities are fairly pricey to build and operate.  When the concept of passive treatment came around a number of years ago, it was hailed as a cost effective way to deal with this pollution.  Unfortunately, they have turned out to be a challenge to keep operating, most sit idle these days.  Hedin Environmental cleans and dries the sludge out of a number of Western PA treatment ponds and refines the iron oxide out.  Last year they recovered around 1,000 tons of it.  After the processing, they sell the oxide for dyes in stains for wood and concrete, but it also is used by Crayola crayon’s burnt sienna crayon.  That’s pretty cool, making money and helping clean the environment.  This is my problem with nuclear energy, coal mining and now fracking.  They extract the energy, make their money and then we are stuck with the legacy costs.

People have been raising chickens for thousands of years as a food source, both for meat and eggs.  We went from many, if not most households in the village to having a few chickens to farmers that specialized in chickens and then into the agribusiness.  Many individual families these days are planting gardens in their yard for food and some are even raising chickens and bees.  Many cities have put restrictions on what kind of “farming” they permit within the city limits.  This coming Sunday, September 8, “Swick’s Chicks” will have a self-guided tour of 12 homes raising chickens in Swickley.  You will get to meet a dozen chicken farmers 🙂 and get insight into not only some local rules and regulations, but also the pros and cons of raising your own.  The tours run from 10 am until 2 pm and they start at the Penguin Bookshop, the cost is $10 which goes to the food bank.

The Detroit citizens subsidized the 1997 $300M Tiger’s stadium, then they subsidized the 1999 $450M Lion’s stadium.  The largest city in the country to go into bankruptcy seems now to be on the verge of subsidizing the Red Wings new $200M stadium.  The city of 700,000 residents, down from over 5M residents in 2000 has long term debt of $18B and their current budget has a $400M projected deficit and have shut down 40% of their street lights to save money.  Am I crazy, or do other people see an issue with subsidizing billionaire Mike Illitch, owner of the Tigers, Red Wings and Little Caesar’s Pizza chain?

Have a great day and enjoy this in between summer and fall weather,





Tomorrow is the anniversary of hurricane Katrina struck the gulf coast (2005), the slave ship Amistad was seized (1839) by the slaves demanding to be returned to Africa, Shay’s Rebellion (1786) and the soviet communist party was abolished in Russia (1991).  Birth anniversaries include actress Ingrid Bergman (1915), musician Michael Jackson (1958) and jazz man Charlie Parker (1920).

I spoke a few posts ago about Ester’s Hobby Shop in Millvale and how they have a big emphasis on model trains.  For you model train enthusiasts, there’s also the Ohio Valley Lines Model Railroad Club on Merchant Street in Ambridge.  The 25 member club is not generally opened to the general public, except for their holiday display that is open from noon until 5 pm weekends from November 30 until January 5.  Last year they had about 1,000 people pass through looking at their displays.  A couple of years ago they added  a Downtown Pittsburgh section to the display on the first floor which has an HO scale railroad.  They are working on N scale model railroad in the basement that they figure will be an 8 to 10 year project.  If you go to see the displays this year, they will be easy to find, they are just completing a new facade that gives the building a train station terminal look with faux freight door and a bay window with a mannequin ticket taker.  The cool thing here is Bob Evans started a program several years ago where they accept donated trains from people’s attics and basements, use their expertise to make sure everything’s in working order and then donate them to kids.  More info on the club can be found on their website, do donate a train, call Bob at 412-761-7469.

The Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival runs from August 24 through September 29 Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 until 5:30 (also Labor Day Monday, September 2) over in West Newton.  It’s not a dress-up fantasy where you sit around watching actors entertain you with the jousting and other medieval sports and contests, it’s more of an interactive event.  There’s also food and craft vendors, many of which have a medieval slant.  There’s also musical performers, comedians and of course jugglers and other period entertainers.  And there’s the returning act Cast in Bronze, a 4 ton musical instrument of 35 bronze bells that musician Frank Della Pena plays by pounding the bells with his fists and feet.  🙂  The company that produces the festival, Rocky Mountain Festivals, Inc, does so all over the country.  So they have a lot of experience keeping the festival from becoming old and boring.  Last year they increased the size of the event, this year they are increasing the number of acts and vendors.  More info at their website or by calling 724-872-1670.

Next August we will be hosting the International Conference of the Garden Writer’s Association.  It well be pretty cool showing off the city to these gardening professionals.  In addition to the Western PA Conservancy and all the gardens they tend in and around the city, local neighborhoods have adopted all kinds of empty lots and created some pretty cool urban gardens.  Someone should throw down the gauntlet and start a city wide competition for the most unique neighborhood garden.  I bet that could become quite the competition.

For those of you watching elderly parents, relatives (yourselves) on Medicare, the hospitals are more and more pulling a slick one you need to pay attention to.  Since Medicare is scrutinizing their payments more and more and tightening the strings, hospitals more and more are “reclassifying” certain over night and multiple night stays as “observation” instead of “in-patient”.  This shifts the responsibility for payment to the individual.  Since it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, many seniors assume when a physician tells them they need to “stay in the hospital”, the seniors think it would be covered by Medicare.  To make matters even more confusing for the seniors, they frequently are hooked up to monitors, etc.  600,000 seniors last year were saddled with bills over this reclassifying hospitals are doing.  A $15K bill is not uncommon and a HUGE burden on these seniors.  Shouldn’t we be making the “Golden Years” less stressful for the people before us?  I’m not talking about a Cadillac in every garage and turkey in every oven.  Just don’t make their senior years anymore harsh the they already have to deal with.  Animals, children, handicapped and seniors all look to the rest of us for guidance and help.  (When I talk about seniors, I’m not talking about anyone over 60, I’m referring to actual old people that have limited abilities).  It’s soooo wrong to “reclassify” something so certain doctors and medical administrators can buy that summer condo to compliment the winter one they already have with the imported sports car in each garage at the expense of the vulnerable.  The hospitals have a responsibility to make it very clear to the Medicare recipients exactly who’s going to be responsible for what bills.

OK, we all know there’s a fourth river under the city, right?  And since The Rivers Casino opened, we all know there are 422 official bridges in Pittsburgh?  (That’s why one of their restaurants is named 422).  Did you know when you enter the Courthouse Downtown that you are actually entering through the basement?  I’ve heard several times over the years that the city lowered Grant Street, but it was just one of those things I never put together.  “Grant’s Hill” was the highest elevation in the city and that’s why they decided to build the Courthouse there to make it more imposing.  A few years after completing the Courthouse, they decided to lower Grant’s Hill fifteen feet to make the area more accessible.  Originally they build a plaza like platform so the original entrances could be used.  In the early 1920’s, they decided to widen Grant Street and the plaza had to go and hence we now enter through the basement.  I bet the next time you’re Downtown, you’ll look at the Courthouse a little differently.  🙂  (By the way, over the years, they have “modified” most of the Courthouse by lowering ceilings, etc.  For the centennial, they restored one Courtroom to it’s original design, Judge McDaniel’s if you ever get a chance to see it).

Over on University Drive in Coraopolis Moon Flight (a play on the township they’re located and proximity to the airport) is doing something a little different.  It’s a self serve car wash, self serve dog (or cat) wash and coffee shop.  🙂  With the coffee shop, they try and bring an upscale offering, not normally found around car washes (and I’ve never heard of a stand alone dog wash, so have nothing to compare that food offering to).  The coffee shop opens at 6 am weekdays and 8 am weekends and always closes at 5 pm.  The car and pet wash are well lit and open 24/7.  Kind of a creative slant.

Speaking of Flight (you know how I love themes), FlightCar and RelayRides are a newer service that aren’t in Pittsburgh yet, but is in several other cities.  Instead of paying to leave your car in the long term parking lot at an airport, drop it off with these folks and they rent it out.  Rental fees depend on the make and year of your vehicle.  They handle all the rental details, carry insurance and you get your car back freshly cleaned.  They are a pretty much unregulated start-up challenging the $11B airport car rental business.  They are kind of like what that Air BnB is to the lodging industry to the car rental industry.  Part of the fee you pay to rent a car at an airport from one of the traditional rental companies goes back to the airport, just as part of what you pay at a lodging establishment goes back to local tourism.  Both Air BnB and the new car rental places don’t do this.  I don’t have a problem with either, as long as they belly-up-to-the-bar and play be the rules.  🙂

Have a great day,