One week after the end of World War II (1945), the French  conflict in Vietnam began with the communist guerrilla named Ho Chi Minh, the first Mormon Tabernacle Choir performance in Salt Lake City (1847), the Battle of Stalingrad began (1942) and the volcano under Lake Nios in Cameroon erupted killing more than 1,500 people.  Birth anniversaries include French composer Claude Debussy (1862), cartoonist George Herriman (1880), astronomer Samuel Langley (1834) and controversial Nazi propaganda actress Leni Riefenstahl (1902).

The Bessemer Court fountain at Station Square has gotten a new show.  That’s the fountain that has danced to 80’s music for the last 10 – 15 years.  Station Square officials have been getting sport’s announcers audio recordings of famous Steeler and Penguin’s moments of history (the Pirates haven’t had these moments in so long the recordings aren’t usable).  🙂  They have weaved these recordings in famed stadium fan spirit tunes like Queen’s We Are Champions and Ozzy’s Crazy Train.  Possibly the most famous sports moment in Pittsburgh history, The Immaculate Reception was not included because of the poor quality of it’s recording.   ):

The Homemade Arcade, the annual craft show and sale at the convention center since 2004 is looking for new vendors.  This yearly event has around 150 vendors and 6,000 shoppers.  A great venue if you’re a vendor and particularly if you have a unique craft.  The show is only one day, Saturday, December 7.  I always find something unique at it.  If you want to be a vendor, the deadline is September 15 and info is at their website.

The16th Annual Shadyside Arts Festival is back next Saturday (10 am – 7 pm) and Sunday (10 am – 5 pm) on Walnut Street.  This is a fairly select group of artisans at this juried show of 200 craft persons from 30 states and it really draws the crowds that spend some cash.

Am I the only one with problems with the implementation of this federal sequester?  You know, if I needed to, I could reduce the spending at The Parador Inn by 10% and not create havoc and chaos.  I wouldn’t shut down my website, the number one source of reservations.  I could cut my labor and it would take Kevin a little while longer to finish painting the Carriage, Dee might have to go home early a couple of days a week and I’d have to finish up her tasks and the same with Jeff.  I could probably cut my food cost a bit without affecting the quality of breakfast.  And I could postpone new projects to reduce my spending.  See, it’s not rocket science.  They are blaming the sequester for laying off public defenders that make $75 an hour and replacing them with $125 an hour private attorneys.  I don’t think the wording in the sequester says “Lay off public defenders”.  I think some stupid bureaucrat, that should be fired, is making that call.  It’s like the generals saying the sequester is laying America up for eminent invasion.  Please, when you have a yearly budget in the trillions, you don’t have to cut missal defense (although trimming it might not be a bad idea) as your only option.  They are all giving me a headache.

Attention Northern communities serviced by Route 28, it looks like they will be opening the second northbound lane sometime later this year instead of next fall!  They also have joined those two southbound lanes that were divided into chutes with Jersey barriers lining the chutes.  There will still be lane closures and stuff through next fall (2014), but at least generally speaking commuting out of the city will be more civilized than it has for the past few years.

Riverfront Park’s latest tribute is the WWII Memorial, they started construction in May and hope to be finished in time for Pearl Harbor Day (December 7).  It’s located on top of the slope over the Allegheny River between Jerome Bettis’ Grill 36 and the monument to commemorate Fallen Allegheny County Law Enforcement Officers. It’s a pretty large monument, with stone as the base and Oregon stone spirals and glass panes the will show photographs and narratives embedded in the glass.  They’ve already raised the $4M for the construction and have a $300K trust fund to maintain it.  Even though it’s fully fund, for some reason are looking for additional donations.  If you would like to donate, you can do that through their website or by mailing checks to Soutwestern PA WWII Memorial, PO Box 23143, PGH, PA 15222.

This weekend is the celebration of the iconic American ice cream parlor treat the banana split in it’s hometown Latrobe.   The Great American Banana Split Festival is set to run this Friday through Sunday in Downtown Latrobe, most events are free.  The banana split was the brain child of David Strickler, an apprentice pharmacist at Tassel Pharmacy on Latrobe Street there.  It originally cost ten cents and became so popular that Strickler commissioned Westmoreland Glass to create a glass “banana boat” to hold his creation.  Nearby St  Vincent College is making sure all incoming freshmen have the opportunity to partake in the festivities.  The freshmen will be receiving commemorative t-shirts and bus transportation will be provided to the ceremonies.  St Vincent’s planning a flash banana peeling mob on their football field among other themed festivities.  Details at the City of Latrobe’s website.

That’s about it for today, enjoy,




Today, by ordnance, the Swedes can sell this year’s supply of  sour (fermented) herring.  Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Battle of Camden (1780), the battle of Bennington (1777), Klondike Gold was discovered (1896), and death anniversaries of Elvis Presley (1977) and Babe Ruth (1948).  Birth anniversaries include Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, TE Lawrence (of Arabia 1888), labor leader George Meany (1894) and footballer Amos Stagg (1862).

I would like to welcome Jeff to The Parador Team.  Dee, who’s been at The Parador for six years, has done management shifts, but due to school and parenting obligations isn’t able to work evenings.  So Jeff just joined us as an Innkeeping manager, he may regret this choice once he sees all that Innkeepers do.  🙂  And we also have Kevin, who started a few months back and never painted in his life.  He started just doing the sanding, wood prep and priming the exterior of the Carriage House.  He’s progressed to having the ability to do the finish coat as well.  The work on the Carriage House is winding down and he’s done about 90% of it himself!

Mark (a commercial and architectural photographer) and Peggy Holewinski have teamed up with framer Lewinter Moulding in Sharpsburg to create unique and very personal gifts.  The Holewinski’s have taken a lot of pictures of buildings, moldings, iron work that look like letters (some are).  You can go to the website and create your own word or message based on the “architectural” letters available.  It can be as simple as Welcome to more involved messages.  The framer will take the letters you request, work with you on matting and framing materials and create a custom picture (actually, a series of pictures) 🙂 for you.

In the lobby of the Art Institute Downtown they’ve tucked the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators’ latest exhibit entitled Art for a Hire Purpose containing 90 original pieces.  As a side note, the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators is the second largest in the country.  With such a large number of pieces to view, they’ve divided the art into Humor, Editorial, Children’s, Sci-Fi, Corporate, Technical/Medical and Advertising.  Which gives you an idea of the diversity of artwork on display.  A small sampling of artists showcased are Rick Antolic, John Blumen, Fred Carlson, Ashley Cecil and Ilene Winn-Lederer.  The Art Institute is located at 420 Blvd of the Allies, Downtown.  More info available on the Art Institute website, the Art for Hire site or by calling 412-263-6600 and the show runs through August 27.

The Silver Eye Center for Photography put out a call for photographers to take images of Carrie Furnaces for an exhibition celebrating that Pittsburgh icon.  77 photographers submitted 332 images and of these Silver Eye selected 51 images from 32 artists.  People may think of the old steel mills and related pieces left behind of heaps of rusted metal waiting to be recycled, but when viewed through the eyes of photographers, you see the rich blend of textures, details, colors and hues.  Add to the mix how important this was to our history, it makes a very compelling exhibit.  Silver Eye is located at 1015 E Carson Street on the Southside and more info can be had at their website or by calling 412-431-1810.  The show runs through August 24.

Pine Township’s E-Cycling Recycling is located at 11490 Route 19 behind Holdcroft’s Hub Cap City and Auto Sales.  In the words of owner Jenn Carr, they take anything with a plug (and remote controls).  E-Cycling contracts with e-Loop to send the items to who intern send the items to 35 manufacturing firms that take the items apart and sell the pieces to other firms that re-can use the pieces.  e-Loop believes in zero exportation, zero landfill and zero prison labor.  You can drop your items off from 10 am through 4:30 pm weekdays and from 9 am until noon Saturdays.  If it’s an item you would have trouble transporting, Jenn can assist you in finding someone to transport it.  They also accept alkaline batteries and light bulbs for a small fee.  More info at their website or by calling 412-367-0831.

There’s a new bar concept here on the Northside (actually down on the Northshore), BYOF.  Started in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Cleveland are the two cities they are initially expanding to.  Pittsburgh is also their first urban location, all the others are in the suburbs.  Across from PNC Park, they feature 500 beers, 50 on tap on a rotating basis, and no food.  So you can bring your tailgate into the bar and sample their wide selection of brewskies.  They even carry menus for other restaurants on the street that will take phone orders and deliver.  They have live music Thursdays through Saturdays, usually of the acoustic type.  Soap actors Steven Burton and Bradford Anderson are major investors and are know to show up with their band Port Chuck for a session.  BYOF is located at 110 Federal Street and more info at their website or by calling 412-322-2337.

That’s about it for today, enjoy this wonderful Fall weather we have in August :),



Tomorrow’s anniversaries include IBM introduction of personal computing in 1981, the worst commercial plane plane crash at Mount Ogur, Japan took 520 lives (1985) and the Night of the Murdered Poets, Josef Stalin, an antisemitic, ordered the trial and conviction on trumped up charges of 13 prominent Jewish writers and leaders (1952).  Birth anniversaries include cinematographer Cecil B DeMille (1881), actress Jane Wyatt (1910), baseballer Christy Mathewson (1880), oater Buck Owens and famous Mexican comic actor Cantinflas (1911).

Andy Warhol, always the media buff, has a new video.  They installed a streaming webcam on his grave at St John Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery in Bethel Park.  They did this to coincide with his birthday (August 6) last week.  Filmography was always a big interest to him, two of his projects was Empire, an eight hour long film of the Empire State Building and Sleep which showed John Giorno sleeping for five hours.  I remember when I moved up here, there was a video loop in the Warhol Museum of his mother sleeping in a chair.  So what would be more fitting than a film at his grave site.  🙂  Apparently the location on the web has not been released yet.  I’ve read a dozen different stories on this and none have an actual address to watch the webcam.    There is talk that from the website, you will be able to buy flowers and other memorabilia and watch as it’s delivered to the grave.

Let’s debunk some misconceptions on adopting pets and animal shelters.  #1, very few shelters are actually “no kill” facilities.  Most shelters euthanize viscous, dogs that can not be rehabbed.  Many euthanize animals in their care that have lasted longer than their standard in the facility due to no one adopting it.  Sometimes animals are euthanized just because the shelter has reached capacity.  It is estimated the between 3M to 4M animals are euthanized each year.  Another misconception is that there are “only mutts” in shelters.  First of all, as my friend Tony from State College would say, “There are no such things as weeds, just misplaced plants”.  Second of all, around 25% of shelter animals are full breed animals.  (And many “mutts” make a much better companion than some of those over bred “pure breeds”).  Another misconception is that animals in shelters are dysfunctional, why else would someone get rid of a perfectly fine pet.  The main reason pets are in shelters is their previous owners can no longer take care of them.  Elderly moving into restrictive housing, young professionals moving to new cities, allergies, the list goes on.  If a shelter takes in an animal with behavioral problems, they have professional programs to treat the bad behaviors.  They would never let a pet be adopted that they didn’t feel comfortable with.  It could actually be a liability to them.  And here’s the worst part, the vast majority of 18 to 34 year olds would purchase a pet from a breeder or pet store and aren’t even aware of the needs for adoption from shelters.  It’s not even on their radar.  Here’s some local shelters:  Animal League , Animal Rescue , Western PA Humane Society , Animal Friends and Good Dog Rescue  .

Next Wednesday, August 14, Irish and Blues band Cue Ball will be performing at the Hemlock Court behind the mansion at Hartwood Acres.  It’s “free”, but it’s also a fund raiser by the Friends of Hartwood, founded in 2003, a volunteer group who’s current project is trying to stabilize the stables and barn.  They’re requesting a $5 donation and would happily accept something more generous.  I didn’t know Hartwood has a dog and even a horse cemetery.

Durham, North Carolina is home to Organic Transit, the manufacturers of the ELF vehicle. It’s a bicycle/electric vehicle hybrid that turns heads when you’re traveling around.  The ELF features solar electric assist, disc brakes, and spacious interiors that keep you out of the elements and in view of other drivers.  CEO Rob Cotter was working on Porches and BMW and was interested in bikes and their efficiencies came up with the idea for this 130 pound vehicle.  They have either sold or have orders for 200 ELF’s.  This Made in the USA product is expanding into a production facility in California later this year and hope to increase production to four a day (from one).  Their base price is $5,000.

Leaving Brooklyn Navy Yard on September 6, the Station to Station: A Nomadic Happening is scheduled to arrive at the Pennsylvania Station Downtown on September 8 (Across from the new Pittsburgh Transportation Center at Liberty, Grant and 11th).  This is a multimedia exhibit will have some fairly edgy music, sculpture and other art forms.  The train itself will be LED emblazoned and carry artist Doug Aitken, the organizer of this, and the traveling pieces/artists.  They will combine with local artists here for the show before moving on to it’s next stop, Chicago.

Yarn and knitting as a public form of art has been growing in popularity in recent years.  A current trend is “yarn bombing”, it is a current trend around the country where people install knitted panels of all sorts around trees, parking meters, even cars.  It’s likened to graffiti, in that it’s colorful urban art, but unlike graffiti, it is easily removed with no damage to other people’s property.  Knit the Bridge opened this past weekend and runs through Sunday, September 8.  The organizers of Knit the Bridge estimated they needed 572 panels measuring 34″ by 72″ (about the size of a standard blanket), they got 650 panels donated by local artists.  The project has recruited 90% of Allegheny County municipalities to participate, over 1,800 people have been involved either knitting or assisting in other ways.  After the exhibit, the organizers intend to launder the panels and donate them to homeless shelters, not how cool is that?

Southside’s having it’s Secret Gardens Tour next weekend.  What’s cool about this tour is we all think of Southside as total hard scape, and much of it is.  But tucked away behind walls are a lot of creative use of limited space.  You will get to see a traditional Japanese garden, a contemporary pocket garden, a biodome on a roof by the Rex Theater and much more.  The self guided tour is next Sunday from 10 am until 2 pm and cost $7 and can be purchased on line at South Side Community Council Tickets.  The tour starts at 18th and Carson Streets.

Well, that’s about it for now, take care and enjoy,




Tomorrow is the anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima (1945), Bahamas & Granada Emancipation Days (1934), Bolivia Independence Day (1825), Jamaica Independence Day (1962), the first death penalty carried out by electrocution (1890) and the disappearance of New York Supreme Court Justice Joseph Crater (1917).  Birth anniversaries include comedian/actress Lucille Ball (1911), penicillin discoverer Alexander Fleming (1881), actor Robert Mitchum (1917) and artist Andy Warhol (1928).

Northsider Steve Hoover is again collaborating with fellow documentary producer and Pittsburgh native Danny Yourd.  They won the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for US documentaries for their film Blood Brother.  That was the story of a disenchanted American that became a dedicated volunteer at an Indian orphanage for children with HIV.  Their latest endeavor is a film about Gennadiy Mokhnenko, a Ukrainian cleric that has dedicated his life to helping orphaned children, many of which have become addicted to sniffing glue, alcohol, shooting diluted cold medicines in their veins and many other heart wrenching stories.  He finds these kids curled up next to steam heating pipes to keep warm, abandoned buildings and other desperate locations and situations.  When the Soviet Union collapsed, the orphanages as many other infrastructures also collapsed.  What Gennadiy does is load these kids in his unmarked van, takes them to his “orphanage” and the addicts he locks them in a room to detox cold turkey.  The film explores when is it OK to to force someone to change.  UNICEF reports that there are 100,000 homeless children in the Ukraine, some are orphaned, some run away from abusive homes, some just  run-aways.     They are trying to raise at least $40,000 for travel and related expenses to complete this project through a Kickstarter campaign.  They have composer Atticus Ross lined up to make an original musical score for the film (he did the score for The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).  For pledges of $50 or more, you are invited to attend a screening on August 16, where else, but at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont of Blood Brother.  The Kickstarter campaign just lasts until August 16, so shake a leg.  🙂

Want a tour of the City of Pittsburgh?  There’s many options which include the WWII amphibious vehicle tours.  The Duck (actually DUKW in military speak) is a six wheel drive truck and boat that deposited our troops on foreign soils during that war.  With a top speed of 5 to 6 mph in the water, this is a leisurely way to view the city from the rivers and then also from the roads.  Trips last about an hour, take off from Station Square and tickets are $22 for adults, $15 3 – 12 and $5 for those under 3.  Reservations are strongly recommended at the Just Ducky website or by calling 412-402-3825.  Molly’s Trolleys is also owned by the same guys.  These tours are offered Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays mornings and afternoons also depart from Station Square.  These tours are two hours long and the same price as Just Ducky.  Obviously, twice the length you get a much more in depth view of the city, including a trip up to Mt Washington and a ride  on the Duquesne Incline.  More info at their web site or by calling 412-391-7433.  Haunted Pittsburgh offers ghost tours of Downtown, Oakland and even on the Duquesne Incline.  Most tours are weekend evenings when the streets aren’t too busy.  The cost is $15 or $18 and more info at their website or by calling 412-302-5223.  The Gateway Clipper fleet offers lots of different kinds of tours on the water.  The knowledgeable tour guides and captains for the six boats and unparalleled view of the city from the water really gives this option a unique twist.  The Clipper fleet offers day and evening tours as well as dinner cruises, dance/party cruises, school field trip cruises and shuttle service to both Heinz Field and PNC Park when the teams are playing.  Way too many options here for me to list, go to their website or call 412-355-7980 for more info.  They also are located at Station Square. Pittsburgh Tour Company Double Decker Bus four bus fleet is originally from England.  They wind all over the city including both the Strip and Cultural Districts, Phipps, Oakland with 21 stops in the city.  Something that’s cool about this tour, is you can select an option where you can get off the bus in say the Strip, do some shopping and then get on the next bus.  The price of the tour varies (the off and on option versus the continuous tour), hours of operation changes with the season and such.  So just go to their website or call 412-381-8687.  Also starts at Station Square.  Segway in Paradise tours start, guess where, Station Square.  Do we see a theme going on here.  🙂  Their main tour is the two hour Downtown tour, but they also offer a two hour sunset tour on Saturdays, a Northside tour and a four hour Adventure Tour with stops at the Wood Street Galleries, National Aviary, Heinz History Center and other stops.  Prices vary from $59 to $97 for the four hour tour.  You must be at least 14 and they give you instructions first on how to navigate the Segways and the tour guide speaks to you through earpieces so you can hear him/her without worrying about city noises.  More info at their website or by calling 412-337-3941.  Lenzner Trolley Tours offers a morning Historic Neighborhood Tour highlighting Mt Washington, Northside and Downtown and an afternoon Heritage Neighborhood Tour that covers Downtown, Oakland and the Strip.  Either tour is $25 for adults and $40 for a combined tour.  Discounts for children.  They pick up at several locations, but both tours actually start at Station Square, the morning tour at 9:45 and the afternoon tour at 1:15.  More info on their website or by calling 412-761-7000.

Sarah (illustrator) and Frank (author) Cunniff have released their second on-line comic book series Doc Red.   The story takes place in the old west around 1862, where Doc Red is quite the character.  She’s not only a doctor, she’s also kind of a John Wayne kind of character.  Roughedly independent, she travels with her Native American daughter-in-law on a stage coach and they explore the two diverse cultures of these two widows.  The story includes Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first American woman to receive a medical degree from an American school.  The image for Doc Red is actually Pittsburgh native and psychologist Ellen Redinbaugh of Squirrel Hill who is a long time friend of the Miller family (Sarah’s maiden name is Miller) who own the Blue Dust restaurant in West Homestead, I’ve spoken of this fabulous restaurant that has the best smoked brisket sandwich in da Burg.

The city is moving to the suburbs next weekend (Saturday, August 10) from noon until 5 pm.  The Northland Public Library (McCandless) will be hosting seven Pittsburgh food trucks in a fund raising event (20% of sales goes to the library) in their parking lot.  The trucks include PGH Taco Truck, Franktuary, BRGR, The Pittsburgh Pierogi Truck, Oh My Grill, Dozen Bake Shop and Fukuda.  Many of these food trucks are off shoots from brick and mortar restaurants.  These aren’t the old “roach mobiles” of the past you’d see at construction sites.  Last year the library partnered with the Pittsburgh Pierogi truck and the lines went around the library, so they expect quite the turn out.  Should be fun.

There’s 10 homes in Mt Oliver that are being affected by mine subsidence.  I grew up out by Finleyville and remember the gold/yellow water in the creek across from the railroad tracks, the sulfur smell and lack of anything living in it (not like the creek with salamanders and other aquatic life behind the house in Baldwin we lived in until I was in sixth grade).  You know, this is my biggest problem with long wall mining and Fracking, the long term effects of these processes.  The coal barons in the 19th century made their fortunes and walked away.  We are and will be for many years in the future paying for what they caused.  If you are in an area that has been mined, you really should carry the state mine subsidence insurance.  It’s cheap, like $60 a year and will be well worth the investment.  It’s easy to find if you are in an area extensively mined by going to the Pennsylvania mine subsidence website.  Click on the link and a graph pulls up for Allegheny County.  Click on your town (or area) and it will show where know abandoned mines are.  You can also start the process to purchase insurance from the same site.  This site is not all inclusive, there are many mines that were never registered, but it’s a good start.  Most abandoned coal mine in Pennsylvania are in Western PA, so think about this.

A walk down memory lane.  The best job I ever had in corporate America was by far the hardest, dirtiest and most demanding.  I was Executive Steward (chief dishwasher) at Resorts International Casino in Atlantic City.  My crew (a staff of 125 hourly employees and about 15 supervisors of various levels of responsibility) was what made the job so fulfilling.  Within six months of accepting the position, of the seven separate kitchens in the facility, we turned the six with conditional satisfactory ratings to satisfactory.  I have tons of stories from my stint doing this, but the bottom line was I had an incredible crew.  I was there when Trump opened the Taj Mahal next door and he was offering across the board, a twenty-five cents and hour raise over the union negotiated rates.  I lost some, but not a bunch and since all of the local low skilled talent were being hired there, Ana and myself would go out to the fields west of Atlantic City and recruit farm workers.  (Ana came because of her fluency in Spanish and I trusted her judgement-she was very intuitive).  For these kids we hired, I started programs to acclimate them into the American mainstream society, “big city” living, banking, classes on English as a second language, etc.  They all had to be legal to get hired because they needed a casino license, even to work in the kitchens. The reason for this introduction is I saw something in the newspaper that caught my eye.  In Los Angeles 19 companies have signed up to participate in a program getting migrants properly documented.  For the immigrants, dealing with English speaking bureaucrats in suits can be quite intimating.  These people qualify for documentation.  It’s a win win for the companies, they take productive employees they already have, make them “legal” and have very grateful and loyal employees afterwards.  Also, the immigrant population is a very inner-connected group of people, when you do well with one, recruiting a new employee is so much easier.  And it doesn’t cost the companies or the employees anything.  The National Immigration Forum sponsors the Bethlehem Project that sends people out to the work place to handle all of the details.

Don’t look at this link if you want to keep a dry eye, Christine Swidorsky married her fiancee Sean Stevenson this past Saturday in Jeanette because their two year old son Logan has terminal leukemia and only has a few weeks left.  What a cute picture.

Do you own a small business and not have $3M for a Super Bowl ad?  No sweat, I have you covered.  Intuit, the company that makes business software like Quick Books, has a contest up and running that if you win, they pay for the ad and even have a PR company lined up to make the ad for you.  All you have to do is convince them that you are the one.  Go to Small Business Big Game and tell your story, the public will vote on who goes on to the next round (call all your friends and have them vote for you, I will).  The 50,000 winners of the first heat Intuit employees will cull that down to the 20 best.  Again Inuit employees will vote that down to the final four whom the general public will pick the winner.  It’s worth the try, what do you have to loose.  You will have to convince them that you have the infrastructure to handle the massive influx of business an ad during the Super Bowl will bring.  (The Parador Inn was just mentioned in the New York Times the year after I opened and my website experience a 100% increase in visits the next day).

That’s it for now, enjoy this almost Fall like weather until the blistering August temperatures return,



Tomorrow is the  anniversary of Christopher Columbus setting off for the New World (1492), Equatorial Guinea Armed Forces Day and Niger’s Independence Day (1960).  Birth anniversaries include journalist Ernest Pyle (1900), author Leon Uris (1924) and Gray Panthers founder Margaret Kuhn (1905).

The annual Perseid Meteor Shower Viewing will be held Sunday, August 11 into the early hours of Monday August 12 at Mingo Creek Park out in Washington County (right off Route 88).  This free event is being sponsored by the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh who note this event is best seen with just your eyes in a location that doesn’t have much ambient artificial light.

Simon Property Group, the largest mall developer and owner in the United States, build Century III Mall some thirty years ago.  It has been in a downward spiral for at least ten and has really lost it’s edge.  Many empty storefronts, discount retailers and other lower end shopkeepers are generally the norm in there these days.  Simon voluntarily defaulted on $78.97M in debt and sold the property to C-III Capital Partners from Irving, TX for $1 (yep, that’s not a typo) in 2011.  Capital Partners sold the property to Moonbeam Capital Investors from Las Vegas for $10.5M this May.  $1 to $10.5 in two years, not a bad return on investment.  🙂  Moonbeam claims to be in it for the long hall and will have many vacant storefronts rented by November.

There’s a couple in Washington county that have been very vocal about their objections to Range Resources and fracking on and around their property.  They feel their property has been ruined by Range Resources and have been desperate to sell it.  Range agreed to buy it for an undisclosed amount, but part of the agreement that was just released is the couple AND THEIR 8 AND 11 YEAR OLD CHILDREN are bared for life from speaking publicly about Range Resources or fracking.  Range is now back peddling saying it only applies to the parents, but the court order includes the children.

ALCOSAN has announced their plan to comply with the federal DEP decree to clean up the storm water discharge.  Not surprising, after holding secret meetings on how to achieve this mandate, of the $3B dedicated to this clean up, they have designated $10M to green infrastructure.  This dismal amount for permanent changes in the way we deal with storm water management by changing our  “paved over” mentality for cities is not surprising.  ALCOSAN deliberately excluded the professionals that could have advised them how to channel rain water away from the storm water piping system.  Their adamant rejection of green solutions and insistence on creating a MASSIVE new piping and storage system only makes me think one or several of them own stock in a pipe company.  I’m just saying …………. 🙂

I am so unbelievably excited.  My favorite space in the entire Mansion is the front foyer.  That little five foot by eight food entry way just blows me away, every time I take a minute to look at it.  Architects pointed out to me how the original craftsmen took a board, cut the squares, beveled the edges and put them back in order.  You can see how the grain matches on each line of boards:


Then there’s the tile floor (that matches the tile on the Parlor’s hearth):

And finally, the hand tooled leather crown molding:

Since I bought the Inn in 2005, I have wanted to light the foyer, but #1 would not drill holes in the paneling or floor to bring electricity in.  #2 I didn’t want to do something garish that would take away from the craftsmanship exhibited in this room.  I have spoken of this to many people since buying the place and finally, architects John & Kerry were here about a month ago and suggested I contact Environmental Lights, what a find.  They have this very small strip of LED lighting that I can mount on the upper ledge in the foyer and direct this discrete light upwards onto the leather.  You don’t see the light source, it’s just a warm glow. (The light you see in the above picture is the sample strip they sent me).   I will be able to tap into the the electricity that feeds the front porch lights and the pendant light that hangs in the foyer.  And the salesman/engineer Greg Higgins couldn’t have been more accommodating.  You can contact him directly at 1-888-880-1880 ext 110 or you can contact the company through their web site.

The 3,000 glass models in the museums at Harvard University by 19th century German glass smiths Rudolf & Leopold Blaschka inspired the Pittsburgh Center’s exhibit through November 17, admission free.  The exhibit, Lifeforms, has some very realistic renditions of creatures found in nature and some very whimsical pieces as well.  Since the International Glass Art Society’s conference was cancelled in Boston for logistical reasons this year, famed glass artist Robert Mickelsen worked with the Pittsburgh Glass Center to create this exhibit with over 50 works from the likes of Alex McDermott, Emma Mackintosh, Rachel Elliot, Wesley Fleming and the late Tim Jerman.

So that’s it for now, big news on the Parador coming in about a week.  I love holding secrets.  🙂



Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Hamburg Firestorm (the allies dropped so many bombs the the resulting firestorm sucked all the oxygen in the area eight square miles it then pulled oxygen from the surrounding areas creating hurricane type winds-1943), Peru’s Independence Day (1821), the singing telegram (1933) and the start of World War I (1914).  Birth anniversaries include Canadian cancer fighter that lost his right leg at 18 and was determined to run the length of Canada to raise $23M for cancer research Terry Fox (1958), Revolutionary soldier Thomas Heyward (1746), Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929), oceanographer Jacques Piccard (1922), Peter Rabbit author and illustrator Beatrix Potter (1866) and singer Rudy Vallee (1901).

Next weekend is Manchester’s House and Garden Tour from 11 am until 4 pm on August 4.  There will be repeat homes from the past on the tour, new homes and even a home under renovations that was abandoned 40 years ago.  They will also feature food and drink from Ann Gilligan’s Sorbet and La Prima Coffee and the Pittsburgh Taco Truck will be in residence.  The Western PA Humane Society will be there as well with potential pets on hand.  I love Manchester, the neighborhood organization thinks outside the box, they even will have Green Gears Pedicabs shuttling folks around.  Tickets can be picked up ($15) the day of the tour at Pittsburgh Conroy at 1300 Page Street.  More info at their web site or by calling 412-726-9787.

On Friday, August 9, The Western PA Humane Society is hosting a wine, food and conversation at Linda & Joe Iannotta on Beech Street (the block parallel to me one block over).  Linda’s very active with the WPHS and used to be a caterer.  Her food’s great and she’s preparing the food for the event.  The French wines are being presented my Sommelier Milko Miladinov.  100% of the proceeds goes to the WPHS.  It’s running from 7 until 10 pm and cost $65.  Linda has hosted similiar events for the Allegheny West Civic Association and they always sold out (hint hint, act soon).  Reservations are required and they are looking to close the book by Wednesday (July 31).  You can call Linda Leonhardt at WPHS 412-366-8512 or e-mailing her at leonhard@fnb-corp.com.  I put a link to WPHS’s events web page, but this event hasn’t made it yet.

The defense department exceeds $16T.  That’s a lot of money.  And they are complaining about the effects of the sequester and what’s really getting my goat is they have a very rehearsed portrayal of how devastating these cuts are going to be and put our country at risk.  #1, they are our servants answerable to the President.  Where to they get off thinking it’s OK to keep whining about what I view as modest cuts.  The budget for the human services is under $1T, in case you weren’t paying attention, that’s feeding little children, educating our next generation and keeping us healthy.  MAYBE if the defense department wasn’t paying $160,000 a YEAR to RENT a Coral Gables house for Marine Corps General John F Kelly,  the wouldn’t have to cut elsewhere.  Give the link a minute to load, I know Miami real estate is expensive, but having lived in the area, I could find a lot nicer for a lot less money.  And if you notice, there’s a dumpster in the driveway, I wonder who’s paying for the renovations?  So if this reflects what we pay all 37 active generals in the military, that’s almost $6M a year we pay for just housing for these individuals.  Don’t get me wrong, generals have worked long and hard and I think they deserve to be taken care of, to a point.

Nic DiCio, owner of Reyna Foods Grocery and Casa Reyna Restaurant (named after his Mexican born mother) also owns White Oak Farm that straddles Hampton and Indiana townships.  He is again hosting his Chili Festival from 10 am until 8 pm on September 28.  He opens the 50 acre farm, including the 200 year old barn for the event and it’s not all things chili, they also have various demonstrations like grape crushing.  Local chefs will offer samples of their cuisines using Hatch peppers brought in from Hatch, NM.  Last year he sold almost 4,000 pounds of chili peppers at his festival.  Last year about 1,500 people attended his festival and they’ve corrected some issues they had with valet parking directing guests where to park and adequate porta-potties.  He charges $5 in advance, $8 at the door and proceeds go to upkeep of the hobby farm he inherited from his grandfather who bought it in the early 1900’s.  No info on direct contact in either the Trib or Post Gazette, so I guest the best thing if you’re interested is to contact him through his restaurant or grocery.

After loosing it’s home after last year’s Storytelling Festival, will now be at the Winchester Thurston School’s north campus August 16 and 17 on 4225 Middle Road, Hampton (across from Hartwood Acres).  This is the 12th year of the event which draws 200 to 250 people to hear and share stories.  They will feature stories for children, ghost stories, workshops with “professional” storytellers, lunches for seniors attending and even concerts.  They are looking for a corporate sponsor or organization to donate funds for a tent to expand their offerings (around $1,000).  If you’d like to donate by purchasing t-shirts or lunches with story tellers, visit their fund raiser site.

Summer is hear and it’s time to enjoy this wonderful weather while we have it.  Pittsburgh and Pittsburghers are great at enjoying and taking advantage of our river fronts.  Up on Washington’s Landing on the Allegheny is Red Fin Blues, you can sit inside or outside and watch the river slowly pass you and watch the boats on the river or in their docks.  Some places let you dock for free when you eat there, but I’m not sure what Red Fin’s policy is.  The food’s good, American menu with a bit of an emphasis on seafood, beverages of all sorts are available and the ambiance is casual.  They’re located at 100 Waterfront Drive, Washington’s Landing, 412-322-5837.  At the bottom of Neville Island (by Robert Morris’ sports complex) is Paradise Beach which actually has a sand beach you can eat and dine on, there’s a volleyball court next to it and a bowling alley is part of the complex.  Menu is predominately pizza, burgers, wraps and the such.  Free boat parking at their docks.  🙂  They’re at 7601 Grand Avenue, Neville Island,412-264-6570.  Just outside of McKeesport, under the Boston Bridge is the Boston Waterfront, which has an outside deck you can relax, eat and drink on watching the Youghiogheny River and the undisturbed nature across.  American menu, 2422 St David Drive, Boston, 412-751-8112.   Down in Beaver, Kelly’s Down by the Riverside Saloon has imported ten foot tall Florida palm trees to decorate her beach themed restaurant and bar.  The menu is pretty much sandwiches, salads, wraps; many with a Caribbean twist.  She’s known for her Sunday brunch and all you can eat crab legs Mondays in the summer.  Kelly’s is located at 1458 Riverside Drive, Beaver. 724-728-0222.  Up in Sharpsburg is the Silky’s Crow’s Nest at 19 River Heights Drive, 412-782-3701.  You can park your boat and enjoy the casual menu on any of the three different decks or inside.  They don’t have a website, but claimed their Google listing.  They are related to Silky’s Sports Bar in Squirrel Hill and Silky’s Pub in Bloomfield.  Baja Bar and Grill is located at 1366 Old Freeport Road, O’Hara on the Allegheny.  They have a large pavilion bar and restaurant outside on the docks and an inside river themed restaurant and bar as well.  A casual full service menu is offered indoors year round and outdoors in the summer.  412-963-0640.  Allegheny Mariner is located 1301 N Water Street up in Kittanning.  Docking at their dock is free and their American menu is enhanced with crab leg specials on Tuesday, all you can eat pasta on Thursdays and prime rib on Fridays and Saturdays.  Website is being created, phone 724-545-6646.  That’s it for free standing waterfront dining that I know of, if you know of something I missed, please pass it on to me and I’ll include it in the future.  There are some chains and big box restaurants with waterfront options like at Station Square, the Hofbrauhaus, the Northshore has Jerome Bettis’ Grill 36, McFadden’s, The Tilted Kilt, Rivertowne, Pittsburgh Grille and the Rivers Casino has riverfront dining available.  You can always cruise the river on one of the Gateway Clipper themed boats.  The do full service dinner cruises as well as just sight seeing cruises.  Check their website for schedules.

Have a great day,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of Egypt’s first revolution (1952) and it’s worst terrorist action with the bombing of the Red Sea resort Sharm Al-Sheikh killing 88 (2005) and it is the anniversary of the first American swimming school opened in Boston (1827).  Birth anniversaries include author Raymond Chandler (1888), baseballer Don Drysdale (1936), baseballer Harold “Pee Wee” Reese (1918) and rancher, land baron and politician Samuel Maverick (1803).

Summer is a rough time for food banks in general.  People are busy with vacations, summer activities or just aren’t overly active staying out of the heat.  Generally, people equate hunger with cold, but the need is year round.  Animal Friends Chow Wagon program is in dire need of dry dog and cat food.  This is a program where Animal Friends distribute pet food to area shelters to pass on to needy pet owners.  Some people in need by-pass food they should be consuming to keep their beloved pets fed, some pet owners’ only companion is their pet (particularly with the elderly on a fixed income), some families with children are struggling and the pet is the child/children’s best friend.  I remember Shaddy when I was a boy, he was a truly beloved companion (yes, we had pets even way back then).  🙂  Director Sue Otto of The Center of Hope, in Ambridge, says they provide food for more than 130 pets each month.  Animal Friends is located at 562 Camp Horn Road in Ohio Township and is open from 11 am -7 pm Monday through Friday, 10 am – 5 pm Saturdays and Sundays if you would like to drop off food.  You can also donate money from their website.

Millvale, home to small businesses Vecenie Distributing (around since 1933), Jerry Kitman Fine Furniture and Lincoln Pharmacy also is home to Esther’s Hobby Shop who’s celebrating their 75th anniversary this year. Bob Mehler, owner and son of founder Esther Mehler, keeps the shelves stocked with model planes, kits, toy rockets and mainly model trains.  He specializes in N scale trains, even hosting the weekly meeting of Steeltown N Scalers.  His customers come from as far away as Germany and the United Arab Emirates.  Although entering there is like a walk back in time, there’s also all the things a modern hobbyist looks for.

Nationally renown tattoo artist Nick Bubash has a second career, he also makes sculptures out of things he collects and there’s a large amount of recycle tattoo needles worked in his art as well.  Son of one of Jonas Salk’s researchers and an artist mother, he moved to New York after studying art at Penn State. In NY, he studied the art of tattoo under one of the fathers of modern tattoo, Thom Vita.  After returning to Pittsburgh, he set up shop in Robinson.  Most of Nick’s sculptures remain in his home or shop.  He has a solo exhibit at The Warhol that runs through September 15.  Nick uses a tribal influence in much of his sculptures and many of his tattoos also express this tribal influence which is quite popular these days (listen to me talk as if I’m a major tattoo connoisseur).  🙂  His exhibit is included in your general admission to the Warhol and follows their normal hours.  More info at the websites or by calling 412-237-8300.

I was at an open house the other day at the planned Allegheny Inn across from AGH for the Allegheny Commons Initiative.  The Commons is a group of people trying to coordinate and expedite the restoration of the Commons.  For one thing, they are fighting the evil railroad company trying to force US to pay for and raise the bridges so they can pull double stacked cars and make even more money.  The other option, would be for THEM to pay for lowering the tracks to accommodate this.  Railroads get enough subsidies, they don’t need me to pay for a raised bridge which will #1 destroy some of the historic nature of the park, #2 expose the trains (and noise) and create even more dust and air borne pollutants in the park.  You know, our forefathers made them put the train tracks below grade for a reason, once our city fathers cared about the populace.  The real reason for this rant is poor Justin & Keili trying to open the Allegheny Inn.  They have taken on this project not even to be Inn Keepers, they want to save a wonderful building that’s been vacant for something like thirty years.  They want to invest their hard earned money into something of value for the city and the Northside.  They have partners lined up to run the Inn, once completed.  The city has had them on hold for over three months now.  The city should have codes that are clear for all to understand and enforced.  People trying to do the right thing by upgrading a derelict building into a safe lodging establishment should not be penalized because city employees don’t want to work eight hours a day for five days.  I’m really getting tired of listening to other businesses trying to start up here as they get frustrated at the city’s bureaucracy and business unfriendly attitude.  Talk to Paul at Benjamin’s Burger Bar right down the street from me about the torture the city did to him trying to get opened.  Small businesses should be able to look to their city government for help and assistance, not obstructionism.  The city only seems to care about big developments like the Penguins redevelopment of the lower hill, Buncher who wants to destroy 1/3 of the iconic Terminal Bldg (there is a reprieve, the Historic Review has agreed to look into designating it as Historic), casinos and the various give aways they’ve given to the Steelers.  I’ve been watching this statistic since I was in college, 93% of business in America is small business.  We’re the ones that work seven days a week, frequently 12 or better hours a day.  We’re the ones paying our employees well because they are more than a number to us.  We don’t look for an OMS consultant to come in with stop watches and try and squeeze another nickle out our employees.

Allegheny County is hosting a hazardous wastes collection next Saturday, July 27 at the Second Avenue Plaza Lot (I believe that’s the lot Greyhound used for awhile just past the 10th Street Bridge) from 9 am until 1 pm.  They do charge $2 per the gallon.  More info at 412-488-7452.

The Clayton has remounted an exhibit by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz twelve years after it’s first appearance.  As the artist in residence from 1999 to 2000, Vik used a 19th century 8″ by 10″ view camera to take photographs around the property and developing the images so they looked like they were taken at the turn of the century.  He even got staff to pose in period clothing in some of his images.  One of the images titled “The Potato Peeler” is Sherrie Flick, associate curator of education at the time.  He kept putzing with the various controls on the camera  and kept assuring Sherrie he would be ready in a minute.  He finally snapped the picture and admitted that he didn’t want her to pose a frown, so he kept delaying until she started to show frustration.  🙂  The thought for this picture was rooted in Vermeer’s The Milk Maid and van Gogh’s The Potato Peeler.  He used his background in art knowledge to frame different classical pictures.  I find the whole concept pretty cool.  It’s on display through October 27 with the Frick’s normal operating hours and admission.  More info at their website or by calling 412-371-0600.

What a fabulous idea.  That nutcase Westboro Baptist Church has been offending Americans for years now.  Particularly insidious has been their desecration funerals for war veterans.  It’s something that has bothered me a lot since hearing about them the first time.  I’m surprised no one has come up with something like this.  A group of gay satanists have performed a “Pink Mass” over the grave of Fred Phelp’s mother  “turning her gay”.  🙂  I don’t know the demographics of my readers, but I call on all gay readers to come up with new ideas to now torture them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Have group kiss-ins on their church lawn, sign them up for gay porn sites, come on, if anyone can be creative, the gay community can.  And for such a wonderful cause, to finally shut them up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And here’s the best part, you don’t have to be gay to join the movement.  Just pretend and you can join this great movement.   A disturbing thing I saw when looking into this is their website has a six out of ten Google ranking, I’m only four out of ten.  🙁  Something that did give me a chuckle was their zip code is 66604, the first three digits are the sign of the devil to some people.  🙂

Well, that’s it for today.  It’s a free day for me, no guests!   I love my guests, but it’s really nice to have a free day.  I’ve been so busy putzing around with no time constraints.  And the heat wave has broken.  I was so cool this morning to go into the Inn and NOT hear the air conditioning running.

Be good,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald (1410) where Poland & Lithuania kicked some Knights of Teutonic butt, the Battle of the Marne (1918) where the Germans got their butt kicked basically for the last time in WWI, Venice celebrates the Feast of the Redeemer where they have processions in the canals remembering the end of the epidemic of 1575 and St Swithin’s Day, legend has it that when he was interned in Winchester Cathedral in 971 it rained for forty days, if it rains on July 15, they expect rain for the next forty days.

Camel milk has come to the Amish in Lancaster County, twice.  Miller’s Organic Farms has had a camel herd for a couple of years now and ships it’s products around the US and even to Canada.  They carry milk (which kind of tastes skim milk, just a bit saltier), yogurt, Kefir, a fermented milk drink and a soap all made with camel’s milk.  I bit pricy, $10 a pint.  It’s said camel’s milk helps with children with autism and people with diabetes.  Ben Stoltzfus lives by and works at Miller dairy had been using it for his son has an auto-immune disease and diabetes.  He noticed a change in his son and has started his own herd.  You may ask how they milk camels, with a traditional milking machine and VERY CAREFULLY.  🙂

4 sale, one 9 room, slightly used Bed and Breakfast on the Northside of Pittsburgh.  Recently renovated and in excellent condition.  The owner is looking to buy and operate a convenience store.  I know I talked about this in the past, but did you know sales in convenience stores across the country exceed $700B and passed total sales of both restaurants and supermarkets!  On average, 1,100 customers a day walk through and given convenience store and spend less than four minutes in there.  We’re all in the wrong business my friends.  Make it convenient and you can charge whatever you want and don’t even have to worry about cleanliness, cheerful staff or landscaping.  🙂

My favorite thing about the Snowden scandal was the demands his father stated for his son to return to the United States.  Dad said the government had to agree ahead of time that he could be free on bail until trial, he would get to pick the court he would be tried in and I forget the third condition.  Apples don’t fall far from the tree, do they?  I’m re-hashing some old news as a transition into my next conversation, Euclid Analytics has tracked 50 million devices in 4,000 locations for 100 corporate customers.  What am I talking about?  One example was Nordstrom hired them to track customers walking through their stores via devices that honed in on the customer’s smart phones and other electronic devices.  They knew how long you lingered at the fragrance counter, which department you went to next, how long you were in the store, etc.  Shortly after a Dallas TV station broke the story, Nordstrom apologized and stopped the practice.

On July 18 at 7 pm, they are having the 13th annual Edible Flowers Food Fest at the Buffalo Inn in South Park.  The idea came to horticulturalist Denise Schreiber when she was visiting gardens in England and was served rose-petal ice cream with tea.  With the assistance of Penn State Master Gardeners, friends and family they create the meal.  This year’s menu includes roasted red pepper soup with nasturtiums, spring greens with a lavender-blueberry vinaigrette, chicken with lavender and honey, beef with a cherry rose chutney and shrimp with an orange ginger sauce.  All plates are garnished with edible flowers.  Basil lemonade and Russian teacakes with lavender round out the meal. I find the menu pretty funny, obviously created by a horticulturalist, not a foodie.  Do you notice the emphasis on flowers and not on how the “chicken”, “beef” and “shrimp” are prepared.  🙂  No matter, for a mere $20 you can’t beat this.  Reservations are required, I would recommend calling 412-473-2540 before she sells out.

I don’t know if they will let you in if you do not live in the Streets Run Watershed ares, but it’s worth a try if you are interested.  The Streets Run Watershed Association is holding a class on July 24 at 7 pm. The class is being held at the Whitehall community room at 100 Borough Park Drive.  They will be instructing on how to use rain barrels, how to install them, etc.  I would imagine after the flooding the past couple of weeks, there will be a heightened interest in this.  The first 30 “residents” to register get a free rain barrel.  The cost is $50 per person, $55 per couple.  I don’t imagine a group like this would turn away anyone that’s interested in learning more about rain barrels.  Registration is required 412-882-6622.

This week has the events that run up to the 31st annual Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Sunday, July 21.  The International Car Show on Walnut Street in Shadyside July 15 from 5 – 9 pm with all kinds of cars on display.  Homestead’s Waterfront hosts a Car Cruise of more than 500 cars from 5 – 9 pm on July 16.  At 10:30 to 2 pm 100 vintage cars will be on parade through Downtown on July 17.  July 18 will be the Grand Prix Tune-Up with music, food and dance at Tapas on 7th Street Downtown ($50 per, reservations strongly recommended) from 6 – 9 pm. July 18 from 10 am until 3 pm a Countryside Tour will be held on area back roads, this event is sold out.  Also on this day at the Hard Rock Cafe, Cars & Guitars will run from 7 pm – 1 am will host music for a Grand Prix charities fund raising event.  The Race Car Parade will travel from Squirrel Hill to the racers paddocks in Schenley Park on July 20 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm.  The Car Show and Qualifiers will be from 9 am – 5 pm on July 20 in Schenley Park.  And July 21 is race day from 8:15 am – 5   pm (the actual race starts at noon).  This is predominately run volunteer event, all toll 1,000 volunteers make this happen.  It is the only vintage race held on actual city streets in the US.  More info at their website.

Wen Gao was born in Beijing in 1957 during the Cultural Revolution.  As a young man, he organized various cultural movements that stood for freedom of artistic expression which landed him in jail several times totally around 7 years in jail between them all.  He settled in Ross where he has a studio for his work and for teaching.  He’s known for vivid colors and striking images, somewhat reminiscent of a classical style.  He has an exhibit at International Images, 514 Beaver Street, Sewickley through August 31.  Hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 am until 4 pm.   More info on the website or by calling 412-741-3036.

Well, keep cool and hydrated.  If you have any elderly neighbors without air conditioning, check on them periodically,




Tomorrow is the anniversary of the first time napalm was used on a large scale on the Japanese in the Philippines (1945), To Kill a Mockingbird was first published (1960), Babe Ruth debuted in the Majors (1914) and the Burr-Hamilton Duel (1804).  Birth anniversaries include John Quincy Adams (1767) and author E.B. White (1899).

It’s happened again.  I don’t know what I do, but my fingers stumble on the keyboard and my entire post is erased.  VERY frustrating.  I never look at the keyboard when I type, so I have no idea what I keep doing.  This is the third time I had a post I was doing the final proof and lost it.  So here goes again:

I’m looking for help, not that kind, my shrink helps a lot.  🙂  I have Dee and I love her and Kevin’s a great guy and a big help, he’s actually becoming quite the skilled house painter.  I’m letting him put the finish coat on now.  But I desperately need help running the Inn, business has been amazing and keeps growing.  What I’ve tried in the past (repeatedly) was going to Craig’s List and posting an ad for a housekeeper.  I give a very accurate in the job description, pay and hours.  I would get probably forty calls from it, set up maybe twenty meet and greets and be lucky if ten showed up (ONE called to cancel, once).  The slackers I had no problem getting rid of, the good ones it just wasn’t enough hours to keep them.  So I’m reaching out to you guys.  The housekeeping position I have always thought would be ideal for a stay at home mom or dad. Hours are from 11 am until 3 or 4 depending on the work load and I pay $10./hour.  I have come up with a second option, which probably would be better all around.  I’m thinking of hiring a working supervisor.  This could really free me to do Inn keeping things I really should be doing. The supervisor takes the phone and frees me from the constant phone calls.  He/she can take reservations, answer questions on the property, screen telemarketers, etc.  I have a log that I have always assigned tasks to my housekeeping staff, I can direct the supervisor’s daily duties there as well.  Obviously, cleaning would be a key responsibility.  Culinary duties would be big and most all tasks can be done between check-ins, etc.  Hours would be from around 2 until about 8 and pay would start at $15/hour.  If you know someone that might fit, have them call me at 412-231-4800.  There’s a free weekend in it for you if I hire him/her.  🙂

Sunday will be the last day Goodwill will be accepting used TV’s.  They’ve reached their limit for volume this year.  They will still accept computers, printers and other electronics that they can refurbish.  I believe they were just safely removing toxic materials from the TV and then sending them to a dump.  E-Loop expects to be able to accept them through October before they reach their limit.  And don’t panic and take your old TV and pitch it over some hill (not that I think any of my readers would do that), just leave it in the basement until next year.

I’m not sure where I stand on this.  Point Park University is becoming quite the presence Downtown.  Generally speaking, I like what they’ve done with all the properties they’ve bought and they seem to have a bit of a stewardship mentality towards their developments.  But they want to demolish three buildings on Forbes that were built in 1910, 1911 and 1915.  The former Honus Wagner Sports Store is one of them and was originally the Royal Theater. They say they want to save and re-use much of the exterior and some of the interior architecturals in the  new building.  They are looking to relocate the Pittsburgh Playhouse from Oakland to the new building.  I think I’ll straddle the fence for now.

There’s a new addition to the Southside, Skybar.  AMPD Group owns Diesel on Carson Street and have opened their latest venue on it’s roof.  You need a membership to use the pool during the day ($300 per season and it entitles you to bring a guest) and then they put thick plastic over the lit pool so you can walk over it in the evening.  A full service bar (no well brands) and they will order food on request from one of their other venues down the street Local Bar + Kitchen for delivery.  Dramatic views of the City and Southside Slopes from the space.  Evening admission includes admission to Diesel.  This concept has been around for awhile in some cities like Miami and Las Vegas, this is the first of it’s kind in Pittsburgh.

Well, if you didn’t make it to Gettysburg for the anniversary festivities, there’s an exhibit right down the street from me at Photo Antiquities, 531 E Ohio Street (next to Bernie’s Photos).  Bruce has this HUGE photo collection of old photos his family has gathered over the years.  His current show highlights the works of Alexander Gardner, one of the employees of probably most noted photographer of the 19th century, Matthew Brady.  The photographs are more of a human interest theme than war and battles theme.  The vintage albumen photos really take you back in time. Hours are 10 am until 4 pm Monday through Saturday (closed Sundays and Tuesdays) through July 31.  More info at their website or by calling 412-231-7881.

Well it didn’t take them long, the Marcellus Oil companies have figured out that they can deduct “post-production costs”, transportation, compressing and handling the raw gas and oil.  (This came from a lawsuit they filed over this and the judge ruled in their favor).  Some people have been charged as much as $2.88 out of a $3.00 royalty.  The original contracts are all different, as the energy companies tried to gobble up as much leasing acres as they could.  So there’s a chance a property owner may have a leg to stand on to keep them from this practice.  This is currently a big item in the northern Pennsylvania counties, but trust me, it’s coming to Western PA before long.  If you or someone you know has signed with these companies, I would strongly recommend the services of a good attorney.  Even if the energy company has not started this practice, find out what exactly the lease says and how you can protect yourselves.

Accidents happen, I burnt the bacon one day last week.  No one was hurt.  That train that derailed in Lac-Megantic Canada also seems to have been an accident.  Someone got hurt, actually 15 dead at this point and around 25 missing.  I was filling a spray bottle of chemical cleaner we use here and some overflowed into the drain, I added to the pollution in our environment.  I Googled oils spills because I wanted to quote the Exxon pipeline oil spill into the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone Park for this post, the list under my second link in this paragraph really says a lot.  I keep hearing from the corporate spin ad agencies that rail transport of oil is soooo safe and that pipeline transport of oil is even safer.  Tell that to the poor souls in Lac-Megantic or the water life in Yellowstone River.  I’m OK with mistakes, I would possibly be OK with mistakes that seriously impact our environment, if I could trust corporations to do the right thing.  If Exxon had stepped up to the plate in the Prince William Sound spill caused by their drunk tanker driver in 1989, instead of spending the millions fighting their responsibilities and delaying any action, I may not be so hostile to the energy companies.  I think BP initially tried to step up to the plate.  Yes, they were wrong trying the cheap way, which is what all this is about.  If they used the best available technologies and were transparent about it, I really don’t think they would have half the flack they get.  You can never please everyone, but the anti-fracking movement isn’t going away.  Instead of hiring spin doctors for millions, just buy the right well heads and pipe casings.  Easy fix to me.

Quite the rain we’ve had the past 24 hours, I had to drive through Mt Lebanon last night around 7 pm and water was gushing a good foot out of most of the storm drains.  It’s late afternoon today and after a morning drenching, it looks like more’s on it’s way.  And for some reason, my retiree, Razor, seems to be all of a sudden scared of thunder.  He is attached to me during storms.  🙂

Have a great one and don’t drive through large puddles in the road,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Constitution of the US took effect (1788), the Declaration of Independence was declared (1776), Amelia Earhart disappeared (1937), President James Garfield was assassinated (1881) and the execution of slave Denmark Vesey for his conspiracy in what would have been the largest slave revolt in South Carolina (1822).  Birth anniversaries include Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908) and tennis player & clothier Rene LaCoste (1904).

Finally, a little break this Monday & Tuesday.  I’ve been extremely busy, and that’s a good thing.  🙂

If you are looking for something to do this summer, a great choice is to attend one of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation for the list of tours they are sponsoring.  Most are free, some are self guided and some have tour guides.  One of note is the tour of the old Jail House designed by HH Richardson.  It has been re-purposed as County Juvenile Court.  Most of walk through the City with a purpose and don’t see what’s really around us.  Besides the imposing Oliver Building, Frick Building and others, there’s tons of smaller detail around the City that these tours point out.  By the way, about two weeks ago their installed the recreated lions for the front of Dollar Bank on Fourth Avenue (the originals since being refurbished, grace the inside of the bank).

Another interesting yearly tour is the Biblical Botanical Gardes at Rodef Shalom Temple at 4905 Fifth Avenue, Oakland.  It is open 10 am until 2 pm Sundays through Thursdays, Wednesdays 7 until 9 pm Wednesdays and noon to 1 pm Saturdays.  They have a trove of sub-tropical plants that are native to the middle east that they winter in their greenhouse in West View Cemetery and bring to the garden  and plant each spring.  They try and educate guests that originally, Jews and Arabs of the area were basically farmers they highlight what would have been grown back then as well as many other interesting plants.  Entrance is free, but they do accept donations.

The Three Rivers Regatta is this coming Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  There’s two fireworks shows July 3 and 4, both by Zambelli but totally different shows.  Daily events include Beach ‘Burgh will be on the Allegheny River Steps, Colcom Kids Zone will be on the City side lawn, BMX stunt riding, extreme Pogo and the Sandsational exhibit will be down in Point State Park.   Besides the races on Allegheny River, there’s a wide variety of entertainment like on Wednesday, Marvelous Mutts Dock Dog Show, entertainment on the Main Stage to include Jefferson Starship at the Rivers Casino Amphitheater Beatlemania will perform and other live entertainment.  On Thursday, besides the speed races, the Dragon Boat contest and Anything That Floats competitions will be held as well as live entertainment on both the Main Stage and Rivers Casino Amphitheater.  Times and much more detail on their website.

If you want other options, the Butler County Fair goes through Saturday.  It runs 9 am until 11 pm with rides, live entertainment, food and other activities at this 158 year old fair.  There’s also the farm aspect with tractor pulls, livestock exhibits and other farm related shows and activities.  Admission is $6 before 4 pm and $8 after.  The entrance admission does not include some of the live events.  More info at their website or by calling 724-865-2400.

Seven emerging artists will have an exhibit at The Brew House at 2100 Mary Street on the Southside.  In case you are not aware, the former Duquesne Brewery that became The Brew House was illegally squatted by artists probably twenty years ago or more.  Eventually it became Pittsburgh’s largest (and legal)  🙂 artists enclave.  I don’t know how many artists are in there now, most have living accommodations as well as workspace/show room.  Artists Alexis Roberto, Cara Livorio, Crystala Armogost, Josh Mitchel, Elizabeth Brophy, Kate Hansen and Terrance M Boyd will have their works on display.  The exhibit is open from noon until 4 pm Saturdays and Sundays through August 4.  Admission is free.  More info at the websites or by calling 412-381-7767.  A great chance to see the works of these artists and you never know who you are going to run into at The Brew House.  Rick Bach, the artist that has done most of the metal sculptures for the Mad Mex restaurant chain as well as other Big Burrito restaurants also did the Aztec sun calendar sculpture on the wall in my Courtyard has a residence there.

For any of you that haven’t been here (or noticed it while here), it’s a pretty amazing piece.  #1 it’s totally customized with the word parador over the center face and other details.  The reason for it’s location (and purpose) is when I bought the Inn, my next door neighbor’s dusk to dawn sodium vapor light would shine into the courtyard all night and was very annoying.  When we first installed it, the light would shine right through it as if it wasn’t there.  Chris, a mutual friend (and the gentleman that made my Parador sign that hangs off my front porch) and owner of Sign Works in the Strip provided a piece of frosted lexan and it works perfectly.  The sculpture is great during the day and pretty spectacular at night.

Master Degree graduates from CMU Neil Druckmann and Bruce Stanley have created a video game about apocalyptic America called The Last of Us.  Much of their animations are either directly Pittsburgh, or very closely resemble it.  In this game, a real fungus, cordyceps, that kills  insects by attacking their brains, is portrayed as killing most of the humans as well.  The country is divided between a government run by martial law and the militant group firefly.  The hero Joel must bring this young girl to Boston and the reason she’s so valuable is she’s immune to the disease and along the way the battle all kinds of baddies.  More than most apocalyptic video games, this one seems to have a decent story line.

That’s it for today,