Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the  ratification of the 14 amendment to the constitution (1868), the first open heart surgery (1893), the largest Tsunami recorded (1958-300′ wave hit Lituya Bay, AK) and two independence days, one in Argentina (1816) and South Sudan (2011).  Birth anniversaries include actor Vince Edwards (1928), composer Ottorino Respighi (1879) and inventor Elisa Howe.

There are about 39 churches involved in the Family Promise of Southwestern Pennsylvania that aid local homeless families.  Participating churches invite selected homeless families to stay overnight at the church for a week at a time.  A great thing about this program is it keeps families together, a mother with teenage sons would not be able to stay together at a normal homeless shelter.  Church members volunteer preparing evening meals, caring for the children, driving families back to a day center in Crafton, assisting with job searches and finding permanent lodging.  Family Promise was founded 19 years ago in Washington County.

Plum is the latest community to join the Troop Banners program.  I’ve talked about this in the past, a gentleman in Castle Shannon came up with the idea and they initially installed the banners with pictures and information on veterans from that community in a small park.  It became so popular that they ended up lining several major streets with these tributes.  11 year old Richie Hrivnak saw the banners while traveling through Whitehall and petitioned Plum’s City Council about the idea and they agreed.  It costs about $80 per banner which includes the full sized banner, a smaller one for the family, a bracket to hold the banner and the hardware for mounting.

There’s a new recreational boating option in Pittsburgh,Sharpsburg Island Marina is renting pontoon boats for $80 – $360 depending on the day and time.   The boats accommodate 10 people and unlike most other watercraft, people face each other and it creates a much more social environment.  Traveling at a much more sedate pace than a speed boat, they are much more conducive to social interaction, view the great views of the city from a more leisurely pace.

Speaking of boating, they closed the locks to recreational boaters in 2012, but it looks like they may be opening them to recreational boaters again on weekends and holidays.  Recently passed legislation allows the Corps to accept donations from private groups and The Allegheny River Development Corporation has funds to give the Army Corps of Engineers to achieve this.  Have you ever gone through the locks?  Kind of scary when the lock is empty and you’re looking up those huge walls towering about you and your small watercraft (the locks were built to accommodate barges and tug boats)!

Sandcastle is celebrating it’s 25th year anniversary this year.  The park has grown to 15 water slides, three pools (the Mon-Tsunami Wave Pool, Mushroom Pool and the Tad Pool-guess who that’s for), Lazy River rafting and Wet Willie’s Water Works.  Of course there’s also the Boardwalk with traditional honky-tonk gift stores and food and concert venue.  You can travel by car or pull your boat up to the dock for a day (and or night) worth of fun activity.

It’s that time of year again for Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix.  Running July 6 through July 20 in Schenley Park.  What’s really amazing about this event is it is primarily a volunteer driven event with 1,200 people donating their time.  Another amazing thing about this race is It is not only America’s largest vintage race, but the only one run on city streets – the way sports car racing began.  This is the 30th year for the race and proceeds benefit the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School.

Summer is here and even many Pittsburgh natives are not aware of dining options around, specifically roof top dining.  Some of these restaurants have had this option for years like Six Penn Kitchen Downtown.  Also Downtown on Penn Avenue, Il Tetto offers roof top dining as well.  In the Consol Energy Center is Uptown that offers a roof top option as well.  East Liberty has a BRGR that has a roof top otion as well (I like BRGR’s burgers, but still prefer Paul’s great burgers right down the street from me in Benjamin’s, no roof top but sidewalk and patio options).  Southside has two options in Carson City Saloon and Skybar both on Carson Street.  Finally, over in Mt Lebanon Bado’s Pizza Grill and Ale House has a roof top option.

There’s several interesting non profits out there, Thru My Eyes  and Memories Live does a video taped message of people with potentially life threatening ailments for their families.  With all this media these days like Skype, selfies, etc, I’m surprised this concept is just gaining ground.  What a nice concept, particularly with young parents to leave a farewell video with their voice and face delivering the message.

OK America, you’re doing a good job, but don’t let up.  Since the Great Recession, Americans have trimmed their personal debt by $1T and increased savings by 4%.  When the recession hit, Anna Jones from Denver had $24,000 in debt on her credit cards.  Her salary covered her mortgage and utilities and everything else she placed on credit cards.  She decided to fix it and in 15 months she had eliminated all of it by curtailing her spending.  It can be done.  She has since gotten married, had a baby and sold her duplex and put 20% on her new digs.  She has a website of her endeavors to clear up the mess we put ourselves in, And Then We Saved.  Keep up the good work!

That’s about it for today, enjoy your week,



Tomorrow’s the anniversary of Amelia Earhart disappearance (1937), the US Constitution took effect (1788), the first solo balloon flight around the world (2002) and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (dah-1964).  Birth anniversaries include English clergyman, martyr and reformer Thomas Cranmer (1489), justice Thurgood Marshall (1908) and tennis star Rene Lacoste (1904).

The asteroid formerly known as No. 1990 AA has a new name, Henrybuhl.  In preparations for Buhl’s 75th anniversary, staffers at The Carnegie Science Center were discussing asteroids named after people from Pittsburgh and realized none had ever been named for the founder of Pittsburgh’s Buhl Planetarium.  Taking steps through the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, they applied to the International Astronomical Union based in Paris that names asteroids.  Buhl passed away in the late 1920’s and his foundation established The Buhl, the fifth planetarium in the country.  Located for many years on the Northside next to what became the Allegheny Center Mall, it was eventually absorbed into the Carnegie Science Center.  In case you are thinking of having a planetoid named after you, here are the rules:  It can be named for people, places, events and even fictional characters, but not politicians or military figures that haven’t been dead for 100 years yet.  No profane names, nor can an asteroid be named after the person submitting the request, so you’ll have to get a friend to nominate you.  🙂

Have you been following Shane the Deli guy?  This fictional (?) guy supposedly works at Walmart and it’s a series of posts from “management” to him.

On June 30, 1864 President Abraham Lincoln took time out from the Civil War to sign into law what many call the birth of the National Park System.  He dedicate Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove (commonly known as Sequoia Park) “for public use, resort and recreation .. inalienable for all time.”  The Park Service on the 150th anniversary of that signing on Monday broke ground on a $36M restoration moving the hokey gift shop out of sight and limiting parking and buses so you can enjoy our national treasure with out diesel fumes and garish trinkets in your face.  The famed Wawona sequoia (made famous by well meaning park employees who cut a car path through the middle of the tree) toppled during the severe winter of 1968-69.

The Carnegie Science Center is offering special tours of the USS Requin on select Sunday mornings (July 13 & 27, August 10 & 31 and September 14) from 9 – 11:30 am. These guided tours (by submarine veterans and Carnegie staff) will go places the general public doesn’t get to see like unrestored compartments, the periscope and conning tour.  Visitors will learn what life was like living on a submarine.  Because of the nature of the sub, they are not able to accommodate handicapped or children under15.  Tours are limited to 12 persons, the cost is $20 per person and advanced reservations are required.  More info and reservations at their website or  by calling 412-237-1637.

Through October 5, The Frick out in Point Breeze will be featuring works by French impressionist Edgar Degas.  Of the 100 works on display, 55 are by Degas.  These are on loan from Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts of San Fransisco.  Interestingly, two of Degas’ works feature Northsider Mary Cassatt.  Degas said he drew every Old Master in the Louvre by 1860 which he amassed 700 drawings.

On the corner of Baum Blvd & South Highland is the location of The Last Billboard.  Artist Jon Rubin selects messages submitted to him from artists around the country.  One of the signs he posted was “I wonder some days if Facebook isn’t a broad all encompassing cry for help.”  Since Jon was featured on Buzzfeed, he’s been inundated with suggestions for his next post. Los Angeles artist Marc Horowitz submitted a question mark  and his phone number.  He received a hundred responses a day since.  Marc worked for Crate and Barrel and once wrote on a dry erase board “Dinner with Marc” and his phone number.  Crate and Barrel ended up using the image in one of their catalogs and his phone rang off the hook.  Why would you do that?  🙂  Anyway, next time you’re in East Liberty, look up and see what Jon’s latest is.

Did you know there are 422 official bridges in Pittsburgh?  How I picked up that piece of trivia was when the River’s Casino opened, one of it’s restaurants was named 422 and when I asked I learned something new.   Well, here’s another piece of trivia.  The new restaurant going in the old Garden Theater’s name is going to be ARDE and I was curious where they came up with that name.  Domenic Branduzzi, owner of ARDE and Piccolo Forno in Lawrenceville came up with the idea from the old Garden Theater sign which is being restored.  He intends to have the G and N dark with just ARDE lit up.  Cute.  He hopes to take possession in a few weeks from the developer to start construction of his latest venture.  The menu is going to emphasize wood fired oven pizzas and pastas.  They’ve taken the back wall out of the old Garden and he’s planning on courtyard dining in addition to the indoor seating.  Full service beverage service and an open floor plan.  Unfortunately (fortunately in many people’s mind’s I’m sure), they weren’t able to save much of the old Garden, but Domenic plans on using memorabilia from it’s past life saved.  He’s hoping to  have his new venture open before the winter.

Next door, City of Asylum’s has plans in place for their new venture, Alphabet City Literary Center.  In case you aren’t aware, City of Asylum is based here on the Northside and they provide housing for dissident literary types.  Mainly poets from Asia, but they are open to all in need.  They own several small house above the Garden where they house these people.  One of the residents (I don’t know if he’s still there) wrote a poem in Chinese on the front of the house.  Pretty interesting people.  They plan on having a bookstore, cafe, conference room, performance space and space for educational programing on the first floor and basement.  They plan on making the book shelves movable so they can configure the space for groups of 20 to 200.

Citiparks has announced their Cinema in the Park schedule for Riverview Park.  July 5 will be Las Vegas, July 12 Thor: The Dark World, July 19 Saving Mr. Banks, July 26 The Hunger Games Catching Fire, August 2 42, August 9 The Great Gatsby, August 16 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, August 23 All is Lost and finally August 30 Oblivion.  All are family friendly and free.  Just bring a blanket and snacks and camp out for the showing.  Riverview Park is a great Northside park up on the hill overlooking the city.  You can even plan an outing and take in the Allegheny Observatory as well.

Have a great and safe Fourth of July holiday,



Tomorrow is Colombia’s Independence Day (1810), the Geneva Accords to end the hostilities in Vietnam (1954), the western great Locust Plague of 1874, the Special Olympics (1968) and the official Riot Act was introduced in England (1715).  The only birth anniversary is explorer/mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary (1919).

OK all you Parrot Heads, next Thursday(June 19) there will be a live concert at area drive ins.  Grab a picnic blanket, basket and beverage of choice and party with your fellow Parrot Heads.  🙂

Had these great guests from Ontario a couple of weeks ago.  When they were leaving, Rob said his aunt was a missionary in Africa in the1960’s and they’ve had this original oil painting they liked a lot, but really never fit in with their decor.  He wanted to know if I would be interested in it.  I asked him to send me a picture and he did.  In the picture he sent it looked nice and I said OK.  When it arrived, I absolutely love it.  When I get a new piece of art, it sometimes takes me weeks to decide where to place it.  Ty came up with the idea of over Lady Palm’s desk, what do you think?


When I opened The Parador of the Palm Beaches, I was WAY under capitalized and desperate for money.  Before I started waiting tables, I worked as a temp for various catering companies.  One of the companies I worked for regularly serviced events at John Goodman’s estate in Wellington (not the comedian, the owner of Amana products).  He was huge into polo and  his entire crew was from Argentina.  Great group of people, but wow were they carnivores.  There was platters of meat, chafing dishes of meat, sliced meat, cubed meat, meat in every form you can imagine.  The funny thing was all the Argentinians had their own knife stuck in their back behind their belt.  We never supplied steak knives and their knives where all so unique.  There’s a new restaurant in the Strip, Gaucho Parrilla  Argentina on Penn Avenue right before the 16th Street Bridge.  I haven’t eaten there yet, but I did have a guest that did and really enjoyed it.  It’s mainly a lunch and early dinner place, they close at 7 pm.  More info at their website or by calling 412-709-6622.

There’s two new active attractions around Pittsburgh.  Fun Sides Skate Park is a carpeted skate park where you were special frictionless shoe covers to slide around on the carpeted challenges.  It’s in Ross at 1130 Perry Highway (up McKnight above the shopping malls).   Owner/developer Don Edwards is a former carpet installer that came up with the in the idea in 1992 from using those glides used to move heavy furniture around a room.  He thought “Why not attach those glides to the bottom of your shoes and glide around yourself.”  His first skate park was in Irwin, he closed it to open one in Greensburg. In addition to the shoe covers, they also have friction resistant slides you can ride down six foot slopes.  More info on their website or by calling 412-364-0400.

Then there’s a national chain, Flight Trampoline Park out by Bridgeville that true to their name is a trampoline facility.  You have to be twelve or older to participate (they do have under twelve sessions in the mornings).  They also have trampoline parks in New York, Connecticut and Virginia.  In addition to the general trampoline fun, they host birthday parties, slumber parties, Club Flight (which has a laser light show) and do corporate team-building events.

Instead of bringing farm fresh food to you, Jacob Mains is bringing you to the farm.  Last year he had eight dinners scheduled, because of the popularity, this year he’s bringing ten dinners at five different farms over the summer into the fall.Obviously, each farm doesn’t have all the ingredients needed for a particular meal, so what he does is feature whatever that farm raises and augments that with products from other local farms.  The dinners are limited to 75 persons and are $100 per person (BYOB).  The farms are spread over Butler, Westmoreland, Beaver and Washington Counties.  Dates, locations and details are on his website.

There’s a new movie in town, Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville.  Brian Mendelssohn took an old row house and former store and turned it into an 83 seat theater.  The grand opening is a screening of Pulp Fiction next Saturday.  As with much of Brian’s ideas, the normally hard to seat front seat he eliminated and instead placed comfy couches for guests to lounge on.  Prices are $9 with a $6 price for Lawrenceville residents students and anyone where a costume related to the film’s theme.  Again, pretty innovating thinking.  Brian plans on offering three to six vintage films a day, all revolving around a theme.  One of the things he’s planning on doing is having marathons of the likes of Terry Gilliam and Mel Brooks movies.  Adjoining the theater is Atlas Bottle Works, a venture he is also involved with.  Not sure if you will be able to bring craft beers from one side to the other, but that could be fun.

At Carnegie Melon University, professor Dale Clifford is working on some interesting new concepts for building construction. They’re calling it bio-stimulant architecture, architecture that mimics biology in the real world.  Some of the things they are working on are solar petals that open during the heat of the day to absorb the heat and close at night to release the heat (it’s a concept for the building’s skin, so get that idea of a bunch of rose petals out of your mind).  🙂  He’s also working on glass blocks that are of a similiar design that are translucent during the day making the window like a window and it frosts over at night when it cools, again trapping heat during the day and releasing it at night.  With the glass blocks they are researching a thing called phase-change.  For example water phase changes at 32 degrees and turns to ice as well all know.  But palm oil phase-changes from solid to liquid at 70 degrees and this is the “motor” he’s working on to power this process.  This is the first of his endeavors that seems to be gaining real traction.  It is being used in the new Frick nature center in the planning stages.  When you think of all the “off and on” switches in nature that naturally occur with changes in light and temperature, it’s really an intriguing idea for modern architecture.

The Three Rivers Regatta is coming up July 2 through July 4, mark you calendars.  The sand sculpture Sandsational will be creating recreating the Battle of Fort McHenry and Francis Scott Key’s composition The Star Spangled Banner.  They are pretty amazing artists.  In addition to the yearly power boat races, dragon boats and anything that floats races, they are also having sail boat competitions and Pogopalooza.  They will have pogo athletes competing in xtreme contests with their super-charged pogo sticks.  There’s going to be an open area where you can try your hand (or feet in this case) 🙂 at the sport.  The big concerts this year include Steve Augeri, formerly from Journey performing at 8 pm July 3 at Point State Park and Beatlemania at the River’s Amphitheater 7 pm July 3.  More details at their website.

This Sunday, June 22 The Mattress Factory will be hosting their free family friendly Community Garden Party from 1 to 5 pm.  The theme will be Wild West and you will be able to square dance to Haygood Paisleys, pose for Wild West postcards with Fishstep Studios, play Skee-Ball with the Nomadic Arcade and more.  More info at their website or by calling 412-231-3169.

Ever consider wood carving as a hobby?  There’s a number of wood carving clubs around Pittsburgh.  Chisels and Chips Carvers of North Pittsburgh meet the second Monday of each month at Parkwood United Presbyterian Church at 4789 Mount Royal Blvd, Allison Park from 6:30 to 10 pm.  If you go, you can meet some talented wood carvers, pick up some tips and they even introductory workshops.  Dale Kirkpatrick is a member and is quite the carver.  One of the  biggest annual shows is in Dayton, OH called Artistry in Wood that draws thousands of enthusiasts each year.  This year’s show will be held November 8 & 9, a great place to pick up that unique Christmas gift.

That’s it for now, enjoy your weekend,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of Mount Pinatuba erupted in the Philippines (1991) and King Kamehameha Day in Hawaii (a state holiday celebrating the monarchy from  1737 to 1819).  It’s Queen Elizabeth’s official birthday celebrated throughout the kingdom and former colonies, undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau (1910), author William Styron (1925), German composer Richard Strauss (1864), footballer Vince Lombardi (1913) and landscape painter John Constable (1910).

Is anyone else fed up with our corporate America?  Since the great recession, they have been reaping record profits, sitting on massive amounts of cash and instead of investing in new production facilities that would create jobs, or R & D that would move this country forward, they are taking all this cash they are sitting on and buying each other out making massive companies!  (And the corporate executives on both the buying and selling companies are making tremendous payouts on these deals).  ATT bought T Mobile, Comcast is buying Time/Warner, Verizon’s buying Netflix.  That’s just the communications companies in the last few months.  We could look at the drug companies, tech companies (are particularly obscene with the money they are spending) and the rest of corporate America.  The rail lines are refusing to make safe tanker cars to transport the record number of gallons of oil (and such products) while forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for raising bridges so they can transport even higher cars making more money.  Why don’t they invest in a high speed rail system between Boston and Washington, DC or San Fransisco and LA?  I bet they could construct lines for a lot less than government subsidized rail lines and make a ton of money with quick movement of people that don’t have to go through the hassle of airports and flying. Sorry for the tirade, but I’ve been watching commentary for the last few years about the record amounts of money sitting in corporate coffers and the debates of what they should do with this money.  The banks are sitting on tons of reserves, but won’t lend money to small businesses and regular citizens to buy homes.  64% of home sales in Florida are cash deals, that’s not the normal Joe and family buying a home.  There are some empty nesters that are selling their northern homes and down sizing to warmer climates, but the majority is money people investing cash in real estate.  Enough.

I was down at the Art’s Festival this afternoon.  As usual, I appreciate the artist’s wears, but most don’t really grab me like The Way Home a couple of years ago:


It’s a real photograph that’s been photo shopped to make it somewhat creepy yet interesting and inviting.  While walking to the “T” at Gateway, there was a ban playing Machete Kisumontao on the Stanwix Stage.  I’ve never heard of them before, but apparently they are a local Puerto Rican band that plays around Pittsburgh a good bit.  They didn’t draw a huge crowd, but it was pretty funny watching people stroll past that would get caught up in the music and start swaying to it as they walked by.  And the people out front of the stage certainly had a fabulous time.  Apparently they have a following because I saw a number of people singing along that knew the words.

Speaking of CREEPY, a museum in Karlruhe, Germany has cloned an ear from a decedent of Van Gogh and his it on display. Too weird for me.  🙂

The Block House will be celebrating it’s 250th anniversary this year.  The Block House is the oldest structure in Pittsburgh. Six years after the British gained control of the point and Fort Pitt was pretty much trashed by flooding twice, they built the Block House and four other redoubts are constructed to help with the defense of Fort Pitt.  The fort was eventually dismantled and the Block House became a trading post.  Every Saturday through August 30 at 1 pm and 3 pm they will feature musket demonstrations.  The major celebrations will be held August 9 and 10.  More info at their website or by calling 412-471-1764 (cute phone number).  🙂

Here’s one for you, a sixth grader’s science fair project produced an unexpected result.  By chance, he discovered Truvia, the sweetener drops the life expectancy of fruit flies from 38.6 days to 5.8 days!  The results (his father noted the decrease in life expectancy and performed further tests) were published in PLoSONE.  Makes you wonder when your reach for that sweetener for your coffee would think.

There’s a number of houses and buildings in Wilkinsburg that have fallen into disrepair and are being torn down.  One caught Artist Dee Briggs’ attention and she looked into the history of the building and she didn’t want it to go away without someone loving it again.  It had several long term owners over it’s 139 year history and a bunch recently before being abandoned.  So her and a bunch of people took 32 gallons of gold paint and “dressed her up” one last time.  Dee says “This is not just a vacant house; it’s a place.  People grew up here.  Everybody in the neighborhood once had a relationship with this house.”  Dee created a website house-of-gold that’s very cute.  She chronicles the history in the first person.  On the website the house says “I’ve been pretty much abandoned.  When I was full of people and children, I was a happy house, most of my parts were handmade and lovingly cared for.  Now it’s time for my life to end.”  How cute and touching is this?

There was a nice article in the Trib this past Sunday about the soul food restaurant down the street from me, Carmi.  Named for CARleen and MIke King (hence the CARMI).  They had their rehearsal dinner here at The Parador about two years ago and are the nicest people around.  It’s a very relaxed atmosphere, serving soul food by family (literally, it’s staffed with cousins, nieces, nephews, their children, etc).  Each year, they prepare Christmas and Thanksgiving meals for economically challenged people with turkey and the fixings for around 10 – 15 people.  What a nice “give back to your neighborhood” attitude.  The Nazi’s in my neighborhood association could learn a lesson from them.  The Nazi’s organization refuse to support the local food bank “because it might set a precedence”.  What BS.  There’s no place in my world for children to go to bed hungry because “it might set a precedence.”

This year is the 200th anniversary of the British shelling 1,500 bombs (some weighting 200 pounds) at Fort McHenry that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen The Star Spangled Banner.  A couple of the myths surrounding him penning the song is he was not a prisoner on a British ship, his ship was stuck in back water waiting for the hostilities to end.  Also, he wrote the lyrics to work with The Anacreontic Song, an amateur-musicians club song from London.  He didn’t pen the lyrics on the back of an envelope, envelopes didn’t exist at the time.  Betsy Ross did not make the flag, Mary Pickersgill did.  Although the song was quite popular from 1814 on and played at many inaugurals and patriotic events, it didn’t become our national anthem until 1931.  Speaking of patriotism, don’t forget this Saturday is Flag Day, display them proudly.

Don’t let the rain bother you, the weekend’s looking spectacular again,




Tomorrow’s the anniversary of black activist Angela Davis’ acquittal (1972), the Battle of Midway (1942), Pulitzer Prizes (1917), the massacre at Tiananmen Square (1989) and the emancipation of Tonga (1970).  Birth anniversaries include musician Freddy Fender (1937) and King George III (1738).

I found this cool wooden wind chime at Moonstones shop in Dormont, they have some strange, but also some very cool items:


Volunteers tackled the Allegheny River around Blawnox collecting 10 tires, 35 bags of trash and 150 pounds of metal of an 8 miles stretch.  This was organized by Allegheny Clean Ways and call their efforts “tireless cleanups” tongue and cheek referring to all the tires people throw into our waterways.  They are looking for volunteers for their next tireless cleanup in Verona on June 7 if your from that area or just have some free time.  More info at their website or by calling 412-381-1301.

Millvale’s second brewery has just opened to join Draai Laag Brewing Company.  Grist House Brewing is located at 10 Sherman Street, Millvale and they are open Thursdays through Sundays by hours they post on their Twitter account or on the their Facebook page.  The open brewery is below the public pub housed in an old slaughter house that still has that rustic look.  They’ve also added a deck for relaxation and imbibing.  🙂  Their phone is 412-447-1442.

For those of you that have visited The Parador, you should recognize the coffee/tea cups I use at breakfast.  The long story about these cups is they the a Villeroy & Boch pattern called Miami.  Villeroy & Boch is a French company and the pattern that was used on one of the fine dinning rooms at Resorts Casino back when my management team took over the food and beverage operations.  Paul Patay, our VP of Food and Beverage immediately switched to an American china (Mr. Patay’s first language was French, there was debates where he was French or French Canadian) because of the cost of the china ($27 per cup and saucer), cost of shipping and the time it took to receive items ordered.  So we went with a very nice Sterling China pattern, locally available and much more cost effective.  What to do with this old china we took out of service and had no further use for?  We sent it out to our warehouse and Mr. Patay and VP of Purchasing (who controlled the warehouse) negotiated a price for staff to purchase sets of this china to get rid of it.  Peter Durkin, the VP of Purchases told Mr. Patay he wanted $4 for it.  Mr. Patay thought Peter was speaking per piece and there was 12 pieces per setting meaning each place setting would be $48.  Mr. Patay, always watching pennies negotiated the price down to $1.25 before he realized Peter was speaking place setting, not piece.  So I got a set of 12 of this fine china for $15.  🙂  I have had it for years and when I started running a B & B, started using the china for breakfast.  It didn’t take long until I needed more pieces and learned Villeroy and Boch discontinued the line.  So I found Replacements Unlimited in Miami that specialized in finding discontinued china.  I had been paying anywhere from $20-$25 per coffee cup and saucer until I couldn’t get anymore through them.  A friend recommended I look on E-Bay and have found them on there from $15 – $20.  Last week, I found a 12 piece coffee cup and saucer set, plus 12 bullion cups for $39!  Oh happy days are at The Parador!


Again, for yinz that have stayed at The Parador, I had this really chintzy fake oriental rug in the Library that I was always afraid someone was going to slip on and break their neck.  I put those non-skid pads under it, but guests were still frequently skidding on it.  I like the look of Persian red rugs and found a 50 year old Mashad in great condition and a great price.


‘;Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation has started their free guided walking tours Fridays.  These guided tours start at noon at Triangle Park, the new little park on Liberty in front of the Fairmont Hotel and last about an hour.  These guided tours take you through Market Square and the newly opened Melon Square.  You never know what you’ve missed walking around Downtown until you go on one of these guided tours that point out all the hidden treasures Downtown.  Reservations are encouraged by calling Mary Lu Denny at 412-471-5808 extension 527.  (If you are interested in volunteering to give tours and learn even more about out fair city, Mary Lu can help with that as well.  July’s walking tours are the Gems of Grant Street, the August tours are Bridges and River Shores and September tours are Fourth Avenue and PPG Place.

The very public savvy Wigle distillery is opening a second location, right here on the Northside in Spring Garden (just east of Deutschtown ).  The Whiskey Garden and Barrelhouse will be open Thursdays and Fridays from 5 pm – 9 pm, Saturdays from 11 am – 6 pm and Sundays from 11 am – 4 pm (the reason for the early closings is out of consideration of their neighbors since it is basically a residential neighborhood).  Thursdays will be focused on non-profits to use the space for whatever they need, Fridays will be a rotating list of various programmings (like a bluegrass whiskey tasting on June 20 with a live bluegrass band).  When they first open on Saturdays they will be giving tours of the Barrelhouse and Sundays there will be having garden parties in their Whiskey Garden.  Sounds like fun.

Northside’s second annual Music Festival is scheduled on Saturday, July 12 in Deutschtown.  Attendance last year was estimated at around 2.500 and they expect to double that this year.  Adding 10 more bands this year brings the total performing to over 70.  To accommodate this expansion, a second stage is being set up in Allegheny Commons around North and Cedar Avenues.  The afternoon festivities will start around 10 am and be family friendly.  They plan on food trucks and a flea market in the Commons to add to fun.  The main stage on Foreland Street will run from 4 pm – 8 pm and in consideration of the neighbors, the bands will then adjourn to James Street Gastropub, Max’s Allegheny Tavern, , Artists Image Resources, Bistro, Park House, Penn  Brewery, Verdettos, Allegheny Elks Lodge, Peanuts and Key West.

And don’t forget the 55th Annual Three Rivers Arts Festival starts this weekend.  It runs from Friday, June 6 through Sunday, June 15.  There is sooooo much during the festival that I’m not going to even give highlights.  There definitely something for everyone at the Festival.  Check their website to see what tickles your fancy.

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust did a Ballroom Dancing event last year at Market Square and it was so successful that from 5 – 7 pm they will be hosting Ballroom Dancing (and other forms of dancing) lessens each Friday in June.  Just show up with your dancing shoes and learn some new steps.  🙂

Well, the rain seems to be holding off for a bit today, I think I’m going to take advantage of the sunshine and start working on the deck in my beach, it really needs cleaned up and a new coat of stain applied.  Have a great day,




Tomorrow is the anniversary of amnesty being issued to the Southern Rebels (1865), Constantinople fell to the Turks (1453), Charles II was restored to his kingship (1660), Mt Everest summit was reached (1953), Rhode Island ratified the Constitution (1790) and Wisconsin was admitted to the US (1848).  Birth anniversaries include entertainer Bob Hope (1903), President John F Kennedy (1917), patriot Patrick Henry (1736) and German historian and author Oswald Spengler (1880).

Melon Square is finally re-opening this weekend after two years of renovations.  It was the first park covering a parking garage and the forerunner of roof top gardens.  It covers over an acre.

Located below the Roberto Clemente Bridge (aka 6th Street Bridge) Kayak Pittsburgh is open daily with kayak and bicycle rentals.  The hours are 11 am until 8 pm Monday through Friday with an extra hour added Saturday and Sunday mornings.  Kayaks are $16/hour solo and $21.50/hour for the tandem kayaks.  Bicycles are $8/hour or $32/all day.  Lots of good outdoor healthy exercise right down the hill from The Parador.

On loan to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium until Labor Day are two Galapagos tortoises.  These endangered creatures are estimated to be about 22 years old, they will live to 100 in the wild and have been documented to live up to 170 in captivity! They are the longest-lived vertebrates. They are the largest living species of tortoise and the 13th-heaviest living reptile, reaching weights of over 880 lb and lengths of over 5.9 ft. A captive individual lived at least 170 years. If you have plans to visit the zoo, be sure to check these magnificent reptiles out.

I was unaware of Bunny Yeager until there was a show at The Warhol several years ago.  Quite the lady, one of the most popular “pin up models” in the 1950’s, she broke stereo types when she blazed the trail of a very successful photographer afterwards.  She was frequently the subject of her photo’s.  She would sew the costume for the shoot, set the props, point the camera with the settings she wanted and then have someone push the button!  She passed away Sunday after 85 active years.

The North Dakota Petroleum Council and the American Fuel and Petro-chemical Manufacturers released a study they funded that found that transporting their oil is “no more dangerous than SOME other cargoes”.  OK, so the likelihood of one of the cars carrying their crude is the same as some other crude burning your town down makes it OK?  Tell those 47 poor victims in Lac-Megantic, Quebec whose town was melted.  Or the other 7 significant accidents involving rail transport of crude.  As much as I would like the world to be fueled my fusion and solar power with butterflies flitting everywhere, I understand the realities of life doesn’t make that possible now.  Finally, some sense coming out of the oil industry.  Multimillionaire Harold Hamm, chairman of Oklahoma City based Continental Resources, Inc spoke at the expo Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismark “We can’t have any more issues”, he followed that with “It has to be done in an absolute safe manner.  It’s  going to take all of us.”  We wouldn’t need all this government regulation if industry did what is right, not just the most profitable.  If it costs some dollars to ensure pipelines don’t leak oil into our environment, so be it.  If it costs some dollars to keep another Lac-Megantic from occurring, so be it.  I bet not one of the oil executives lives next to a rail line that could derail and melt their mega mansion!

A new exhibit is opening at The Carnegie next month.  Faked, Forgotten, Found opens June 28 and it will give a new vantage point to art.  They will be highlighting behind the scenes look at what art curators do to ensure artwork is original, steps they take to determine that as well as steps they take to conserve art.  One of the items they chronicle is a 1750 painting of Isabella de Medici that had been painted over during the Victorian age to make it more appealing to that audience.  One of The Carnegie’s curators thought the painting was a fake, but when they investigated further they found the original painting underneath the added painting.

Monuments used to be statues on pedestals with some brief description.  Ever since Maya Lin designed the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC, the trend has been to list as many names as possible on many monuments of those that lost their lives.  The DC monument is very powerful and worthy remembrance for those that gave the ultimate sacrifice, but we don’t need to keep a model that was successful.  Our Korean War Memorial is of that sort here on the Northside.   Our memorials that take a more creative slant include the Holocaust Memorial in Squirrel Hill.  It took 17 years for the kids to collect the 6 million soda tabs they used to fill the 960 glass blocks that were used to build walls in the landscaped hillside.  Very low keyed, very powerful.  The Vietnam War Memorial, also on the Northshore uses a canopy covering statues of several vets retuning home.  The canopy was created to symbolize a hibiscus flower pod, an Asian symbol of rebirth and regeneration.  Our newest memorial, the World War II Memorial recently opened and the entrance is nicely positioned so it is aligned with an opening directly opposite framing our famous Point State Park fountain.  Also on the Northshore is a rather ugly (my opinion) of Mr. Rogers facing the city, this memorial really creatively used to old Manchester Bridge pier no one knew what to do with.  And there’s the humble Memorial for Fallen Police Officers also on the Northshore.

Have a great week,



It’s been a while, business has been unbelievable!  I was sold out for last night and a business traveler contacted me to cancel, his wife had a minor heart attack.  Two hours later I got a call from a gentleman looking for two nights!

Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the strongest earthquake of the 20th century in Chile (9.5 in 1960), Crater Lake was established as a National Park (1902), the Truman Doctrine was adopted by the US Senate (1947), Mr Rogers’ premiered (1967) and President Nixon became the first US President to visit Moscow (1972).  Birth anniversaries include physician and author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  (1859), American artist May Cassatt (1844), Laurence Olivier (1907) and jazz musician Sun Ra (1914).

Have you seen the eagles on the Eagle Cam lately?  Holy Cow, they’re little eagles.  So cute.  Not to take their thunder, but The Parador has a bit of an Eagle Cam:

photo 1

The next is in the Arborvitae outside Allamanda’s living room.  Dee to the picture.  RJ was outside yesterday and I saw several robins buzzing him and realized what had them all in a flutter.  He wasn’t really chasing the chick, he was just following the little guy with curiosity he never got too close, but I guess he was to close for mom.  I called him in the kitchen and everyone was happy.  🙂

We are continuing to work on our About Town pages, the next page will be local galleries and it should be live early next week.  My goal is to make the About Town a source not only suggestions for potential guests on things to do, I would love it to be known as “The Source” for things to do in Pittsburgh.  If you have a quirky, lesser known attraction in the area, please send me an e-mail or post a comment so I can include it.  If there’s a particular restaurant that you absolutely love and I don’t have it listed, please let me know about that as well.  I do have a nice selection of restaurants and there’s a lot of excellent ones out there that I don’t have listed.  I can’t include all the good restaurants, but if one really stands out with you, I’m looking for it.  🙂  You can see what I have by going to my website www.theparadorinn.com and clicking on the About Town Icon.

The latest in LED display is OLED named for Organic Light Emitting Diodes is being developed by PPG here in Pittsburgh.  OLEDs are said to combine the best attributes of plasma and LCD screens with none of their short comings.  OLED uses phosphorescent organic carbon compounds that are four times more energy efficient the metallic ones commonly used in LED lights.  They are still under development (for one thing, they’re having trouble with blues), but are already showing up in some products like Samsung’s Galaxy S5.

The steel industry is trying to reinvigorate the faltering steel can use in America.  They have hired “nutritionists” to tout the healthiness of canned food.  Canning, in and of itself, is a fine way to preserve food.  But the industry has insisted on over cooking, over salting and over sugaring their products.  Instead of trying to con the consumers into buying “healthy” canned food, why not put a push in for actual healthy options?

Lowe’s is partnering with Porch.com for the do-it-yourselfer.  It’s kind of like a virtual Yellow Book hyperblend LinkedIn, Pinterest and Angie’s List all in one, and it’s free (Look out Angie).  🙂  Right now it’s free for businesses (eventually I’m sure you will have to pay to have a prominent listing) and the businesses can list years in service, licenses, insurance even testimonials and pictures of work performed.  Porch.com is live and you can go there yourself for referrals if you are looking to get work done.

The 20th anniversary of The Warhol was this past weekend.  One of the new exhibits at The Warhol will be an exploration called Halston and Warhol Silver and Suede, a look at how they affected each other.  The Warhol intends to keep the festivities going on throughout the rest of the year.  More info at their website or by calling 412-237-8300.

Talk about being the step child of Western Pennsylvania, the land the politicians forgot, the Mon Valley.  The PA politicians are lauding the $788M 19 mile expansion of the Southern Beltway connecting I79 to I 376 out to the airport.  This will give the Marcellus companies at South Pointe easy access to carry suitcases of loot from the Western PA farm fields out of the state.  🙂  This WAY under utilized  highway is slated to carry 7,500 vehicles a day (the section of the Findlay corridor was slated to carry 12,000 vehicles and it just carries 3,750).  So I wonder how inflated the 7,500 number is.  To give you a comparison, the Parkway east carries 73,000 daily and the Parkway west carried 85,000 daily.  We have the Parkway west that services the western communities.  We have the Parkway east to cover the eastern communities and the Parkway north to service the northern communities.  We have nothing servicing the southern communities.  Well, I’m not being totally honest here, we do have the Mon Valley Expressway that runs from Morgantown to Jefferson Hills, but it doesn’t enter the city.  If the fathers of Pennsylvania want to do something to spur development in an area generally forgotten, complete the Mon Valley Expressway instead of making Mario Lemieux’s trip to the airport more convenient, why not give access to the Mon Valley?  They have the river for transport, they have the rail systems in place from our turn of the century industries.  There’s vast areas of former steel mill sites just waiting to be developed into new industries.  I70 does go through the Valley, but it doesn’t come up to Pittsburgh.  If I was the decision maker of a large corporation deciding where to invest millions of dollars to create a manufacturing center, I would want access to the major local city.  If it’s going to take over an hour to reach the banking, educational, medical and entertainment centers, I wouldn’t even consider the Valley.  As an added bonus, if they design the Expressway right, it could make a major improvement in traffic flow on what is currently a parking lot during rush hours around the Squirrel Hill Tunnels.  This is a obviously a sore spot with me.  I grew up on the fringes of the Valley, Finleyville.  I remember as a child going down to Monongahela and Charleroi  and their bustling business districts.  When I moved back to Pittsburgh to open The Parador Inn, I went down to Monessen to look at some equipment and was litterally shocked at the conditions of some of the towns down there.  I was speaking with a friend that works down there and he told me I should take a trip down to see what’s going on down in The Valley now days.  He pointed out the Charleroi has quite a bit going on with some recent developments and more on the books with the borough management, code enforcement, business owners and the public all actually getting along and working together to make things happen.  He pointed out the Pyrex is celebrating 100 years in Charleroi and that Charleroi has one of the largest National Historic Districts in Pennsylvania.  He says there’s really a lot of energy and great new dining going on down there.  I’m thinking it may be time for a road trip.  🙂  I still think they should finish the Mon Valley Expressway before continuing on with the Southern Beltway.

There’s a couple of cool groups emerging around The City, one is City of Play.  Another is We Are Here.  Both are focused on finding what Norm Peterson referred to as his “third place” in Cheers.  In case you’re not a follower of Cheers, his first place was home, his second place was work and the third place he felt at home was Cheers.  Both groups offer biking and walking tours to introduce residents to places they drive past and would not normally be exposed to.  In addition to the “normal list of suspects” like local coffee houses Coffee Tree, Crazy Mocha and The Bee Hive, they frequent little mom and pop grocery stores with a couple of chairs around a Coke machine.  We have been chosen to host the 2014 Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place conference September 8 to 11, the premier gathering of walking and bicycling professionals in North America and We Are Here has been invited to speak at the conference.  They have events scheduled though out the year, particularly in September.  Check out their website or call 412-460-7429 for more info.

For those of you that use the Parkway West from Downtown, be prepared for a major nightmare this fall.  They had to do some emergency repairs in March to support the sagging ceiling and were planning on strengthening it more this fall, but decide since the ceiling is n longer needed mechanically and they were planning on eventually removing it anyway, why not just do it now.  So it looks like the will close all in bound and out bound tunnels for several weekends starting this fall.  Luckily for me, I seldom go out there on the weekends, any errands I do to Robinson is normally weekdays.  But I can only imagine the nightmare traffic this will cause.

There’s Hollywood, Bollywood, what are they going to call Pittsburghwood?  They just finished shooting the Russell Crow movie Farthers and Daughters and next month they’re going to stat filming Southpaw staring Jake Gyllenhaal as a boxer that fights his way to the The casting call will be Saturday from 10 am until 3 pm at the Inidana Mall, 2334 Oakland Avenue, Indiana, PA.

Have a great one,



Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the Astor Place Riot (1849), the Golden Spike Driving commemorating the meeting of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads (1869), Nelson Mandela’s inauguration (1994) and it is Lag B’Omer the Jewish feast of harvest.  Birth anniversaries include dance/entertainer Fred Astaire (1899), Declaration of Independence signer George Ross (1730), entertainer Maybelle Carter (1909) and Protestant theologian Karl Barth (1886).

I had a virus in my computer and I couldn’t upload pictures in my last post, I really wanted to post a picture of our new banner.  This is the picture of the banner hung by The Parador to cheer on the Pittsburgh Marathon runners:


Here’s a twist on the recession we’re still in, more and more adults 50 – 64 years old are moving pack in with their parents.  And this is not to help their elderly parents get along, it’s a financial decision based on lack of income to support themselves.  In fact, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, from 2005 through 2012 the number of adults in that age bracket that moved back in with their parents jumped 67.6% in California.  Though there’s more 18 – 29 year olds living with their parents, the older adults are particularly shocking.  That’s the point of life where you should be saving for your retirement and living comfortably.  Job loss, under employment  and sky rocketing rents are the main drivers.

There’s a small, but growing trend with some large businesses, helping out and mentoring small businesses.  Macy’s has The Workshop Macy’s, a training program for women and minority entrepreneurs in how to get their products into major retail stores.  It’s not just altruistic, it exposes Macy’s to some of the newest trends, gives them first dips on their products and is great PR.  Prophet, a brand and marketing company mentors small businesses on creating a presence in the market place and exposes Prophet to the small business’s customer base.  Goldman and Sachs is even getting in on the band wagon with their 10,000 Small Businesses program that hold training classes for new entrepreneurs.  If your thinking of starting a business, or recently did, there’s a ton of mentoring programs out there to help you.  When I opened The Parador of the Palm Beaches, I hooked up with the TED Center in Delray Beach that has retired professionals that donate their time to help fledgling businesses and they were a great help.

I think I talked about Evan Mirapaul up in Troy Hill in the past, but can’t find the post.  Evan is an art adviser that purchased a home on Troy Hill while relocating from Manhattan.  There was a vacant building the city owned that he acquired down the street and he brought German artist Thorsten Brinkmann to create Pittsburgh’s first Art House which he opened last fall.  It’s kind of like the Mattress Factory, where the “room” is the piece of art, or more precisely the “house” is the piece of art.  It is a series of dimly lit rooms, tiny hallways, secret crawlspaces (you can even crawl through a mantel that takes you deeper into the house.  The house at 1812 Rialto Street is called La Hutte Royal and is open by appointment when you e-mail lahutteroyal@gmail.com.  Evan is already creating a second Art House on Rialto Street that he’s commissioned Polish artist Robert Kusmirowski to create.  Evan would like to make a series of these houses all within walking distance.

I love John Conti of the Tribune Review.  He again hits the nail on the head with his latest article on the Terminal Building.  There was so much controversy over the Evil Empire Buncher Group’s plan to demolish 1/3 of the iconic building for easy access to their boring development plans for Riverfront Landing.  When new Mayor Peduto took office, he called for the city to re-look at the proposals.  There’s now three outside proposals for the Terminal Building, all keeping the length intact with one or two pass throughs leaving the roof line in place.  This at least keeps the the presence of the long iconic building.  John takes Buncher to task for their lack of creativity, poor set backs, ill conceived river front access, etc.  It’s worth the minute to hit the link and read his entire article.

Speaking of questionable business companies, Giant Eagle again got caught with their underhanded tricks.  (If you remember a couple of years ago they got caught telling Schweppes to with draw their bid for the closed La Nature Bottling plant or they would stop carrying Schweppes products in their stores.)  The latest is the uproar some Upper Saint Clair residents have caused over the new shopping complex across from South Hill’s Village (with a Market District in an adjacent strip mall).  Resident Margaret Witner has attended township meetings vocally opposing the development and even hired attorney to fight the development.  Witner has never spoken at these meetings or in public about her opposition, she always speaks through her attorneys and guess who’s paying the attorney fees?  Giant Eagle!  When asked about it, Giant Eagle said it offers help to residents who ” exercise their constitutional rights” to oppose such developments”.  I wonder if Giant Eagle will fund my attorney fees to fight the slum load trying to create a 17 unit hostel across the street from me?  To make matters worse, they are recorded as saying it would do “whatever it could to prevent Whole Foods from locating it’s store at the Washington Road property”.  What arrogance!

On a happier note, the Brighton Heights 10th annual Chocolate House Tour will be held Sunday, June 8 from 1 pm until 5 pm.  (No, silly, they don’t have chocolate houses in Brighton Heights, they have local chocolate in the various house for sampling).  🙂  Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 the day of the tour.  More info on the tour and online ticket purchases at their website or by calling 412-734-0233.

In a perfect world, we would have unlimited clean energy from fusion power plants and renewable sources, unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world so we need to compromise.  This explosion in various fossil fuel extraction in the United States really needs to be addressed carefully.  (Pun intended). 🙂  Shipments of oil by rail  car went from 9,500 cars in 2008 to 400,000 last year!  These cars travel anywhere the railroads want to route them, even through densely populated cities.  Not to minimize the catastrophe that leveled the entire town of Lac-Megantic Quebec killing 47 residents, but what would be the consequences of another accident through the Southside?  The rail companies seem to be willing to upgrade the cars carrying the various products of drilling, but want a concrete answer from the Federal government on what the new standards will be.  The Federal government responds that they want to set the standards that are appropriate and safe and this takes time.  They are both valid points, but they should have been addressed several years ago.  Although not as sensational as melting an entire town, these pipelines that are carrying all this dangerous products needs a comprehensive solution.  Exxon’s pipeline leak under Yellowstone River lasted for days before it was noticed.  I’m not an engineer, but we need to develop solutions and add the cost to the energy production.  What good will saving $10 on your heating bill if you can’t drink your water or you happen to get melted standing next to a railroad?

Did you know the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins and Power teams all have their uniforms made locally?  Pro Knitwear in Brookline is a little company with 35 employees that hand sew names, logo’s, numbers, etc.  They also customize the fit if needed to the jerseys supplied by the various sports teams.  Like Ben Roethlisberger likes loose sleeves and Casey Hampton liked form fitting jerseys so opponents couldn’t get a hand full.  🙂

The trees are turning green, the grass is growing, I’m happy,



Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla (Cinco de Mayo) (1862), the Battle of the Wilderness (1864-the first battle between Generals Grant and Lee), the AMA was founded (1847), the liberation of Denmark and Netherlands (1945) and the first solo female flight between England and Australia by Amy Johnson (1930).  Birth anniversaries include actor Tyrone Power (1913), socialist Karl Marx (1818), journalist Nellie Bly (1867) and culinarian James Beard (1903).

There’s a new trail in the planning stages for 41 miles along the Ohio River from the Coraopolis-Neville Island bridge all the way to the Ohio boarder.  This trail, when completed, will join with the Allegheny Passage and the Great Ohio Lake-to-River Greenway.  The first section will be from the Neville Island Bridge to the Sewickley Bridge.  The plan includes turning some “brown fields” into usable spaces with possible boat houses, multifamily housing and other uses.  The proposed trail can be seen on the article in the Trib.

Venture Outdoors is having their Outdoors Fest at Point State Park on May 17 from 11 am until 6 pm.  They plan on boating, fishing, rock wall climbing, a kids zone, dragon boating, River Quest (the educational boat I spoke about last post) will be there, capoeira (a Brazilian martial arts) will be demonstrated and much more.  See their website for more details and links explaining the various events.

Also on May 17 & 18, the Warhol Museum is going to host their 20th anniversary gala and community day.  More info on their website  or by calling 412-237-8300.

On May 22, The Wailers will perform at State AE with Rusted Root, definitely a concert for me.  🙂

Pyrofest will be returning to Hartwood Acres on May 24.  It’s billed as America’s largest fireworks festival.  They are planning a US Military Salute & National Anthem Daytime Display,  Daytime & Colored Smoke Fireworks, Pyro UFO Launch, “Fantasy in the Sky” Fireworks Challenge (Choreography designed by an aspiring fireworks choreographer and chosen by PyroFest judges to kick off the night-time displays), Direct from Spain world-renowned award winning Ricardo Caballer Ricasa Fireworks Production and  World Premiere of a Never Before Seen Pyrotecnico Production!  For you fireworks aficionados, this is the event to attend.

And for my “cute” post, here’s Tiny Hamsters Eating Tiny Burritos.

There’s a new bus tour in Pittsburgh, Lights, Camera, Pittsburgh will start May 31 and run through October.  These bus tours will go to site locations of movies filmed in Pittsburgh.  Movies being featured will be locations for Flashdance, Striking Distance, Inspector Gadget, Wonder Boys, The Bread, My Sweet, She’s Out of My League, The Dark Knight Rises, Jack Reacher, Foxcatcher and of course Night of the  Living Dead.  Tickets are $30 and $40 and can be purchased at ShowClix.  The bus tours do stop at the various locations and you can get off and scout the area out.  The tours are being put together with Yellow Cab’s new Pittsburgh Tours and More in conjunction with Pittsburgh Film Makers.  Snacks will be provided and film clips of the movies will be shown.


Steve Mendelson, name sake of Mendelson Galleries is celebrating 40 years as an artist and gallery owner.  He’s been at the current location for the past 30 years after buying a former brothel at an IRS auction.  After extensive renovations, Steve has hosted numerous known and yet to be known artists in his gallery.  In the course of time, he has become friends with many that went on to become world famous.  His current show will feature many of these artist/friends like Not Vital, Jane Katsales, Emily Lukas and David Lewis.  The gallery is open Wednesdays through Saturdays noon until 5 pm and the show runs through May 31.  More info a the website or by calling 412-361-8664.

Last year, there were 23,000 boat registrations sold in Allegheny County.  That’s a lot of boats!  The local Coast Guard Axillary is offering free boat inspections to be sure you’re operating a safe boat.  Obviously not mandatory, but a good idea to let them check you out to be sure you’re safe.  And you get a sticker for your boat saying that you passed the inspection.  The first one will be May 17 at Cabela’s at One Cabela Drive in Triadelphia, WV, the next will be May 24 at Loyalhanna Lake, then May 31 at the Pittsburgh Aquatic Club 517 Twin Oak Drive, Neville Island, June 22 they will be at Point State Park and finally June 26 back at the Aquatic Club on Neville Island.  All events are from 10 am until 4 pm.   It’s always better to be safe than sorry.  More info by e-mailing normarbels@gmail.com.

Michael Warhold, president of Castle Shannon’s Revitalization Committee saw an idea in Leechburg honoring past and current Vets that caught his attention.  He teamed up with Harry Munson, owner of HTM Designs to develop the program that posts pictures and a very brief bio on local vets that hang on utility poles in the community.  Originally the banners were placed in Castle Shannon’s Memorial Park, but the idea was so popular that they have spread to Library Road (where I first saw them) and the business district.  There are plans in South Park, Whitehall, Carnegie and Scott to copy the plan.

Celebrate Spring next weekend by going to Phipps 78th annual May mart Friday and Saturday.  Besides Phipps, 55 other nurseries, farms and other vendors will be set up on the lawn selling plants, garden accessories, pottery, jewelry and more like free advise.  🙂  Friday hours are from 9:30 am until 7 pm and Saturday hours will be 9:30 am until 5 pm.   And Phipps will be offering 1/2 price admission during the Mart.  More info at their website or by calling 412-622-6914.  As a side note, their Summer Flower Show starts that Saturday.

This post is for my good friend, Jeff Trebac, the owner of Peppi’s, the best cheese steaks in the city.  The Justice League will be a feature film set to release in 2018.  Warner Brother’s president of production, Greg Silverman wouldn’t disclose many details, but hinted that Henry Cavill may return as Superman, Ben Affleck as Batman and Cal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

The August Wilson Center for African American Culture has been in the news quite a bit since they defaulted on the mortgage and insurance.  Tax payers and foundations have already ponied up $30M for this $40M center that’s $9M in debt.  If you’ve read any of my blogs, you know I am no big fan of banks, basically I think most are evil incarnate.  But a deal is a deal, I pay my mortgage monthly (although I love my bank, Slovak Savings Bank). Dollar Bank, holds the $3M mortgage and there’s other creditors including the Stage Hands Union, contractors, etc.  The best anyone has come up with so far is a $4M offer from a consortium of local foundations.  #1, that leaves a lot of people stuck without getting what they are owed, big and small.  #2, it still has the same problems that put the Center in this position.  A real estate company out of New York has offered $9M to take ownership of the building.  Their stated intent is to let the Center continue on the first floor while they put a hotel above it.  In my opinion, this could be the best of both worlds.   The devil is in the details, but if someone with some brains guides this option through, what a great deal.  The Center can continue, they don’t have to worry about digging themselves out of this massive debt and (again the devil’s in the details), the Center can focus on the arts, which is what they were created for.  As a bonus, the property goes back on the tax roles (probably pro rated for the Center’s space being tax exempt), a new hotel will grace the city that will be paying the county bed tax and other operational taxes.

I am unable to upload a picture of the banner I hung for the runners in the Pittsburgh Marathon that ran past The Parador this morning.  It’s super cool and I saw many of the runners looking at it as they ran past.  I will post it on my next blog.

Enjoy this spring weather,




Tomorrow is the anniversary of the zipper being patented (1913), the liberation of Dachau (1945) {I visited Dachau several times while in the army and will never forget the chilling photographs in particular), the Los Angeles riots (1992) and the Peace Rose was introduced (1945).  Birth anniversaries include jazz great “Duke” Ellington (1899), media magnate William Randolph Hearst (1863), Japanese emperor Hirohito Michi-no-Miya (1901) and race car driver Dale Earnhardt (1952).

My friend Myra from The Stone Manse is familiar with the fold we have done here for a number of years with our toilet paper fold:


in sent me a link to a book on origami toilet paper folds.  I gave the book to Dee, and in case you don’t follow The Parador on Facebook, here’s some of her new folds:

The Sail Boat


The Marquis:


The Montecito:


The Heart:


She even came up with a creation not in the book, I call this one The Dee:  🙂




The annual Lawrenceville Historical Society spring walking tour will be next Sunday (May 4) and the following Sunday (May 11) starts at 1 pm on the corner of Butler Street and Stanton Avenue.  This is a free guided tour and reservations are not required.  More info at their website.

The Monongahela River has passed another land mark.  The state Department of Environmental Protection says the sulfate contamination dropped enough to recommend removing it from it’s “impaired” list. The sulfur content (mainly from mine run off) has dropped to 250 mg per liter, a significant improvement.  The sulfur content still needs to come down and there’s other contaminates of concern, but it’s another step in the right direction as noted by our eagles making Hays their home.  The chicks are certainly getting bigger.  I still wouldn’t drink directly from the water though.  🙂

The Brownsville Drive-In Theater was named the 10th and last drive-in to receive Honda’s Project Drive-In promotion.  They will be receiving a grant to help up-grade their projection system to the new format.  They are still fund raising to cover the rest of the costs of upgrading the property.  It costs roughly $75,000 just for the projection equipment.  I’m glad to see some of these iconic venues are being saved for the future.

Electrified is a new work at the Wood Street Galleries through June 22.  Taking a page out of Nikola Tesla’s work, Dutch artist Edwin van der Heide has 80 identical spark bridges spanning a grid hanging from the ceiling where sparks arc from one node to another, the display is enhanced by motion detectors that customize the firings by the observer’s movements.  They are meant to mimic our neurons firing in our nervous system. Montreal artist Alexandre Burton has a series of of Tesla coils encased in glass (for safety) that fire based on the observer’s proximity to each coil.  A real “hair raising” experience.  🙂  More info on this free exhibit is at their websites or by calling 412-471-5605.

Back in the day, the Missouri River went where it wanted.  Before the Army Corps of Engineers told the river where to be, this shallow waterway moved across the flat landscape of the parts of the country it flowed.  Pittsburgh had a healthy ship building industry up until the late Victorian age.  One of the steamboats built on the banks of the Monongahela River was the Arabia and it sank in the Missouri River in 1856.  There river changed course, changed course and changed course many more times.  Although it was known to have sunk in the area, it was never found until 1988 under a cornfield.  They excavated the boat and it’s a major attraction in Missouri with tons of relics that were preserved because they were encased in water all those years because of the high water table.  The boat was carrying supplies for settlers out west and they found nails, stoves, shoes and even pickles that were still edible.  The Heinz History Center has arranged with their Kansas City, MO counterparts to create on of the largest shows ever at the History Center, the exhibit is 8,000 square feet.  The exhibit is included in the History Center’s normal admission and is available for viewing during their normal hours of operation.  That can all be found at their website or by calling 412-454-6000.

Animal Friends has come up with a new program for cats that are pretty much anti-social and unadoptable. They are called the Working Cats.  They take these cats, treat them however is needed, neuter them and put them up for adoption for vermin control like at farms, etc.  These cats are  actually feral, but not the warm and cuddly cats you’d want to give to a grandparent for comfort.  🙂  Left on their own, they can become “friends” with their “owners”, but on more restricted terms, theirs.  More info on the programs can be found at Alley Cat Allies or the ASPCA.

They’re working on making the South Park Fairgrounds viable for it’s new life.  I remember when it was an actual fairgrounds, I got my first Heinz pickle there.  🙂  They haven’t had a fair there in years and really just let it sit there with no real maintenance in probably forty years.  Some of the buildings they’ve rented out over the years to some small businesses and the main hall down at the bottom would occasionally host some smaller festivals and things, but basically everything’s been falling apart.  They’re going to raze the old out buildings that are beyond saving and shore up the others.  The main focus the the parade field.  They are going to remove the crumbling paved track and replace it with a hard pack for jogging and walking.  They are removing the old bleachers (leaving the stairs for access) and planting native plants for low maintenance and visual appeal.  They will re-align the ball fields on the parade field itself with more intimate bleachers so you can actually see the people playing baseball, etc.  The sides of the rest of the hollow they plan on planting native plants there as well.  All and all I think it’s a great concept and not some expensive redesign as some where advocating.

I had guests last week that came here to visit Point Park University for possibly enrolling their daughter (showing my roots, I said something about Point Park College and they said “We thought it was a university”. Oops, it’s all grown up now.)  🙂  It certainly has “grown up”, just six years into their Urban Village vision, they have really transformed that area of Downtown around the Blvd of the Allies and Wood Street.  I don’t know where they get their money, Downtown properties aren’t cheap, but they have continued to acquire more and more buildings and convert them to their educational mission.  And a nice thing about Point Park is they try and keep their eye on preservation as well as new use.  Aurthur Ziegler of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks has commended them.  They’ve also added some very nice amenities like that park on the corner of the Blvd and Wood Street.  I was surprised when I heard they were adding student housing, that is such a nice breath of fresh air, seeing students walking around not just during the day, but in the evening as well since they live there.  They went for a resident population of just 350 a decade ago to 958 this past fall.  Add to that all the residential   construction Downtown, it’s no longer the ghost town it’s been for so long.  The next step will be for businesses to start moving in to cater to the needs/wants of close to a 1,000 students.  They also bought those buildings on Fourth Avenue a year ago around (and including) the Honus Wagner sports store to bring their Pittsburgh Playhouse down from Oakland (and the 40,000 non-student patrons) as well as create a student center there.

Enjoy this wonderful spring weather we have been having, it looks like April showers are starting soon, I’m OK with that as long as it’s no longer cold.