Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the discovery of the Aztec Calendar Stone (1790), A Christmas Carol was published (1843), the Clean Air Act was passed (1967), TBS was launched (1976), the Wright Brothers first mechanized flight (1903) and it’s Saturnalia the beginning of of the Ancient Roman festival honoring Saturnus, the god of agriculture. Birth anniversaries include indentured servant that dressed as a man so she could fight in the American Revolution (1760), American educator, atomic scientist, chemist Willard Libby (1908), South American revolutionary Simon Bolivar (1830), signer of the Declaration of Independence William Floyd and adult magazine publisher Bob Guccione (1930).
The National Aviary has a webcam set up to watch Bette & Sidney’s eggs hatch. They just hatched and you can tune in anytime the next couple of weeks and watch them grow. Last year’s baby penguins were cute to watch.
I love the Darwin Awards, I will periodically go to their site to see how dumb some people are. For example there’s the terrorist that mailed a bomb and it was returned as undeliverable because of postage and he had then opened it. There’s the thief that was unbolting the clamp in an elevator he was standing in, yes, he died also. Then there was the guy using an electric sander to “pleasure himself” and he lost a testicle. He got honorable mention for then using a staple gun to save the other testicle from falling out as well. He didn’t get a Darwin Award because he survived, but they did give him an honorable mention. You see you have to actually die in your act of stupidity to qualify for a Darwin Award (or end up sterilized do to your action), otherwise your DNA could still end up in the gene pool. I hate adding this postscript but 88.7 Darwin recipients are male, honest I’ve never even come close to receiving one.
Pittsburgh’s nonprofit Brother’s Brother, received a 100% rating by Forbes Magazine for fundraising, efficiency and charitable commitment. They’re little guys ($234M) compared to the only other non-profit to receive the 100% rating, Task Force for Global Health ($1.6B) headquartered in Georgia. Every year Brother’s Brother are on the top of the pile of nonprofits getting nationally recognized for their good works and true commitment to their cause. They are in a small industrial area of my neighborhood and if you didn’t walk down to where they are, you’d never know they are here. Such low keyed people. The first time I donated to them I think was after the devastating earthquake in Haiti. I walked down to their offices with a check and it was so unpretentious (less than 1% of the money they raise goes to administrative expenses). Very dated furniture and “art” on the walls. ALL their money goes to help the less fortunate. Luke Hingson is their current president and son of the founder Doctor Robert Hingson who founded Brother’s Brother in the late 1950’s.
Looking for those last minute gifts with a Pittsburgh taste? I spoke about Primanti Brothers a post or so ago. Their party pack comes with all you need for four of their sandwiches and a limited edited Primanti Brothers T-shirt for $109, shipping included. Mineo’s Pizza suffered a pretty dramatic fire a couple of months ago at their production site in Robinson, but they are back up and running. Besides their pizza shops, the plant in Robinson makes pizza and freezes if for sale at local retail locations as well as shipment. Prices start at $30 plus shipping. From PennMac, you can order an Isaly’s gift box complete with two 1 pound packages of their chipped chopped ham and their famous BBQ Sauce as well as 2 dozen pierogis from Pierogi Plus for $32.85 plus shipping. Prantl’s Burnt Almond Torte can be ordered for $49 from Prantl’s.
Staying with the dining theme, but not edible, a few suggestions are over sized Heinz pickle or ketchup tree ornaments for $15 are available at the Heinz History Center. Mr. D’s handmade plush pierogis are available at the History Center gift shop as are Sarris chocolate covered pickles that are edible. Pint and tumbler glassware with a map of Pittsburgh are also available in the History Center Gift shop for $15 and $12 respectively. River’s of Steel National Heritage Site is offering their T-shirts for $15 that supports the non-profit. The House of the Dead are offering their Brainz T-Shirt for $22, either at their store in Lawrenceville or you can order on-line. A necklace in the shape of the City cut from cedar with the individual neighborhoods etched into it can be had for $29 on a brass chain at WildCard in Lawrenceville. Landscapes and landmarks with a colorful comic interpretation can be ordered from Mario Zucca for $30 unframed. A framed limited print recreating the Pittsburgh trolley routes from the 1950’s can ordered at Arrived Art or at Who Knew in Lawrenceville for $349. Nicole Aquillano has designed ceramic bowls, platters and cups with Pittsburgh iconic buildings & bridges as well as quirky images like the Acme Banana Company. They run from $20 to $350 either at her website or Society for Contemporary Crafts in the Strip. WQED’s Rick Sebak has 37 DVD’s of specials run on the station for $19.95 at WQED’s website. Rick has had specials on all things Pittsburgh and if you’re looking for a DVD, one should appeal to you. a wooden Mr Roger’s Neighborhood Trolley is available at Fred Roger’s headquarters or at Visit Pittsburgh’s gift shop in Fifth Avenue Place Downtown for $60. You can find a plush of Duke the Incline at the Duquesne Incline gift shop on top of the incline for $10. Northside is not only famous for The Parador Inn, Wolverine Mechanical Toys was here for years. Though they’ve been out of business for awhile, their toys are collectors items and if you’re lucky enough to have one, you can find the story behind it and it’s current worth with a book about the famous company for $49.95. One of my favorite gifts is a duel purpose No Parking Chairs that you can use as extra seating of saving that special parking spot in front of your house. They come in gold and black or black and gold for $35 at Commonwealth Press on the Southside. Wild Card carries Over Three Rivers and Through the Woods greeting cards and Commonwealth Press carries Yinzer greeting cards. Finally, to wrap things up, you can get Pittsburgh themed wrapping paper at the Heinz History Center gift shop.
There’s a huge show out at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside that runs through February 1. It includes three of their Guilds, The Craftsman’s Guild, the Fiber Arts Guild and the Women of Visions. The exhibits are completely filling both floors. The Craftsman’s show features 46 pieces by 33 members and includes a rich use of various materials, fabric, handmade paper, glass, clay, wood and collage and many different uses and adaptations of them. Fiber Arts has 57 works using all kinds of fibers and unique uses of them. Women of Visions pieces inspired by traditional and non-traditional art inspired by their African heritage. Many different colors, textures, uses of the various mediums makes this show a feast for the eyes (and mind). More info at their websites.
Wednesday, December 17 Pittsburgh Tours and More will give guided tours of both the First Presbyterian Church and Trinity Cathedral Downtown. The Presbyterian Church will offer a light brunch at their Daily Bread Cafe and Trinity will host a small organ recital. The tour guides will give details and history of the iconic houses of worship that has influenced Pittsburgh since Victorian times. In addition to the tour guides, representatives of both churches will be on hand to answer questions and give more details. Tours start at Nicholas Coffee at Market Square around 10 am and end at PPG Winter Garden around 1 pm. They will stop at the Creche at US Steel plaza. There is a charge for these tours, but I was unable to find the price. Pittsburgh Tours and More host many different kinds of tours throughout the year, it’s a good idea to bookmark their site to periodically see what they’re promoting.
Socially conscious businesses are a growing phenomenon, Thread headquartered in East Liberty is one. In 2010, Ian Rosenberger went to Haiti to photograph the impact of Hurricane Sandy and saw the poverty in the country (and all the garbage strewn around). He came up with the idea of hiring locals to collect recyclable bottles and ship them to America to be processed into fibers for clothing. Founded Thread in 2011 and in 2012 the collected 200,000 pounds of plastic and last year he had 660,000 pounds collected and shipped to America. Between Haiti and Honduras, they have collected 3.5M pounds of plastics! The break the bottles down into flakes, melts them and spins them into thread (hence the name). The unique thing about Thread is you can track the process from the collection of the plastics through manufacturing. And this isn’t a charity based organization. It’s a business that makes money while empowering many folks in impoverished countries. They are anticipating $19.8M in revenue next year already. Quite the start-up.
Well, that’s it for today, be good and enjoy,