Hi,

Tomorrow is the anniversary of Thomas Edison’s Black Maria Studio (the first motion picture studio) (1893), the first car insurance was issued (1898), the first session of the Supreme Court (1790), GI Joe was introduced (1964), Late Night with David Letterman premiered (1982), General Electric Theater premiered (1953), Geensboro’s Sit-in (1960) and the space shuttle Columbia disaster (2003).  Birth anniversaries include actor Clark Gable (1901), flim director John Ford (1895), African American poet & author Langston Hughes (1902) and Russian president Boris Jeltsin (1931).

The Haslett House Bed and Breakfast finally got their CO and are open for business.  They are a log cabin in Old Economy, 16 miles north west of me.  As I hear the horror stories of Inns trying to open, I wonder why anyone would be crazy enough to start a bed and breakfast.  When I look back on my battles with the city, they almost seem minor compared to what Dennis did trying to open The Haslett House or what Justin is still doing trying to open The Allegheny Inn.  I know Justin has been fighting bureaucracy for at least two years trying to open.  I’m hearing Justin should be getting his CO within about a month.

First off, I wasn’t too excited in the beginning of January when I got my gas bill.  December 2014 my bill was $1,347 and my bill for December 2015 was $387.  December 2015 was much warmer than December 2014.  Now January 2015 vs January 2016 was pretty much equally cold.  January 2015, my gas bill was $1,459 and January 2016 the bill is $746!  The new windows are doing the trick.  Several January’s were close to or just over $2,000 in the past.

Originally built as The First Immanuel Evangelical Church, Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center is located at 1000 Madison Avenue in the Deutschtown area of the Northside.  Built in 1889 it has been transformed into an art center and event center.  They have two spaces for rent, the chapel on the second floor and the gallery on the main floor.  The current exhibit in the gallery is work by New Zealand resident artist Fiona Amundsen called Like a Body Without Skin based on photographs by German photographers Hilla & Bernd Becher who photographed several Pittsburgh blast furnaces.  Who published a book by the same name in the 1980’s.  The exhibit is free and runs through March 31.  Neu Church is open Monday through Friday 10 am till 6 pm.

Dinner Lab contacted me last week, they wanted to host one of their dinners in my Ballroom.  But they were anticipating 120 guests, I can fit 100.  So I had to decline.  In case you aren’t familiar with Dinner Lab, it’s something like the white dinners.  Twenty five years ago Francois Pasquier hosted the first Diner en Blanc in Paris.  He invited some friends to a dinner at a secret location.  And some of the friends were bringing friends, so he asked everyone to wear all white so guests could identify each other.  And the trend started.  It’s a fun pop up kind of an event. Pittsburgh is just starting Diner en Blanc an Dinner Labs.

James Simon loves his art in a big way.  His medium is usually clay and cement.  He just completed a 16 foot tall woman playing bass, two six foot dogs, two nine foot dancers and a large jukebox for Perry Harvey Park in Tampa.  He’s the artist that did the clay musicians in the 900 block of Liberty Avenue.  Obviously, he cranks out some remarkable pieces in his uptown studio.

I just came back from St Pete, Savannah & Charleston.  I drove down to Tampa with my friend Jeff that co-owns the Inn on the Mexican War Streets.  Karl and he are building this colossal lodge in West Virginia, it will be the third largest residence in the state (the governor’s mansion is larger and #2 is just slightly bigger).  They had to cut a road in to reach the top of the mountain:

P1000908

And here’s the view from the main level:

view from main floor front window

And here’s the view from the end of the above field towards the lodge:

front from a distance

Here’s a view of the unfinished main floor:

main floor towards welcome area

They’re thinking of getting out of daily Innkeeping and just doing corporate retreats, etc.  Quite the undertaking.

Tomorrow is Ground Hog Day, Punxsutawney Phil, lets hope he doesn’t see his shadow.  The House at the End of the Road, was a bed and breakfast close by and they had all kinds of stories about the crowds that come up for the festivities.  They closed the Inn so they could travel and enjoy their grand kids, etc.

The William Penn Hotel opened March 9, 1916, so their 100 anniversary is about a month away.  What a grand building.  I worked there in the 1990’s.  Servico owned the building back then and money was scarce.  Don Berger, my boss and still good friend, had made all the ornaments that decorated their lobby Christmas tree back then.  He had made them several years before I started and it was mass production repairing them each fall so everything was ready to decorate.  It was pretty fun (and funny).  In the late 1920’s they created an addition facing Grant Street which brought the number of rooms to 1,600.  That is the reason the sides do not match and you frequently have to go up or down stairs to go from one place to another.  They were very small rooms, but state of the art at the time with a unique amenity at the time, private baths.  When Alcoa bought it in the 1960’s and did their renovations, the dropped the number down to just under 600 rooms and suites.  If you’ve never seen the ballrooms, you really should go up at some point and see the grand ballroom (which is cool) and the Urban Room an amazing Art Deco styled ballroom adjoining the grand ballroom.  During prohibition, they had a speak easy tucked away under the stairs which has recently re-opened.

That’s it for today, enjoy this great weather while we have it.  I was able to hose accumulate winter grime off all three porches today,

ed

Hi,

Tomorrow is Nepal’s National Unity Day, Morocco’s Independence Day, the US Surgeon declared cigarettes are a hazard (1964) and the designated hitter rule was adopted (1973).  author of The Federalist Papers Alexander Hamilton (1755), Puerto Rican patriot Eugenio Maria Hostos (1839) an founder of National Woman’s Party Alice Paul (885).

Of 50 states, Pennsylvania is #5 for organic farms, behind California, Wisconsin, New York and Washington.  We are #1 for organic mushrooms, #2 for organic eggs, #3 for organic turkey production and #6 for organic Dairy production  Sarver Farms in Hempfield, Westmoreland County which started in 1979was credited as being organic in the 1990’s.  It produces 30 tons of organic vegetables on 20 acres.  Rondale Institute in Kutztown, Berks County was founded in 1972 on a 333 acre farm is widely recognized as as shepherding the modern organic farming movement.  Farmers from around the world look to the institutre for evidence-based data to advance their work.

There’s a new tiny house in Garfield and they are having an open house January 31 from 1pm until 4 pm at 200 block of North Atlantic Avenue.  It is a 350  sq foot house.

The Audubon Society has the web cam working on the eagle nest in Harmar.  This was quite the challenge, if the nest is where I believe it it.  It’s on a very steep and remote hillside.  They just got the web cam up and running and I was just there and seems to be no feed yet.

Speaking of birds, The National Aviary is rolling out their new free flight show featuring a palm nut vulture named Severus, a year old burrowing owl (so small and cute) named Attie and a seven year old noisy kookaburra from Australia.  I’m assuming these three new guys are in addition to the traditional raptors that star in the show.

The judge finally ruled in favor of the owner of the camera that Naruto sagged and took a selfie of himself. In case you missed it, a British tourist left his camera sitting around unattended and Naruto took a selfie of himself.  PETA has sued  claiming the macaque monkey owned the copy rights to the image.  It’s such a cute image.  Follow the link to see him.

I think we should have an open and frank discussion on immigration and gun control, not necessarily directly related subjects.  We don’t get anywhere clouding the facts with spin and emotions.  I was in a discussion with someone recntly about assault rifles and was told they just look like military automatic machine guns, they are in fact automatic machine guns.  See what Wikipedia has to say. There is no need for a machine gun to hunt deer in the woods and a hand gun works just fine in defending your home.  And extend ammunition clips are not needed for these purposes either.  How many innocent American citizens need to die before we act?  Sandy Hook is the one most prominent in my mind, if that nut case had to fire individual rounds, someone could have taken him down, before we lost all those kids.  With the increasing threat of homegrown terrorists, we need to get these tools of mass destruction off the streets.  And we need back ground checks, again Sandy Hook comes to mind with his history of mental illness.  If his mother’s not smart enough to keep weapons out of his reach, the back ground check should have done the job.  I like what France is proposing, expelling anyone with dual citizenship convicted of a terrorist crime.  An ISIS affiliated emigrant would have at least second thoughts if he/she knew not only were they risking their lives, but if they’re not killed, they would be returned to that hell hole Syria.  Yes, there was a number of people seeking asylum in Germany New Years Eve that took part in that disturbance in Cologne.  I say they should also face deportation, they’re not even citizens yet.  Again I bet they would think twice before acting as criminals.  I’m not condoning what occurred in Cologne, but where were the police?  We are a nation of laws and if you don’t like our laws, we’ll send you back to the impoverished failed states you have come from. Again, not minimizing what happened in Cologne, of 1.1 million refugees, 130 criminals does not warrant to me not accepting refugees.  Most are law abiding individuals, that are extremely grateful to their host country’s generosity.

The Parador hosted the Humane Society of Western Pa’‘s medium fund raiser last night.  Nice turn out and nice event!  All were happy, especially the spirits.  Da kidz were the hit pre-event (put them in the office so they weren’t a distraction during the event.

That’s it for today, have a great evening and keep warm,

ed

Hi,

Birth anniversaries tomorrow include President Andrew Johnson (1808), English statesman William Gladstone (1809) and cellist Pablo Casals (1876)  The YMCA was first organized in Boston (1851), the Wounded Knee Massacre (1890), Texas was admitted to the Unio (1845) and the assassination of Rusian monk and mystic Grigory Rasputin ((1916-did Vladimir drop the Ras off to shorten his name)?  :)

Last year I talked about the Smallman Galley, a restaurant incubator in the Strip.  Their first batch is set to fly the coop.  In case you didn’t read that post last year or don’t want to go back there to read it.  Basically what Ben Mantica and Tyler Benson have done is create an environment where chefs could hone their culinary concepts while learning the business side of restaurants.  In addition to building up a loyal clientel prior to opening their own restaurant, the chef’s are also under the watchful eye of potential investors.

Have you heard about The Dress?  BBC picked up a story about a woman that bought a dress for a wedding that’s white and gold, sent a picture of it to a friend and the friend say it as black and blue.  Then the controversy started and it’s taken the Internet by storm.  In  nut shell, no one knows why different people see this picture of the dress in different colors.  Generally women see it as blue and black, men see it as white and gold.  Take a look and see what you see.

I don’t know how many more years I will be sending my holiday cards out by postal service.  I do like them and they seem well received, but the Post Office is such a mess to deal with.  It’s a significant amount of money and work between creating the card and mailing them.  I expect to get some back, and I always have extras I can mail when I get corrected address.  Of the 5,000 I sent out I probably got 200 returned, but the postal label says incorrect address, when I’ve mailed cards to that address for years now and they are still at the same address.  Of the 200 returned, maybe three had new addresses.  I don’t know if it’s incompetence or laziness on the postal employees part, but I put all that effort into it and they don’t do their job.  Also, I went to three post offices looking to purchase extra stamps, the only post card stamps any of the offices had was in packs of 100.  At least they are forever stamps.  I’ve come a long way from when I used to print the labels, attach them to the cards and the affixed the postage.  So much easier.  :)

A wild sea otter gave birth to a baby and mom needs to groom the new born so their fur is buoyant, nothing’s cuter than a bundle of fur fluffing a baby bundle of fur.

Speaking of fur, The Western PA Humane Society will be hosting a pet medium at The Parador Saturday, January 9.  Tickets are just $25 for this fund raiser.  Get your tickets before they sell out and I’ll see you at the event.  Maybe Razor will make a special appearance.  ):

Today’s dirt bag of the day is Davin Gartley slum lord in Carrick.  He had refugees living in apartments with raw sewage in the basement and their only source of fresh water was when he would come over and turn on a hose connected to another of his buildings.  The Trib actually posted a picture of him in the print addition.  But not on the online version.  The newspapers should routinely publish a picture of these scumbags and shame them.  Not that someone like this could actually be shamed, but if you live in the area you can voice your opinion if you see him walking the streets.  Which was something else he did, run a prostitution ring out of one of his residences.

Let’s lighten things up a bit and talk about the local eagles.  The Hays eagle’s web cam is back up and running, if you want to track them.  They are busy improving their nest, over the years, eagle nests can grow in excess of a ton with all the additions these busy guys do.  Unfortunately, last year, neither of the eggs produced eaglets.  This is their fourth year nesting there.  Last year a raccoon tried raiding the nest and the eagles chased him off.  I didn’t see it live, but I did on replay, pretty funny.  The Harmar couple are on their third year, unfortunately for them, last year they didn’t have any surviving eaglets either.  The Audubon Society purchased  2 1/2 acres around the Harmar nest.  And are trying to install an eagle cam there as well.  This will be a challenge because the Harmar eagles are up on a steep hill and is very inaccessible.  When they get the cam working, I’ll post a link if you’d like to follow them.

It looks like our luck with warm weather’s coming to an end.  But I don’t see anything extreme in the next two weeks.  Please have a safe New Year’s eve and watch out for the other guy,

ed

Hi,

Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the most expensive movie to date’s release, The Titanic (1997), speaking of movies, the Music Man was released tomorrow as well (1957).  Tomorrow is the birth anniversary of Leonid Brezhnev (1906).

After my rant yesterday, there was some great articles in today’s newspaper and I thought I’d talk about them.

On September 26, I talked about Pittsburgh Police Detective Jack Mook, he was volunteering training kids how to box.  Two of the boys he was teaching, Jesse & Josh, he became friends with.  And noticed a significant change in their behavior.  Taking them out for pizza he learned about their drug addicted parents and offered to foster them.  He ended up adopting them and their story is going to be on CBS tonight on their feature Home for the holidays.  What a great holiday story!

In my December 1 post, I talked about that dirt bag Martin Shkreli the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals and he raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 and it just costs pennies to make.  Daraprim is a little know drug that people with compromised immune systems (cancer patients, HIV patients) can’t fight a severe parasitic infection can use.  When asked if he could go back and change anything while on TV, he said yes, he would have raised it even more! Well the Feds pulled him in on a Ponzi scheme! He set up a hedge fund and was playing with peoples’ money.  He lost a lot of money in his first hedge fund and set up a second to cover his loses, when he lost more money with the second hedge fund he started raiding another pharmaceutical company he was running.  The Trib has the complete details.

I just think it’s funny Trump has a new endorsement, Vladimir Putin.  I have nothing else to say here.  :)

Speaking of dirt bags, they convicted Chuck McCullough.  He is a former county councilman and solicitor.  He helped himself to $50k from the estate of one of his clients.  He said he certainly meant no harm to his client, of course not, she had money and he wanted it.  There was no ill will on his part, just greed.  In addition to the five felony convictions, he also has to face several perjury charges.  He said he was sorry to the court for any undue delay, of course he’s sorry that he couldn’t keep delaying this years long saga.  He truly is proficient at dragging out the systems.  Again, the Trib has a great article on the details.

Have a great evening,

ed

Hi,

Tomorrow is Mexico’s Feast of Our Lady of Solitude, it is the anniversary of the passing away of famed violin maker Antonio Stradivari (1737), New Jersey’s admission to the Union (1787) and it is the United Nation’s Migrant’s Day.  Birth anniversaries include baseballer Ty Cobb (886), West Germany former Chancellor Willy Brandt (1913), actor Ossie Davis (1917) and World War II hero Benjamin Davis (1917).

Tomorrow’s a rare opportunity to  get a guided tour of both Calvary Methodist Church (the one with the huge Tiffany windows around the corner from me) and Emmanuel Episcopal Church (designed by famed architect   HH Richardson who designed our Court House and Jail Downtown).  Tickets are just $8 in advance and $10 at the door.  Tours are just from noon until 1 and start at Calvary.  More info at Public Art Pittsburgh.

Alan works for Super Laundry (where I got my commercial washers and dryers) and comes up for training periodically.  He was impressed with Dee’s decorative folds on the toilet paper and wanted to show his skill :)  The day before he made a mouse and I didn’t get a picture of that, it also was very cute:

alan

It’s the end of an era, I sold the truck, my mechanic at Blue Wave Auto Spa took the identifying stickers off the truck:

truck side

It was a good truck, it served me well here and in Florida.  John from Peppis bought it, so it’s still in the neighborhood.  :)

Why are we becoming such a hateful country?  We are a nation of immigrants, I think the discussion we should be having is about how we live up to our ideals, not on whether to admit Syrian immigrants.  I heard a program on NPR how a Muslim woman has published a handbook on how to blend in by wearing the Hijab under a baseball cap and another option she poses is to wear it like a turban.  It’s part of their faith, why do they have to hide their faith?  The discussion should be about the burqa and drivers licenses and American passports.  If full facial exposure is our norm and Muslim women want to live in our country and don’t want to expose their face, I’m fine with that.  Then they don’t get drivers licenses or American passports.  Easy.  Mohammad bought Lindo’s basically next door to me from his cousin several years ago.  He’s of Pakistani decent.  His wife and teenage daughter both wear Hijabs.  They are such a nice family, they all work in the restaurant.  No one on the street works harder than Mohammad, seven days a week since he bought it.  When Razor & RJ broke my hand several years ago, I had just bought and opened a 15# package of bacon and wouldn’t be able to cook a hot breakfast for several weeks.  So I took it over to Lindo’s (Mohammad wasn’t working) so I gave it to one of the cooks and said “Give this to Mohammad, tell him it’s from Ed next door.”  Around 2 that afternoon, the cook came over and said “Your bacon’s ready, you can pick it up anytime.”  He thought I wanted him to cook the bacon for me and did just that.  That’s what neighbors do.  If my neighbor brakes his leg and doesn’t shovel the snow off his sidewalk.  I don’t call the cops, I shove his walk.  Mohammad’s on my holiday card list and two years ago I started getting Christmas cards from him.  He’s adapting to our society.  The Koran & Bible both say you should love your neighbor.  As the perverted ISIS misquotes the Koran, so do the Trumps of the Bible.  Diversity and tolerance is what makes us what we are.  Intolerance is what got black men lynched down South, gays chased down alleyways to get beaten up, Shai shooting Sunnis, etc Particularly, this time of year, lets embrace what we should be.

On that note, I think I will sign off.  Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year filled with love and peace,

ed

 

Hi,

Today is Pearl Harbor Day, remember our vets who have given so much.  Tomorrow is the birth anniversary of the cotton gin inventor Eli Whitney (1765), The Door’s lead singer Jim Morrison (1943), Popeye creator Elzie Segar (1894), artist Diego Rivera (1886) and entertainer Sammy Davis Jr (1925).  It will be the anniversary of John Lennon being shot (1980), NAFTA was signed (1993), the Soviet Union was disolved (1991) and the American Federation of Labor was founded (1886).

I’m adding a new page to my website, it should be live next week.  Befores and afters, if you are interested it will be under the About Us tab.

Dorothy, the peregrine falcon that’s called the Cathedral of Leaning her home for the past 15 years seems to have passed on.  She was ancient by peregrine standards, they normally live to about 12 in the wild and she was 17.  She had fledged 43 offspring.  The assumption that she has passed is because her husband (E2) has been seen courting a new female (peregrine’s mate for life).

The Beehive, the coffee shop on Carson Street is celebrating being open 25 years this year.  I lived on the Slopes when it opened and frequented it.  It was right up my alley with mismatched china, tables and chairs.  And the most eclectic group of customers, from older locals, the hip and cutting edge youth, street people and runaways.  I never realized their logo was created by my friend Rich Bach, the metal artist that did my Aztec sun calendar that sits on the Courtyard wall, deflecting the dusk to dawn sodium vapor light from my neighbor’s house.Rick also did all the metal art work for the Mad Mex restaurant chain.  Another regular at the Beehive is Jenn Wertz of Rusted Root.  Co-founders Scott Kramer and Steve Zumoff have several other Southside establishments like the Lava Lounge, the Tiki Lounge and the Double Wide Grill (the architect Val Zarro who worked with me in getting The Parador open designed the Double Wide, I think that was Val’s last Pittsburgh project before semi-retiring to New England to focus on sustainable architecture). If you’ve never been to the Beehive, stop in sometime for a cup of coffee, a very interesting place.  Here’s the Aztec Sun Calendar:

Aztec Artifact

Kennywood is returning Noah’s Ark to it’s past incarnation. Built in 1936 they expect to have the renovations completed this spring in time for it’s 80th anniversary.   They remodeled it in 1998 and tried making it more cutting edge with electronics and other modern aspects.  They took the beloved entrance where you would walk through the mouth of a whale on a squishy rug that looked like a tongue out and are putting it back.  Last year, Noah’s Ark was for the sixth year in a row named The Best Fun house/Walk Through Attraction at the Golden Ticket Awards Ceremonies by amusement publication Amusement Today.  I loved Noah’s Ark as a child, even though it didn’t have the thrill of the Jack Rabbit, which as soon as I could slip through past the Henry was the cartoon charrictor for the big rides and Howdy Doody was the cartoon character for the small rides, stand as tall as I could.  And would ride it time and again.

Construction Junction has a new installation, calling for recycling Knock Knock Who’s There.  It’s a whimsical look at the child’s jokes painted on reclaimed doors.  There’s a number of them at their Point Breeze facility and four of them will be at First Night in the Cultural district. One of the doors with a bird theme that will be at First Night has a permanent home waiting for it at The National Aviary.  Speaking of the Aviary, the pen   They are planning on stalling dozens of these doors throughout the city and place them in the Arts Festival next summer.  Constructionnction estimates it’s kept 48,000 doors out of landfills.  If you’ve never been to Construction Junction, you should visit, you’ll find some very interesting stuff there, I love it.

About a year ago, Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos, decided to eliminate all bosses.  He calls it Holacracy, where all employees work in groups that supervise themselves.  He sees this as a strategy, not an experiment.  At the age of 23, he founded LinkExchange and two years later sold it to Microsoft for $265M.  A lot of these high tech companies have budding genius/entrepreneurs in them.  And they develop a new idea, find some backers and start a new company with their innovation.  He’s trying to create an environment where they stay and develop their ideas in his company.  He’s trying to develop more of a business incubator model as opposed to a bureaucracy.  He acknowledges that no all employees would be comfortable with such an open environment, many need more structure to function.  He’s hoping to retain the ones that would develop new ideas using the resources available through his company.  Kind of a novel idea.

Ryan Lammie is an artist that moved to New York to pursue his artistic career and decided it was too expensive to work.  He came to Pittsburgh, settled in Lawerenceville  and found Radiant Hall, the former Polish Social Club. It was much too big for his needs, but the structure and location appealed to him.  So he created a non-profit that subdivided the space into individual “studios” that he rents for around $175 a month.  He plans to expand his concept first to Homewood on Susquehanna Street (that is the street East End Brewery started on) and the space is even bigger than Radiant Hall with 17 “studios”.  Next he plans to open in the former Connely Trade School right next to where the igloo used to stand.  Connely is now known as Environmental Innovation Center after it’s $37M renovation.  He plans on 7 “studios” there and 6 co-working spaces.He also plans to move into the new Nova Place here on the Northside (the former Allegheny Center Mall).  Faros Properties from New York bought the 1.4M square foot former Allegheny Center Mall.  They are in the midst of a $100M renovation of the property.  Eilene, one of my regulars from Texas works for a tech company on Galveston Street right down from me, they are planning on moving into Nova in the spring.

Here’s the latest of The Sausage aka Rayzette with her big brother RJ.  He’s full sized at 84#, she’s 8 months at 80#.  She’s the one sitting up, RJ’s laying down:  She looks so say, but she’s such a happy girl.  :)  She can’t just walk, she has tow wiggle her butt whenever she moves.

P1000876

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

ed

Hi,

Tomorrow’s birth anniversaries include the person generally seen as the inspiration for the fictional Sherlock Holmes, Joseph Bell (1837), opera icon Maria Callas (1923) and French Neo-Impresssionist Georges Seurat (1859).  Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine (1823), the first artificial heart transplant (1982), abolitionist John Brownwas executed (1859), the safety razor was patented (1901) and the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction (1942).

I just weighed the sausage, she’s 78# already!

Speaking of dogs, I’ll be hosting a pet seance Saturday, January 9.  It’s a fund raiser for the Western PA Humane Society.  I’ll pass on more details as I get them.  It should be an interesting event, if nothing else.  I wonder what Razor will have to say to me.  :)

The bald eagle re-population of our area seems to be gearing up, in addition to the pair on webcam in Hays by the Monongahela River and the pair on the hill over Harmar, there’s two more young couples that seem to be scouting the area.  One couple seems interested in the Tarentum bridge peregrine falcon nest (Eagles frequently evict falcons from their home, the larger and stronger eagles win in a close proximity fight.  Falcons are much swifter and generally win air battles if for no other reason they can escape easily.  Peregrine falcons can reach speeds of 200 mile per hour on a down hill drop).  Because of the lack of foliage, this is a good time of year for eagle watching.

On Saturday, December 12, the air side terminal will be open to non ticketed people from 10 am until 6 pm.  You will need a government issued picture ID.  They are encouraging you to pre-register at flypittsburgh.com.  There will even be free parking at their short term parking lot.  They wil be issuing a voucher at the registration.  You will enter where flyers normally enter.

I have been receiving solicitations on the phone from some company trying to get me to switch my credit card processing to them.  The calls are coming in from Pittsburgh’s 412 area code.  They are never “selling” anything, they are offering to “save me money” and other twists on trying to get me to pay them to process my credit cards.  I keep asking them to remove me from their solicitation list.  One of them lectured me with “Let me explain something to you buddy, I’m an independent business man representing this company and there’s like 500 of us”.  You’re not a business man, you sit on you butt you telemarketer.  I had a call yesterday some woman had a representative in town next week and she wanted to schedule an appointment.  It was the same company and when I told her I wasn’t interested in paying them to process my credit cards.  She said she wasn’t selling credit card processing, I called her a lying b**ch and hung up on her.  My phone immediately rang again from 917 area code and it was her saying “You sounded so professional when you answered the phone, I’m surprised you are so rude”.    I again called her a lying b**ch and added another expletive.  :)  So they’ve figured a way to change the appearance of their area code.  Slick.

Speaking of business people, the reason folks start a business it to make money (the same reason folks take jobs), as a business  owner you have more opportunity to make more money than as an hourly or salaried employee.  (Also you take a higher risk).  I really enjoy making money and the more the merrier.  :)  But I like to believe I make it morally.  I may make a special segment in my blog “outing” dirt bags, like the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals Martrin Shkreli, raising the price of Daraprim to $750 a pill.  I’m OK charging a premium, generally I don’t raise my rates, but require a two night minimum on select weekends.  A fifty percent increase for a drug that costs pennies to make.  Bump it up a bit, but $750 for something that takes pennies to make.  I hope anyone that purchases drugs, black lists all products from that company.

I’m so over all this hype about bacon, baondtore burgers, bacon fries, etc.  Maybe because I cook and serve it everyday.  But bacon themed and smelling underwear?  Please.  :)

And speaking of culinary over dose, how about Piecaken, the name sounds like some Cheesey Japanese horror flick from the 60’s.  You bake a pie and then put cake batter in a pan, set the pie in the middle of it and then more cake batter and cook it.  I guess next you cut and eat it, the perfect go with a turducken.

People generally have a problems saving money.  The hardest part is getting started, once you are in a habit of putting say $20 every payday into a savings account, it gets easier and easier.  There are three new ways geared toward millennials  (my contractor that recently installed all the windows, son is about 24 and he walked in the kitchen one day and I was having trouble with my iPhone, I a said “Hey millennial can you look at this?”  He said “What’s a millennial?”.  :)  too funny.  One of the savings programs is called Acorns,  it can be set up several ways.  One is it automatically rounds purchases up when you use the credit or debit card linked to the account.  Say you buy new shoes that cost $57.80, it automatically puts $.20 in you account, if you use the same method of payment for everything, this can start to accumulate.  You can also program it to put a certain amount of money in the Acorns account on a regular basis.  The cost is $1 a month for balances of $5k or less and .25% a year for balances over $5k.  More details on their website.    Another option id Digit, you link Digit to your checking account and it’s algorithms analyze how much you make and spend and then takes small amounts our periodically and places it in your Digit account.  They don’t charge fees for this,  But they communicate through texting and you may be charged for the texts, depending on your phone plan. More info on their website.  A third option is Stash, it links to your checking account and offers about 30 ETF’s (here’s an example of an Exchange Traded Fund). to choose from that you set how much you want to automatically have invested.  It costs $1 per month for balance under $5k and .25% per year for balances over $5k.  More info at their website.  Another fee not mentioned is they are sitting on your money and making money off it by investing your balance and not paying you interest.

That’s it for today,

ed

Hi,

Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the China Clipper, the trans Pacific mail flight from San Fransisco (1935), Fitzgerald Kennedy’s assassination (1863),On the Origin of Species was first publish (1859) and Lebanon’s Independence day.  Birth anniversaries include aviator, parachutist, adventurer Wiley Post (1898), First Lady Abigail Adams (1744), President Charles DeGaulle (1890) and female British author George Eliot (1819).

The Syrian refugees, quite the contention here.  I understand Americans having reservations about admitting Syrians, especially in light of what happened in Paris.  But we are a nation of immigrants, my grand parents emigrated from Germany.  We all are from somewhere else.  And lets look at Australia for a minute, it was England’s penal colony for years, where they dumped their criminals and look what it’s turned into.  Anyone being allowed to emigrate should be vetted to the best of our ability, but that doesn’t make any guarantees, we have our own brand of terrorists, look at the shootings in our neighborhoods, movie theaters, college and high school campuses.  We have no “higher” ground to stand on when we can’t even protect ourselves from ourselves.

Let me step on another soap box for a minute, they easiest way to defeat ISIS is to dry up their source of income!  That’s what the DEA and FBI tries to do with the drug cartels, etc  If ISIS didn’t have money to lure their fighters in how many Jihadists do you think they would have?  I finally heard on the news where we bombed and destroyed 160+ oil tankers.  Blow up the oil fields, processing plants, pipes, etc.  Lets see what they can do without money.   It’s estimated they rake in $3M a day from oil.  Oil is the low hanging fruit that should be easy to totally disrupt.  Other sources of income like ransoms, illegal antiquities, drugs and other forms of illicit income will be harder to strangle, but my old saying if man created it, man can change it.  And their other source of income donations from other Arab entities is something we should be able to track and take action against these sources as well.

Off my soap box, the Trib had a great article on LED lighting.  Color temperature scale is how light is measured based on color.  The scale bases it’s rank in “degrees Kelvin.  This has nothing to do with heat, just how warm or cool the light will be, the lower th K rating, the warmer the feel from the bulb, the higher the colder and bluer the light will be.  Don’t pay attention to packaging and the marketeers designation of warmer vs cooler.  Manufacturers are more and more placing the K rating on their packaging and use this number as you would for wattage equivalent for a comparison on brightness. Here’s some bench marks to keep in mind, incandescent lights have been around 2,700K, so if you want a warmer glow. Further up the scale, big box retailers generally use bulbs rated around 3,500K to 4,500K.  You can find bulbs as high as 5,000K to 6,000K which is like the color of daylight.  There is concern about bulbs this high disturbing our biorhythms.  Read the entire article for more details.

Want to do something dramatic, cheap and environmentally correct?  Start working with wooden pallets.  10001 Pallets is a website dedicated to home handyman projects using discarded pallets.  You want to steer clear of chemically treated pallets, which frequently will have an IPPC lable (International Plant Protection Convention).  A HT (heat treated) stamp is preferable.  Don’t just grab a pallet, be picky, select pallets that aren’t all beat up and splintery.  If you are selective you can find oak, hickory even cherry wood pallets.  You can create benches and tables obviously, but head boards, decorative shelves are a few of the many uses for these lowly resources.

We had our Western Pennsylvania Bed and Breakfast Association’s fall meeting last week.  At our spring meeting, Clarion River Lodge (a new member) volunteered to host our fall meeting.  The lodge is literally in the middle of nowhere.  Several of us rode together an Ryan used the GPS on his phone.  We pulled off Rt 65 on Clarion River Road.  GPS told us to turn left up Cemetery Road which we did, it took up this barely single lane road and told us to turn left on the street the Lodge was located.  We travel a couple of miles and GPS said you have arrived at your destination on the right.  The only thing on our right was a house right out of Deliverance.  There were lights on the first floor and basement.   And all kind of stuff on both the front and back porches.  I knocked on the door, hoping someone would answer and tell he where the lodge was.  I think luckily no one answered, when I saw the size 12+ boots on the porch, I thought it best to leave.  We went the other direction and found the Lodge.  There was a sign on the door that they were close and there was a for sale sign on the far side of the parking lot (right on Clarion River Road-if we had just gone straight!).  So the twelve of us went to the Sawmill Diner, very nice people.  We bought sandwiches and they not only allowed us to bring in the sides we had brought for the meeting, they also supplied us with plates and silverware.

The window project is completed!  Finally!!   Once again, Don from Action Painting did an exceptional job, painting, staining and polyurethane the windows before installation.  (If you need a great painter 412-403-6458).  Mike an crew again did a great job with the installation.  This brings me up to nearly 100 windows replaced.  This knocked out all the large windows in the Mansion and all 6 in the kitchens.  Maybe I’ll hate the winter less this year.  :)

My fireplace company is coming by Monday to repair the two fireplaces I can’t get the remotes to work (one has the original remote from ten years ago.  I imagine I need a whole new remote assembly.

And tomorrow I start decorating for the holidays.  I wanted to get it done for Light Up Night, but the window project took priority.  The weather’s supposed to be decent this week.  I’ve put the outside garland up in bitter cold with the wind blowing in the past, that was a challenge.

This is about it for today, have a great Thanksgiving and if you are traveling, take your time and be safe,

ed

 

 

 

Hi,

Tomorrow is the birth day of hall of fame basketballer Phog Allen (185), poet Marianne Moore (1887), artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887) and Nazi field marshal Erwin Rommel (1891).  Tomorrow is America Recycles Day, Brazil’s Republic Day, Belgium’s Dynasty Day (celebrating their monarchy) and the Nazi Gypsy Condemnation order, ordering gypsies to concentration camps where about a half a million perished.

The holidays are rapidly approaching.  Yes, I will be decorating this week so I’m ready for Light Up Night on Friday.

Here’s some suggestions for you crafters to learn from the pros.  The Fairmont Hotel will have a ginger bread house class for adults from 6 until 8 on December 10 (cost $75) and a children’s class on December 13 from 10 am until noon (cost $59 for one adult and child and $15 for each additional child).  More details on their website.

The Frick will be having their second annual cookie decorating class on December 6 from 10 until noon (cost $30) and the same day from 1 until 4 they will have a holiday greens workshop (cost $70).  More info on their website.

The Society for Contemporary Craft in the Strip will be holding a series of classes including ceramic steins November 21  from 10 am until 5 pm (Cost $120), wood turned bottle stoppers on November 29 also from 10 am until 5 pm (cost $100, holiday cards on December 9  6 to 9 pm (cost $45), plates and platters on December 12 from 10 am until 4 pm (cost $200) and slippers and mittens December 19 from 10 am until 5 pm (cost $105).  More info on their website.

The Pittsburgh Glass Center is offering on December 5 from 10 am to 4 pm a class on glass blown or infused ornaments that range from $25 to $35 and on November 21 Make it a Hot Date for $70 per couple and a Girls Night Out on December 11 for $45 for this cocktails event (probably a cash bar).  More info at their website.

Lets talk credit cards for a minute, some offer benefits many people don’t know about.  Some offer price matching, if you buy and item and find it on sale a few days or weeks later they arrange with the store to give you the difference, you need the original receipt and a copy of the sale with the date on it.  Theft and damage protection, frequently for things damaged by fire, smoke and water (usually not theft from your car).  Again you need the original receipt. Car rental insurance, generally you need to put the entire car rental on the one card (also you normal car insurance also covers rentals, so check first and don’t pay the rental company for insurance).  Frequently you credit card will offer an extended warranty for large items after the manufacturer’s warranty runs out for a year or two.  They can offer assistance on returning unused items after the store’s normal return policy, you have to pay shipping.  Read the entire article for details.

Big banks are pushing their “Rewards Card” they are sometimes referred to as Affinity Cards.  First of all, the credit card companies do not provide the bonuses, merchants pay for them through higher processing fees.  Some of these cards charge a yearly fee for the card in the neighborhood of $70.  Also, the credit card companies frequently charge a higher percentage on balances, if you have one of these cards watch this closely.  We’ve all heard about the large amounts of points needed for free travel and so many black out dates.  Many cards cancel you points if you don’t use them within the specified time period.

Good news for chickens, the $10B industry of 270 million hens is listening the people fed up with hens being confined to a pen the size of an  8 x 11 sheet of paper.  Because some of the big chains like Costco, McDonalds are trying to clean up their images, they are insisting on this.  The new “free range” concept isn’t exactly what you would imagine free range means.   As they need to replace hen raising facilities, the new concept is open barns, where the hens have free range within the barn.  But there is a down side to this form of free range, some hens are getting killed flying into beams and other obstructions and some hens are actually cannibalizing other hens. Some organic growers are actually letting the birds out in the air to forage.

Well the window project is finally well underway.  Both window seats in Chenille and Oleander were completed this past week (and the two big windows in Chenille looking our into the Courtyard.  Here’s Chenille’s window seat completed (the stained glass is out being rebuilt):

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Here’s two before pictures of Oleander’s window seat windows, the four solid west facing (non opening) window and both double hung windows on either side have been replaced:

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Here’s the new windows in Oleander, the stained glass just came back from being repaired.  Also, the leaded glass panel on the right was falling out of the frame when I bought The Parador and I’ve had it in storage in the basement and just got it repaired and both doors are installed:

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The Sausage we are affectionately calling Rayzette because of her size.  These days I really have to look hard to distinguish the two of them when they are both out in the Courtyard.  Here’s the latest:

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Funny RJ story, he still doesn’t allow squirrels in his yard. The other day I was walking over to the Office and he was accompanying me.  One of the squirrels was on the shed roof with a peanut.  When the squirrel saw RJ, he tried running away.  But he couldn’t get traction and ended up falling right in the front of RJ, luckily for the squirrel, RJ’s a good boy and comes when called.  Not before I saw in the squirrels eyes, Oh, I shouldn’t tease him by chittering at him from the tree.  The Sausage learned a new trick, she can open latched doors.  Any new construction I always use those handicapped bar door latches.  The other morning, I was awoken to the sound of metal.  When I got up, I saw her by the door.  When I went over to let her out, the door was already ajar. She’s been found several times in the Mansion, because of this, Dee has been sure the pantry door is latched and I was working with the contractors and came down the the public space on the first floor and who was out in the Mansion?  Sausage herself and Dee swears she made sure the door was latched.

The window project continues Monday, Mike assures me he will finish by week’s end.  That’s the four dining room windows, five Parlor and the front five between African Tulip and Bird of Paradise as well as the two living room windows in Allamanda.  That means all the large windows and all the kitchen windows will be replaced.  Bringing the total of replaced windows close to 100!

Well keep warm and enjoy this warmer than usual week,

ed

Hi,

Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the discovery of the x-ray (1895), Cortes conquered Mexico and Montana was admitted to the Union.  Birth anniversaries include author Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind (1900), Hermann Rorschach (the ink blot test founder 1884) and pioneering female war corespondent Martha Gellhorn (1908).

I just came back from the PABBI conference, PABBI is the Pennsylvania Association of Innkeepers.  It was held at State College this past Tuesday through Thursday.  We just keep growing!  Our first conference four years ago we had 60 Innkeepers and this year we had 122 Innkeepers, the pre-conference Aspiring Innkeeepers program grew to 26 aspiring Innkeepers and we had quite the cadre of excellent vendors ( growth of 53%)!

One of them, Jay Sethi, a retired Indian surgeon, his company J & S International hires people in the Himalayas to make detailed textiles.  He has rugs, chair covers, pillow slips and other textile items.  They are hand made and provide income for some of the poorest in the world.  I picked up 9 pillow covers at just $8 a piece.  Here they are:

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As everyone knows, the United States is finally implementing the chip card process.  I have received threatening letters from Heartland (my current credit card processor) that I needed a chip capable credit card processing machine for months.  I called Heartland four months ago inquiring about getting a chip capable machine.  I initially was told they did not have one for the lodging industry, they would contact me when they got one.  I contacted Heartland again and was told they were getting ones that would work in the lodging industry and would contact me when they came in.  I called a third time with the same result.  There was several credit card processor represented at our conference, because of my frustration with Heartland, I spoke with two processors.  The third processor was Blue Pay, you may remember me complaining about Blue Pay three years ago.  They had assured me they had lower processing fees than Heartland.  When I went to switch processors, Blue Pay reprogrammed my machine and it would not would not work.  The phone number for support they gave me was for credit authorization and those folks didn’t have a phone number for technical support over the weekend.  So I was stuck writing down credit card numbers to process Monday.  When I attempted to reach my rep, he didn’t answer his phone (he always did immediately when trying to get me to switch).  And he didn’t return my voice mails.  I ended up cancelling the contract and went back to Heartland.  Blue Pay had reprogrammed my credit card machine for their system.  And they put something in my machine that Heartland couldn’t over ride.  I ended up needing to buy a new machine.  Obviously, I’m not interested in dealing with them.  I ended up talking to Tom Weiskotten who has chip ready machines and clearly showed me how his fees were going to be less than Heartland.

Another big change for me will be my on-line reservation system.  I’ve used Webervations since I opened up heer, customer service does not exist in that company.  They are extremely cheap, $150 a year.  May on line reservation systems charge that or more per month.  That was the main reason I have stayed with them.  You get what you pay for in life,  I used them to securely receive credit card information and contact information I needed to process a reservation.  The other ones do all that and then have a data base of all your guests information and you can use that much as I use ACT, another large an unresponsive company.  I would take the information from Webervations manually move it into ACT and then keep track of my guests.  With these newer systems all that is done with their system.  And (this is a big AND) they open the door to what we refer to as OTA (online travel agents ie Expedia, Booking.com, etc).  I can open my rooms to these venues when I feel like it.  They have recently lowered their fees from 25 – 30% of the sale to 15%.  So I go in and can close my inventory to them whenever I want.  Like weekends, holiday, Steeler home games, etc.  There’s no sense paying 15% commission when I am going to already sell out any way.

I do love getting away and meeting with other Innkeepers, it’s to the point that I am friends with most of the attendees.  There is so much to learn and share.  Not to mention I got to hang with my good friends Tony & Sue that live in State College.

Enjoy your weekend,

ed

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