Hi,

January has been a strong month getting reservations for 2018 and I was wondering what was going on the second week in March until Jacqueline checked in yesterday, she’s the advance for the NCESA conference scheduled March 14 -17 at the DL Lawrence CC, it’s their 52nd annual conference.  Their mission is to keep ceramic arts alive in teaching, creativity, and life in general.  It seems I am getting a lot of the attendees.  While researching who that are, I found a very interesting thing on the Southside at 27th & Josephine Streets, the mosaic steps by artist Laura Jean McLaughlin:

Most of the reservations are for three or more nights, a pleasant surprise in March, a usually quiet month.  One guest is in for a week.

I’ve been patiently waiting for the shoe to drop.  I’ve been a customer of DirecTV for close the 30 years.  Privately when I first moved to Florida and then the five years I owned The Parador of the Palm Beaches.  And now since moving to Pittsburgh.  When I heard ATT bought DirecTV, I expected the price to go up, the question was by how much and wehen.  I just received my new bill and it went up $200.  Of course I bitched.  The rep I spoke with said they needed to charge me for the 21 receivers I use.  I explained the switch can handle 21 receivers but I only have 13 active receivers.  I had to verify each of the cards in the active receivers and that brought it down $100.  So now I’m paying around $300 for 13 receivers instead of the $200 I have been paying, I guess I shouldn’t complain too much, I know people that pay that much just for themselves.

Another challenge at The Parador, Full Service Network the folks installing my new phone system are unable to convert it from analog to digital (or whatever you call copper wire vs fiber optics).  They haven’t been able to get reliability with my alarm system communicating with my alarm monitor company, the office phone works sporadically and getting the doorbell up and running again was a challenge.  The doorbell seems to be working now.  I sent my contact an email (again) about my concerns and suggested taking me back to the old analog system and he seems to think that would be the best route to follow.  They are now working on the new install.

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood turns 50 this year.  The post office is issuing a commemoration stamp this year with his image.  The TV show Jeopardy featured a Mr. Rogers category this week.  Pittsburgh’s Michael Keaton will host a Mr Rogers 50th Anniversary Show on WQED March 6 starting at 8 pm.  In case you are not aware, Michael (we’re BFF, that’s why I can refer to him by his first name – my BFF Jeff Bezos introduced us that last time we went out to dinner) sort of got his show business start on the Mr. Rogers show as a stage hand and an occasional appearance.

We’re down to the last few days of a Pittsburgh icon The Uncommon Market in Bethel Park, Upper St Clair or Mt Lebanon, not shore which it is actually in, it’s in the cross hairs of all three.  Joe Labriola got his start in his Italian immigrant father’s grocery  in Larimer (started somewhere around 1927) before taking his skills and opening his own sausage  store in the Strip somewhere.  Janet Labriola grew up in the apartment over the store, married and moved to Upper St Clair.  They opened the Uncommon Market in 1978, if not the first specialty upscale market in Pittsburgh, it was one of the firsts.  It closes for good February 25.  The Gralkas’ will continue to make their sausages, using dad’s recipes and you will be able to find them afterwards at Trax’s Farms in Finleyville and the Family Deli in Bethel Park (I’m not familiar with that one).  I understand, but it’s a shame, I will miss them.  I was never a regular, in there all the time, but did frequent it.

Well, that’s it for today, the days are getting longer and the 15 day forecast has  much nicer weather predicted than what we’ve been experiencing.  I spoke with Mike today and we’re on schedule for the roof replacement in March (as well as Oleander’s bathroom window.

Take care,

ed

HI,

I had a guest ask where I get my mattresses, they are all from the Original Mattress Factory.  Even though they are a national company, I like that they make there mattresses here right up off Freeport Road, I’ve been to their factory.  More than that they make them locally, I like their construction and comfort.  I always get a semi-firm model and try to get one that you can flip over (I like to do that during spring cleaning).

I’m not totally crazy, although there are some that would disagree with that.  🙂  A couple of blogs ago, I spoke about Kevin Saftner one of the owners of the former James Street Gastropub was starting a new venue on the Southside and I couldn’t remember the name, well that’s because at the time they didn’t have a name.  It’s Karma in the old nuisance bar on Carson Devils and Dolls.  They will have two music venue rooms one for 200 and the other will be able to hold up to 350.  Jason’s the marketing director for the venue, I wonder if Lisa his former partner at James Street will be there as well. They are shooting for as much local talent as possible.  They don’t want to be known for one genre of music.  They are planning on jazz on Sundays, karaoke on Mondays, open stage on Tuesdays, funk & soul on Wednesdays, DJs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  Fridays and Saturdays the DJs will be supplementing live acts booked.

Not much time left to get your 15 minutes of fame.  Kraft Heinz Company is seeking photos & videos to include in their pre-Super Bowl advertisements.  Follow this link to ad your contribution to their ad.

You know the big Equifax breach last summer?  Equifax had been aware of the breach for months before disclosing it.  They initially offered free credit monitoring for those affected, through pressure from many angles including many state AG’s offices they extended the free monitoring to all.  You had to sign up by 1/31/18 to qualify.  Many AG’s are seeking an extension until June 2018, this may or may not happen.   You could go to Equifax’s website to check to see if your information had been compromised.  Mine was.  I’m assuming that was the problem I had with Ticket Master claiming I ran up almost $1,000 on their site, luckily my credit card company USAA is stellar, noticed an unusual transaction on my card and sent me an alert.  I disputed the charge and Ticket Master’s response was I agreed to their terms and conditions when I signed up with them and they insisted that the charge was legitimate.  I pointed out to USAA I never had a Ticket Master account and when I went to their website & typed in my email (how they locate your account), nothing came up.  So how could I agree to their terms and conditions if I never opened an account?

I don’t normally talk about the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, but this exhibit I would like to see Emigration-Immigration-Migration sounds pretty interesting.  At this divisive time in our history I think we should embrace our roots, we are all immigrants of one sort or another.  When our ancestors came here, they were segregated and delegated to the jobs the current “Americans” didn’t want.  If we were not subjected to this, our fore bearers were.  It breaks my heart when I see updates on those poor Bhutanese immigrants that were renting from that slum lord/drug addict in Carrick had to endure.  Raw sewage in the basement, drinking water from an old hose attached to an outside faucet.  When I was Executive Steward (chief Dishwasher) at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, most of my staff was of Spanish decent and I dealt with a lot of new immigrants.  I forced our HR department to start offering English as a second language classes among other things.  Spanish come from a culture similar to ours, but I can’t imagine the culture shock of the Bhutanese.  The collection of photographs start in black and white and evolve into color.  They also show how relatively recent immigrants tried to assimilate with images of like the Hungarian Club, the Slovak Club many of which can still be seen today in the Pittsburgh area.

Pittsburgh Playhouse is closing down in Oakland and moving to it’s new digs Downtown this coming June.  The original playhouse was the old German Club in Oakland, Richard Rauth bought it for his famous actress wife Helen Wayne.  He later bought an adjacent house that became the lobby and offices upstairs.  Later they acquired the Tree of Life synagogue next door and added it to the frey.  So between the three buildings and different upgrades and improvements it became quite the labyrinth and to add to this, none of the buildings were built for performances.  Point State Park University has owned the Playhouse for a number of years and to move the playhouse into a new facility designed specifically for performances must be extremely exciting for them.  The location is where the Honus Wagner sports shop used to be on 4th Avenue for those of you familiar with Downtown.  They tore down several buildings for the new space and a couple of them were fairly iconic.  The city historic review gave PSPU permission to demolish those buildings based on their promise to reuse some of the architecturals on the inside and outside of the building.  The last time I walked past it was still the rough construction, no finishing details were in place.

The ice skating rink at South Park has finished their renovations.  It’s been closed for awhile and they replaced Olympic sized rink and Junior rink with a National Hockey League sized rink.   They installed new chillers to keep the ice hard, bleachers and scoreboard for events.  It looks like they are planning on holding more events there.  They used to have to close the rink to the public when they held events.  Fret no more, you cold weather enthusiasts they added “forest skating”  which is a big thing in Canada.  And the forest skating area will be open to the public while the event goes on.  The forest rink is oval shaped with a center island with trees, bushes and other vegetation so you feel like you are skating on a pond.  Kind of nice instead of just going around in circles.

Watch out Dee, you may be replaced.  Da gerl let me paint her nails yesterday, you no longer have a monopoly.  🙂  She did say she liked your technique better than mine:

She continues to improve.  She goes with me and her big brother for the long walk at 5:30 each morning and is showing no negative results, ie no limping afterwards.  You Go Gerl!

That’s it for now,

ed

Hi,

I’ve talked about Evan Mirapaul’s art house on Rialto Street in Troy Hill awhile back and said he was working on a second.  The second was created by Thorsten Brinkmann and they call it La Hutte Royal.  The first house they call Kunzhaus.  Viewing is free and by appointment only, both are opened two days a week and have listed hours you can book at their website troyhillarthouses.com.  The reason I listed the first link so you can see some pictures and get more of their back story.

Pittsburgh Brewing founded in 1861 out in Lawrenceville has another new owner.  Verus Investment Partners who purchased it in 2011 operated it out of Latrobe Brewer, formerly Rolling Rock sold it to Clifford Forrest, president of Rosebud Mining Company.  I assume he will continue operating out of Latrobe, although there’s not a lot going on with the supposedly redevelopment of it’s former headquarters.  That’s still sitting looking abandoned with just some jersey barriers blocking traffic on Penn Avenue.

Evil Empire Lamar Advertising, who got busted, bribing city officials during Lukie’s term trying to get a digital billboard on the new transportation center at 10th & Liberty where the old Grey House Bus Terminal was.  They bought the sign from Bayer on Mt Washington several years ago.   The Bayer sign was non-conforming to our newer sign law and was grandfathered for it’s current use and Lamar wanted to take the current non conforming use to a new non conforming use digital format.  They city said no so Lamar, who fought the bribery case choose to put an ugly yellow plastic cover over it because they didn’t get their way.  Unfortunately County Judge Joseph James sided with Lamar permitting them to leave that ugly yellow vinyl cover on it.  That’s like Wylie Brothers that tried to turn the vacant apartment building across the street from me into a hostel and they wanted the CO (certificate of occupancy) to reflect codes from the 1980’s, at least we won that one.

First Energy is trying to force us taxpayers to subside the coal fired Bruce Mansfield power plant in Beaver county and their nuclear power plant because they currently are not making the profits they want.  First Energy is threatening to close the plants, laying workers off and possibly disrupting our power reliability.  Like Lamar, do it my way or we’ll take our marbles and do what we want with them.  I have always been against nuclear power, we shouldn’t use a substance that is incredibly lethal longer than humans have been on earth and we can’t come up with a decent storage solution for the spent rods.

Possibly the only thing I like about winter is I’m slow and get to do projects I can’t tackle when I’m busy for a number of reasons.  I recently refinished the second floor landing:

And this project the crown molding and beaded ceiling had all kinds of cracks showing so I sealed them and then repainted the entire bathroom:

One of these days I’m going to remember to take the before pictures.  🙂

There’s new survey that says American are among the most dissatisfied with our government, business, media by leading global public relations firm Edelman Trust Barometer  they note this distrust comes at a time of high economic trends (they failed to mention that the high metrics are the stock markets making a lot of money for a certain segment of our country), they also mention this is occurring during relatively low unemployment (here the fail to mention the big job growth is in low paying service jobs, where wage earners need to work two jobs just to make ends meet).  This survey was taken of 33,000 people in 28 countries.  They surveyed “informed public”, ie people that are college educated and follow the news.  American trust of  charitable organizations fell from 58% to 49%, Business trust fell from 58% to 48% and media fell from 47% to 42%.  Trust in government fell from 47% to 33%.  There’s a reason for this, we are tired of being lied to by everyone.  Several easy examples are commercials on television.   Verizon can not have the best product available and happiest customers (so they say) at the same time ATT does (so they say).  Ford can’t have the best trucks, most loyal customers and longest lasting (so they say) at the same time Chevy, Subaru, Toyota, etc do (so they all say).  I live in Pittsburgh where Levin Furniture has incessant commercials touting the lowest prices EVER, this past December sale can’t be any less expensive than the lowest prices EVER they advertised in November, October, September, etc.  Then there’s the incessant commercials about drugs and supplements.  That pill is not going to make me loose 20# and that new drug is not going to cure my diabetes.  We’re not stupid, well maybe we are because we keep falling into their traps.  The more we hear them on the TV, radio, newspaper and social media, the more we seem to buy and encourage them to keep up this drivel.  I think hearing it so often lures us into believing them and thinking, well I’ll give it a try.

Our government deserves their own paragraph.  Here in Pennsylvania they haven’t been able to pass a budget on time in years as can’t the federal government.  I’m not going into basic human interaction they they seem to not have the skill set to be able to function, like civil discourse, compromise, integrity, etc.  Even if you don’t follow the news regularly, I’m sure you are aware of all of the sexual misconduct that’s coming out.  If that’s not bad enough, we are paying settlements at times to quiet the law suits.  We all watched as Detroit said the water’s fine, then saw what came up next.  The same thing happened with Pittsburgh water.  Two years after buying my property, I needed money to continue my renovations.  I went to the URA and Kennon, my contact and myself talked.  This was way before the water scandal here and I was aware of the age of many of our lines and the urban legend (?) that some of the lines are actually wooden from ages ago.  I have never seen any activity to upgrade the water system.  At the time I told Kennon that I believed PWSA should have a twenty year plan to replace the lines and he said PWSA did have a master plan.  Maybe they told him that and he believed it or maybe he made it up.  As PWSA did when they said our water was fine.  What business would not know the life expectancy of their fixed assets and not have a plan to replace as needed, a business that would fail.  Then there’s the campaign lies a recent example is Connor Lamb‘s local campaign for the federal house seat vacated Tim Murphy, Republican, that was adamantly pro-life until he got his mistress knocked up and couldn’t hide it and tried to get her to have an abortion.  The first thing I heard from Mr. Lamb’s campaign was that he thought Nancy Pelosi should be replaced as should the Republican majority leader.  He thought we should have all fresh people running the country.  Experience very valuable, but when it become entrenched, it’s killing us.  Now the multi million dollar campaign funded by Paul Ryan’s GOP super pack keeps harping on how close Lamb is to Pelosi.  The images of campaign rivals that have been photo shopped, do they really think we haven’t seen these people in the past and not realize the photo shop, that’s minor, compared to the lies the make.

Sorry for the tirade, but after reading the opinion poll, I just got worked up.  🙂  Just as the President has term limits, so should the Senate and House.  More than two, as with the President, as I said experience is important whether you are painting a house, running an Inn or governing a country.  The exception to this should be if they can’t pass a budget on time, they should all be fired!  I bet they could come up with a balanced budget on time (here’s another thing the budget should HAVE to be balanced).  Exactly who funds these super packs should be clearly stated and how much the contributed.  Corporations are not people, they cannot vote, they cannot drive cars, they cannot attend a concert or go to dinner.  And they should be treated as such.  Any contribution they make to a campaign should be totally transparent.  My last issue with campaign finance is lobbyists, they also need to be totally transparent what they pay, be it cash, dinners, gifts, travel, etc.  My final big suggestion is our system of governing by bills is great, but bills should be restricted to a single subject.  If the bill is designed to encourage or restrict solar power, funds for a bridge in Alaska should not be able to be included.

On a lighter note, do you want a restaurant Downtown?  Six Penn is closing February 17,  Eaten Park’s foray into Cultural District dining opened in 2005, one of the pioneers down there.  Eaten Park wants to focus more on their flagship stand alone diners we all know as well as their newer concept Hello Bistro  and The Porch.  So if you are looking for an equipt restaurant, this might be for you.

Da gerl update, we’ve doubled the length of her walk.  Tomorrow morning she’s going on a full walk with RJ to the park when we get up and see how she does.  She goes to the vet next week for her final check up.

Have a great day and keep warm,

ed

Hi,

This is another guest blog, of sorts.  Possibly the only thing I like about winter is I slow down and can get caught up on things.  I’m currently tackling a number of small projects I would not be able to when busier.   When I can, I go to a bar on Tuesdays and have several friends there.  Ed I’ve know for 6 – 8 years and Rich just a year or two.  Last fall we were having a discussion about our current president and Rich said anyone that doesn’t see all the good DJT is doing is just stupid, Ed agreed.  I don’t consider myself stupid and decided other than getting into a heated exchange to just stop conversing.  About two weeks later, Bishop Zubik’s article that I am quoting below was in the Post Gazette, I saved it on my kitchen desk to re-read at a later date and came across it when cleaning off that desk and thought it might be good to quote him directly.  I am a recovering Catholic.  I was impressed with Francis when he was elected pope.  Not enough to restore my faith in that faith, and to keep my intro from being too long, I will leave it at that.

“We all know that something is gravely wrong with our public conversation. The lack of civility is so pervasive that it is pointless to assign blame. We each have a responsibility to change the game, to treat each other better, especially when we disagree.

I’m not pointing fingers at secular society, because partisan divisiveness infects my own church. It doesn’t even have to be about significant social or theological issues.

This year, when St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Friday in Lent, I granted a dispensation so that those who wished to partake of corned beef could do so. My inbox was swamped with nasty responses, accusing me of destroying Catholic tradition, purposely undermining the faith and paving someone’s journey straight to hell.

This is a failure of our social discourse — and of Catholic religious education. I apologize to any reader who has ever been treated disrespectfully by someone trolling in the name of Catholicism.

Catholic tradition actually teaches a lot about civility. The starting principle is that every human being has God-given dignity and is worthy of respect. Or, in the words of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Civility is a way of speaking and acting that takes seriously what I believe and what others believe. It includes a robust and passionate engagement with those who hold differing views. Civility assumes that the ties that bind us are far more important than the differences we hold on important social and political issues.

Civility requires a “civil tongue.” When we direct insults toward another human being, we degrade ourselves even more than we degrade that person ”  and we display an impoverished vocabulary.

Recently, a friend of mine couldn’t help but overhear a man in a restaurant making an angry, obscenity-laden phone call. He used one obscenity repeatedly as subject, object, adjective and verb in the same sentence. My friend was shocked that two young women nearby showed no reaction, especially as it became clear that this man was talking to his wife.

I believe there is a direct link between such routine obscenity and the vileness of our public discourse. Vulgar language isn’t the cause, but it is a link in the chain. The coarseness of everyday language numbs us to the frightening degradation of our public conversation. Racial and sexual slurs, bigotry, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism and hatred in general have uncoiled from under rocks and slithered into the public square.

We need to recapture the sacredness of language. Our words are intended to express life, love and all that we fundamentally believe. Our vocabulary should reflect the best that is within us.

So let me suggest nine “Civility Rules for Faith Communities and Everyone Else.”

• 1) In a healthy, civil dialogue, we listen to one another. Listening is more than hearing. It requires time and energy to appreciate where a person or group comes from, what they believe and why they believe it. Empathic listening takes to heart the feelings of another’s heart and builds bridges.

• 2) Civil conversation presumes that we are each working for the common good. We nearly always have areas of agreement and disagreement. Instead of zeroing in on points of divergence, we should first acknowledge where we can stand together. Then we can address our differences more effectively.

• 3) Any civil public discussion recognizes the validity of contending groups in society. My goal cannot be to shut down another voice. Democracy and freedom guarantee differences of convictions and conclusions.

Yet not every cause is worthy of respect. For example, we have recently seen the importance of naming the evils of white supremacism, Nazism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. These ideologies must be heard for what they are — efforts to deprive some human beings of the dignity and respect that is theirs as children of God. Even as the First Amendment allows these hateful ideas to be expressed, we must condemn them firmly and nonviolently.

• 4) Civility shows respect for the person with whom I differ. You and I can do this, even while we try to persuade our interlocutor of another perspective.

• 5) Civility works for the inclusion of all members of society. Civility is especially sensitive to minorities and marginalized persons. Sometimes, we will have conflict over what “inclusion” requires, but we can disagree in ways that do not denigrate the other person.

• 6) Civility distinguishes between facts and opinions. Let facts speak for themselves where possible. (The quote from the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan is more pertinent today than ever: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”)

• 7) The flip side to this rule is that facts can take us only so far. Disagreements about values are difficult, and we cannot and should not avoid passionate discussion.

• 8) We should not impugn motives. People often turn to bad solutions out of a desire to do good, and we should assume this is the case.

• 9) We must be willing to be self-critical. Honest dialogue helps us to examine the roots of our own positions, leading us to clarify — and sometimes modify — our convictions.

Civility is a virtue, a habit of choices and conscience, which shapes the way we encounter others. It does not come to us automatically. Like any virtue, we have to work at it day after day after day. And we must work on civility — if we are to help move forward policies that support human dignity, human rights, human life.

Each of us has the responsibility to recognize the dignity of every human person, regardless of whether we believe in a God who requires it. We in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania, with our rich history of treating each other as good neighbors, should lead the way toward new levels of social respect and civil behavior.”

As I read that again, there were several things I considered editing, but that is not my place.  I think over all he has many good points to consider.  Lets all work on being a more sensitive, inclusive and civil society.  It starts with each of us.  THIS MEANS YOU.  🙂

Thanx guys, gals and you in between,  🙂

ed

Hi,

Da gerl is progressing steadily.  Since I was foolish and thought she had healed enough to go on a full walk with RJ and she had a slight limp that evening, she’s back on restricted walks.

Babies, Babies, Babies.  The National Aviary is awash with babies.  They have recently added a female baby sloth Vivien.  In addition to being their latest attraction to educate people about sloths they are hoping Vivien and Valentino will be attracted to each other.  The Aviary is a wedding venue and I’ve known a lot of people that got married there.  I want an invitation if Vivien & Valentino get hitched. When Valentino was a baby I had several people book at my Inn because of my proximity to the Aviary and they bought the Sloth package at the Aviary.  I’ve already had a couple last week book for Vivien, they get to feed the sloth, hold and other up close and person interactions.  When I order Aviary tickets Audrey usually leaves them at the rear entrance by the parking lot.  If Audrey was a slacker and I have to wait for the tickets, I always walk around the corner and watch the adult sloth, we have a special bond.  I believe he recognizes me and moves one of hit fingers in greeting.

Speaking of couples, Sidney & Bette have had another clutch of baby penguins.  I saw them when they were just little bundles of fur, they now look like little penguins, so cute.

There’s a debate about if playing classical music deters crime.  Pittsburgh was the first city in America to play classical music in our subway.  Something I wasn’t aware of is the recordings are exclusively from Pittsburgh based ensembles like the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and River City Brass, the Pittsburgh Chamber Orchestra and the Mendelssohn Choir.  After returning to live in Pittsburgh after a stint in Philadelphia and when friends from there came to visit, a must stop was our subway.  Not so much for the music, but the cleanliness of our subway stations.  When I lived in Philly, I used the subway to commute from my sister’s house to work down by city hall.  The stations were all so nasty.  This was a number of years ago and I hear they have cleaned up their subways quite a bit.  A number of places have tried using classical music to deter crime with various amounts of success or not.  A bunch of 7 – 11’s in British Columbia started playing classical music to discourage loitering with some success, that seemed to be successful.   When I was in West Palm, they installed speakers in a high crime area that played classical music to deter crime.  I never heard how it worked, I moved from down there up here shortly after they started the experiment.

There’s an online petition to get the Pirates owner to sell the Pirates.  Bob Nutting is know as running the Pirates as a business and with the revenue sharing set up between the national franchises, he makes more money keeping payroll low and taking subsidies from the successful franchises.  They exceeded their goal of 25,000 signatures in just a few days.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that our congressional districts are so gerrymandered that they violate the state constitution.  The justices said if the legislature cannot come up with a fair redistricting, they will do it.  🙂  Too funny.

So Pittsburgh is in the final 20 list for the new Amazon headquarters.  I wonder what Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and state are offering Amazon to locate here.  I don’t think incentives like no state taxes, property taxes, etc would really entice them to choose Pittsburgh, what Pittsburgh should do is something creative like taking the over $1B other cities have offered them and do something like instead of offering Amazon $1B directly, if they move here Pittsburgh would invest the $1B in fixing our water problems and credit Amazon with us finally having safe water and separated storm & sanitary lines to keep our waterways clean. Or maybe take the $1B and create affordable housing in whichever neighborhood Amazon chooses so it’s mixed income.  Jeff Bezos called me and told me he had already selected Pittsburgh as their new headquarters and wanted to know if I would sell my Inn to him as his primary residence.  (Now this is unofficial, please don’t tall anyone and get me in trouble.)

Speaking of Amazon, they opened their first convenience store across from their Seattle headquarters without cashiers.  You log into you Amazon account when you enter the store and they track what you select and automatically charge your account.  Unfortunately, that is probably the way of the future.  Sorry, I want to know what I am being charged for before I see the money taken out of my account.  I’m also one of those nut cases that don’t sign up for rewards cards, I don’t like people tracking what I do.  The only one I have is Giant Eagle because they won’t let me use the self check out line without one and I shop there so seldom, it doesn’t matter.

I’m hosting the Paranormal this weekend, hurry up and get a room.  I spoke with Eliza an she promised not to hurt anyone.

That’s it for today,

ed

 

Be careful with these personal assistants like Alexa, Echo, Siri etc.  They are always listening, like to hear you call out with a question.  What else do they pay attention to?  To keep your privacy, turn off the microphone and they can’t listen to you anymore.

Speaking of the jazz series being planned at The Parador this summer, the folks that used to run the jazz show on NPR that is now WESA have been broadcasting made Pittsburgh Public Media and have had an on line and a satellite presence since 2011.  In 2013 they started broadcasting on FM again.  They just got their 1,020 foot antenna working and  you can find them at 101.1. you can tune it in 24/7.  It is staffed with all volunteers.  Oh, that’s right I hadn’t mentioned the jazz series at The Parador yet. We’re working on a Wednesday in May, June & July with some renown Pittsburgh jazz musicians.  Details will follow as we get firmed up.

Shopping malls “the thing” in the mid to late 20th century have been taking a nose dive.  People don’t go to malls anymore.  They are worth a lot of money and the investors that own them are trying to save them.  They have spent billions upgrading food & beverage offerings and adding various entertainment options like performance stages, movie theaters in the mall, instead of as an out building in the mall’s parking lot and even adding things like fitness clubs, grocery stores, health clinics and they have even added things like rock climbing and other amusement options.  Other than going to Ross Park Mall for their Apple store, I never go in malls so I wouldn’t have seen any of this.

The 1928 vaudeville theater Roxian in McKees Rocks finally closed in 2002.    In 2010 the McKees Rocks community development corporation acquired it and spend almost a million dollar shoring up the roof and installing elevator shafts. Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville’s owner John Pergal recently acquired it and plans on investing $9M and hosting their first concert about this time next year.  The venue can seat around 1,000 on the first floor and another 500 up in the balconies and VIP boxes.  It will fill a void in Pittsburgh between Mr Smalls, Thunderbird and other medium sized venues and big box stadiums. It should be a huge boon for McKees Rocks with drawing more upscale restaurants and bars to cater to the before and after crowds.  Thunderbird is slated to open later this spring after doubling in size in it’s remodel to 400 capacity.  Other live music venues in Pittsburgh include Howlers in Bloomfield, Stage AE here on the Northshore, Smiling Moose on the Southside, Brillobox in East Liberty, Club Cafe on the Southside two smaller venues include Neid’s Hotel in Lawrenceville. the Park House on the Northside, Roxie Theater on the Southside, Diesel Lounge also on the Southside James Street Gastropub owners are opening a new venue on the Southside, I don’t recall it’s name on the Southside.

Changing tunes here to sweet shops, the Oakmont Bakery is moving right up the street, the new location will be just after you cross the Hulton Bridge that school is on your right and they will be basically next to it.  They are more than doubling the retail from a 3,500 sq ft and production is going from 3,500 to 18,000.  It will also include parking from 12 spots to 110, a chef demonstration area and more indoor and outdoor seating.  They are in the process of getting permits, etc and hope to start construction later this spring.

You see some of the strangest things in the park down the street from me, the Commons is the oldest park in the city, it was founded when this area was not part of Pittsburgh, but was Allegheny City.  The Commons was an innovative idea idea at the time.  Back then, people were moving into the cities from farms on the outside.  With them they brought some sheep, goat and other farm animals.  City lots did not have enough space for grazing.  So Allegheny City designated a large swath of land in the middle of the city as a common grazing area.  Hence the name The Commons, it has changed over the years and is no longer used for common grazing.  When I took da kidz down for their walk a month ago or so.  There was three of these in a tree:

A couple of years ago I spoke about the iron buck in the Commons:

Most years someone puts a scarf and hat on the buck.  As you can see the buck atomically correct.  I was walking da boiz through the Commons one day and lady had a small boy (maybe 4 years old) and he ran over to the buck and grabbed apiece of the buck’s anatomy-if you understand me).  Mom got all freaked out and started yelling at him to get away from the statue.  🙂  Razor thought it was hysterical and RJ just grunted.

That’s it for today, keep warm and go Steelers tomorrow,

ed

Hi,

I like this post better than his Fit Traveler back in October.  And don’t forget to book for my first Paranormal Weekend, January 26 & 27!

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Tips for Keeping Your Home Secure While Traveling

Travel is supposed to be fun and relaxing. Even if you’re away on business, it should serve as a little bit of a break from the mundane. But one of the stresses of traveling is making sure your home stays secure while you’re away. And that is a reasonable fear since, according to Safeguard the World, more than 2,000,000 home burglaries are reported every year. So, what are the most important steps you can take to give yourself peace of mind when you leave? Here are just a few.

Stay Off Social Media

Sure, you can share family vacation photos, but refrain from doing it until you return home. Seventy-eight percent of ex-burglars say they used social media to find their victims. But not only does your social media status advertise that your home is empty, it could also cause you to get your insurance claim denied.

Don’t Change a Thing

One of the biggest tip-offs to potential thieves that you are out of town is your “away from home” routine. For example, some people will only close all the curtains and lock the front gate when they’re away from home. If you plan to do these things, do them even when you’re home, at least some of the time.

Don’t Advertise Which Security Company You Use

Letting intruders know you have a security system is good, but putting out a “Protected by ADT” sticker could give them enough information to disarm it. As technology advances, so does the sophistication of criminals. Get a generic sticker or use one from a different company.

Tell a Neighbor

It’s important to have at least one neighbor you trust, especially for situations like these. If neighbors know you will be gone, they can keep an eye out for suspicious activity as well as pick up your mail so that it doesn’t look like you’re gone. If you trust your neighbors enough to enter your home, you could also ask them to go inside every few days and turn on a different light—anything to let people know someone is around. Also, consider alerting your local police department and your alarm company.

Hide Your Valuables Better

Most burglars head straight for the master bedroom to check for valuables, so make sure you come up with more clever ways to hide them. For example, Realtor.com suggests you try hiding stuff in boxes in your garage with labels such as “winter clothes” or “Christmas decorations.” Better yet, actually put the valuables in your winter clothes or decorations. You can also create fake vents, outlets, or light fixtures to stash smaller items in.

Invest in a Lock for Your Garage

You may not know this, but apparently closing your automatic garage doors is not enough to deter thieves. They are very easy to open by hand or sometimes using a coat hanger. According to Corporate Travel Safety, all it takes is about six seconds for someone to do this. Some garage doors have an emergency release lever you can disable. If not, you can either secure the lever with some thin wire or invest in a lock that you can keep in place.

Install Security Lighting

It may seem like a no-brainer, but lots of people don’t realize how important it is to keep your property well-lit. A burglar will think twice about trying to break in if he risks everyone seeing him. But in order to keep your electric bill from sky-rocketing, install motion sensors on your outdoor security lighting. Not only will it keep your entrances in plain sight, but it will also make intruders wonder if someone is home.

Remove Your Hidden Keys

No matter how well you think your spare key is hidden, remove it before you leave. Take the key to your neighbor or put it in a magnetic box under your car. Just don’t leave it in the yard. If nothing else, it will save you from worrying the whole trip that someone might find it.

 

Don’t let worry keep you from enjoying your time from home. Take a few simple precautions to keep your property safe and your mind at ease. And for extended trips, consider asking a relative to house sit. Sometimes just a few words with a neighbor and an extra lock here and there can save your valuables and your trip!

Enjoy this warm weather we are experiencing, better than two weeks of below 10 degrees, 🙂

ed

 

Hi,

The welcome reception will be Friday from around 7 pm until ?  Beer, wine, appetizers and a group reading with physic Sara Sachs.

The actual paranormal investigation will be Saturday evening.  Denise & her crew will set up their equipment in the dining room for guests to view and they will explain how the equipment works and give an over view of what to expect before moving the equipment up into the guest rooms.  The overview will start around 7 pm and the investigation will run until 10, unless you guys want it to last longer.

Denise has been here several times in the past was was just here yesterday with some of her team to view the Inn and start planning the logistics.  It looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Boo,

ed 🙂

Hi,

Lets start this with I don’t believe in ghosts or spirits and I don’t disbelieve in them either.  If any place is haunted or spiritually challenged The Parador would be a good candidate.  With a 150 year history, there’s been a lot happen here over the years.  If there’s something here, I know who it probably is.  My place was built for Joshua Rhodes who owned the P & LE railroad (station square was his train station) and founded National Tube originally in McKeesport.  He was a self made millionaire.  He built the mansion katy cornered behind me, for his son Joshua Jr, wife Eliza and their two young daughters.  The year they moved in, Eliza passed away.  The following year Joshua Jr passed away.  Mr. & Mrs. Rhodes raised their grand daughters here.  If there is a spirit stuck, I think it would be Eliza whom came over to watch over her daughters and got stuck here.

When I first purchased the property there were several incidents that are unexplained.  The first was within two months of owning it, I had contractors working on replacing the furnace in the basement.  There was no one else here other than the two guys working in the basement.  I went out to do some errands, they knew I had left the building.  When I returned, they asked me who was upstairs, they both heard someone walking around.

The second incident happened a couple of months later. My good friend Lisa had just closed her restaurant across the street named the Ugly Duckling and was helping me out by doing a bunch of sewing for me.  Most of the pillows around the Inn Lisa made as well as some of the drapes like what is in African Tulip & Bougainvillea.  As Lisa finished pillows, she stacked them on a window seat.  A couple of days later, she wasn’t here and I went up to the room to admire her handy work.  The pillows were no longer on the window seat but on the floor.  I initially thought gravity or maybe was wind through the leaky windows knocked them over.  Lisa came back, made more pillows and the next time I came in the room, the pillows were strewn around the room-if I’m haunted, I’d say she has a sense of humor.  Lisa’s current venture is catering with Fabled Table if you need catering, she’s absolutely the best, she’s the one that did the food for my 10 year anniversary last year.

A few months later, I was still not open and I had that port wine sitting on the coffee table in the Parlor that’s still there (obviously new port from 12 years ago).   🙂  I came in one morning and the port wine bottle was empty.  I wasn’t open, the contractors were long gone this is when I had the protracted battle with P.W.S.A. over paying for a second water line into the building for the sprinkler system ($24,000 they cost me!!) so I could get my certificate of occupancy.  I love ghosts that enjoy a glass of port now and then.

The last occurrence was maybe two years after opening.  I was still hosting weddings.  I had 24 guests for breakfast and got up around 4:30 am and when I walked over to the Inn, there were two guests sitting on the Veranda.  I had to get the quiche in the oven, I greeted them and went into the kitchen.  Once I got the quiche in the oven, I came out to the Veranda to chat with them.  Thinking maybe they didn’t find the bed comfortable, I asked “Is everything OK, did you sleep well?” and the first words out of their mouth was “Is your place haunted?”  And I said “No, why do you ask?”  They both recalled him sitting on the love seat, removing his sneakers and placing them under the love seat.  For some reason, they both woke up at 4 am.  He went to use the bathroom and tripped over his sneakers that were now in the middle of the floor instead of under the love seat.  Again, if I’m haunted, she has a sense of humor.

There hasn’t been any activity since, other than a few instances that I can directly blame on my lack of memory, “Did I put that there, I thought I left that in the kitchen.”

I have heard that spirits get agitated when there’s new owners (ever see Beetlejuice?, one of my favorite movies).  If it was Eliza, I think she decided I am one of the “good guys” and is at rest.

So if you want to meet Eliza, book now for my paranormal weekend January 26 & 27.  The weekend will start Friday with a cocktail party of heavy appetizers, beer & wine.  And a group reading by psychic Sara Sachs. Saturday, Denise (who’s worked did some investigations for SciFi’s Ghost Hunters and crew will come in and set up their equipment.  She has all those heat sensor machines, laser machines and other gear ghost hunters use.

I’m not one into threats, but I tried this once before two years ago.  I didn’t have any reservations for the weekend before Halloween and agreed with Denise to do this.  I ended up selling out without one person booking for the paranormal.  A lot of guests have expressed interest in attending a paranormal weekend here.  Most recently, this past fall I had four couples insist that if I do it to let them know, they definitely would attend.  I sent a personal invitation to all four couples, one initially told me they couldn’t attend and the other three I haven’t heard from.  If I don’t sell some rooms, I will not try this again.  There’s my threat.  🙂  What else do you have to do in the middle of winter?

If course I am sitting here listening to Reggae and Jah Cure came on with their hit song What Will It Take and the middle of the song they sing “Lady, my love is gonna to haunt you”, coincidence?

That’s it and Boo to you,

ed

 

Hi,

 

The Snow Angel project started in Pittsburgh and expanded to Allegheny County.  Unfortunately because of the lack of funding, Allegheny County is no longer in the program.  In case you are unaware of the Snow Angel project is it pares healthy men and women with elderly or disabled that are unable to clear the snow from their walkways.  You can go to the Snow Angels website or call 412-475-2459 to request assistance or volunteer.  So far 62 new people have requested assistance and only 23 new has signed up to volunteer.  In addition to the new requests 100 that have been helped in the past are requesting help again.  Last winter 250 requested assistance and 80 volunteered, a big gap.  The website has a map with the locations of people needing help so you can volunteer for someone close.  You don’t want to volunteer to help someone miles away because you could end up being part of the problem during a snow storm driving through the mess.  A great idea and there’s no gym charge for getting in shape.  You don’t even need to do a face to face with the person you will be helping, a phone can can determine if you need to bring a shovel or will there be one there.

They offer tours of the Maxo Vanka murals at St Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale on Saturdays at 11 am and 12:30 and they last about an hour.  Maxo Vanka an artist of Croatian decent painted the murals in the 1930’s and are pretty famous.  Art Deco was in vogue in the 1930’s and you can see it’s influence in these paintings.  Visit the tours link and they request a $10 donation that goes to preservation of the murals.  They are pretty spectacular, you should schedule an appointment.

With as bitterly cold as it’s been here, I’m seeing extra birds at my feeder.   The little guys hang out on the ground pecking away at fallen seeds the bigger birds knock out.  Being the nice guy I am, I felt bad for the little guys and took a broom out so their little beaks could find the seeds without digging through the snow.  My fat birds have trampled the snow like humans do on the sidewalk.  Who would have thought they’d damp down the snow:

See how it’s all trampled down directly under the feeder?

Speaking of cold, I had frozen pipes in Bromeliad in the Carriage House this past weekend.  I can close the two Carriage House guest rooms down and not heat them in the winter during the week, I can drain the water.  I was sold out last weekend for the final regular season Steeler game and needed all the rooms.  I closed the taps, turned the water on and turned the heat on Friday in both rooms.  Something else I need to do is turn the furnace on low in the ballroom because that is under the guest rooms.  When I did it, I couldn’t get the thermostat to lower the temp from the last event I had in there.  I changed the batteries and still it wouldn’t go down.  So instead of 45 degrees, I figured I could live with 65 for the weekend.  Dumb me didn’t go back in the ballroom to see if it heated.  I got the water in the sink working but couldn’t get the tub/shower to work.  I called John, my plumber, and he said he could be here in 15 minutes!!!!!!!!!!!!  What plumber on a ten degree night New Years weekend can offer that kind of service?  John’s a super star in my world these days.  BIG shout out to John with All Pro Plumbing.  I tried finding John’s website but after several pages, I saw a link to a past blog I did where I offered kudos to John for figuring out what was wrong with my AC back in October 14, 2011 866.996.7767.

Took the gerl for her first post surgery visit with the vet.  First of all, she’s the darling at Avets, they all know her and speak so kindly about her.  She is such a positive force and everyone loves positive attitudes.  The surgeon was beaming about her recovery so far.  Thank you Dee for doing her physical therapy when you are here, it has certainly sped her recovery added to my PT.  🙂  She’s now cleared for short walks and I can keep extending them each week.  So for a while, it’s separate walks for the gerls & boiz.

Took down the holiday decorations the last two days, they are all neatly packed and stowed for another season.  The worst was taking down the outside garlands in this frigid temperatures.  I survived and didn’t fall off the porch roof removing the big wreaths.  Life is good.  🙂

Neighborhood mail is getting really bad here.  When I first moved here I received my mail by 2 pm, it keeps creeping later and later, no it’s around 5 pm.  Which is annoying, but they are not picking up the mail out of the neighborhood mail boxes.  I don’t have a mail box and don’t want to put envelopes with checks in them in the mail slot for all nefarious passers by to see.  I always take them to the corner mail box when I take the dogs for a walk, the mail box seems not to be emptied on a regular basis.  I again got my new invoice for my car payment today with a late fee and I mailed it in plenty of time.  I’m going to start taking them to the actual post office mail box.  I received my mortgage bill today 1/3/18 that was due 1/1/17 and I received my other bill from my bank two weeks ago, they normally send both bills out at the same timeWhile I’m whining, holiday cards when out several weeks ago.  And I am getting the “undeliverable” ones back.  I see a pattern where a particular zip code, a bunch are returned.  Besides the money spent making them, postage the thing that bothers me the most is taking people off my list because a mail person is too lazy to deliver mail (an assumption on my part I definitely acknowledge).  I’m considering switching to e-cards, to get a physical holiday card means a lot to me and would really hate to stop sending them.  Most are from guests that haven’t been here in a few years, but some of them are just a few months ago.  I’m always getting mail for a business over at 939 North Avenue and I’m at 939 Western Avenue two blocks south of North Avenue.  All in the same neighborhood and the same mail person.  I get mail from outside my zip code even.  Can’t they read?  And there’s nothing you can do, on several occassions I needed post card stamps to send out cards and the post office didn’t have any or I needed to bu 100 only needing 5!  That’s like your gas station not having gas or your grocery store not having milk.  How can they stay in business?

Off my soap box and on to new and exciting things happening here.  A new phone system is being installed, it basically works, the phone part.  The alarm system, door bell and surveillance cameras still need fixed.  Guests will now be able to call anywhere in the continental US for free, just like you do at home.  And now when you call The Parador, your first option will be to reach me and then you will have the option of ringing a particular room.  Say you are staying in Chenille and your daughter wants to reach you, the prompt will tell you how to ring that room.  I didn’t have them install voice mail in the rooms, too many ways that could be a problem.  So if you are staying here, just be sure to tell whomever might need to reach you, which room you are in.  And if a call comes in and I happen to be in the office, I can transfer the call to the appropriate room.  Here’s a picture of the new phones:

My desk is not normally this neat, I stacked all the papers normally strewn all over and hid them.  🙂

Everyone knows Pittsburgh has a lot a tech and has for quite some time.  Did you know the techie that invented emojis for a smiley was a CMU professor Scott Fahlaman.  If you don’t know his name, most Pittsburghers are aware it started here.  A Mt Lebanon teenager invented the first computer virus 25 years ago.  Rich Skrenta played games on computers back when games came on floppy discs (do you remember floppy discs?) and he would tamper with the floppy discs before passing them on to his friends.  The basis of Apple’s operating system was invented by another CMU professor Luis von Ahan.

Well, that’s it for today, happy New Year and remember to check in on your elderly neighbors in this frigid tempurature,

ed

 

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