Hi,

This Saturday, be sure you go down the Strip for the Strip Search. 🙂  It’s a search for the best sandwich in the Strip, hence the quirky name.  It’s going to be in Benkovitz, most recently kiddie car seats maker Mom’s was in the space at 21st and Smallman Street.  More than a dozen restaurants, food trucks and street vendors will be compete for the coveted Best Sammich in da Burg.  Vendor’s include my neighbor Peppis, Spork, Wholey’s, Meat & Potatoes, Kelly O’s, Point & Park Bugges, Muddy Water Oyster House, Strip District Meats, Edgars’ Best Tacos, Bull Dawgs, Lucy Original Banh Mi and PGH Sandwich Society.  It will run from noon until 8 pm, admission is free but there will be a small charge for the samples.  There will be live music, beer, wine and Wigle whiskey available.

I know I am going to get flack over this and I do feel bad for him, but Otto Warmbier, what were you thinking?  First of all to go to the famed world’s most notorious human rights violator North Korea and then to steal a propaganda poster!   What did you expect?

As I get depressed about what we are doing to our environment, something comes along that picks me up.  I went to a Pennsylvania Resource Council recycling event in McCandless for hard to recycle liquids this spring. They had a huge line of residents that don’t want to pollute our waterways and the Recourse Council was very efficient.  It didn’t take long to make my way through the line.  And it only cost $32 for two boxes of various liquids.  I’ve always been green and when I moved up here, I went with the most efficient bulbs available at the time and out fitted the Inn with compact Florescents.  After about 8 years, as they started burning out, I started switching to LEDs.  They were pretty pricey and I just learned, that since 2008 their price dropped 90%.  The first ones I replaced were either the ones I deliberately left on all night or stairwell lights in guest rooms that I knew they left the on all night.  They need to come up with less intense candle bulbs for my chandeliers.  I’m probably at 90% LED now,  I’ve read where we are reducing our electrical consumption so much that it’s causing coal plants and nuclear plants to close down because they are too expensive to run given the current prices for electricity.  I’ve switched my electrical supplier to Green Mountain wind energy.  I’m looking into going solar, that’s probably two years yet.  Even with their prices dropping, they claim to last up to 10 years, some do not.  How am I supposed to track them, I bought the light bulb from Home Depot in October 2016?  The time of tracking them would negate any savings from the warranty they provide.

Also good news on the PA environmental front, the state supreme court ruled that the state government can’t divert revenues from gas leases to the state general fund.    If they want to put more money in the general fund, why not reduce the size of our legislature by at least half?  We have the biggest and most expensive state government (and some say the most ineffective).  I hate it when they create a new tax for something and then divert that money to the state’s general fund because they can’t come up with a balanced budget.

There’s a new water sport for you extreme types.  Flyboard is a wide term to describe various forms of water propulsion to get you moving around.  There’s back packs, things that resemble skate boards and even a bicycle kind of thing.  You strap the devise on your back, feet or other parts of your body and release the pressure in the hose you are connected to and it propels you.  There’s a national Flyboard association and they are having a tour stop in Erie June 24 & 25.  You can watch the pros or even give it a go yourself.  Near Lancaster, OH is Jet Pack Water Adventures and also in Ohio is Sky High Hydroflight Rentals in East Liverpool, seems the only way to get info on Sky High is through face book.  They will have Flyboarders at the Regatta in the beginning of August.  My suggestion is to always do this over water instead of over dry (and hard) land.  🙂

Pittsburgh native Josh Marino had a brain injury while serving in Iraq.  When he returned to America he was suffering from PTSD from the injuries, he was stationed at Ft Riley awaiting a medical discharge.  He took a knife he owned and was contemplating suicide when he went out on his front steps and a baby kitten crawled out from under some bushes by the steps and climbed on his lap.  Josh quit feeling sorry for himself and started worrying about what he could do for this kitten, he named Scout.  He ended up feeding the litter tuna fish daily and the kitten that befriended him was the only one that wanted to cuddle with him.  One day, the litter disappeared.  He went to an adoption event at the rescue shelter and as he was walking around, a little paw came out of a cage and rubbed his leg.  He immediately recognized Scout and adopted the kitten.  He has since gone to school and got a masters  in clinical rehabilitation and works with Vets.  He made a video that is posted on Mutual Rescue.

I had two guys from Holland stay with me last week.  Bas & Lowie are both travel writers & bloggers and documenting their bicycle trip across America, all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  Bas posted a blog featuring The Parador, follow the link to his post.  Oh and for you that don’t speak Dutch, here’s a translation sans the great pictures he took:

Not many visitors from outside America know Pittsburgh. Indeed, by no means all Americans have an idea of ​​this city. Sin (Google translate is a nice tool, but not perfect, I think Sin is supposed to be Since or something, I don’t think he was calling us a city of Sin, that’s left to Las Vegas) 🙂 because Pittsburgh is fun. Not only because steel history – including robust brick buildings and big factory pipes – fits perfectly in a hip street scene, nowadays because the summers are hot, the sports teams popular and the residents of Pittsburgh are friendly.

After a little 600 kilometers, our first serious stop The Parador Inn, a Victorian-style Bed & Breakfast. The intention is to stay one night here, but a combination of a friendly owner, Ed Menzer, an intensive week and a lot of logistic plans to make sure we decide to stay overnight. It proves an excellent choice. Stress has disappeared in the Parador, not least because of the reggae music that is gently in the background throughout the day.

Victorian Caribbean

Ed Menzer is from Pittsburgh, swirled around elsewhere and returned to his hometown eleven years ago to start a Bed & Breakfast. When he saw his current building on the Western Avenue – one of Pittsburgh’s north side – for sale, he was in love. He fell as a block to the Victorian style, transformed the huge building into 9 guest rooms and runs his business eleven years later every day. Together with Dee, yes. His help with everything ended with Ed one year after the Parador started, and never left. Dee’s son, Taymar, was 7 when Dee started working. During the weekends he went along and did his homework in the library. In the meanwhile, Taymar is 17, and if he has no school, he works in the ministry. Ed: “I can not even get into the dining room, but I have to stay in the kitchen. Taymar loves to take care of people and does it all the best. ”

The style of The Parador Inn is not only Victorian, but interwoven with a Caribbean atmosphere. “Done because I like to come to the Caribbean,” Ed says. “But also because I like to listen to reggae. And now I can set it up all day. ”

The Caribbean atmosphere comes back everywhere. The wallpaper is transformed into flowery motifs or pastel tones into bright colors with monkeys, toucans and other jungle residents. In the front room is a steel room where you can enjoy happy sounds. And all rooms have a color that represents the flower of a Caribbean plant or tree. The African tulip tree, for example, blooms beautifully deep red.

E north of Pittsburgh seems far away from everything in town, but do not let it deter you. In fact, the beginning of Western Avenue has been a slow but nice march for years. A few nice places: Benjamin’s Burger Bar and Nicky’s Thai, who has been voted best Thai in Pittsburgh for four years in a row. Do you want to enter the center: 20 minutes walk you are there. Whether you take the Parador de T, the free tram that brings you to the other side of the bridge.

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Add to our growing international appeal, German airline Condor will be adding direct flights to Germany next week.  This is in addition to Delta that has had summer flights to Paris for several years now.  And Icelandic WOW that started European flights two weeks ago.

That’s it for today kids,

ed

 

Just when you thought telemarketers couldn’t get any more annoying, let me burst your bubble.  🙂  There’s a new source of irritation out there for the past year, “ringless voice mails“.  They can now enter your voicemail through a back door.  They can literally fill your mail box with repeated solicitations.  The evil Stratics Networks is offering All About the Message programs that provides this service and are requesting exemption from the ruling trying to limit phone solicitations, because your phone doesn’t actually ring.

I went to the Observatory Hill house tour last Sunday.  Possibly the most interesting wasn’t a house.  I met the owner and told her she should be on the tour.  I love her action figure collection:

Let’s take a minute to recognize a few American heroes, like Ian Grillot who came to the defense of two men of Indian decent working as engineers  in Olathe, KS.  Ian was in a local bar in February when someone (I will respect the more common practice of not reveling the nut case 1 name so he doesn’t bask in the notoriety).  Perp 1 started making racist comments to the two engineers and Ian stepped in trying to diffuse the situation.  Perp 1 (AKA also known as nut case 1) pulled a gun and shot at the two engineers killing one and wounding the other and Ian.  Just last month nut case 2 AKA Perp 2 in Portland, Oregon attacked two young women on a subway train also spewing racist comments and also telling them to go home. Three men riding on the train tried to intervene and got stabbed by nut case 2, two perished.  And then, just today, Dee was coming to work and there was a man of Asian decent (or a tourist) was sitting next to her on the “T”.  He was applying sun screen and these three young girls were staring at him pointing and laughing at him.  Dee gave them that hateful glare we all know and love so well that got the girls attention and they started dising her.  Dee never said a word, but the girls knew what she meant.  One of them even got up and came over to Dee’s seat and put her hand on Dee’s shoulder and threatened that her and her friends were going to jump Dee when she got off.  Some other man on the “T” stood up and told them, he  would gladly take care of them.  The perp 3 said “I’m just a girl, don’t threaten me.”  The man said when you accost someone you loose your rights to being a child.   I won’t continue with what Dee told the girls she was going to do to the girl’s moms afterwards.  🙂  Any of you fellow Americans that believe in what we are, need to step up to the plate and defend each other.  If you haven’t seen pictures of perp 1 and perp 2, follow my links to get a look at them.  Obviously 1 & 2 have mental health issues.  Has anyone else noticed the uptick in violence, homelessness, etc from our governments closing down long term mental health facilities without creating an appropriate back up plan?  Mental health problems can be treated and sometimes cured, but can not be ignored.  It’s also like repealing ACA without a replacement.  Save the money and screw the needy.  Over the years, we as a society have made many mistakes in mental health treatment like old style shock therapy, lobotomy, etc.  That doesn’t mean we should continue making grave errors on the silent segment of our population that doesn’t vote, own houses, hold jobs.  It’s not their fault they have mental health problems as most cancers aren’t someone’s fault (smokers are an exception to this I imagine, I hope I stopped in time).

No matter what big government does, we as Americans need to stand up for what we believe in.  Even with all the negative press these days in America, I still believe most of us believe in what our founding fathers tried to create here.  Even if it’s something small like my personal campaign of acknowledging people that look different than I when walking around.

Have a great day and enjoy our summer weather,

ed

Deagan tower chimes were made by the Deagan Company in Chicago, IL in the early 1900’s along with many other high quality percussion instruments.  John Calhoun Deagan was interested in the science of sound and was quite the innovator turning high quality instruments that changed the face of music and still does.  The Pittsburgh Symphony recently acquired a 20 note set that was originally installed in the Bethesda Evangelical Covenant Church.  After a year of restorations, they made their debut at Mahler’s Resurrection currently being performed at Heinz Hall.

Excelon Corp wants Pennsylvania to subsidize their nuclear power plants, they’re not making enough money.  I recognize the nuclear power does not pollute the air, but it does create lethal waste products that last longer than man has been on earth.  The nuclear industry receives $235M a year in subsidies in Illinois and $583,333,333 in New York a year.  If we were to take that roughly $1B a year in subsidies every year, we would have a lot more bang for the buck with solar & wind.  And maybe make these huge corporations think twice about putting their hands out for free money so they can make their profit margins.   They are whining that they provide well paying jobs and with America becoming having more energy conservation, there’s less demand.  (I didn’t realize my window replacement and LED lighting installations was going to have that much of an impact).  🙂   Solar and wind installations are well paying jobs and it would go to a lot of small business (and big ones like Solar City).  And at that point, we are done and have totally clean energy and they have less demand on their grid systems.

One of the problems with our declining bee populations is due to mites that are biting and killing the bees.  Varroa mites are deer tick sized parasites that bit drones, worker bees and larvae transmitting viruses that kill the bees.  Purdue University entomologists discovered a small amount of bees are biting the mites’ legs off.  These bees have been named Purdue ankle biters.  🙂  They are now breeding ankle biters and introducing them to other hives.  They had been trying to kill the insects on insects with chemicals, what a great idea, using nature to cure nature’s problems.  Good news, due to the ankle biters and other efforts, the declining numbers of hives has slowed.

Fresh Georgia peaches anyone?  Stephen & Jessica Rose are originally from Georgia and when they missed the peaches they were used to, they started a business of taking trucks down to pick up the bounty and selling them off the back of the truck in Nashville where they now live.  It’s been so successful, that they have branched out to various locations in the Northeast.  They are coming to Pittsburgh Sunday  from 8 – 10 at Rollier Hardware in Mt Lebanon, 9 – 11 at Bedneer’s Farm and Greenhouse in McDonald, noon – 1:30  at Zone 28 in Harmar, 12:30 – 2 at Ambridge Do It Best and 2:30 – 4 at the Tractor Supply in Natrona Heights and 3:30 – 5 a Fun Fore All in Cranberry.  Because of the efficiency of their system, the peaches are no more than a couple of days old.  The peaches are sold in 25# boxes for $40.  The peach trucks carry peach recipes to help peach buyers out.

I want to post this short blog, so you peach aficionados can plan on tomorrow’s delivery, enjoy,

ed

Hi,

The iconic Jerry’s Records is somewhat closing this summer (July 31 to be exact).  Jerry’s in need of more knee surgery and is retiring rather than worrying about coming back.  So he sold the store, name, phone number etc to employee Chris Grauzer who will keep it intact.   Jerry’s longer range plans are to reduce his 20,0000 record collection on line and at record shows.  He says he doesn’t need 2 1/2 feet of Billie Holiday records, so he figures he can get by with just one foot of her recordings.  🙂

I learned something about dogs, they don’t like being petted on the head.  There was an article in the paper from a vet that pointed out that dogs like attention, but not to have the top of their heads patted.  I’ve always noticed when I start petting one of my dogs on the head, they move their head so I end up scratching them under their chin, behind their ears, or they move for a butt scratch.

For you not too committed bicyclists, there’s a Tour de Donut in northern Lawrence county this coming weekend.  It will be held in New Wilmington, home to Westminster College.  The “race” starts at the college around 8 am.  You can per-register at their website or basically just show up.  One of the reasons it’s held there is there’s about 2 dozen independent donut shops within an hour’s drive.  It’s part of New Wilmington’s Donut DAZE celebration of all things donut with various donut eating contests, best donut contest and more fun.

The main reason for this post is to ask all make a minute of silence to remember our fallen service members, that’s what this holiday’s all about.  I am a vet, but not a combat vet.  Some Americans gave so much so we have the leisure to discuss the pros and cons of Trump vs Clinton or Bernie Sanders and other pressing issues of our time in a CIVIL manner.  Which is what should differentiate us from those in other countries that just shoot someone or detonate a bomb because you have another religion than theirs.  I have zero tolerance for intolerance.  It’s pretty bad in America when some nut case berates two woman for wearing veils and being Muslim and two fellow commuters came to her defense and got stabbed to death.  At least the police and courts are dealing with him instead of as I said above other cultures might start a fatwa against all white supremacists and a blood bath ensues.  For all our problems we have an amazing country and I am very grateful.  By the way, I still believe aliens helped the Egyptians build the pyramids and our founding fathers were aliens, how else could someone make such an amazing document as out constitution without being an alien, it just blows me away.  I just hope they come back and bail us out of the mess we are creating.

 

Have a great Memorial Day and party safe,

ed

The Three Rivers Arts Festival runs Jun 2 through 11 and I went to the extended forecast to see if rain was predicted for the first day of the festival.  The forecast is for no rain, are these weatherpersons inept?   🙂 It rains the first day of the festival every year.  There’s a ton of activities something to peak everyone’s interest.  Many forms of music, art, dance and other activities.  For details, follow the link to their site.

Speaking of free entertainment, Citipark’s free film schedule was released.  Sunday night films has moved from Flagstaff Hill to Schenley Plaza this year.  Schenley Plaza has 26 films between the two nights (Sundays & Wednesdays), Highland Park Resvoir has 3 (Mondays), West End Elliot 13 (Tuesdays), Brookline 13 (Thursdays), Arsenal Park 12 (Fridays), Grandview Park 12 (Saturdays), Riverview Park 12 ( Saturdays).  Allegheny County has a series of free movies and concerts in South Park, Deer Lakes Park and North Park.  Follow the link for movies scheduled which nights and go out and meet your neighbors.

Not free, but for just $10 for live music, who can complain?  The city of Monongahela is hosting Rockin on the Mon at the Monongahela Aquarium for my southern friends.  There’s a concert schedule on their website.  Mon City is one of the Valley cities that seem to be “holding it’s own” in the Valley misery caused by the closing of the steel mills. Though I’m seldom involved in that area anymore, I did grow up in Finleyville and had ties to the Valley and my dad worked in the steel mill in Hazelwood.

Speaking of concerts, Allegheny County announced their Summer Concert Series schedule in both South Park and Hartwood Acres.  Concerts are listed on their website and are free.  If you go, particularly to one at Hartwood Acres bring a book, cards or board game for after the concert, it can be challenging getting out.  I sit on my front porch after Steeler home games when it’s warm and traffic sits for periods of time.  75,000 people just left the stadium and some drivers start honking their horns.  What are you stupid?  You just left with 75,000 others and traffic is going to be heavy.  It only last for just over an hour.  Park on the street and come over and sit on my porch with me and we can talk, maybe solve all the problems of the world.

Speaking of solving the problems of the world, I want to add a couple of planks to my 2020 campaign.  I want to abolish the death penalty.  Besides it’s just wrong, the money we spend defending the sentence, the money spent in special jail housing, the salaries of judges, convicted’s defense is just too much.  I propose life without the possibility of parole as an alternative.  I alos propose creating a huge tax on robo marketing.  I guess we can’t just ban it because of free speech,  so let’s tax it.  Not sure how to value the value (like the value of a new car is easily appraised at say $24,000) how do you value the marketing value to marketing companies.  Maybe create a new kind of tax, the annoyance tax?  Put a value on my time and possible lost revenue because my phone was busy and couldn’t take a reservation?  I also want to tax non profits, OK calm down. 🙂  I very much support non profits and the wonderful work most of them do.  But when you get to these mega corporations like UPMC that each year barely meet the minimum free indignant medical care required to meet their “non profit” status.  Close to 1/3 of the land in the city that could be taxed are in the hands of non profits.  My thoughts are on speculation.  Why  should UPMC be able to hold on to property that isn’t used in their “mission” on speculation only that they might use it in the future.  Either develop and use it or pay taxes.  My next item on the non profits is figure out a new formula for indignant care.  Just barely making 4% free care with executiveS earning multi million dollar salaries.  If they are making that  much money to pay their elite that much, they could be more compassionate.

Anyone that knows me, knows how crazy I am.  The better you know me, the crazier you think I am, just ask Dee.  🙂  I have very specific tastes.  When I opened, I wanted coffee service in my guest rooms.  My opinion is people that want coffee don’t normally want a big pot, they are looking for that first jolt in the morning while getting dressed.  So I bought small coffee makers (4 cups).  I had to look around to find a roaster that could package one ounce packets and lucked out.  I found Iron Star Roasters in West Mifflin that can handle my needs.  They also own Coffee Tree coffee shops.  My guests seem to enjoy the coffee I serve at breakfast, Costa Rica El Indio brand and that I am able to have the same in my guest rooms, because Iron Star is able to package smaller packages for me.  Tim if you are reading this, join the 21st century and update your website so people can order coffee from it.  I can’t tell you how many guests have asked about purchasing it.

I hate “new and improved”.  I need several clocks in my kitchens so I can keep track of time for breakfast.  The Boston Accustic radio in the hot kitchen has a radio and clock and has worked great for 10 years.  I had one on the coffee maker in the cold kitchen, that the coffee pot still worked fine, but the clock stopped working.  So I tried to buy a new one off the shelf, I couldn’t find a coffee maker with a clock so I bought one from their website.  Six months later the clock stopped working.  So I bought an electric clock I found on the Internet.  Somehow, last fall, the time automatically went back an hour when the time changed and then this spring it sprung forward.  It runs about 4 minutes fast and I’ve set it back to the correct time twice and it keeps moving forward four minutes.  It doesn’t keep adding time, it just thinks the time should be four minutes earlier that it its.  So I’ve resigned myself to accepting that the time is wrong and there’s nothing I can do but remember it’s four minutes fast.  I didn’t see anything on the site that they controlled the time on my clock.

I try hard not to have similarities to a Marriott.  The tumblers in my guest bathrooms I have used Stolzle Weinland, they have always been hard to find.  I prefer the 9 ounce tumbler and twice had to accept 10 ounces or more.  This year, after months of fighting with the company that normally carries them, they had them on order (the larger ones) that were late being delivered and then the order was totally cancelled.  So I had settle on a Libbey tumbler, I feel so much like a boring Hilton.

My latest battle is the motion sensor on the side porch.  There’s a lot I need to keep track of and like to keep life as simple as possible.  I already own LED outdoor spot lights, I don’t want to have to carry another specialty bulb which were the only ceiling mounted lights I could find at Ace, Home Depot and Lowes.  So I looked at their wall mounted motion censor lights and it seemed I could mount it on the porch ceiling and move the sensor so it would sense motion on the porch.  Not so.  After hours of trying to adjust it, I went on line looking for a spot light ceiling mounted motion sensor light fixture, after three hours, I’ve given up and going to buy a stupid new bulb ceiling mounted motion sensor.

Something that’s bothered me for years is why is Walmart such a success, are Americans getting cheap and only concerned about the cheapest price?  I don’t think it’s that.  I think it’s our rebellion to corporate greed.  Trump was on a close path to the dissatisfaction of the working middle class, but not quite on the mark.  We are all tired of corporate greed.  We are still paying for the coal barons that made their fortunes extracting coal from the earth and we are now paying, what they should have to clean up their mess with acid mine drainage and we will be pay for years on that and the new travesty of long wall extraction.  They take the coal out and the homes above face mine subsidence as the old mines collapse.  Home owners can buy “Mine Subsidence Insurance” through the state, which we are subsidizing.  I’ve started my day with Tetley tea all my adult life.  I’m old enough to remember when they took the paper dividers out of the box to save money on packaging (I’m OK with saving money by shaving waste).   I’m also old enough to remember when they reduced the amount of tea in each bag, it the taste was similar, but not the same.  Most recently, the financial crisis we had to bail them out.  The corporate executives still got their multi million dollar paychecks.  I don’t believe people go into Walmart thinking of hedge fund managers, but it’s a subtle dissatisfaction with the status quo.

I took da kidz down to the Humane Society to weigh them.  Da gerl is still down 10# and da boi has gained 10#, so he’s going on a diet.  I tried today and green beans are not acceptable to him. I will have start with two or three at a time until he’s used to it.  Sorry RJ, fat is not on the program.  🙂

The Three Rivers Regatta has moved back to August this year, August 4 -6 to be exact.  Too much debris in the water with the earlier dates.  Not much on their website yet.

Observatory Hill is having their house tour June 4 from noon to 5 pm.  Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 the day of the tour.  If you go to the tour, give yourself some time to go over to River View Park, it has spectacular views of the river and city.  And there isn’t any tour scheduled for the Observatory, but it’s cool to look at from the outside and the park is beautiful.  In 1859, Lewis Bradley, a lens pioneer built one of the first observatories in the world there, it is now owned and operated by Pitt.

That’s it for today, keep dry and happy,

ed

 

The mantel clock in the Parlor broke.  The chimes stopped and then the time quit working.  I found this guy in 7 Fields that does clock repair, Jeff Campbell.  If you need a clock repaired, he’s good, he’s reasonable and for me was fast.  Because the parlor clock is such a focal point, he put it on a fast track and I got I got it back in about a week.  He does it part time, more or less as a hobby.  the hyper link is his email and his phone number is 724-816-7147, if you would like to get a clock repaired.  I also learned a good bit from him.  I knew the clock in the dining room was an Ansonia mantel clock:`

When I carried the Parlor clock into his shop, he referred to is as a kitchen clock and he asked me something about the Ansonia clock, I asked him how he knew it was an Ansonia and he said it’s written right here on the bottom, sure enough it’s also an Ansonia:

And I took that big, garish gold clock that’s been in the front dining room for years to get it fixed.  He said “Oh you have a Japy Frees clock”, its a French clock and at one time had matching candle sticks.  The main reason it didn’t keep time was because it was missing the pendulum.  Here it is keeping time in the main dining room:

Jeff’s not a big fan of French clocks, but does like the Ansonias.  The reason I put the Japy Frees in the main dining room is the Ansonia is a PIA to wind, you have to wind it from the back through a little hole.  The Japy Frees is front winding, I like easy.  🙂

I had a long conversation with Lester this morning.  I really don’t understand “squirrel”, but I believe he was complaining the birds are eating all his peanuts.  He was on top of the gecko swing chittering away at me and I noticed the plate I put peanuts on for the squirrels was empty.  I told him he needs to get up earlier and told him the old adage The early bird gets the worm, or in this case the peanut, I don’t believe he understands “English”.  I put some more peanuts on the dish and he seemed happy.

Pittsburgh filmed TV series Downward Dog premiers this season at 9:30 on ABC.  It’s a cute story about a dog’s perspective on us.  Speaking of dogs, A Dog’s Purpose, one of my favorite books was turned into a movie that I hear is very lame.  I won’t go and watch because I loved the book so much.  Every third page you cry and then laugh.  I don’t care for the sequel books much.

Braddock mayor John Fetterman’s wife Gisele founded 412 Food Rescue in 2015 with Leah Lizarondo, so far they have saved 750 tons of edible food from going in the trash.  A number of grocery stores, restaurants and caterers have signed on and they distribute the saved food to 289 non profits, schools and public housing communities.  What they do is pair available food to agencies that want it.  Not everyone would want a case of avocados say, so their app lists available food and agencies that want it sign on.  Here’s where YOU come in.  One of the problems saving food is if there is the said case of avocados in Finley Township and an agency in Southside that wants it.  It would be cost ineffective to send a truck out to Finley to transport it.  If you happen to be at the Mall at Robinson, click on the app and are heading home to the Northside, you click that you are able to transport it.  No major commitment that you will man the food pantry for a four hour shift.  Just pick the case of avocados up and on the way home drop it off.  They need tons of us to step up to the plate and sign on with them.  They estimate they have saved $3.7M worth of food with their 1,500 volunteers.  Are YOU going to make it 1,501?  🙂  I’m so in love with the Fettrerans I’d like to open a bed and breakfast in Braddock just to be around John and Gisele.  Speaking of mayors, today is primary election day and I endorse Mayor Peduto.  I don’t agree with all his policies, but I do believe he has US as his primary focus.  Not like that last bozo that was more concerned with snow bunnies at Seven Springs that he missed the worst snow storm we’ve had in years and lining his pockets.  What’s he doing now, some well paid consulting with one of his cronies.  I didn’t say Luckie, so he can’t get me on slander.  🙂

Speaking of food, I don’t recall if I told you about my anniversary party last year.  My good friends Lisa & Mike the owners of Fabled Table Catering did the food for me.  My sister wanted to do something to help out and offered to do the dessert.  She was going to make a ton of individual cheese cakes.  Mr Efficiency (me) said why not make them on sheet trays and just cut them into squares.  Which she did.  After the party, I asked the remaining guests to take as much food as they wanted and then took the rest up to Pleasant Valley, a men’s shelter in the neighborhood.  They were really grateful.  I still had something like 400 little pieces of cheesecake in the frig.  I was talking to my across the street neighbors Paula & Lenny about the cheesecake and asked if they wanted a bunch.  Paula said what about Judge?  He used to work for Lenny when he had a pizza shop and now lives in senior housing in East Liberty.  So they called him to see if he wanted the cheesecakes.  He said sure.  So Paula & Lenny loaded the cheesecakes in their car and drove them over.  Judge was helping unload them into the senior common room.  He went up to help a friend that’s mobility challenged to come down for some.  By the time they came down, most all of the 400 little cheesecakes were gone.  There must of been a bunch of little old ladies shoving cheesecakes in their pockets.  We made a bunch of old people happy.  🙂

That’s it for today, enjoy life,

ed

Hi,

I’ve spoken with a few other Pennsylvania Innkeepers and they are all complaining that their occupancies are down this year.  I recently read an article on Inns in North St Pete FLA.  Of the four, three are either closed or closing. Industry experts are blaming this on Air BnB and other on-line booking sites like Home Away, etc.  These unregulated companies are not being regulated by our legislatures.    I periodically go to Air BnB’s website.  One ad I’ve seen several times is someone is renting the couch in their living room for $35 with the caveat their cat normally sleeps on the couch.  Generally, I don’t see Air BnB as competition, if you’re so cheap you are willing to spend $35 to sleep on a couch with a cat, I really don’t want you here.  🙂  I am aware of some Innkeepers that list on that site.  Air BnB has been talking about giving legitimate Inns a badge they can put on their listing for at least a year I’ve heard of.  Air BnB’s are not licensed or inspected.  They are not required to have minimum safety safe guards like even smoke detectors or locks on the room they rent out to strangers.  They don’t have second egresses in case of fire.  One of my recent guests’ last visit to PGH was in a place she found in Air BnB, I don’t know what she paid, but she said the hosts were hoarders and the entire first floor was hallways through boxes.  The electricity in the room was supplied by an extension cord from the first floor.    Because of the rise in opposition to them and to protect their business model, Air BnB is negotiating with states claiming they will collect the sales tax and remit it directly to the state, without any back up.  Although I have yet to audited by the state, the county comes by every three years and goes through all my books.  I am aware that I need to be ready for a state audit.  Pennsylvania is one of the states that signed on to this, our state Innkeepers association, PABBI is trying to educate out legislators.  I don’t much care about someone renting their couch out for $35 on occassion, but I know a former banker that is gobbling up local properties and running them through Air BnB.  Matt visited me a year ago to see if I was interested in selling, he owns two properties over by Allegheny General Hospital.

Fortunately for me, this is not a problem with The Parador.  I’m on track to again see a 65% occupancy this year, which I’ve done in the past.  But the last two years, I’ve been in the mid 50’s.  Most bed and breakfasts run an occupancy of somewhere in the 40% range.  65% is what big box hotels aim for and I’m doing it without the big advertising campaigns they run nor do I have a 1-800-Hilton.  🙂

I haven’t whined in a bit.    Watching the news in the morning, I see a lot of car commercials.  Does anyone else wonder what new car’s mark up is if they can offer $10,000 – $20,000 discounts?  If they can offer that amount in a commercial, you aren’t getting any special deal because they have to honor it for anyone purchasing that vehicle.

While I’m whining, they moved the Pittsburgh off Western Avenue AGAIN.  They did it several years ago.  The route crosses over to the Northside and goes around Allegheny Center (the former Allegheny Center Mall, now Nova Place a high tech incubator) and then down to what’s referred to as the Northshore, along the river between the stadiums.  When I called the Marathon organization, her first excuse was the “Sisters Bridges are being rebuilt and causing problems routing the route.  When I said the Marathon is already on the Northside, but turning back down away from Western Avenue.  She then said the reason was the theme this year was something about us being a city of champions and that’s why they want the runners to run through parking lots and see the two stadiums.  My first issue here is it is one of the few times us small businesses have the option to be exposed to 30,000 to 40,000 people as they run past.  They built PNC Park because the Pirates were threatening to leave the city without public money to build it.  They used the same ploy to build Heinz Field for the Steelers.  I wasn’t living here at the time, but I believe the voters rejected this and somehow the voters lost and the stadium was built with tax payer money.  My other issue is when you drive down any of our interstates, there’s no sign “Take exit 1c for The Parador, as there is for both stadiums and the casino.  Granted, I have never had 75,000 people drive into the city looking for The Parador on one day like for a Steeler home game.  Not to mention, how boring is it running through parking lots?  I guarantee there will be no porch parties, like there is on my street cheering the runners on.  And the banner I had created to encourage the runners will remain in my closet this year.

If you would like to express your displeasure of the Marathon supporting mega concerns a the expense of small businesses here’s a link for the Marathon organization, a link to our convention bureau Visit PIttsburgh and one for the main sponsor Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Speaking of running, Johnstown is having their marathon on May 27 and it will follow the path of the deadly 1889.  The first one was in 2014 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the flood.  The first run had 500 participants, last year it had grown to 700.  In addition to the race, Johnstown will be having a festival called a Taste of Johnstown in their Downtown area.  And the National Park Service with have two different free tours, reservations required.  One will be of Cottage Row and the other will be of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club.  Reservations for either tour can be made by calling 814-886-6170.

Da gerl is becoming quite the athlete, she doesn’t compete with RJ.  She just sits there and watches me bounce the ball on the bricks in the Courtyard as he jumps up to catch it.  Lately, I’ve taken several tennis balls out with me and bounce one hard so RJ has to work for it and then immediately while he’s distracted, bounce one softly between her and me.  But it’s hysterical to watch.  She has the concept down pat, but not the coordination.  The ball will bounce to the left and she’ll jump to the right.  She’s closing in on a 50% catch rate.    I should get Dee to do a video of it.  Speaking of da gerl, I recently saw pictures of her and RJ as puppies.  Here they are (or used to be):

And my “old guy” he hates it when I call him that:

That’s it for today, enjoy this spring weather we are having, the gardens are growing in very nicely,

ed

There’s some pretty big news at The Parador, da gerl has lost just over 10 # now.  It’s getting harder to tell her from her brother, they both have svelte waists.  I guess I have to take her to a store to fulfill my promise to get her a new bikini for the summer.   🙂

 

The other big thing is the parking lot has been replaced.  Here’s after they did the excavation and put down the membrane:

And here’s the finished product:

And RJ (or is it Rayzette?)  🙂 doing the final inspection, it passed.  I had the lines reconfigured so the larger space is now the back spot, still a tight squeeze, but not as bad as it was.

The conversion of Chenille and Oleander is complete.  I love how Oleander turned out, Chenille I will tweak it next winter, can’t do it at this point, it will take a bit of time.  Here’s Oleander:

Chenille had an extra challenge because I can’t block the sprinkler head with the lace, I have a better idea of how to handle it.  Here’s the current version:

My good friends Tony & Sue from State College were down for a visit.  Tony is the SOB that labeled me Special Ed when we all went to Costa Rica two years ago.  🙂  Besides all his gardening skills,he  gives me great advice, he even has orchids that are patented, he has made all the furniture in their house.  Not just boards nailed together, he puts  inlay in everything and does some amazing designs.  The Mellon bench in the Parlor, has a skirt that is supposed to be below the gold cushion.  It has been off since I bought the place.  Here’s a picture of how the bench has been for 10 years:

And here it is with the skirt re-connected:

It’s the little things that pull a place together.  After 10 years of looking at that broken piece of furniture, every time I walk in the Parlor now I stop and admire it.  So we laid it down so the back and bottom was exposed and attached the skirt again.  An interesting thing happened.  We took all the pillows off and when we flipped it upside down, the gold seat and back are actually two pieces connected with hinges.  I guest maybe it was built as a daybed for short people.  🙂  The mantel in the dining room has little fences on the bottom of the shelves on the two sides.

See the little fence on the upper shelf, I’ve had the pieces for the bottom shelf.  Tony took the pieces home with him to drill out and fix the broken spindles.  I guess I should stop referring to him as a SOB.  🙂

There was a cute article in the paper today about happiness, Dr Sharp at the Happiness Institute  in New South Wales, Australia came up with an acronym CHOOSE.  The C stands for Clarity of goals provides direction and life purpose; H stands for healthy living involves activity, exercise, diet, nutrition and sleep; O stands for optimism focuses on a positive attitude, but also realistic thinking and is something people can learn; the second O is for happiness leads to and involves quality relationships; S stands for strong core qualities what is your strengths and focus on them and the E stands for enjoy the moment.  Here’s a link to the full article in today’s Post-Gazette.

The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation has announced their free Friday tours.  The tours are free and lead by PH&LF docents lead the one hour tours.  They run about an hour and start at 10 am and noon.

 

Yes, I’m what they call a “back slider”,  I said I wasn’t listening to NPR any more, or any news station, it’s too depressing.  I was listening the other day when they were talking to Professor Andrew Ferguson, after being a Federal prosecutor for years, he now teaches law at a college, I don’t recall which.  Professor Ferguson, an African American, said part of the reason for racial divide in our court system, is the method used in jury selection.  The jury selection process uses property tax records and driver’s license records.  He said people of color have a lower percentage of home ownership and drivers licenses than white citizens.  He said the jury pool should include persons signed up for housing assistance, food assistance, etc.  Makes sense to me.

The Humane Society is having a fund raiser this Friday from noon – 3, April 7 at the location right down the street from me on Western Avenue.  And then at their East End location Sunday April 9 from 10 am till 1 pm.  They’ve partnered with Goodwill to accept donations of small stuff (no furniture).  Goodwill will be making a monetary donation to the Humane Society for items donated.

Last post I spoke about some new retails in Downtown.  I’ve spoken to the Downtown Partnership and they have spaces available, contact them if you want to open a brick and mortar store, they are looking for start ups.  And good luck.  And let me know so I can include you in a future post.

Spring has finally sprung, the tulips, daffodils and hyacinths have all started to spring.  The trees are budding out.  My playground mulch came in so I pulled the bins of elephant ears up from their hibernation in the basement.  They were so eager to be planted they had the lids on their containers pushed up.  It’s warm enough that I planted the elephant ears, they are the sickly white sprouts you see.

The playground mulch came in and Dragun dumped it in the back of my parking lot. I had to get it out of the parking lot because Pittsburgh Asphalt should be replacing my parking lot Monday.  I got all 10 yards spread around, and the Courtyard is looking so pretty.  All my other perennials are pushing their cute little heads out.

Here’s da kidz enjoying their freshly mulched yard and on squirrel patrol:

Speaking of da kidz, da gerl is showing a waist now, she’s lost a little more weight and the two to three walks a day are building lean muscles on her (and me).  🙂

I went out to Lumber Liquidators to get some more of the floor cleaner and when I walked in a guy was behind the counter and I pointed at the gallon jug and said “Can I HAVE one of those?”.  He then asked for my credit card and I said “No, you said I could HAVE it”.  He then apologized and said he was sorry but English is his second language and I said well, what is you primary language and responded “Sarcasm.”  I loved it and asked if I could use it and he sarcastically said sure.  🙂

Saturday I’m going to a Pennsylvania Resource Council class on rain barrels at fern hollow in Sewickly.  They have a whole series of them scheduled in the area for the next several months, see the link on their site.  It costs $80 and that includes a rain barrel.  This year I would like to take out four downspouts and put rain barrels on them.  It should be fairly easy where I want to start in the Courtyard.  If it goes as I hope, I should be able to remove 3/4 of the run off from my roofs and be able to water my gardens without using city water, lower water bills 🙂

That’s it for today,

ed

First off, I would like to apologize to the weather people.  Although I didn’t discuss their reliability in my last post/rant.  🙂  Generally their forecasts are pretty accurate.  But they remind me of Rayzette she is so eager to get to the park and be off leash she drags me down the street.  She’s not being a bad gerl, just impetuous.  When challenging weather is eminent, weather persons are like her and can’t control themselves.  When I was in Florida, it’s going to be the worst hurricane ever   and this snow storm will drop lots of snow and paralyze the city.  When they gave the weather the next morning, they didn’t say we made a mistake, the weather gods sent a high pressure system that pushed the storm north and it missed us.  They said its snowing now and that was just some flurries.  Rayzette doesn’t apologize either.  🙂

The Downtown Partnership is trying something new by luring unique small stores into vacant store fronts.  Like apparel store Steel City on Smithfield Street and Moop on First Avenue a handmade handbag store that’s been selling it’s wares on line for ten years.  What the Downtown Partnership should do is coordinate with the big real estate companies for free or greatly reduced rent.  Investors buy a building downtown and it sit empty for a long time waiting on development plans, architectural drawings, city approval.  (Look how long the former Macy’s has been sitting empty).  Why not stick a small company in there with the understanding that when construction starts, or they need that space for construction, the vendor needs to move.  The Partnership would know this in advance and if the start up hasn’t gain the strength yet to afford Downtown rents, maybe find another location for them.

This caught my attention partially because I lived in Atlantic City for 10 years and also because I think a major problem in America is we don’t take responsibility for our neighborhoods, white, black, brown.  Ibn Ali Miller received recognition from the city council of Atlantic City for his bravery.  Ibn stood between two teens that were fighting at the egging on from their peers.  Ibn called out the other kids, because he lives with them and pointed out how one kid’s parents would be ashamed of his actions because they had worked so hard to try and raise their kids rightly and pointed out another kid who’s father’s in jail for life for what he did.  I don’t know if I would have been as calm and well spoken as Ibn in a similar situation.  Two funny stories of mine, when I first bought my place there was a domestic on the sidewalk in front of my house.  The two men were telling the woman why everyone hates her, it was pretty brutal, laced with profanity and loud.  Not five feet away, I called the police to report the domestic, 911 wanted descriptions and as I was giving the descriptions of the three one finally noticed I was standing there on the phone with the police and said Aw man, he’s calling the police.  They left and took their domestic out of my neighborhood.  My other neighborhood story is one day last summer I was sitting on my porch and two ladies obviously had had lunch in one of our local establishments.  As they got in their car the lady on my side put her soda can on the curb.  I said “Excuse me Miss, would you wait for just a minute while I get my car and follow you home and put that litter in the front of your home.”  She quickly retrieved the soda can and they left.  I guess they didn’t want some nut case following them home.  🙂

I’ve been diligently working on converting Chenille and Oleander from full/double beds to kings without loosing the Victorian look.  Kings are much more popular than fulls,  I’ve had several guests comment when entering the room, Oh, I didn’t realize the bed was only a full, not complaining, just observing and they ended up being very happy.  Many people don’t read the full (pun intended) description and miss that the bed is just a full.  They are busy looking at how attractive the rooms are.  So what I decided to do is remove the side rails and foot boards, put them in the basement labeled in case someone wants to put them back together.  And attach the headboards to the wall.  Since a king is wider than a full, to keep that from being too noticeable, I draped lace to give a visual break.  The first one I did was Oleander.  Since the wall behind the headboard is brick, as is most of my interior (and exterior) walls, I had to drill into the brick and put wooden plugs held with Liquid Nails.  I put two eyelets just below the top of the headboard and tied picture hanging wire between them and lifted the head board onto the hook to keep it from being top heavy.  I put two plugs low so I could put lag screws through the base and not be visible without moving the bed. good friend Kerry that owns KS Kennedy Floral and Gourmet right down the street did the lace in Oleander, he has a much better flare than I.  Here’s the new Oleander:

There was some challenges with Chenille.  Towards the left of the bed, there was stairs that went up to what is now African Tulip when I bought the place.  We took the stairs out and used that space and part of the old maid’s closet to create African Tulip’s bathroom and ended up framing the wall out to close out the door that had lead to the stairs.  I wanted the hook that would hold the top of the bed tight into one of the studs, which sort of set the bed off center and to add to that, I couldn’t cover the sprinkler head, so that’s why the lace is a bit off.  I had to finish both rooms, they are sold tonight.  I’ve been looking at it a bit and might change things around this week, Chenille is empty most of this week.  Might be a new picture next post.

One more thing I’d like to talk about is cleaning my laminate bamboo floors.  When I had them installed, I was told to just use water, not chemical cleaners.  They’ve been streaky since.  I saw Lumber Liquidators has a laminate cleaning system.  We’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now and it really works.  There’s applicator sort of like a big Swifter that you spray the cleaner on the applicator (not directly on the floor) and then apply to the floor.  Chenille, my most popular room (the one with the most traffic) was the worst and we started with that one.  It is totally amazing.  I love it when I find a product that lives up to what it’s supposed to do.  Here’s the cleaning solution:

 

That’s it for now, enjoy this spring like weather we’re having,

ed

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