Just got back from Lake Worth, Florida.  Had a wonderful week.  Stayed at The Mango Inn.  Chet & Staff do a nice job. Friendly staff, clean rooms & grounds, excellent breakfasts.  Since they don’t offer breakfast until 8 (same as me)  🙂 and I get up early, I would walk over to the beach and get a coffee at Benny’s on the Beach, drink it, read my book and watch the sun rise.  I took a picture each morning, here’s two of my favorites:

And another:

What a great way to start a day.  🙂

I had about a dozen friends on my dance card for lunch, dinner or cocktails up in the Lake Worth/West Palm area.  John is an architect/interior designer that stayed with me when I first opened.  He came down from Manhattan to work on Nancy’s new West Palm residence and we’ve stayed in touch.  He now lives in Ft Lauderdale.  My suggestion was we go to Monkey Jungle, one of my favorites down in South Florida.  Turns out he hates monkeys and wanted to go to John Deering’s Vizcaya in South Miami.  It was something always on my list but never made it.  It turned out to be such a great choice.  I loved it, here’s the front:

They built a barge as a breaker to protect the mansion:

Originally there was a pergola on the one end.  When he had parties, they would shuttle the guests out on a gondola.

I’ve often seen things called a casino, I always assumed it meant a gambling hall, I guess I assumed that because of the years I worked at the Atlantic City casinos.  In Italian, it can also mean small room or brothel 🙂  Vizcaya also has a casino, small room.  Mr. Deering seemed to love coral rock, you find it everywhere.  Here’s his casino from the outside:

This inside picture shows some of his use of coral rock:

And this picture shows some detail work in the original orchid garden:

I was planning on returning today, Monday, January 23.  It’s just over an 18 hour drive and initially planned get up early this morning and drive up.  Sunday was my free day and thought I’d drive half way, pull over for awhile, watch the Steelers in some hotel.  I drove through all that nasty weather the South had on Sunday, every five minutes they had tornado warnings break into the radio.  I got into Virginia, grabbed a bite, got a second wind and decided to push on through and listen to the game on the radio, maybe stop at a bar in Beckley and watch the last quarter.  I heard the first two quarters then went through the tunnels on I77 and lost that station.  Apparently, the Steelers aren’t real popular in southern WV, couldn’t find another station strong enough to hear well.  I was arriving close to Bekley when Roethlisberger threw the interception and I decided why waste my time.  Got in around 2 am safe and sound to the great joy of da kidz, they were dancing and jumping.  Dogs always make you feel special.

That’s it today guys,




We are in PIttsburgh’s Restaurant Week, a great time to check out new dining options.  There’s a lot of great restaurants participating.

This Saturday City Books, right down the street from me is hosting Kyle Simpson Jazz Collective from 7:30 – 8:30.  I love having Arlen in our neighborhood, she’s such a pleasure.

Speaking of books, City of Asylum’s book store in their multipurpose venue Alphabet City opens January 28.  Finally, something’s happening in the Garden Block.  Like Arlen, if you want a non Barnes and Noble or Amazon experience, check these folks out.  We have a lot of great non profits over here like City of Asylum and Brother’s Brother, one of my favorite charities.  Brother’s Brother has one of the hightest percentages of money raised going to their cause, not overhead, like the ASPCA.  Who has those heart wrenching TV ads, but most of the funds they raise goes to salaries and executive offices.  Brother’s Brother’s executive offices looks like you are walking into a 1960’s stylish office that’s been in use for over 60 years. It’s pretty funny.

I was almost victim of a phone scam.  Thursday before New Years Eve weekend (and the final Steeler’s regular season home game of the season) I received a call from an Unavailable phone number (red flag #1), but not a restricted number.  Dee was off and I had rooms I needed cleaned and was busy getting ready for the weekend.  He identified himself as a Duquesne Light technician giving me his required courtesy call that my electricity was scheduled to be disconnected that day for non payment.  When I explained I was current and should have cancelled checks (he said, he’s just a technician and if I wanted to discuss this, I needed to call this 800 phone numbe)r.  I called it and it was answered “Thank you for calling Duquesne Light.”  I told him about the previous call and he asked some information to identify the account.  He said my account was not current and he quoted a number similar to one of my recent bills. I’ve had a problem with Duquesne in the past where I switched Home Depot’s check in their envelope and their check in Home Depot’s envelope.  Duquesne returned HD’s check and HD cashed theirs.  So when Duquesne called me over that, we did a ACH (where you give them the routing number of your checking account and you approve the transaction).  He was giving me pressure to settle up right away to keep my electric from being turned off.  Being suspicious, I offered my credit card number (very safe, I have USAA and they are awesome).  He said the money wouldn’t hit Duquesne’s coffers in time, it would be at least a day and once the shut off was scheduled, payment had to be received that day.  (Red flag #3)  I then offered an ACH transaction, he said no for the same reason (red flag #4).  He wanted me to remit payment through green dot money pak instant pay.  I had never heard of this. He explained how it works. (red flag #5) I had the cash and was considering it.  He identified the Right Aid right down on Brighton Avenue had a Green Dot machine.  I went down there with lots of doubts.  I walked in and Nicole was working, I sort of know her from going in there.  I asked her how the machine worked.  She asked me why and I told her, she just smiled and said it’s a scam.  You gotta love Nicole.  I tried to tip her for being the last piece in my doubts and she refused, saying she could loose her job for accepting a tip.  I mailed her a thank you.

I called Duquesne Light and they confirmed my account was current and they were aware of this scam and had a warning on their website.  She told me I should do a police report, which I did.  I spoke with Jeff that owns Peppis right down the street and he said they tried him twice.

I called WTAE news and they came out to do a story

I had a phone call last week from “Duquesne Light”, saying I was scheduled for a shut off that day.  I told her they had tried this a week ago and then I told her unpleasant things about her mother.


Want to do something unusual?  Hollow Oak Land Trust is hosting an Owl Prowl January 18.  You traipse through the woods with the executive director of the Trust and Robert Mulvhill, omitholgist at the National Aviary.  They will have an owl caller.  You walk along with him, turn the lights out and he calls the owls.  When they approach, you can turn your lights on to see them.  The event is free, but you have to be a member to go, it costs $20 a year and I assume you would be able to go on their annual salamander crawl in the spring, kind of a two for one.  🙂  More info at their website or by calling them at 412-417-5825.

When I came out of the office this morning at 5:30 to take da kidz for their walk, I heard some load rantings coming from the west.  I thought some drunk was rambling on over around the 7/11.  When I came into the dining room, he sounded close, I made da kidz STAY and opened the side door he was sitting on the rocking chair giving a profanity laced tirade about the heroin addiction problem.  I had guests in the room right over it, Chenille.  I told him he was on private property and I wanted him to leave.  He just looked at me.  I told him I had two very large dogs behind the door that it would be legal for me to sic them on him since he was on private property.  (What I didn’t say was the attack would probably include wiggling butts and licks.  🙂 ).  911 knows me, when I gave the address of the “emergency”, the lady said The Parador?.  I said yes.

Gotta run, take care,


Hi All,

Wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

A couple of my latest projects.  I stripped the canvas off an old steamer trunk (if you’ve been here, you could have seen several others that I have already done)  Here’s my latest as a coffee table in Bromeliad:

My mom lives in a senior apartment building with 51 units.  She wanted to give all her fellow residents a gift, so I made 51 Chris Mouses:

When I was executive steward at Resorts in Atlantic City, I made these for all my dishwashers, the first Christmas I was there.  I made 125 and did I get some strange looks when I gave them their pay check and a Chris Mouse.  It was pretty funny.

I frequent the Ohio River Blvd Antique Mall and find some great finds.  Usually they are reasonably priced.  This lamp was a steal at $3.00:

The radiator saga is finally at an end, a year ago I wanted to replace those huge radiators in African Tulip and Bird of Paradise.  I got two from Construction Junction and the staff at CJ said they could be used with either steam or hot water heat (I have hot water).    After stripping them and repainting them last winter, my plumber said they could only be used with a steam system.  So I got two more  and cleaned them up and repainted them.  You can sort of see one behind the table with the lamp on it above in Bird of Paradise.  The other was installed in African Tulip:

This is what it replaced in African Tulip:

So cute and compact.

I finally found an electrician I think I like.  He’s got the lights on my sign out front working again (that was a challenge, because the whole thing’s custom and welded together).  And he fixed the light over the back gate that’s been broken for a while working again.  He’s coming back next week to maybe finally install the LED light I have for the telephone pole in the back of the parking lot (or telly pole in Pittsburghese) and some small projects with securely mounting some receptacles around the Inn and things like that.

Speaking of electricians, sort of, I had security cameras installed this summer.  I have some difficulty accessing the system from the desk top in the Office (I think my security for my computer keeps kicking the plug in out) and when I’m here, my iPhone doesn’t like it.  The iPhone works fine when I’m away from here.  And the surface pro (I hate) works fine with the cameras.

I have been thinking of stopping sending printed holiday cards.  It’s a lot of work cleaning up my data base to send to the printer.  There’s just over 5,000.  The expense of postage is pretty big, the printing of the cards is fairly reasonable.  There’s getting the picture for the front, which is usually fun.  Then all the cards I get back from the post office.  I guess 200 out of 5,000 isn’t bad.    By far most of the returned cards are people that haven’t visited in five years or more (my assumption is they moved without a forwarding address).  My photographer Roy Engelbrecht is absolutely amazing.  I’m adding a page to my website Holidays, I have pictures I’ve taken which gives an idea of the festive look, but his are absolutely amazing. He was up last week taking pictures of my decorations.  While here he told me his thoughts for next year’s card.  I don’t know how he’s going to pull it off, but if he can, it will be the most memorable card.

Da kidz aren’t terrorizing Lester, Ester & Fester’s son.  He was sitting up on the shelf eating his peanuts with my nut cases jumping up and down barking at him, unfazed.  The squirrels and birds had a good Christmas breakfast this morning.

So I wanted to get a blog out wishing everyone happy and safe holidays,




Tomorrow’s birth anniversaries include poet, playwright, Nobel Prize winner TS Eliot (1888), composer George Gershwin (1898), Shamu (1985) and Johnny Appleseed (1774).  The first televised presidential debate between JF Kennedy and Richard Nixon (1960).  The West Side Story premiered on Broadway (1957).

It’s been a busy summer, great guests and now that fall is almost with us, weekdays are slowing down and I should finally be able to get some time to devote to my long delayed blog.

I had my 10th anniversary party in July, which was a great success, with many friends, business associates, neighbors and past guests.  My friend Ed Cyphers of Sounds Like Fun DJ service spun tunes in the Court Yard while pianist Kyle Uricchio had so much fun in the Parlor, he was supposed to play for two hours and ended up playing all four hours.  He plays contemporary piano and vocal performance for live entertainment and ambiance.  You can contact him through his email  kjuricchio@gmail.com, or call him at 412-715-7433 to inquire about a booking. I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t mention my very dear friends Lisa & Mike from Fabled Table catering large and small events.  To say their food was spectacular would be an understatement.  My nephews Joseph and Michael provided valet service and cousin Jeannie’s daughter and friend were the bartenders.  My friends from college that still live in State College came down a day early and were extremely helpful with fine tuning the finishing touches, I would have been lost without them.  A funny story, my sister Susan wanted to make desserts.  So she made tons of individual cheese cakes, I had hundreds left over and was talking to my friends Lenny & Paula across the street and they suggested giving them to Judge, a friend of theirs that lives in senior housing in East Liberty.  So we packaged them up and Judge put them in the day room, by the time he came downstairs from helping one his mobility challenged friends, the cheese cakes were basically all gone.  They made a lot of old people’s day.  🙂

This summer’s projects included finally hanging the refinished bottom shutters in the Parlor.  I fixed the roof leak from the parking lot porch, did plaster repairs in both the main staircase and Ruellia’s staircase.  I wire brushed, scraped and painted the iron fence across the front.  Last fall’s window replacement is still paying off, last summer’s AC ran $1,700; this summer was warmer and my largest bill was under $1,000.  The next project I need to accomplish soon is cleaning up and painting the two new radiators for African Tulip and Bird of Paradise before the weather changes and I have to turn the heat on.  There were two huge radiators in both rooms.  The one in African Tulip was actually leaning in to the room away from the wall.  I thought the weight was causing problems with the floor joists.  Actually it was compressing the quarter sawn oak flooring.  If you read my blog this past spring, I complained that I had gone out to Construction Junction and told they guy out there that I needed two smaller hot water radiators (I knew there’s a difference between hot water radiators and steam radiators-some are interchangeable-most steam radiators only have an inlet, not an outlet.  This I learned after cleaning them up and had John come out to install them.  He pointed out that those radiators only had the one outlet and could only be used with a steam system.  So all that work was in vain.)  The Construction Junction guy told me those radiators would work either system.  Wrong!  I got two hot water radiators, now and need to get them cleaned up and painted before turning the heat on.  Here’s my next project:


I also cleaned up the deck in the beach and re stained it.  Although I didn’t do it, I had cameras installed.  I’m sitting here with the camera in the parking lot on and can see when guests arrive ahead of time.  I hung Edison lights in the Courtyard for the anniversary party along the Courtyard wall and across the Loft in the Carriage House and like them so much, I’ve kept them up:


They look kind of blurry in this picture, but very cool in real life.  Paula across the street likes the lights so much that she thinks I run them across the front of the Ballroom at the end of the parking lot.  Unfortunately, electricity is not readily available there.  I will look into changing that.  (I have two more strings in the basement).

This month, the Oxford English Dictionary added the Pittsburgh term jagoff to the dictionary!  Although I seldom use the word, I love it.  I can be a derogatory term for just about anyone one or anything without being really offensive.

I’m adding a new page to my website, ticket swap.  I have a lot of guests that have season tickets for the Steelers and don’t want or can’t attend all the games.  Instead of going through Ticket Stub or one of those on line agencies with the seller and buyer both paying high fees.  You can post the tickets on my site with contact info with no fees.  🙂  Nick’s setting this up for Steelers, Penguins and Pitt tickets.

I thought Ester & Fester gave Lester a sibling, I’ve been seeing this little waving over the grass.  I finally got a good look at the little one, it wasn’t a baby squirrel.  It’s chipmunk, I did a Face Book contest, name the newest at the Parador and Maureen Kowlski suggested Jester.  So here’s two pictures of Jester, it’s so cute:



That’s it for today, enjoy the break in the heat until we start  complaining about the cold (I’ll be the first one there)  🙂



Tomorrow’s birth anniversaries include poet, journalist Walt Whitman (1819), Prince Rainier of Monaco (1923), American religious leader, author Norman Vincent Peale (1898), ambassador Patricia Harris (1924), actor Don Ameche (1908) and Pope Pius XI (1857).  It is the anniversary of the Civil War battle of Seven Pines (1862), the Copyright law was passed (1790), the TV series Seinfeld premiered (1990) and the Johnstown Flood (1889).

Yes, it’s been awhile.  I couldn’t let Memorial Day pass without remembering our fallen.  I have an idea for our military, why not start a fighting division made up of older Americans.  I remember when I was draft age, considering going to Canada to avoid the draft, because I didn’t think I could kill another man.  I would have no problem shooting an ISIS terrorist, rapist, scum of the earth.  We are not as agile and strong as we once were, but that’s not to say the military couldn’t design a basic training focused on getting us in shape.  I’ve been watching my diet lately more than usual and have dropped 15#, been trying to take the bike out two times a week for about 10 miles each.  No big deal, but it all adds up.  So here’s to our fallen:


Thank you.

Speaking of bikes, I got two for guest use:


They’re not the prettiest, but they work and are free, so can it.  🙂  I also have helmets and locks.

Speaking of fatties, da gerl was up to 95# and she voluntarily cut lunch out.  I’ve reduced her breakfast and dinner and she was down to 88# two weeks ago when I last weighed her.  I’d like to get her down to 85#, maybe a tad less.  She’s been having trouble with the heat the last few days, so a few less pounds would help that and help her joints to delay or possibly stop her from getting hip dysplasia.  RJ’s the age Razor was when he started showing signs of dysplasia and so far RJ is not showing any signs.  Here’s a picture of the fat gerl and her svelte big brother:


Here’s a picture of the fat gerl as a puppy:


And I might be remiss not to include a picture of RJ as a puppy:


Oh so cute.

Speaking of cute, besides feeding the squirrel family, Ester, Fester and their son Lester, I’ve been feeding the birds daily as well.  I have a spectacular cardinal family, a blue jay family, the morning doves that have nested here since I bought the place and of course the little annoying starlings or what ever those constantly fighting little guys.  The robins this year built their nest on the electrical box for the hood system instead of up in the tree.  It’s probably safer than up a tree a predator could climb.  And the chicks are clearly visible. They are growing so quickly.


The Three Rivers Arts Festival starts this coming Friday and I just looked at the extended day forecast and of course they are predicting thunder storms and rain storms all weekend.  Luckily, the Arts Festival lasts longer than just the weekend.  Being so close, I can pick when I go down there.

The Rivers Casino has announced their free concert series at their amphitheater on the river front.  Friday, June 17 will be Disco 54, Saturday, June 18 will be the John Mellencamp Tribute by Tumbling Down, Sunday, July 3 will be a Credence Clear Water Revival Tribute Green River, Monday, July 4 will feature Bon Journey and Saturday July 16 will be the Boston Tribute Don’t Look Back.  Shows start at 7 pm.

In the past, I have tried posting a blog a week, but these take a lot of time.  And with the summer starting, don’t know how much time I will be able to devote to my blogs.  I do enjoy writing them, but need to budget my time.  So you might not hear a lot from me over the summer.




Sorry, I haven’t been blogging for a bit, I hope to start again soon.

Big news, this is the 10 yr anniversary of The Parador being open in PIttsburgh, celebrations will be an open house Saturday, July 16 from 4 to 8 pm  hoes-d’oeuvre (provided by Fable Table), beer, wine (provided by Dreadnought Wines), free valet parking, celebrities, special 10 year give aways and 50% off a two or three night visit that weekend.  If you book on line, put your dates in and click on Special Rates and in the Promo Box put in parador10yrs for the celebratory rate.  I’m asking that you RSVP so I can tell my very dear friend Lisa and owner of Fable Table guest count.  The email is parador10yrs@theparadorinn.com

I have a girl friend, Ester.  I’ve been feeding the squirrels peanuts for two years now.  Lately the female has been showing off, by jumping off the plate holding the peanuts and then scampering up to the window ledge outside my desk.  She stands on all four legs until I bend my head around past the computer monitor.  When she sees me she stands up on her hind legs (exposing herself).  🙂  The weather is so beautiful I have the office windows open and she has come into the office and got as far as the edge of the desk until she gets scared of da kidz.  Yes, in case you didn’t realize before, I am crazy.  🙂

If not before, I hope to see you July 17,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of Three Mile Island nuclear melt down (1979), Libya celebrates the British removing their bases (1970) and the first show of the combined Barnum & Bailey circuses first performance as The Greatest Show on Earth (1881).  Birth anniversaries include Humphrey Bogart’s agent Irving Lazar (1907), child star Freddie Bartholomew (1924) and the first male American to be canonized Saint John Nepomucene Neumann (1811).

With all the warmth we’ve had lately, I was able to clean out the pond and get the fountain up and running for Easter, although it looks kind of naked without any growth:


At least I have some daffodils in the garden right next to it:



And my guests are greeted with daffodils and crocuses flowering in the back of the parking lot:


Dutch artist Allard van Hoorn  saw Market Square and it reminded him of an old school record player from the view in Google Earth.  He competed with 80 other artist for an installation work for this year’s Market Square Public Art.  Last year’s winner, an Asian, woman installed bare trees and updated them periodically to reflect the change of seasons.  He installed 960 feet of LED strips that respond to the music generated by the computer in a torpedo looking master control box (similar to the knob that stuck up on an old record player that secured the record on the surface).  Allard collected music in Pittsburgh from tap dancers at Point Park University to the steel drum band at Urban Pathways Charter School.  You can select the music to be played.  His website doesn’t have a preview of this work.

Greensburg native and Stage Right theater school co-founder Anthony Marino wrote the musical “Tink” a prequel to Peter Pan.  His group has been performing it at the Palace Theater out in Greensburg and it was selected as one of the finalist for inclusion in the New York Musical Festival this July.  the NYMF is frequently the spring board for entry into Broadway or Off-Broadway productions.  Because of the high cost of producing a play in NYC, the festival is paying for much of the production costs, Marino has started a Kick-Stater campaign to help raise the additional $60, he needs.  Home town team does good!

Next weekend is the South Hills Home Show at the Iceoplex at Southpointe.  Admission is free.  In addition to the vendors, they will also be having a number of clinics and workshops, also free.  Details on times and admission, Oh that’s right i already told you admission’s free.

Renewable energy hit a record $286B last year and for the first time it was led by emerging economies, mainly China with a $103B investment.  Even with all this investment, renewable s still only accounted for one tenth of power generation.  At least we are moving in the right direction. One of the many road blocks to increased renewable sources is called “net metering” which is when you create extra energy and sell it to the local electrical provider.  In your electric bill is a fee for transition line maintenance and improvement.  If you are not paying an electric bill, the electrical provider is not collecting that money.  i would love to add solar and possibly wind energy options at The Parador.  And would be willing to pay a reasonable,b minimal fee for this.  Another problem is storage of electricity generated from solar panels for use when the suns not up.  There’s huge investment in new battery storage options.  Tesla even has a home storage battery just for this called the power wall.

Among PIttsburgh’s firsts was we hosted the first flight in 1899 sorry North Carolina.  Not really 🙂  This is chronicled by John Schalcosky in City Paper.  He runs a Face Book page that explores Pittsburgh’s weird history.

The long time Cathedral of Learning resident peregrine falcon Dorthy passed away last year and her long time companion E2 picked up a new mate Hope last year as well.  E2’s new mate, Hope (formerly nested under the Tarentum Bridge)  laid a clutch of eggs atop the Cathedral a week ago and then E2 was found dead in a year in Swissvale.  Apparently Hope has picked up a new mate and they are predicting a new clutch of eggs.  Something I didn’t know was the eggs don’t have to be incubated right away.  Both clutches can be incubated at the same time.  You can watch Hope and her new companion live on a webcam provided by the National Aviary.  And if you’d like to watch the Hays eagles on webcam, here’s the link.  I think two have hatched, one of the little guys just popped out from under mom, so cute with it’s black eyes bobbing around.  Soap opera have nothing on our peregrines.  :

Much to the chagrin of da kidz, I feed the squirrels.  I put a small shelf on the shed right outside the window in front of my desk and put the peanuts on a plate which I place on that shelf.  They didn’t eat many peanuts yesterday.  I put more out this morning and apparently they’re hungry.  Mom crawled down the shed roof and was looking at me through the window.  So I made da kidz wait inside and put a hand full of peanuts on the plate, she’s fallen off the roof three time and the roof’s not even wet.  The last time she fell, she jumped on my window sill, looked in (saying thank you?) and then scampered up the side of the window and jumped onto the roof for a peanut.

August Wilson’s play Fences is starting up production here in Pittsburgh, directed by Denzel Washington.

I’m guilty, I stole a plant from the Everglades while in Florida and it’s done so well, I now have three that grow uncontrollably, I will find 8 foot growths from all three plants if I don’t keep a close eye on them.  They will sneak behind the wooden shelf one of them sits on and grow and grow.  I sent a picture of them to my good friend Tony at Penn State, he’s a botanist or horticulturalist, not sure which.  🙂  He identified it as epiphytic catyi a non native species to Florida, so I don’t feel so bad about taking it.  Take a look at the flowers it should get, I think I need to take them down into the basement for a couple of weeks to make them flower.  The flowers are absolutely amazing!

I just wanted to take a minute and remember Razor who left us a year ago Saturday, I miss him, but it was his time.  The vet was surprised he had gone to sleep before she administered 1/2 of the solution for his weight, he had given up:


RJ, you have some big shoes to fill, do you remember when you met Razor?

rj puppy

That’s it and Happy Easter,




Tomorrow is the anniversary of the inauguration of the new capital of Brazil, Brasilia (1960), the festival of Ridvan when the founder of the Baha’ faith spent 12 days in a garden in Baghdad after which he proclaimed his mission as god’s messenger, it’s Rome’s birthday (753 bc), the Red Baron was shot down (1918) and Kartini Day, honoring Raden Adjeng Kartini the emanicpator of women in Indonesia (1879).  Birth anniversaries include naturalist John Muir (1838), actor Anthony Quinn (1915)  and novelist Charlotte Bronte (1816).

The eagles in Harmar have at least one egg (no eggs last year).  The PixController web cam is pretty much level with the nest and you can’t see in.  Some saw her laying the egg.

Dorothy, the long time resident peregrine falcon at the Cathedral of Learning passed away last year at the ripe old age of 18 (that’s a huge accomplishment for a peregrine falcon).  Her long time mate E2 (Erie was her first mate that disappeared shortly after the two became a couple).  They seem to have the same recipe for naming as I do, first there was Razor, then RJ (Razor Junior), then Rayzette.  🙂  E2 picked up a new mate, Hope that had been nesting under the Tarentum bridge joined E2 in November and laid a clutch of several eggs.  Unfortunately, E2 was found dead in the East End in someone’s yard (he was getting pretty old as well).  So the fate of the eggs is looking kind of dire.  Hope can’t stay on them to keep them warm alone without a mate to share that and get her food.

The single largest killer of birds is not wind turbines, pesticides or even cats and other predators, it’s windows!  I have been aware of this,  but, recently I had a robin fly into my dining room window as I was setting up for breakfast.  Knocked the crap out of it, it laid on it’s side on a seat cushion for awhile.  Thinking it was dying, stupid me went outside and started stroking it’s breast with the back of my finger.  Far from dying, just stunned, she jumped up and opened her beak in a threatening manner.  🙂   There are a lot of options out there to help the birds differentiate between the reflection of the glass and nature.  One source is Bird Savers, another  is Bird Tape, still another is Collide Escape.  It can be something as simple as putting screens over your windows.  But if you’re like me and like an unobstructed  view, particularly of my bird “infested” Courtyard, you can just hang string, paint washable stencils on your windows.  Not all windows need treated, my leaded glass around the Library and some bathrooms work fine.

On a happier note, the National Aviary just got a baby sloth, it’s the cutest!  It’s probably sacrilege, but the adult sloth is my favorite in the Aviary.  I can stand in front of him (her?) for the longest time.  Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the picture of the baby.

The house used in the movie Silence of the Lambs in Layton is for sale at an again reduced price.  From $300k it’s now down to $225k.  Supposedly totally renovated.

As you are probably aware, March 18 was the bicentennial of the incorporation of Pittsburgh as a city.  Photo Antiquities on East Ohio Street here on the Northside has a special photo exhibit commemorating our founding. Photography wasn’t created for another 23 years so there are no photos of the celebrations or city at that time.  Photo Antiquities has a trove of pictures never before exhibited and included in this stash are a series taken by Fredrick Thomas & Thomas Jon Gretton chemist brothers that worked for Jones & Laughlin Steel.  Their heirs donated their negatives that are on glass plates and Bruce Klein and associates printed images from these negatives.  One image is a picture of George Farris’ first Farris Wheel somewhere in Pittsburgh (probably Luna Park in Oakland), where the gondolas could hold 30 people taken around 1885 (eight years before the attraction became the darling of the Chicago Worlds Fair).  There’s also images of steel mills in the late 1880’s.  To include one of child labor of “pull boys” in a mill.

If you have a millennial in your sphere of influence, a couple of questions you might want to ask him/her/them is “What is the interest rate your credit card charges?”  A recent poll of millennials showed 50% didn’t know what the interest rate was!  Also, cash advances on a credit card usually have a higher interest rate than normal charges and usually there’s a one time fee on top of this.  (I fell victim to these when I first opened in Florida and was extremely cash poor).  Another question you might ask is “What is the credit limit of your credit card?  A third of respondents didn’t know what it was.  If they are not paying the credit card off each month, it is better to have two cards and split it between the two.  Say they have a $1,000 limit and have $900 on the card, it’s more or less maxed out.  Credit reporting agencies really frown on this, they feel someone shouldn’t have more than 25% of credit available to an individual card tied up.   Now $450 between the two cards is not 25%, but a lot better than 90%. 35% of millennials didn’t know what their credit score was,  it’s extremely important at this time of their life.  Many aren’t aware that a late payment doesn’t effect their credit score, unless it’s over 30 days late, which is huge (again I fell victim to this back in my early days with my Discover card (-a long story I think I talked about in the past).  Finally they don’t know they can ask for waived or lower fees.  My Worker’s Comp company charged me $30 in February to keep my policy active (my last payroll fee was $18)!  I had a problem paying for worker’s comp when I didn’t have a payroll, so I canceled them and switched to another carrier, the insurance group I have my property insurance with (Insurance Services United).  Which lowered my monthly charge.  March rolls around and the previous insurance company was going to charge me $8.08 for a maintenance fee.  I called them and told them I was going to file a formal complaint with the PA AG’s office.  Steve told me he was going to stop the $8.08 withdrawal and credit me the $30.  I told him if I see that in my account, I would not file the compliant and he thanked me.  Bitching has it’s benefits, you need to be calm, polite and precise about what you want.

Even though it’s been a mild winter, finally, I am so ready for spring, it’s right around the corner, chins up,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone (1876), US paper money was introduced (1862), American abolitionist Harriet Tubman passed away (1913) and the American Salvation Army was founded in America (1880).

It’s free admission to the Carnegie’s in Oakland on Thursdays from 3 pm until 8 pm for the month of March.  That doesn’t include the noted Pterosaurs exhibit.  that will set you back $5 adults and $3 kids.

Last post I gave you to opportunity to learn to make brooms, now here’s a beginner on weaving, or advanced if you already weave.  I dabbled in it a number of years ago an it was fun.  Depreciation Lands Museum up in Hampton, Butler County.  The beginners class will be held Saturday March 12 from 9 am until 4  pm.  The $25 not only includes expert teachers by the Butler Spinners and Weavers Guild, supplies and even lunch.  They have been offering these classes for four years now.  The advanced class will cost $40 and include materials, expert instruction as well as lunch.  It runs March 19 same hours.  Preregistration is required.

There’s a difference between radiators for steam heat and hot water heat.  I had those to big radiators in African Tulip and Bird of Paradise I wanted to replace.  The one in African Tulip was noticeably leaning in away from the window.  I was concerned about long term damage to the floor joist from all the weight.  I’ve been looking for smaller replacements for a year or so now.  I  was out at Construction Junction in October and they again had a selection of radiators, knowing there’s a difference between steam and hot water radiators, I asked the CJ employee if he knew the difference and he said yes.  I asked him if the smallest two were hot water radiators and he said yes. I bought them and brought them home.    The plan was to get the replacement radiators, clean them up over the winter and after shutting the system down, drain it and install the replacements.  As fate would have it, the radiator in Bird of Paradise sprung a leak and we had to move the project up.  John, my plumber was scheduled to come over last Tuesday and so as usual I was up early, shut the furnace down and started draining the water out of it.  John arrive around 9 and before he started, I took him to the Ballroom (where I had worked on the new radiators) to be sure they were right.  They weren’t, they were for steam systems.  FYI, hot water systems always has a pipe on each side, steam sometimes does (these ones you can use with a hot water system).  The two I had only had a connection for a pipe on the one side.  Also, steam radiators, have vent to let of excess steam.  I wasn’t up set, mistakes happen, people talk the talk without meaning evil, even though they don’t know what they are talking about.  Since John had brawn to get the old radiators out, we did that and he got these ugly, but functional radiators for a temporary fix.


I went out to Construction Junction and asked for the manager.  The cashier asked me why and I gave her a short explanation and she told me they only offer exchanges for 30 days. And I said that’s why I need to talk to the manager.  She got the general manager.  I explained the situation to him, explained I wasn’t mad, things happen.  All I wanted was to swap the cleaned and painted ones I had for two hot water radiators.  We walked back to the ones on the floor and I picked the smallest ones there.   I explained I had a Prius and couldn’t transport something that heavy in it. He had someone set them aside for me,  I asked, since his people were picking up the ones I cleaned up anyway on Friday, could they drop the new ones off.  He said they don’t do delivery, but would see what he could do.  I got a call from Ben, the manager of donations Friday morning.  Absolutely no negotiations with him, they don’t deliver, even though they were stopping by to pick up my two and would be in my parking lot.  So they replaced John, they gentleman I have spoken about in the past that had no personality, no Thank you for your donation kind of attitude, with potentially someone worse.  🙂

Sts Peter & Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Carnegie will host pysanky workshop at noon on March 12, if you want to learn how to dye intricate eggs.  The cost is $20 and it didn’t say if you need to bring eggs with the whites and yolks blown out (frequently these classes don’t supply the hollow eggs, you might want to check that out first.  Registration is required.  You can do it at their website.  Jeannette Public Library is having classes on March 19 also starting at noon.  The event is free under their adult education program.  Registration is by calling  724-523-5702.

Amit Seru, a professor at Chicago’s Booth School of Business co-authored a paper called The Market for Financial Adviser Misconduct.  He points out that 7% of financial planners have been disciplined for misconduct.  So how do you trust whom you are dealing with (better put, who is dealing with you money).  If you are thinking of investing some of your hard earned money, you really should read the article.  There are tools for checking the qualifications and past history of anyone licensed to be a financial planner.  The scary thing he point out isn’t that you just have to be concerned about small time financial planners, some of the worst offenders are the big guys like Wells Fargo, First Allied Securities and the worst offender was of Oppenheimer’s 2,275 financial advisers, 19.6 percent have been disciplined for misconduct.  Unless the financial planner has been caught in serious enough issues that he/she looses her/his license, when a financial planner has been busted and can still practice, there are firms out there that hire the less than scrupulous.  They frequently turn more profits to the firm’s bottom line.

I took the sausage down to the Humane Society to weigh her, she’s 95# !  🙂

That’s it for today folks, enjoy this spring like weather while we have it,



I read the Trib regularly.  That’s where I get a lot of the fodder I get for my blog, I found this article on the credibility of Donald Trump so interesting, I wanted to reproduce the entire article instead of paraphrasing from it.  The Trib reprinted the article from Washington Post Sunday.  Not that I think many of my readers are in Trump’s camp and think I can convert  them.  I found this thought provoking and disturbing enough to publish it independently.

No, Donald Trump, the unemployment rate is not 42 percent.

And, no, it’s not true that President Obama wants to take in 250,000 Syrian refugees. Or that “thousands and thousands” of American Muslims celebrated when the World Trade towers toppled on 9/11.

Despite numerous accounts to the contrary, Trump has insisted on all these things.

Which makes someone like Angie Drobnic Holan shake her head ruefully.

Holan, editor of PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning news site devoted to vetting political statements, has investigated plenty of dubious assertions in her time. But she has never seen anyone quite like Trump.

“The difference with him is the degree to which he’s wrong,” she said. “All politicians like to stick to their talking points, and sometimes a few of those points are debunked. With Trump, it’s not one or two points. It’s lots and lots.”

Politicians of every kind, in every era, have bent and twisted facts to their liking. And yes, they sometimes lie.

But to Holan and the small community of professional fact checkers, Trump represents something new: a front-running candidate who is not just wrong at times, but wrong many, many times, and defiantly so when called on it.

He may indeed be America’s first post-factual candidate. Consider:

• PolitiFact found that 78 percent of the 96 Trump statements it reviewed were either “mostly false,” “false” or “pants-on-fire” false, the highest percentage by far in the current field of presidential candidates. By comparison, 66 percent of Ted Cruz’s statements fell into those categories; 42 percent of Marco Rubio’s; 32 percent of Bernie Sanders’; and 27 percent of Hillary Clinton’s. Trump’s is the highest they have ever recorded for a major candidate. Among others, PolitiFact dinged Trump for claiming that blacks kill 81 percent of white homicide victims and for saying that Obama is pushing refugees to states with Republican governors.

• The Washington Post’s Fact Checker column has awarded Trump four Pinocchios — its lowest rating for honesty — 63 percent of the time it has looked at one of his statements, also by far the worst percentage (others: Cruz, 21 percent; Rubio, 18; Sanders and Clinton 14). A recent four-Pinocchio: Trump’s claim that a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would cost $8 billion.

• In naming Trump the “King of Whoppers” in its annual review last year, FactCheck.org, an organization at the University of Pennsylvania, observed: “In the 12 years of FactCheck.org’s existence, we’ve never seen his match. He stands out not only for the sheer number of his factually false claims, but also for his brazen refusals to admit error when proven wrong.”

It’s not clear that Trump has ever backed down from any of his unsubstantiated claims since announcing his candidacy in June — a hallmark of his pugnacious style. When journalists failed to find TV footage or published accounts to back up Trump’s assertion of widespread celebrations in New Jersey cheered on 9/11, for example, he cited “hundreds” of calls and tweets from people claiming they had seen the same thing. He demanded an apology from those who had written otherwise.

He has also questioned the fact-checkers. After PolitiFact awarded Trump its “Lie of the Year” for his run of campaign misstatements, he responded by telling ABC News: “They are leaning in a certain direction, and no matter what you do with them — I mean they are a very dishonest group, in my opinion.”

Trump’s refusal to acknowledge error or simply to adjust his rhetoric sets him apart from his fellow office seekers, too: Contrary to the general cynicism about political truthiness, many leading politicians do change their tune when called out on untrue statements, fact-checkers say. Sanders, for one, changed a talking point about the chances of a black male being sent to prison after The Post’s Fact Checker questioned his data.

“Professional politicians mostly want to get it right,” said Glenn Kessler, the Fact Checker columnist. “What’s unusual about Trump is he’s a leading candidate and he seems to have no interest in getting important things factually correct.”

And that fact is not especially frustrating to the fact-checkers. Their goal, they say, is to point out what’s wrong, not necessarily to change a politician’s ways.

“The mission of the fact-checker is to inform democracy, first and foremost,” said Bill Adair, PolitiFact’s creator and now a journalism professor at Duke University. “So it doesn’t bother me to say that a statement is false and a candidate continues to make that statement. The most important thing is that we’re telling voters what’s true and what’s not.”

Fact-checkers have not failed if politicians continue to twist the facts, Adair said, any more than investigative reporters have failed when politicians continue to be corrupt.

In fact, an academic study of political fact-checking operations this year found that the public generally views political fact-checking favorably, and that more exposure to it helps people become better informed. However, the study also found that the format tends to reach well-informed and educated people and that those who are less informed have less favorable views. What’s more, the study found a partisan divide: Republicans find less to like in fact-checking than Democrats, an echo of conservative complaints that fact-checkers are slanted against Republicans.

As for Trump, it’s possible that his supporters are less interested in mere facts than in other qualities, such as his determination, passion and strength, said Carol Pogash, author of “Quotations from Chairman Trump,” a recently published collection of his statements through the years.

“His fans … are voting for the Disrupter-in-Chief,” said Pogash. “He’s the billionaire who promises to blow up the status quo. His supporters love that Trump is the bully in the china shop.”