Tomorrow is the anniversary of Mount Pinatuba erupted in the Philippines (1991) and King Kamehameha Day in Hawaii (a state holiday celebrating the monarchy from  1737 to 1819).  It’s Queen Elizabeth’s official birthday celebrated throughout the kingdom and former colonies, undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau (1910), author William Styron (1925), German composer Richard Strauss (1864), footballer Vince Lombardi (1913) and landscape painter John Constable (1910).

Is anyone else fed up with our corporate America?  Since the great recession, they have been reaping record profits, sitting on massive amounts of cash and instead of investing in new production facilities that would create jobs, or R & D that would move this country forward, they are taking all this cash they are sitting on and buying each other out making massive companies!  (And the corporate executives on both the buying and selling companies are making tremendous payouts on these deals).  ATT bought T Mobile, Comcast is buying Time/Warner, Verizon’s buying Netflix.  That’s just the communications companies in the last few months.  We could look at the drug companies, tech companies (are particularly obscene with the money they are spending) and the rest of corporate America.  The rail lines are refusing to make safe tanker cars to transport the record number of gallons of oil (and such products) while forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for raising bridges so they can transport even higher cars making more money.  Why don’t they invest in a high speed rail system between Boston and Washington, DC or San Fransisco and LA?  I bet they could construct lines for a lot less than government subsidized rail lines and make a ton of money with quick movement of people that don’t have to go through the hassle of airports and flying. Sorry for the tirade, but I’ve been watching commentary for the last few years about the record amounts of money sitting in corporate coffers and the debates of what they should do with this money.  The banks are sitting on tons of reserves, but won’t lend money to small businesses and regular citizens to buy homes.  64% of home sales in Florida are cash deals, that’s not the normal Joe and family buying a home.  There are some empty nesters that are selling their northern homes and down sizing to warmer climates, but the majority is money people investing cash in real estate.  Enough.

I was down at the Art’s Festival this afternoon.  As usual, I appreciate the artist’s wears, but most don’t really grab me like The Way Home a couple of years ago:


It’s a real photograph that’s been photo shopped to make it somewhat creepy yet interesting and inviting.  While walking to the “T” at Gateway, there was a ban playing Machete Kisumontao on the Stanwix Stage.  I’ve never heard of them before, but apparently they are a local Puerto Rican band that plays around Pittsburgh a good bit.  They didn’t draw a huge crowd, but it was pretty funny watching people stroll past that would get caught up in the music and start swaying to it as they walked by.  And the people out front of the stage certainly had a fabulous time.  Apparently they have a following because I saw a number of people singing along that knew the words.

Speaking of CREEPY, a museum in Karlruhe, Germany has cloned an ear from a decedent of Van Gogh and his it on display. Too weird for me.  :)

The Block House will be celebrating it’s 250th anniversary this year.  The Block House is the oldest structure in Pittsburgh. Six years after the British gained control of the point and Fort Pitt was pretty much trashed by flooding twice, they built the Block House and four other redoubts are constructed to help with the defense of Fort Pitt.  The fort was eventually dismantled and the Block House became a trading post.  Every Saturday through August 30 at 1 pm and 3 pm they will feature musket demonstrations.  The major celebrations will be held August 9 and 10.  More info at their website or by calling 412-471-1764 (cute phone number).  :)

Here’s one for you, a sixth grader’s science fair project produced an unexpected result.  By chance, he discovered Truvia, the sweetener drops the life expectancy of fruit flies from 38.6 days to 5.8 days!  The results (his father noted the decrease in life expectancy and performed further tests) were published in PLoSONE.  Makes you wonder when your reach for that sweetener for your coffee would think.

There’s a number of houses and buildings in Wilkinsburg that have fallen into disrepair and are being torn down.  One caught Artist Dee Briggs’ attention and she looked into the history of the building and she didn’t want it to go away without someone loving it again.  It had several long term owners over it’s 139 year history and a bunch recently before being abandoned.  So her and a bunch of people took 32 gallons of gold paint and “dressed her up” one last time.  Dee says “This is not just a vacant house; it’s a place.  People grew up here.  Everybody in the neighborhood once had a relationship with this house.”  Dee created a website house-of-gold that’s very cute.  She chronicles the history in the first person.  On the website the house says “I’ve been pretty much abandoned.  When I was full of people and children, I was a happy house, most of my parts were handmade and lovingly cared for.  Now it’s time for my life to end.”  How cute and touching is this?

There was a nice article in the Trib this past Sunday about the soul food restaurant down the street from me, Carmi.  Named for CARleen and MIke King (hence the CARMI).  They had their rehearsal dinner here at The Parador about two years ago and are the nicest people around.  It’s a very relaxed atmosphere, serving soul food by family (literally, it’s staffed with cousins, nieces, nephews, their children, etc).  Each year, they prepare Christmas and Thanksgiving meals for economically challenged people with turkey and the fixings for around 10 – 15 people.  What a nice “give back to your neighborhood” attitude.  The Nazi’s in my neighborhood association could learn a lesson from them.  The Nazi’s organization refuse to support the local food bank “because it might set a precedence”.  What BS.  There’s no place in my world for children to go to bed hungry because “it might set a precedence.”

This year is the 200th anniversary of the British shelling 1,500 bombs (some weighting 200 pounds) at Fort McHenry that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen The Star Spangled Banner.  A couple of the myths surrounding him penning the song is he was not a prisoner on a British ship, his ship was stuck in back water waiting for the hostilities to end.  Also, he wrote the lyrics to work with The Anacreontic Song, an amateur-musicians club song from London.  He didn’t pen the lyrics on the back of an envelope, envelopes didn’t exist at the time.  Betsy Ross did not make the flag, Mary Pickersgill did.  Although the song was quite popular from 1814 on and played at many inaugurals and patriotic events, it didn’t become our national anthem until 1931.  Speaking of patriotism, don’t forget this Saturday is Flag Day, display them proudly.

Don’t let the rain bother you, the weekend’s looking spectacular again,




Tomorrow’s the anniversary of black activist Angela Davis’ acquittal (1972), the Battle of Midway (1942), Pulitzer Prizes (1917), the massacre at Tiananmen Square (1989) and the emancipation of Tonga (1970).  Birth anniversaries include musician Freddy Fender (1937) and King George III (1738).

I found this cool wooden wind chime at Moonstones shop in Dormont, they have some strange, but also some very cool items:


Volunteers tackled the Allegheny River around Blawnox collecting 10 tires, 35 bags of trash and 150 pounds of metal of an 8 miles stretch.  This was organized by Allegheny Clean Ways and call their efforts “tireless cleanups” tongue and cheek referring to all the tires people throw into our waterways.  They are looking for volunteers for their next tireless cleanup in Verona on June 7 if your from that area or just have some free time.  More info at their website or by calling 412-381-1301.

Millvale’s second brewery has just opened to join Draai Laag Brewing Company.  Grist House Brewing is located at 10 Sherman Street, Millvale and they are open Thursdays through Sundays by hours they post on their Twitter account or on the their Facebook page.  The open brewery is below the public pub housed in an old slaughter house that still has that rustic look.  They’ve also added a deck for relaxation and imbibing.  :)  Their phone is 412-447-1442.

For those of you that have visited The Parador, you should recognize the coffee/tea cups I use at breakfast.  The long story about these cups is they the a Villeroy & Boch pattern called Miami.  Villeroy & Boch is a French company and the pattern that was used on one of the fine dinning rooms at Resorts Casino back when my management team took over the food and beverage operations.  Paul Patay, our VP of Food and Beverage immediately switched to an American china (Mr. Patay’s first language was French, there was debates where he was French or French Canadian) because of the cost of the china ($27 per cup and saucer), cost of shipping and the time it took to receive items ordered.  So we went with a very nice Sterling China pattern, locally available and much more cost effective.  What to do with this old china we took out of service and had no further use for?  We sent it out to our warehouse and Mr. Patay and VP of Purchasing (who controlled the warehouse) negotiated a price for staff to purchase sets of this china to get rid of it.  Peter Durkin, the VP of Purchases told Mr. Patay he wanted $4 for it.  Mr. Patay thought Peter was speaking per piece and there was 12 pieces per setting meaning each place setting would be $48.  Mr. Patay, always watching pennies negotiated the price down to $1.25 before he realized Peter was speaking place setting, not piece.  So I got a set of 12 of this fine china for $15.  :)  I have had it for years and when I started running a B & B, started using the china for breakfast.  It didn’t take long until I needed more pieces and learned Villeroy and Boch discontinued the line.  So I found Replacements Unlimited in Miami that specialized in finding discontinued china.  I had been paying anywhere from $20-$25 per coffee cup and saucer until I couldn’t get anymore through them.  A friend recommended I look on E-Bay and have found them on there from $15 – $20.  Last week, I found a 12 piece coffee cup and saucer set, plus 12 bullion cups for $39!  Oh happy days are at The Parador!


Again, for yinz that have stayed at The Parador, I had this really chintzy fake oriental rug in the Library that I was always afraid someone was going to slip on and break their neck.  I put those non-skid pads under it, but guests were still frequently skidding on it.  I like the look of Persian red rugs and found a 50 year old Mashad in great condition and a great price.


‘;Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation has started their free guided walking tours Fridays.  These guided tours start at noon at Triangle Park, the new little park on Liberty in front of the Fairmont Hotel and last about an hour.  These guided tours take you through Market Square and the newly opened Melon Square.  You never know what you’ve missed walking around Downtown until you go on one of these guided tours that point out all the hidden treasures Downtown.  Reservations are encouraged by calling Mary Lu Denny at 412-471-5808 extension 527.  (If you are interested in volunteering to give tours and learn even more about out fair city, Mary Lu can help with that as well.  July’s walking tours are the Gems of Grant Street, the August tours are Bridges and River Shores and September tours are Fourth Avenue and PPG Place.

The very public savvy Wigle distillery is opening a second location, right here on the Northside in Spring Garden (just east of Deutschtown ).  The Whiskey Garden and Barrelhouse will be open Thursdays and Fridays from 5 pm – 9 pm, Saturdays from 11 am – 6 pm and Sundays from 11 am – 4 pm (the reason for the early closings is out of consideration of their neighbors since it is basically a residential neighborhood).  Thursdays will be focused on non-profits to use the space for whatever they need, Fridays will be a rotating list of various programmings (like a bluegrass whiskey tasting on June 20 with a live bluegrass band).  When they first open on Saturdays they will be giving tours of the Barrelhouse and Sundays there will be having garden parties in their Whiskey Garden.  Sounds like fun.

Northside’s second annual Music Festival is scheduled on Saturday, July 12 in Deutschtown.  Attendance last year was estimated at around 2.500 and they expect to double that this year.  Adding 10 more bands this year brings the total performing to over 70.  To accommodate this expansion, a second stage is being set up in Allegheny Commons around North and Cedar Avenues.  The afternoon festivities will start around 10 am and be family friendly.  They plan on food trucks and a flea market in the Commons to add to fun.  The main stage on Foreland Street will run from 4 pm – 8 pm and in consideration of the neighbors, the bands will then adjourn to James Street Gastropub, Max’s Allegheny Tavern, , Artists Image Resources, Bistro, Park House, Penn  Brewery, Verdettos, Allegheny Elks Lodge, Peanuts and Key West.

And don’t forget the 55th Annual Three Rivers Arts Festival starts this weekend.  It runs from Friday, June 6 through Sunday, June 15.  There is sooooo much during the festival that I’m not going to even give highlights.  There definitely something for everyone at the Festival.  Check their website to see what tickles your fancy.

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust did a Ballroom Dancing event last year at Market Square and it was so successful that from 5 – 7 pm they will be hosting Ballroom Dancing (and other forms of dancing) lessens each Friday in June.  Just show up with your dancing shoes and learn some new steps.  :)

Well, the rain seems to be holding off for a bit today, I think I’m going to take advantage of the sunshine and start working on the deck in my beach, it really needs cleaned up and a new coat of stain applied.  Have a great day,




Tomorrow is the anniversary of amnesty being issued to the Southern Rebels (1865), Constantinople fell to the Turks (1453), Charles II was restored to his kingship (1660), Mt Everest summit was reached (1953), Rhode Island ratified the Constitution (1790) and Wisconsin was admitted to the US (1848).  Birth anniversaries include entertainer Bob Hope (1903), President John F Kennedy (1917), patriot Patrick Henry (1736) and German historian and author Oswald Spengler (1880).

Melon Square is finally re-opening this weekend after two years of renovations.  It was the first park covering a parking garage and the forerunner of roof top gardens.  It covers over an acre.

Located below the Roberto Clemente Bridge (aka 6th Street Bridge) Kayak Pittsburgh is open daily with kayak and bicycle rentals.  The hours are 11 am until 8 pm Monday through Friday with an extra hour added Saturday and Sunday mornings.  Kayaks are $16/hour solo and $21.50/hour for the tandem kayaks.  Bicycles are $8/hour or $32/all day.  Lots of good outdoor healthy exercise right down the hill from The Parador.

On loan to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium until Labor Day are two Galapagos tortoises.  These endangered creatures are estimated to be about 22 years old, they will live to 100 in the wild and have been documented to live up to 170 in captivity! They are the longest-lived vertebrates. They are the largest living species of tortoise and the 13th-heaviest living reptile, reaching weights of over 880 lb and lengths of over 5.9 ft. A captive individual lived at least 170 years. If you have plans to visit the zoo, be sure to check these magnificent reptiles out.

I was unaware of Bunny Yeager until there was a show at The Warhol several years ago.  Quite the lady, one of the most popular “pin up models” in the 1950’s, she broke stereo types when she blazed the trail of a very successful photographer afterwards.  She was frequently the subject of her photo’s.  She would sew the costume for the shoot, set the props, point the camera with the settings she wanted and then have someone push the button!  She passed away Sunday after 85 active years.

The North Dakota Petroleum Council and the American Fuel and Petro-chemical Manufacturers released a study they funded that found that transporting their oil is “no more dangerous than SOME other cargoes”.  OK, so the likelihood of one of the cars carrying their crude is the same as some other crude burning your town down makes it OK?  Tell those 47 poor victims in Lac-Megantic, Quebec whose town was melted.  Or the other 7 significant accidents involving rail transport of crude.  As much as I would like the world to be fueled my fusion and solar power with butterflies flitting everywhere, I understand the realities of life doesn’t make that possible now.  Finally, some sense coming out of the oil industry.  Multimillionaire Harold Hamm, chairman of Oklahoma City based Continental Resources, Inc spoke at the expo Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismark “We can’t have any more issues”, he followed that with “It has to be done in an absolute safe manner.  It’s  going to take all of us.”  We wouldn’t need all this government regulation if industry did what is right, not just the most profitable.  If it costs some dollars to ensure pipelines don’t leak oil into our environment, so be it.  If it costs some dollars to keep another Lac-Megantic from occurring, so be it.  I bet not one of the oil executives lives next to a rail line that could derail and melt their mega mansion!

A new exhibit is opening at The Carnegie next month.  Faked, Forgotten, Found opens June 28 and it will give a new vantage point to art.  They will be highlighting behind the scenes look at what art curators do to ensure artwork is original, steps they take to determine that as well as steps they take to conserve art.  One of the items they chronicle is a 1750 painting of Isabella de Medici that had been painted over during the Victorian age to make it more appealing to that audience.  One of The Carnegie’s curators thought the painting was a fake, but when they investigated further they found the original painting underneath the added painting.

Monuments used to be statues on pedestals with some brief description.  Ever since Maya Lin designed the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC, the trend has been to list as many names as possible on many monuments of those that lost their lives.  The DC monument is very powerful and worthy remembrance for those that gave the ultimate sacrifice, but we don’t need to keep a model that was successful.  Our Korean War Memorial is of that sort here on the Northside.   Our memorials that take a more creative slant include the Holocaust Memorial in Squirrel Hill.  It took 17 years for the kids to collect the 6 million soda tabs they used to fill the 960 glass blocks that were used to build walls in the landscaped hillside.  Very low keyed, very powerful.  The Vietnam War Memorial, also on the Northshore uses a canopy covering statues of several vets retuning home.  The canopy was created to symbolize a hibiscus flower pod, an Asian symbol of rebirth and regeneration.  Our newest memorial, the World War II Memorial recently opened and the entrance is nicely positioned so it is aligned with an opening directly opposite framing our famous Point State Park fountain.  Also on the Northshore is a rather ugly (my opinion) of Mr. Rogers facing the city, this memorial really creatively used to old Manchester Bridge pier no one knew what to do with.  And there’s the humble Memorial for Fallen Police Officers also on the Northshore.

Have a great week,



It’s been a while, business has been unbelievable!  I was sold out for last night and a business traveler contacted me to cancel, his wife had a minor heart attack.  Two hours later I got a call from a gentleman looking for two nights!

Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the strongest earthquake of the 20th century in Chile (9.5 in 1960), Crater Lake was established as a National Park (1902), the Truman Doctrine was adopted by the US Senate (1947), Mr Rogers’ premiered (1967) and President Nixon became the first US President to visit Moscow (1972).  Birth anniversaries include physician and author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  (1859), American artist May Cassatt (1844), Laurence Olivier (1907) and jazz musician Sun Ra (1914).

Have you seen the eagles on the Eagle Cam lately?  Holy Cow, they’re little eagles.  So cute.  Not to take their thunder, but The Parador has a bit of an Eagle Cam:

photo 1

The next is in the Arborvitae outside Allamanda’s living room.  Dee to the picture.  RJ was outside yesterday and I saw several robins buzzing him and realized what had them all in a flutter.  He wasn’t really chasing the chick, he was just following the little guy with curiosity he never got too close, but I guess he was to close for mom.  I called him in the kitchen and everyone was happy.  :)

We are continuing to work on our About Town pages, the next page will be local galleries and it should be live early next week.  My goal is to make the About Town a source not only suggestions for potential guests on things to do, I would love it to be known as “The Source” for things to do in Pittsburgh.  If you have a quirky, lesser known attraction in the area, please send me an e-mail or post a comment so I can include it.  If there’s a particular restaurant that you absolutely love and I don’t have it listed, please let me know about that as well.  I do have a nice selection of restaurants and there’s a lot of excellent ones out there that I don’t have listed.  I can’t include all the good restaurants, but if one really stands out with you, I’m looking for it.  :)  You can see what I have by going to my website www.theparadorinn.com and clicking on the About Town Icon.

The latest in LED display is OLED named for Organic Light Emitting Diodes is being developed by PPG here in Pittsburgh.  OLEDs are said to combine the best attributes of plasma and LCD screens with none of their short comings.  OLED uses phosphorescent organic carbon compounds that are four times more energy efficient the metallic ones commonly used in LED lights.  They are still under development (for one thing, they’re having trouble with blues), but are already showing up in some products like Samsung’s Galaxy S5.

The steel industry is trying to reinvigorate the faltering steel can use in America.  They have hired “nutritionists” to tout the healthiness of canned food.  Canning, in and of itself, is a fine way to preserve food.  But the industry has insisted on over cooking, over salting and over sugaring their products.  Instead of trying to con the consumers into buying “healthy” canned food, why not put a push in for actual healthy options?

Lowe’s is partnering with Porch.com for the do-it-yourselfer.  It’s kind of like a virtual Yellow Book hyperblend LinkedIn, Pinterest and Angie’s List all in one, and it’s free (Look out Angie).  :)  Right now it’s free for businesses (eventually I’m sure you will have to pay to have a prominent listing) and the businesses can list years in service, licenses, insurance even testimonials and pictures of work performed.  Porch.com is live and you can go there yourself for referrals if you are looking to get work done.

The 20th anniversary of The Warhol was this past weekend.  One of the new exhibits at The Warhol will be an exploration called Halston and Warhol Silver and Suede, a look at how they affected each other.  The Warhol intends to keep the festivities going on throughout the rest of the year.  More info at their website or by calling 412-237-8300.

Talk about being the step child of Western Pennsylvania, the land the politicians forgot, the Mon Valley.  The PA politicians are lauding the $788M 19 mile expansion of the Southern Beltway connecting I79 to I 376 out to the airport.  This will give the Marcellus companies at South Pointe easy access to carry suitcases of loot from the Western PA farm fields out of the state.  :)  This WAY under utilized  highway is slated to carry 7,500 vehicles a day (the section of the Findlay corridor was slated to carry 12,000 vehicles and it just carries 3,750).  So I wonder how inflated the 7,500 number is.  To give you a comparison, the Parkway east carries 73,000 daily and the Parkway west carried 85,000 daily.  We have the Parkway west that services the western communities.  We have the Parkway east to cover the eastern communities and the Parkway north to service the northern communities.  We have nothing servicing the southern communities.  Well, I’m not being totally honest here, we do have the Mon Valley Expressway that runs from Morgantown to Jefferson Hills, but it doesn’t enter the city.  If the fathers of Pennsylvania want to do something to spur development in an area generally forgotten, complete the Mon Valley Expressway instead of making Mario Lemieux’s trip to the airport more convenient, why not give access to the Mon Valley?  They have the river for transport, they have the rail systems in place from our turn of the century industries.  There’s vast areas of former steel mill sites just waiting to be developed into new industries.  I70 does go through the Valley, but it doesn’t come up to Pittsburgh.  If I was the decision maker of a large corporation deciding where to invest millions of dollars to create a manufacturing center, I would want access to the major local city.  If it’s going to take over an hour to reach the banking, educational, medical and entertainment centers, I wouldn’t even consider the Valley.  As an added bonus, if they design the Expressway right, it could make a major improvement in traffic flow on what is currently a parking lot during rush hours around the Squirrel Hill Tunnels.  This is a obviously a sore spot with me.  I grew up on the fringes of the Valley, Finleyville.  I remember as a child going down to Monongahela and Charleroi  and their bustling business districts.  When I moved back to Pittsburgh to open The Parador Inn, I went down to Monessen to look at some equipment and was litterally shocked at the conditions of some of the towns down there.  I was speaking with a friend that works down there and he told me I should take a trip down to see what’s going on down in The Valley now days.  He pointed out the Charleroi has quite a bit going on with some recent developments and more on the books with the borough management, code enforcement, business owners and the public all actually getting along and working together to make things happen.  He pointed out the Pyrex is celebrating 100 years in Charleroi and that Charleroi has one of the largest National Historic Districts in Pennsylvania.  He says there’s really a lot of energy and great new dining going on down there.  I’m thinking it may be time for a road trip.  :)  I still think they should finish the Mon Valley Expressway before continuing on with the Southern Beltway.

There’s a couple of cool groups emerging around The City, one is City of Play.  Another is We Are Here.  Both are focused on finding what Norm Peterson referred to as his “third place” in Cheers.  In case you’re not a follower of Cheers, his first place was home, his second place was work and the third place he felt at home was Cheers.  Both groups offer biking and walking tours to introduce residents to places they drive past and would not normally be exposed to.  In addition to the “normal list of suspects” like local coffee houses Coffee Tree, Crazy Mocha and The Bee Hive, they frequent little mom and pop grocery stores with a couple of chairs around a Coke machine.  We have been chosen to host the 2014 Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place conference September 8 to 11, the premier gathering of walking and bicycling professionals in North America and We Are Here has been invited to speak at the conference.  They have events scheduled though out the year, particularly in September.  Check out their website or call 412-460-7429 for more info.

For those of you that use the Parkway West from Downtown, be prepared for a major nightmare this fall.  They had to do some emergency repairs in March to support the sagging ceiling and were planning on strengthening it more this fall, but decide since the ceiling is n longer needed mechanically and they were planning on eventually removing it anyway, why not just do it now.  So it looks like the will close all in bound and out bound tunnels for several weekends starting this fall.  Luckily for me, I seldom go out there on the weekends, any errands I do to Robinson is normally weekdays.  But I can only imagine the nightmare traffic this will cause.

There’s Hollywood, Bollywood, what are they going to call Pittsburghwood?  They just finished shooting the Russell Crow movie Farthers and Daughters and next month they’re going to stat filming Southpaw staring Jake Gyllenhaal as a boxer that fights his way to the The casting call will be Saturday from 10 am until 3 pm at the Inidana Mall, 2334 Oakland Avenue, Indiana, PA.

Have a great one,



Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the Astor Place Riot (1849), the Golden Spike Driving commemorating the meeting of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads (1869), Nelson Mandela’s inauguration (1994) and it is Lag B’Omer the Jewish feast of harvest.  Birth anniversaries include dance/entertainer Fred Astaire (1899), Declaration of Independence signer George Ross (1730), entertainer Maybelle Carter (1909) and Protestant theologian Karl Barth (1886).

I had a virus in my computer and I couldn’t upload pictures in my last post, I really wanted to post a picture of our new banner.  This is the picture of the banner hung by The Parador to cheer on the Pittsburgh Marathon runners:


Here’s a twist on the recession we’re still in, more and more adults 50 – 64 years old are moving pack in with their parents.  And this is not to help their elderly parents get along, it’s a financial decision based on lack of income to support themselves.  In fact, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, from 2005 through 2012 the number of adults in that age bracket that moved back in with their parents jumped 67.6% in California.  Though there’s more 18 – 29 year olds living with their parents, the older adults are particularly shocking.  That’s the point of life where you should be saving for your retirement and living comfortably.  Job loss, under employment  and sky rocketing rents are the main drivers.

There’s a small, but growing trend with some large businesses, helping out and mentoring small businesses.  Macy’s has The Workshop Macy’s, a training program for women and minority entrepreneurs in how to get their products into major retail stores.  It’s not just altruistic, it exposes Macy’s to some of the newest trends, gives them first dips on their products and is great PR.  Prophet, a brand and marketing company mentors small businesses on creating a presence in the market place and exposes Prophet to the small business’s customer base.  Goldman and Sachs is even getting in on the band wagon with their 10,000 Small Businesses program that hold training classes for new entrepreneurs.  If your thinking of starting a business, or recently did, there’s a ton of mentoring programs out there to help you.  When I opened The Parador of the Palm Beaches, I hooked up with the TED Center in Delray Beach that has retired professionals that donate their time to help fledgling businesses and they were a great help.

I think I talked about Evan Mirapaul up in Troy Hill in the past, but can’t find the post.  Evan is an art adviser that purchased a home on Troy Hill while relocating from Manhattan.  There was a vacant building the city owned that he acquired down the street and he brought German artist Thorsten Brinkmann to create Pittsburgh’s first Art House which he opened last fall.  It’s kind of like the Mattress Factory, where the “room” is the piece of art, or more precisely the “house” is the piece of art.  It is a series of dimly lit rooms, tiny hallways, secret crawlspaces (you can even crawl through a mantel that takes you deeper into the house.  The house at 1812 Rialto Street is called La Hutte Royal and is open by appointment when you e-mail lahutteroyal@gmail.com.  Evan is already creating a second Art House on Rialto Street that he’s commissioned Polish artist Robert Kusmirowski to create.  Evan would like to make a series of these houses all within walking distance.

I love John Conti of the Tribune Review.  He again hits the nail on the head with his latest article on the Terminal Building.  There was so much controversy over the Evil Empire Buncher Group’s plan to demolish 1/3 of the iconic building for easy access to their boring development plans for Riverfront Landing.  When new Mayor Peduto took office, he called for the city to re-look at the proposals.  There’s now three outside proposals for the Terminal Building, all keeping the length intact with one or two pass throughs leaving the roof line in place.  This at least keeps the the presence of the long iconic building.  John takes Buncher to task for their lack of creativity, poor set backs, ill conceived river front access, etc.  It’s worth the minute to hit the link and read his entire article.

Speaking of questionable business companies, Giant Eagle again got caught with their underhanded tricks.  (If you remember a couple of years ago they got caught telling Schweppes to with draw their bid for the closed La Nature Bottling plant or they would stop carrying Schweppes products in their stores.)  The latest is the uproar some Upper Saint Clair residents have caused over the new shopping complex across from South Hill’s Village (with a Market District in an adjacent strip mall).  Resident Margaret Witner has attended township meetings vocally opposing the development and even hired attorney to fight the development.  Witner has never spoken at these meetings or in public about her opposition, she always speaks through her attorneys and guess who’s paying the attorney fees?  Giant Eagle!  When asked about it, Giant Eagle said it offers help to residents who ” exercise their constitutional rights” to oppose such developments”.  I wonder if Giant Eagle will fund my attorney fees to fight the slum load trying to create a 17 unit hostel across the street from me?  To make matters worse, they are recorded as saying it would do “whatever it could to prevent Whole Foods from locating it’s store at the Washington Road property”.  What arrogance!

On a happier note, the Brighton Heights 10th annual Chocolate House Tour will be held Sunday, June 8 from 1 pm until 5 pm.  (No, silly, they don’t have chocolate houses in Brighton Heights, they have local chocolate in the various house for sampling).  :)  Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 the day of the tour.  More info on the tour and online ticket purchases at their website or by calling 412-734-0233.

In a perfect world, we would have unlimited clean energy from fusion power plants and renewable sources, unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world so we need to compromise.  This explosion in various fossil fuel extraction in the United States really needs to be addressed carefully.  (Pun intended). :)  Shipments of oil by rail  car went from 9,500 cars in 2008 to 400,000 last year!  These cars travel anywhere the railroads want to route them, even through densely populated cities.  Not to minimize the catastrophe that leveled the entire town of Lac-Megantic Quebec killing 47 residents, but what would be the consequences of another accident through the Southside?  The rail companies seem to be willing to upgrade the cars carrying the various products of drilling, but want a concrete answer from the Federal government on what the new standards will be.  The Federal government responds that they want to set the standards that are appropriate and safe and this takes time.  They are both valid points, but they should have been addressed several years ago.  Although not as sensational as melting an entire town, these pipelines that are carrying all this dangerous products needs a comprehensive solution.  Exxon’s pipeline leak under Yellowstone River lasted for days before it was noticed.  I’m not an engineer, but we need to develop solutions and add the cost to the energy production.  What good will saving $10 on your heating bill if you can’t drink your water or you happen to get melted standing next to a railroad?

Did you know the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins and Power teams all have their uniforms made locally?  Pro Knitwear in Brookline is a little company with 35 employees that hand sew names, logo’s, numbers, etc.  They also customize the fit if needed to the jerseys supplied by the various sports teams.  Like Ben Roethlisberger likes loose sleeves and Casey Hampton liked form fitting jerseys so opponents couldn’t get a hand full.  :)

The trees are turning green, the grass is growing, I’m happy,



Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla (Cinco de Mayo) (1862), the Battle of the Wilderness (1864-the first battle between Generals Grant and Lee), the AMA was founded (1847), the liberation of Denmark and Netherlands (1945) and the first solo female flight between England and Australia by Amy Johnson (1930).  Birth anniversaries include actor Tyrone Power (1913), socialist Karl Marx (1818), journalist Nellie Bly (1867) and culinarian James Beard (1903).

There’s a new trail in the planning stages for 41 miles along the Ohio River from the Coraopolis-Neville Island bridge all the way to the Ohio boarder.  This trail, when completed, will join with the Allegheny Passage and the Great Ohio Lake-to-River Greenway.  The first section will be from the Neville Island Bridge to the Sewickley Bridge.  The plan includes turning some “brown fields” into usable spaces with possible boat houses, multifamily housing and other uses.  The proposed trail can be seen on the article in the Trib.

Venture Outdoors is having their Outdoors Fest at Point State Park on May 17 from 11 am until 6 pm.  They plan on boating, fishing, rock wall climbing, a kids zone, dragon boating, River Quest (the educational boat I spoke about last post) will be there, capoeira (a Brazilian martial arts) will be demonstrated and much more.  See their website for more details and links explaining the various events.

Also on May 17 & 18, the Warhol Museum is going to host their 20th anniversary gala and community day.  More info on their website  or by calling 412-237-8300.

On May 22, The Wailers will perform at State AE with Rusted Root, definitely a concert for me.  :)

Pyrofest will be returning to Hartwood Acres on May 24.  It’s billed as America’s largest fireworks festival.  They are planning a US Military Salute & National Anthem Daytime Display,  Daytime & Colored Smoke Fireworks, Pyro UFO Launch, “Fantasy in the Sky” Fireworks Challenge (Choreography designed by an aspiring fireworks choreographer and chosen by PyroFest judges to kick off the night-time displays), Direct from Spain world-renowned award winning Ricardo Caballer Ricasa Fireworks Production and  World Premiere of a Never Before Seen Pyrotecnico Production!  For you fireworks aficionados, this is the event to attend.

And for my “cute” post, here’s Tiny Hamsters Eating Tiny Burritos.

There’s a new bus tour in Pittsburgh, Lights, Camera, Pittsburgh will start May 31 and run through October.  These bus tours will go to site locations of movies filmed in Pittsburgh.  Movies being featured will be locations for Flashdance, Striking Distance, Inspector Gadget, Wonder Boys, The Bread, My Sweet, She’s Out of My League, The Dark Knight Rises, Jack Reacher, Foxcatcher and of course Night of the  Living Dead.  Tickets are $30 and $40 and can be purchased at ShowClix.  The bus tours do stop at the various locations and you can get off and scout the area out.  The tours are being put together with Yellow Cab’s new Pittsburgh Tours and More in conjunction with Pittsburgh Film Makers.  Snacks will be provided and film clips of the movies will be shown.


Steve Mendelson, name sake of Mendelson Galleries is celebrating 40 years as an artist and gallery owner.  He’s been at the current location for the past 30 years after buying a former brothel at an IRS auction.  After extensive renovations, Steve has hosted numerous known and yet to be known artists in his gallery.  In the course of time, he has become friends with many that went on to become world famous.  His current show will feature many of these artist/friends like Not Vital, Jane Katsales, Emily Lukas and David Lewis.  The gallery is open Wednesdays through Saturdays noon until 5 pm and the show runs through May 31.  More info a the website or by calling 412-361-8664.

Last year, there were 23,000 boat registrations sold in Allegheny County.  That’s a lot of boats!  The local Coast Guard Axillary is offering free boat inspections to be sure you’re operating a safe boat.  Obviously not mandatory, but a good idea to let them check you out to be sure you’re safe.  And you get a sticker for your boat saying that you passed the inspection.  The first one will be May 17 at Cabela’s at One Cabela Drive in Triadelphia, WV, the next will be May 24 at Loyalhanna Lake, then May 31 at the Pittsburgh Aquatic Club 517 Twin Oak Drive, Neville Island, June 22 they will be at Point State Park and finally June 26 back at the Aquatic Club on Neville Island.  All events are from 10 am until 4 pm.   It’s always better to be safe than sorry.  More info by e-mailing normarbels@gmail.com.

Michael Warhold, president of Castle Shannon’s Revitalization Committee saw an idea in Leechburg honoring past and current Vets that caught his attention.  He teamed up with Harry Munson, owner of HTM Designs to develop the program that posts pictures and a very brief bio on local vets that hang on utility poles in the community.  Originally the banners were placed in Castle Shannon’s Memorial Park, but the idea was so popular that they have spread to Library Road (where I first saw them) and the business district.  There are plans in South Park, Whitehall, Carnegie and Scott to copy the plan.

Celebrate Spring next weekend by going to Phipps 78th annual May mart Friday and Saturday.  Besides Phipps, 55 other nurseries, farms and other vendors will be set up on the lawn selling plants, garden accessories, pottery, jewelry and more like free advise.  :)  Friday hours are from 9:30 am until 7 pm and Saturday hours will be 9:30 am until 5 pm.   And Phipps will be offering 1/2 price admission during the Mart.  More info at their website or by calling 412-622-6914.  As a side note, their Summer Flower Show starts that Saturday.

This post is for my good friend, Jeff Trebac, the owner of Peppi’s, the best cheese steaks in the city.  The Justice League will be a feature film set to release in 2018.  Warner Brother’s president of production, Greg Silverman wouldn’t disclose many details, but hinted that Henry Cavill may return as Superman, Ben Affleck as Batman and Cal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

The August Wilson Center for African American Culture has been in the news quite a bit since they defaulted on the mortgage and insurance.  Tax payers and foundations have already ponied up $30M for this $40M center that’s $9M in debt.  If you’ve read any of my blogs, you know I am no big fan of banks, basically I think most are evil incarnate.  But a deal is a deal, I pay my mortgage monthly (although I love my bank, Slovak Savings Bank). Dollar Bank, holds the $3M mortgage and there’s other creditors including the Stage Hands Union, contractors, etc.  The best anyone has come up with so far is a $4M offer from a consortium of local foundations.  #1, that leaves a lot of people stuck without getting what they are owed, big and small.  #2, it still has the same problems that put the Center in this position.  A real estate company out of New York has offered $9M to take ownership of the building.  Their stated intent is to let the Center continue on the first floor while they put a hotel above it.  In my opinion, this could be the best of both worlds.   The devil is in the details, but if someone with some brains guides this option through, what a great deal.  The Center can continue, they don’t have to worry about digging themselves out of this massive debt and (again the devil’s in the details), the Center can focus on the arts, which is what they were created for.  As a bonus, the property goes back on the tax roles (probably pro rated for the Center’s space being tax exempt), a new hotel will grace the city that will be paying the county bed tax and other operational taxes.

I am unable to upload a picture of the banner I hung for the runners in the Pittsburgh Marathon that ran past The Parador this morning.  It’s super cool and I saw many of the runners looking at it as they ran past.  I will post it on my next blog.

Enjoy this spring weather,




Tomorrow is the anniversary of the zipper being patented (1913), the liberation of Dachau (1945) {I visited Dachau several times while in the army and will never forget the chilling photographs in particular), the Los Angeles riots (1992) and the Peace Rose was introduced (1945).  Birth anniversaries include jazz great “Duke” Ellington (1899), media magnate William Randolph Hearst (1863), Japanese emperor Hirohito Michi-no-Miya (1901) and race car driver Dale Earnhardt (1952).

My friend Myra from The Stone Manse is familiar with the fold we have done here for a number of years with our toilet paper fold:


in sent me a link to a book on origami toilet paper folds.  I gave the book to Dee, and in case you don’t follow The Parador on Facebook, here’s some of her new folds:

The Sail Boat


The Marquis:


The Montecito:


The Heart:


She even came up with a creation not in the book, I call this one The Dee:  :)




The annual Lawrenceville Historical Society spring walking tour will be next Sunday (May 4) and the following Sunday (May 11) starts at 1 pm on the corner of Butler Street and Stanton Avenue.  This is a free guided tour and reservations are not required.  More info at their website.

The Monongahela River has passed another land mark.  The state Department of Environmental Protection says the sulfate contamination dropped enough to recommend removing it from it’s “impaired” list. The sulfur content (mainly from mine run off) has dropped to 250 mg per liter, a significant improvement.  The sulfur content still needs to come down and there’s other contaminates of concern, but it’s another step in the right direction as noted by our eagles making Hays their home.  The chicks are certainly getting bigger.  I still wouldn’t drink directly from the water though.  :)

The Brownsville Drive-In Theater was named the 10th and last drive-in to receive Honda’s Project Drive-In promotion.  They will be receiving a grant to help up-grade their projection system to the new format.  They are still fund raising to cover the rest of the costs of upgrading the property.  It costs roughly $75,000 just for the projection equipment.  I’m glad to see some of these iconic venues are being saved for the future.

Electrified is a new work at the Wood Street Galleries through June 22.  Taking a page out of Nikola Tesla’s work, Dutch artist Edwin van der Heide has 80 identical spark bridges spanning a grid hanging from the ceiling where sparks arc from one node to another, the display is enhanced by motion detectors that customize the firings by the observer’s movements.  They are meant to mimic our neurons firing in our nervous system. Montreal artist Alexandre Burton has a series of of Tesla coils encased in glass (for safety) that fire based on the observer’s proximity to each coil.  A real “hair raising” experience.  :)  More info on this free exhibit is at their websites or by calling 412-471-5605.

Back in the day, the Missouri River went where it wanted.  Before the Army Corps of Engineers told the river where to be, this shallow waterway moved across the flat landscape of the parts of the country it flowed.  Pittsburgh had a healthy ship building industry up until the late Victorian age.  One of the steamboats built on the banks of the Monongahela River was the Arabia and it sank in the Missouri River in 1856.  There river changed course, changed course and changed course many more times.  Although it was known to have sunk in the area, it was never found until 1988 under a cornfield.  They excavated the boat and it’s a major attraction in Missouri with tons of relics that were preserved because they were encased in water all those years because of the high water table.  The boat was carrying supplies for settlers out west and they found nails, stoves, shoes and even pickles that were still edible.  The Heinz History Center has arranged with their Kansas City, MO counterparts to create on of the largest shows ever at the History Center, the exhibit is 8,000 square feet.  The exhibit is included in the History Center’s normal admission and is available for viewing during their normal hours of operation.  That can all be found at their website or by calling 412-454-6000.

Animal Friends has come up with a new program for cats that are pretty much anti-social and unadoptable. They are called the Working Cats.  They take these cats, treat them however is needed, neuter them and put them up for adoption for vermin control like at farms, etc.  These cats are  actually feral, but not the warm and cuddly cats you’d want to give to a grandparent for comfort.  :)  Left on their own, they can become “friends” with their “owners”, but on more restricted terms, theirs.  More info on the programs can be found at Alley Cat Allies or the ASPCA.

They’re working on making the South Park Fairgrounds viable for it’s new life.  I remember when it was an actual fairgrounds, I got my first Heinz pickle there.  :)  They haven’t had a fair there in years and really just let it sit there with no real maintenance in probably forty years.  Some of the buildings they’ve rented out over the years to some small businesses and the main hall down at the bottom would occasionally host some smaller festivals and things, but basically everything’s been falling apart.  They’re going to raze the old out buildings that are beyond saving and shore up the others.  The main focus the the parade field.  They are going to remove the crumbling paved track and replace it with a hard pack for jogging and walking.  They are removing the old bleachers (leaving the stairs for access) and planting native plants for low maintenance and visual appeal.  They will re-align the ball fields on the parade field itself with more intimate bleachers so you can actually see the people playing baseball, etc.  The sides of the rest of the hollow they plan on planting native plants there as well.  All and all I think it’s a great concept and not some expensive redesign as some where advocating.

I had guests last week that came here to visit Point Park University for possibly enrolling their daughter (showing my roots, I said something about Point Park College and they said “We thought it was a university”. Oops, it’s all grown up now.)  :)  It certainly has “grown up”, just six years into their Urban Village vision, they have really transformed that area of Downtown around the Blvd of the Allies and Wood Street.  I don’t know where they get their money, Downtown properties aren’t cheap, but they have continued to acquire more and more buildings and convert them to their educational mission.  And a nice thing about Point Park is they try and keep their eye on preservation as well as new use.  Aurthur Ziegler of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks has commended them.  They’ve also added some very nice amenities like that park on the corner of the Blvd and Wood Street.  I was surprised when I heard they were adding student housing, that is such a nice breath of fresh air, seeing students walking around not just during the day, but in the evening as well since they live there.  They went for a resident population of just 350 a decade ago to 958 this past fall.  Add to that all the residential   construction Downtown, it’s no longer the ghost town it’s been for so long.  The next step will be for businesses to start moving in to cater to the needs/wants of close to a 1,000 students.  They also bought those buildings on Fourth Avenue a year ago around (and including) the Honus Wagner sports store to bring their Pittsburgh Playhouse down from Oakland (and the 40,000 non-student patrons) as well as create a student center there.

Enjoy this wonderful spring weather we have been having, it looks like April showers are starting soon, I’m OK with that as long as it’s no longer cold.



Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the inauguration of Brazil’s new capital Brasilia (1960), the traditional celebration of the founding of Rome (753BC) and Red Baron was shot down (1918).  Birth anniversaries include naturalist John Muir (1838), actor Anthony Quinn (1915), German educator Friedrich Froebel (1782) and novelist Charlotte Bronte (1816).

Nick Ambeliots opened Mediterra Bakehouse in 2001 out in Robinson.  He uses very little yeast creating his bread, instead relying on old Greek recipes he’s picked up spending summers in the Greek town Chios.  They crank out 15,000 loaves of bread each day and though they do volume, they keep their operation with a small time mentality.  Some of his loaves take 20 hours to prepare.  They have done well, expanding their employees to 50 in Pittsburgh and even building a sister bakery in Phoenix, AZ which employs 30.  And making bread takes bread, :) their levain sourdough starter cost $50,000.  They are now looking to buy a flash freeze machine at the tune of $250,000.  Many commercial operations like hotels want their bread frozen for storage and freshness and you need to flash freeze bread to keep up it’s quality.

Fifty years ago this month, the 1964 World’s Fair opened in New York City.  Some of the predictions were for picture phones (Skype and Facetime), personal computers (computers in those day filled a whole room), robotics was introduced  as robotic animation by Disney’s It’s a Small World.  Sadly the “jet packs” they predicted for travel never materialized.  Other predictions that haven’t made it yet were colonies on the moon, under the oceans and Antarctica.  The laser machine that they predicted would cut down the Amazon rainforests leaving behind paved roads also never came to fruition (thankfully, we have enough problems with those ecosystems as it is).

Aeronautical engineer, Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock’s first woman to fly solo around the world was completed on April 17, 1964 at Columbus, OH.  It took 29 days to complete the 23,000 mile trip.  She had been a pilot for a number of years and mother of three children when she decided to take on the challenge.  Now keep in mind, this occurred in 1964, she wore a skirt and blouse while flying and would don high heels when she made her stops for re-fueling, etc.  Not surprising, Amelia Earhart was one of her inspirations.  Still alive in Florida, Jerrie now 88, will not be able to attend the unveiling of a statue honoring her at Columbus International Airport due to health concerns.

Speaking of 1964, Arnold Cohen of Brooklyn founded the American Bidet Company.  He had quite the difficulty because no one would carry advertising for his product.  His tag line “American way to bidet” never caught on.  He eventually sold his patents to Toto, a Japanese company that perfected the design and by 1980 they trade marked the Washlet.  Now 74% of Japanese households have bidet style toilets which makes them more common than home computers (not counting hand held devises).  The options are actually mind blowing.  You can get it with front, rear or both washings, temperature controls, pressure controls, retractable spritzing wands, automatic driers, seat warmers, automatic sensors to raise the lid, buttons to raise the seat, nightlights, self-cleaning mechanisms, music and deodorizer spritzes to name a few.  They run from as low as $40 for a very basic model to around $10,000 for the top of the line.  One high tech seat can add $50-$60 dollars to your electric bill, but considering the cost of toilet paper and water savings the bidet wins.  Some of the models use around 1/10 to 2/10 gallons of water per flush (I assume this doesn’t include the water used for cleansing.  :)  They are hitting mainstream America, you can now find versions in Home Depot as well as Lowes.

Hopefully, one day soon this won’t be a news item but common occurrences.  West View is partnering with ALCOSAN to create a rain garden on vacant land in the town to divert around 250,000 gallons of water out of the sewers.  The plan calls for vegetated bioswale, a retention pond, vegetation that absorb a lot of water are also being planned on this 15,000 square foot parcel.  Not only does rain gardens keep the excess water out of the sewer system, they also help leach silt and pollution out of our waterways.  Neither project’s on this years budget, but when I replace the asphalt in my parking lot, I intend to use the porous material that is now available and I’m already planning on how to capture my roof run off into a rain garden in my Courtyard.

Aspinwall may be getting their first bed and breakfast.  Karen Connor is applying to the city to get that use approved the area zoned AR-3.  Bed and breakfast are great for a community (obviously, I’m biased here), my neighborhood restaurants love me.  It also creates a lot of pedestrian traffic.  Visitor love to walk around the neighborhood their staying in and foot traffic really adds vitality to a neighborhood.  The property she’s looking at has a great front porch, even more vitality in the neighborhood with guests relaxing and watching the comings and goings.  Some of the residents have voiced some concerns and these do need to be addressed.  The number one (beside health and safety issues that the city and county should be able to regulate) would be parking.  An Inn needs to have adequate parking, which sometimes is not addressed by some bed and breakfasts.  The other concern the locals expressed was safety, this I don’t understand.  I view an Inn as an enhancement to neighborhood safety as I spoke about above.

The iconic Duke’s Station in Bethel Park on Baptist Road is going through a major change.  Grant Scorsone, who worked on getting the Church Brew Works opened 17 years ago is taking on the project with his wife.  They are creating a brewpub called Spoonwood restaurant that will feature in-house beer and draft wine.   They hope to open by October with 10 in-house draft beers.  The menu is going to be tapas, Italian sandwiches and wood-fired pizzas (sounds a bit like the Brew House, doesn’t it?).  They are planning quite the project, the old train cars that used to house house Duke’s restaurant next to the bar are going to a park in DuBois to make room for construction of the new restaurant.

I love urban art.  I hate gang tags on buildings, but really stop sometimes when I see some artistic graffiti.  Some graffiti is so creative and colorful creating such a contrast to it’s typical surroundings.  (I admit the wrongness of vandalism, but just because it’s wrong doesn’t make it unattractive).  Another urban art I like is old signs painted on buildings.  There’s a great show at Pittsburgh Film Makers Galleries 477 Melwood Avenue through May 16 showcasing Ghost Signs of Pittsburgh.  Back in the early 1900’s, painting advertising on buildings and barns was big business.  There’s about 150 images taken through a collaboration between filmmaker Will Zavala and photographer Kelly Bogel on display.  It’s great they did this project because we are constantly loosing these ads through building demolition and the weather.

On May 25, at Lake Elizabeth in the Commons here on the Northside John Luther Adams and 99 percussionists will be performing.  Pittsburgh New Music is sponsoring it, but I don’t see any coinciding dates on their website or John’s.

RiverQuest is in trouble.  Between state funding cuts to them and schools, their budget’s been slashed and schools can’t afford to send the kids on the field trips.  In 2008-2009, RiverQuest had a budget of $2.1M and this year it’s $1.2M.  If they can’t find new funding sources, they may close down as early as June.  They’re not in desperate shape, if they decide they need to close, they have enough reserves pay all their creditors off and then return any left overs to previous donors.  They are looking to possibly partner with The Carnegie Science Center/USS Requien or Point State Park, both seem compatible partners, if they have the resources to be able to help out.  In you don’t know, RiverQuest is an educational boat that would take kids on  trips up and down the rivers and teach them about our waterways through hands on with environmental experiments.

Pittsburgh has 440 illegal dump sites that are frequently by illegal dumpers.  Not only do they create an eyesore, frequently hazardous materials are dumped as well to run into our water stream.  The city has three cameras on two of these dumping sites and they recently caught some scofflaws dumping sludge in Larimer.  These cameras are fairly high tech in that they aren’t on all the time, they have motion sensors that turn on when there’s activity in the area and the system sends an e-mail or text to authorities and work day as well as night and can even capture a license plate on a vehicle traveling 50 mph.  Though they haven’t yet been sited, the cameras captured pictures of the two perps as well as pictures of the vehicle and it’s license plate.  I’d say BUSTED.  An environmental group is donating six more of these cameras, so hopefully we can make some headway in stopping this.  According to Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, there are 6,500 illegal dump sites statewide containing an estimated 18,000 tons of trash, this is significant.

Well happy Easter, Passover or whatever your persuasion is and have a great Earth Day next Tuesday, do something for the environment,



Today is the 75th anniversary of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.  Also today, the Titanic sank (1912), Botox was approved by the FDA (2002), the first McDonald’s was opened (1955), the first school for the deaf was founded (1817) and Jackie Robinson broke the racial barrier in baseball (1947).  Birth anniversaries include artist Thomas Benton (1889), North Korean leader Kim Il Sung (1912), capitalist John Longyear (1850), blues singer Bessie Smith (1894) and artist Charles Peale (1741).

The best year yet for composting, my first year it was a clump of mud, the second year (when I ramped up water and brown-leaves) it was decent.  This year it came out ideal.  Black gold:


It was so well decomposed, I was able to spread it over the grass this year:


The rain will soak it into the soil.  Here’s the old guy watching dad work:


The gardens are all prepped for the season, winter is officially banished.  Mulch is scheduled for delivery this morning.  Hopefully I can get it spread before the rains come this afternoon.  13 cubic yards is a lot of mulch.  :)

Point Park University is hosting an art show celebrating women in art through May 18.  They selected 26 works from 200 submitted in all forms of art, 2D as well as 3D and combinations of both.  The submissions came from the National Association of Women Artists, headquartered out of New York City.  Several artists in the show include Claudia Kleefeld, Michelle Manley, Judith Modrak, Pennie Brantley and my favorite, Pittsburgh native Elizabeth Myers Castonguay.  Elizabeth is contributing part of her current series she is working on highlighting endangered species.  She paints the humans in drab colors showing all people on earth regardless of their heritage all are involved with this tragedy and she paints the endangered animals in bright vivid colors.  The hours are from 9 am until 6 pm (school hours) Mondays through Saturdays, admission is free.  Located in Lawrence Hall at the corner of Wood Street and the Blvd of the Allies.  More info at 412-392-8008 or Point Park‘s website.

Next week is the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang, April 17.  When it was rolled out in 1964 (in case you’re mathematically challenged)  :) , the dealerships had drapes over the windows and you had to wait in lines to get in to see the car.  Many dealers were offering hot dogs, donuts and lemonade while you waited.  The base sticker price back then was $2k and the dealers took over 22,000 orders for the car that day.  If you want to see the very first Mustang (Serial Number one #0001), just go the the Ford Museum in Dearborn.  The Mustang Club of America will be hosting simultaneous birthday parties in both the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada April 16 – 20.  If you are really into it, the American Pony Drive will meet up in Norman, Okla and caravan to either destination.  More info at their sites.

President Wm McKinley’s wife Ida’s tiara is being held hostage at Las Vegas pawn shop.  When Ida passed away, it was inherited by members of her family and it’s location became lost.  It turned up on that TV series Pawn Stars feature and now the private non-profit McKinley Presidential Library & Museum in Canton is trying to acquire it.  The pawn shop paid $43k for it and want $75k for it.  If you’d like to assist, you can call a donation to 330-455-7043 or mail a check to Ida McKinley Tiara Fund, McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, 800 McKinley Monument Drive NW, Canton, OH 44708.

Pittsburgh seems to be the darling child of the Huffington Post.  They ran an article singing our praises in December What Pittsburgh Can Teach The Rest Of The Country About Living Well.  The Trib picked up another article from the Huffington Post who picked up an article on us from Air Fare Watch Dog that also was singing our praises.  We have really been getting a ton of super positive press, maybe one day I’ll devote an entire blog to all the wonderful things people are saying about us.  :)

I believe the last time I complained about my neighborhood association was in January.  The local food bank Northside Common Ministries made a plea for $1,000, they were visiting all the Northside neighborhood associations asking for help.  Later in the meeting, when it was discussed whether to donate or not, two issues came up.  #1 the association didn’t have a formal budget, so they couldn’t commit.  #2 one of the members questioned “Can we even donate due to out by-laws.”  It made the minutes, so it had to come up in February’s meeting.  “We don’t have an approved budget, the item is tabled.”  In March, two representatives from the food bank made a second plea.  When it was discussed, after they left, “we don’t have an approved budget, the item is tabled”.  After much rancor in the April meeting over hiring attorneys over renovations at two neighborhood buildings, the item came up on the agenda AGAIN.  Because of the length of the meeting to that point and another major issue yet to be discussed, the motion was AGAIN tabled until next month.  At the previous meetings, I pointed out that these were neighbors that were going to bed hungry partially because of these delays.  This meeting, I asked how long it would take to vote, necessitating another month.  My comments again “were noted”.  I won’t go into specifics about how much money the association brought in last year, but I can compare it to my gross revenue.  They paid as much in attorney fees as I paid in heating last year.   They don’t have property taxes, mortgages, etc.  Second harvest notes that they activity increased 26% from 2012 to 2013.   49 million families are at risk of hunger, 16 million of these are children!.  How can they sleep at night?

It’s the 50th anniversaries of many children’s favorites and adult’s bane, It’s a Small World at the Disney attractions.  That is one of the most annoying attractions I have ever been to, and all the kids in our group loved it.

Here’s a controversial post.  I was listening to NPR the other day and the topic was child pedophiles.  They interviewed this 18 year old guy that’s an admitted pedophile.  When he turned 16, he realized he was attracted to very young girls.  He has never acted on his impulses.  He went to his mom who tried to find a psychiatrist to treat him and ran into problems finding one.  Number one, it’s not a recognized medical issue and number two there’s a major liability issue.  If the psychiatrist is treating him and he takes action on this, the psychiatrist would be liable for not alerting authorities of his pre-disposition.  It’s like someone suicidal and the psychiatrist doesn’t alert authorities ahead of time and they take their life, the psychiatrist can face criminal charges.  The kid set up an on-line chat group for other young pedophiles.  The number one requirement to join is you have to adamantly acknowledge that pedophilia is wrong.  I never viewed this in this light.  And please, I am no way justifying or otherwise condoning this.  It’s just I always viewed pedophilia  as some old geezer preying on young children (which I pretty much still feel).     I guess it’s like the rest of life, it’s more complicated than you realize at first.

On that twisted note, I’m signing off.  Breakfast to serve and mulch to spread.  Enjoy this fabulous weather,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of Anne Sullivan finally getting through to Helen Keller the concept of sign by placing her hand under cold water and signing WATER on her palm and the first Chamber of Commerce was founded in New York City in 1768.  Birth anniversaries include educator and leader Booker Washington (1856), astronaut Judith Resnik (1949), physician who first used aseptic surgery Joseph Lister (1827)actors Gregory Peck (1916), Spencer Tracy (1900) and Bette Davis (1908).

American Eagle’s last year’s April Fools prank, Skinny Jeans, was out done by this year’s American Beagle.  The skinny jeans joke was a video where the sales crew was showing real customers in a real American Eagle store the “latest fashion”, in just your underwear, they spray painted your underwear and legs so you have “form fitting” jeans.  Well this year’s American Beagle features AE coming up with a clothing line for dogs.  It’s been such a hit that AE is looking into possibly adding a pet line.

The original La Gourmandine Bakery and Pastry Shop in Larwrenceville, has been so successful the owners are planning their second location in Mt Lebanon on Cochran Road where the Northwest Savings Bank used to be (right below where the high school is).  The French born couple has Pittsburgh roots, Lisanne Moreau’s mom is from Pittsburgh.  Lisanne talked her husband Fabien to follow her to Pittsburgh for job opportunities.  Initially Fabien, who has worked in many great French restaurants thought he’d open a restaurant here.  When he realized there wasn’t an authentic French bakery in the city, he and Lisanne decided to open La Gourmandine in 2010.  They decided on the Mt Lebanon site because of it’s close proximity to their home in Upper St Clair and the school their kids attend.  By the way, Fabian didn’t speak English when he moved here. The land of opportunity.  :)

I think it’s a bit odd that West View’s borough manager and police Chief are the same, Bruce Fromlak.  Not that has anything to do with this post, I just noticed it in the article and found it a bit odd.  Anyway, a group of West View residents, borough officials and the Chamber decided to go a new route and created West View Community Connection and they have already either sponsored, or have scheduled movies in the park, junk in the trunk sales, parades, a community day and a car cruise.  Their next event will be a crafts, baked goods and other items for sale from 9 am until 2 pm next Saturday at the St Athanasius Education and Community Center at 7 Chalfonte Avenue.  They also have tables available for $20 if you want to try you hand at selling.  More info at West View‘s website or by calling the organizer Debbie Andrews at 412-931-2171.

I think Mayor Peduto must read my blogs, or maybe he actually uses his brain, not like a past unnamed Mayor.  Instead of slapping stickers all over the city on our streets declaring this a bicycle lane, that a bicycle lane, Mayor Peduto is having a study done that will identify exactly where to place bicycle only lanes that will be separated from  vehicle traffic by physical barriers.  They are tentatively looking at the Fort Pitt Blvd for the East West bicycle corridor and Smithfield St as the North South corridor Downtown.  This will entail changing some traffic patterns, maybe making some roads one way or moving from four lanes to two.  It is so much safer for bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers to have separate bicycle “highways” and with some thought put into it, it can truly be an asset to the city.

Here’s a twist on energy consumption.  There’s a huge dock facility at Cove Point, MD owned by Dominion Gas Company that sat empty this past winter.  The reason it sat empty is America is not importing much gas these days.  So Dominion is looking into reversing the flow, they have the infrastructure for shipping at the dock and they have the pipe lines that used to bring gas into the  country.  So now they are looking into drawing from Marcellus and other fields and just reversing the process.

While we’re talking Marcellus, I’m not for fracking, but I’m also not against it.  If we can regulate the extraction that it is safe and doesn’t hurt the environment and then if we can then transport it and store it safely, I’m all for it.  Those are two huge ifs.  It’s almost daily anymore that I read about a pipe break, train derailment, oil tank breach. To the extent that one derailment in Canada totally leveled a town and killed most, if not all, the residents.   The worst part of this is generally speaking, train tracks and pipe lines follow along our waterways because that’ s the path with the most gradual grade.  But also along our waterways, generally speaking, are the coal fired power plants.  They’re placement there is so they can receive the coal needed to run the plant on the most cost effective transportation, barges.  The huge downside to this, and I admit I wasn’t aware of this until a few years ago, are the fly ash retention ponds.  HUGE ponds, some would call them lakes, with millions of gallons of toxic slurry next to our waterways.  And it’s increasingly becoming evident like the much publicized Dan River spill in North Carolina.  But include in the slurry mishap list the KIinston spill, the Charleston, WV spill and the Chattanooga, TN spill.  And the rate of pipe failures seems to keep increasing, 42,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Yellowstone River in 2011.  In 2012 there were 300 oil spills in North Dakota that went unreported to the public.  Oil is North Dakota’s major source of revenue and this hints at collusion between the oil companies and the state government. The oil spill in Mayflower, AK last year spilled 210,000 gallons of oil in that town.  I grew up in Finleyville, southwest of Pittsburgh and there were many old and abandoned coal mines and I clearly recall the yellow creeks and the smell of them from the abandoned coal mines.  The coal barons made their fortunes back at the turn of the century and we’re paying to clean up their mess.  Again, we need energy.  It would be nice if someone figured out how to build a fusion reactor, but until that time we need compromise.  But that compromise can’t come at the expense of the residents and the environment.  Exxon fought every inch of the way the disaster they caused in Alaska with the Valdez spill.  BP started being upfront over their Gulf spill until their lawyers told them to clam up.  Industry needs to step up to the moral plate and we need to trust our governments to look out for us, not like the implied collusion between North Dakota and their largest employer and source of revenue.

Next Sunday, St Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Carnegie is having their annual Pysanky and Traditional Food Bazaar.  They will be featuring the traditional art of Pysanky, intricately decorated eggs using wax and dyes.  There will be also other crafts and ethnic Ukrainian food available.  They will even offer a beginners pysanky class for $20 and an advanced class for $30.  The event is free and open to the public.  The classes require a reservation, if you are interested in the classes, call412-527-5359 for reservations.  Go to Sts Peter & Paul’s website for more event details.

Braddock Carnegie Library will be celebrating it’s 125 years this year.  The first Carnegie Library was founded March 30, 1889 as a place for learning and community interaction.  In addition to the library, they build the music hall (which is going through extensive renovations for the anniversary), recreational facilities including a bath house. Follow their website for upcoming events.

Enjoy this cool, but bright Saturday,