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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great evening,



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

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

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


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

truck side

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

Aztec Artifact

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s it for today,



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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


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


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

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

Well keep warm and enjoy this warmer than usual week,



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

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

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



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

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

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

Enjoy your weekend,



Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the Erie Canal (1825), it’s Austria’s National Day, the gun fight at the OK Corral (1881) and it is the Islamic feast of the sacrafice-Eid-al-Adha.  Birth anniversaries include French revolutionary war hero Georges Danton (1759), renowned gospel singer Mahalia Jackson (1911) and composer Domenic Scarlatti (1685).

Back in the late 1940’s and early 50’s the government had a surplus of parachutes and Idaho had a surplus of beavers in certain parts of the state and wanted to move them to remote areas of the state.  And so the the game commission came up with a novel solution, they devised a Beaver Drop.  🙂

A lot of the subscription services are blaming the new chip embedded credit cards for sharp decline in membership.  Places like Netflix, dating sites, etc.  That is a common occurrence when credit cards are renewed with a new expiration date.  But there are so many cards being re-issued because of the chip technology, it’s a lot more than normal.

Hewlett-Packard, Dell,Lenovo are teaming with Microsoft  to launch a $70M ad campaign encouraging PC and laptop users to buy newer versions.  The laptop and PC segment has been falling steadily over the last number of years as people switch to smart phone and notebooks for their computing needs.

It’s a busy time of year for North Hills Community Outreach.  They are having their yearly coat drive through the end of October.  Coats donated need to be serviceable, no broken zippers, ripped or torn coats can be accepted.  For the first time they have partnered with Dutch Girls Cleaners on McKnight Road.  Dutch Girls is offering to clean any coat donated in need of cleaning.  They are more interested in functional coats like ski jackets, more than fashionable long coats.  Most needed are adult XL and XXL.  Last year they collected 2,000 coats and jackets that helped 345 families. They are also collecting non perishable foods for Thanksgiving Dinners, anything you might find at a Thanksgiving dinner is needed.  Like canned cranberries, vegetables, powdered potatoes, etc They helped 800 families in need last year and the drive lasts through November 13.  Provided meals to 800 meals last year to families in need.  Also, so they don’t get bored, they are running a toy drive.  🙂  November 11 through December 11.  They are looking for unwrapped toys for tots through high school age.  More info at their website or by calling 412-487-6316.  You can also use that phone number to register to receive a coat, Thanksgiving dinner or toys.

Penn Forest Cemetery has new staff members.  Penn Forest is that green cemetery in Penn Hills, they’ve hired goats to keep the weeds at bay.  They will cordon off areas of the cemetery  and let the goats do their thing.  And get this, they’ve hired a director of security for the goats, a donkey will travel with the goats to keep predators at bay.  🙂    And as an added benefit, both landscapers and security guard will leave behind complimentary fertilizer.  🙂

There’s an interesting Government Accounting Office website that highlights art the government owns and where it is.  You can do a search by location or by artist.  Kind of an interesting site to browse.

Over the years, putting the gardens in the Courtyard to bed for the winter has been quite the chore and I’m getting pretty efficient at this task.  🙂  I remember digging the elephant ears’ tubers out in the mud right before a hard frost.  There was the year da boiz broke my hand and Dee & Taymar had to help me cut down the Arondo donex and it was bitter cold.  Then there was getting rid of all that vegetation.  The elephant ears and grasses are to much for my little Courtyard to be able to compost.   The city wouldn’t take it.   I ended up using my good friend Jeff that owns Peppi’s and would put limited amount of vegetation in his dumpster.  I’m not particularly comfortable putting vegetation in the garbage stream.  Last year, I talked about hooking up with those great people at the Western PA Conservancy, I know them.  I sponsor a garden at the corner of Brighton Road and California Avenue.  I knew at this time of year, they were dismantling most of their gardens and I’ve seen their pick up trucks loaded with plants they’ve taken out of the various gardens and knew they had to have a big composting program somewhere.  So I called my contact and inquired if I could put my vegetation in their composting pile.  The answer was yes.  I had the vegetation in the back of my pick up, he offered to transfer it to his truck and then take me up to show where their composting was right up Brighton Road.The last few days I’ve been dismantling the gardens and piling it in the truck.  In one fell swoop I was able to get rid of the vegetation.  Here’s before:P1000832


Here’s the Courtyard stripped and inspected by da kidz:



And here’s the tubers ready for their sleep in the basement over the winter:


Generally I replant the elephant ears later April, if you would like some, just bring a tub (with a lid) and visit me before later April. I always have a tub extra after planting them.  And I put tubers in cardboard boxes with a sign Free Elephant Ears.  They are usually gone the same day.  When my nephew Michael and myself cut the silver birch down a couple of weeks ago, we cut the l tree into fireplace sized logs with a sign Free Firewood, they were gone in two days. I will probably cut the Maiden Hair Grasses in half this spring (that’s the grasses on the far side of the water feature.  If you want some of them, just let me know.

Here’s a pic of the Maiden Hair:


That’s it for today, enjoy your weekend,



Sorry folks, I told this to publish on Monday and it didn’t.

Birth anniversaries include black American naval aviator Jesse Brown (1926), on the edge comedian Lenny Bruce (1925), former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1925), French actor Yves Montand (1921) and Revolutionary War Heroine Molly Pitcher (1754).  It’s the anniversary of the authorization of the US Navy (1775) and in Burundi, Assassintion of the Hero of the Nation, Prince Louis Rwagasore (1961).

Gilfilan Farm will hold it’s second holiday antique show through October 15.  It runs from 10 am until 4 pm in the white barn.  The farm house will only be open for tours through scheduling by calling 412-835-2050 or by e-mailing the president of the Upper St Clair Historical Society at president@hsusc.org.  Gilifan Farm is one of the original farms of the area that eventually became Upper St Clair.

Jane has been visiting from Florida several times a year, Jim her friend has given me several original pieces of art work that hang in a grouping on the second floor landing.  One is of the old fire truck that used to be in the Commons for kids to play on another is of a small house in the Mexican War Streets and the third is of a whale playing in the ocean:


Appearantly, Jane’s sister Louise Leak was an accomplished artist, most notably for her work on etching print blocks.  Louise passed away forty years ago and they recently found a number of her print blocks.  Jane presented me with one titled The Table Room:


The picture’s black and white with so much detail, very talented!

City of Asylum recently closed on the old Masonic Temple on North Avenue (two doors down from the Garden Theater).  They plan on starting a $10M renovation immediately.  CA, in case you are not familiar with them house dissident authors and poets, mostly of Asian origin.  CA own several shot gun houses in the Mexican War Streets, one of the houses has a poem in Chinese written on the outside of the house, something to check out if you are walking in the area of the Mattress Factory and Randyland.  Up until now, they have hosted their readings and other events any where they could.  Now with the first floor becoming Alphabet City, they will have a permanent venue and coffee & gift shops in one location.

Pittsburgh’s Dirty Dozen Bike Race is about a month out, November 28.  The Dirty Dozen is actually 13 of the city’s steepest streets, including Canton in Beechview.  Canton has the steepest grade of any paved street in the world, the Guinness Book of Records lists a street in New Zealand, because it is longer.  (I think NZ’s street is 34% and Canton is 37%).  Actually they could hold the entire race in Beechview, there are so many super steep streets over there.  I go there often because that’s where my Mom lives and I scare her by driving down some of them.  🙂  Go to their website if you would like to register to participate.  It’s also a great excuse to go out and get some fresh air and cheer the participants on.

Rayzette is fully recovered from her being spayed.  Day one she slept the rest of the day, day two I took the cone off so she could eat breakfast and then again so she could eat lunch.  I left the cone off after she ate and watched her closely.  She started licking the incision and the cone went back on her.  I after dinner, I left the cone off and watched her for hours and she had learned the cone was related to licking the incision.  And she has a ravenous appetite.  🙂  She’s 62# and climbing, RJ’s 84#.  She doesn’t look like a puppy any more, she just looks like a super cuter small lab.  Here’s my little girl hanging out with her big brother:


Take care and enjoy this nice weather we’re having,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of one of debut of my most favorite TV shows Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969), Chief Joseph’s surrender (1877), the accident at the Enrico Fermi Atomic Power Plant at Monroe, MI (1966) and it is Portugal’s Republic Day.  Birth anniversaries include 21st President Chester Arthur (1829), three stooges actor Larry Fine (1902) and film pioneer Louis Lumiere (1864).

It’s that time of year to be scary (no comments on my cooking).  🙂  They are having their yearly living dead festival in Evans City, where much of Night of the Living Dead was shot next weekend.  Be careful of using the link livingdeatweeken.com, I was there and was going to put a hyperlink to it, but there seems to be some malware in it.  Included in the festivities will be a dedication of a permanent marker on the site of the farm house from the movie.  And of course the Living Dead Museum will have activities.  They are planning on having a number of cast members from the original movie and others that worked the classic film give autographs and insider information.

In addition to all the scare houses out there, there’s a number haunted tours.  In the City of Monogahela there’s a Candlelight Ghost Walk at 7:15 on the weekends of 10/16 &17 and then 10/ 23 & 24.  They are guided tours where the docent tells you stories of why certain houses are believed to be haunted.  More info by calling 724-258-6432 or visiting their website.  Out in Brownsville the Nemacolin Castle will have tours most weekend evenings during the month of October, more info 724-785-6882.  You go through the mansion in the dark with just lanterns.  Brackenridge Heights Golf Course will have ghost tours October 10 & 23 of areas known as hot spots.  The most famous ghost is Leo, a former employee.  This public golf course was private and exclusive in it’s heydays.  More info at their webs site or by calling  724-226-0955. Out in Fayette County there’s the Smock Heritage Museum, formerly known as a company story has a number of ghosts are said to be in residence.  They are only have tours from 5 pm  until midnight, October 10.  These guided tours take about 30 minutes.  More info at 724-570-3258.  Another  haunted tour include Haunted Pittsburgh which starts at the City County Building 7 pm Fridays, more info at their website.

The recreations of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria are docked down at Station Square until October 12.  Tickets are $7 & $8 for self guided tours and they run from 9 am until 6 pm.  More info at their website.

I talked about E-Cycling Recyling in Pine several years ago, Jenn Carr was collecting old TVs, and other electronics and then selling them to eloop in plum.  She’s no longer accepting these things, but eloop is still in business.

Faros Properties from New York relatively recently bought the old Allegheny Center Mall, 1.2 million square foot complex and is in the process of turning it into Nova, a tech friendly facility.  I believe they are the same group that last year bought the high rise apparments in the mall area and turned the 40% occupancy to 100% with waiting lists.  Nova will be hosting a big Maker Faire with over 200 inventors, crafters and tech enthusiasts. next weekend October 10 & 11.  Maker Faires is an international movement.

The California Girls were in again for another visit.  They are such nice ladies, and poor Nancy suffered the entire week they visited with gall stones.  But she kept up the happy face and was always such a pleasure to be around.  They left Thursday and before they left they went down to see Kerry at KS Kennedy Distinctive Floral and Gourmet and ordered flowers for all of us.  And you can see one of my Halloween decorations sneaking into the picture.  🙂


Enjoy this sunny fall day,