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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Tomorrow is the anniversary of Swedish prime minister Olof Palme (1986),  the 228 riot in China where Taiwanese cigarette vendor had everything she owned confiscated for violating the Chinese government’s cigarette monopoly causing a major riot (1947), the USS Princeton exploded when a gun backfired killing many crew members and politicians (1844)   and NATO downing Serb jets (1994).  Birth anniversaries include French acrobat Charles Blondin (1824), comic strip creator Milton Caniff (19907) and gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel (1906).

Want to learn how to make a  broom, Old Economy Village is offering a three hour class on how to March 5 and a class on the art of paper cutting called Scherenschnitte at the visitor center.  Pre-registration is required and you can do that by calling David Miller at 724-266-4500 next 110 or emailing him  at davmiller@pa.gov.

A number of years ago, I was at a flea market and there was a box of framed pictures marked $2 each.  Most of them were those boring “Why would someone buy these new?” types.  Then I came across these two Scherenschnitte:  I had them matted and framed.

Scissor Art

Make an over night venture out of it by staying at the newly opened Bed and Breakfast, The Heslett House opened about a month ago.  Dennis has been fighting local government trying to get open for over a year now.  Speaking of uncooperative governments, It looks like The Allegheny Inn may be at their last hurdle, where to place the compressor for their AC unit.  Justin hopes to finally open in about a month after several years of battling city hall.

I think I told you in a past post how the sausage had taught herself how to open doors.  Dee and myself kept finding her in the Mansion and the assumption was that we weren’t properly closing the Pantry door, leaving it unlatched.  Then the two of us started paying attention when we went through the pantry door into the dining room.  And we were still finding her out there, so I went into discipline mode.  She’s stopped.  But earlier in the week it was warm and I went out to do errands leaving the back door open so da kidz could come and go as they wanted.  When I got home, RJ was in the cold kitchen on one of the dog beds.  I assumed she was outside.  I went to put the flour in the hot kitchen and when I opened the door (it also has a handicapped lever type door handle and she was inside.  She was so stressed and happy to see me.  Here’s the new picture of us I just posted on my home page:

905 911 57

She’s the short fat one on my right.  She came home from the dog park last week in tears.  When I asked what’s wrong she said all the other dogs at the dog park were calling her “Fatty”.  The poor girl.  🙂

If you’ve read my past blogs, you know the respect I have for the police.  There’s always the exception, like the forty + year old bully that beat up the drunk 19 year old football fan outside Heinz Field last year.  No where near the absurdity of our public servants shooting unarmed civilians.  Matakovich earned $190,644 last year.  Between his $69k base, $17k shift differential, uniform allowances and special event pays.  He was the the seventh highest paid Pittsburgh employee.  The kid was drunk and walking away from him.  When Matakovich a “trained” “professional” knocked him to the ground and began to pummel him.  I’m upset, not so much because of his bullying, but because my taxes are paying for the belligerent actions.  And his audacity demanding his job back.  Which page in the police handbook about protecting and serving did he miss?

When I was a small child (no comments like Did they have cars then?”).  🙂  We lived in Baldwin Borough on top of the hill above the Hazelwood Bridge, Rodger and I would walk down the hill and “fish” in the Mon River, not surprisingly, we never caught anything.  I remember when they tore the old Hazelwood Bridge down, my dad said it was to be part of a future highway.  It looks like Penndot is finally planning on completing the long delayed Mon Valley Expressway.  It now stops in Pleasant Hills.  I don’t understand how they plan on taking the highway up that steep hill on the Hazelwood side to reach the parkway east.  I think they plan on building a Squirrel Hill tunnel bypass as part of it to relieve congestion on the parkway.  Currently, route 51 is the highway connecting the city to the Mon Valley.  This is great news for the Mon Valley, where I really grew up in Finleyville.  I hope it’s not too late to help those poor towns down the valley that’s been suffering so much since the mills closed.

Days are getting longer, temperatures improving, I’m happy,



Tomorrow’s the anniversary of Nixon’s trip to China (1972), the New Yorker’s first publication (1925), Malcolm X’s assassination (1965),  and the Washington Monument was dedicated (1885).  Birth anniversaries include jazz singer Nina Simone (1933) and humorist Erma Bombeck (1927)

The Hays eagles have two eggs, lets wish them better luck this year than last (they lost both eggs).  The Harmar eagles aren’t getting the attention the Hays eagles get.  I’ve been watching them a bit, apparently, the Harmar eagles just mated the other day.  There’s about 900 people watching the Harmar eagles and 1,200 people following the Hays eagles.

I spent $2,500 for a two door commercial refrigerator a year and a half ago.  The compressor died.  I contacted Penn Fixture, where I bought it and for weeks have been going back and forth with them trying to get the warranty to cover it’s replacement.  I kept being told they can’t get a hold of the manufacturer and finally, Tuesday when I made my daily call (they never initiated a phone call to me), I told them I was going to contact my attorney.  (Warranties’ on compressors have to last 3 years-even if the company files for bankruptcy the company has to set money aside to cover warranties).  I was forwarded an email Penn fixture got Tuesday from the company with a follow up and direction to get it taken care of.  Koone’s refrigeration was at my Inn the next day and determined that the compressor was shot and ordered it’s replacement.  The new compressor should be in in  few days.

My current project is replacing the huge radiators in both African Tulip:


You can’t see in this picture, but the radiator is noticeably  leaning away from the window wall.  The weight of this five foot long cast iron piece is effecting the floor joist.  Since replacing the windows, I don’t need a radiator this large and found two smaller ones at Construction Junction.  The other one in Bird of Paradise is also much larger than is needed.  Here’s the current one in Bird of Paradise:


Both radiators are about five feet long.  Here’s the two new matching ones I got at Construction Junction:


I don’t know if you ever paid attention to radiators, but they are actually works of art.P1000924

Take a look at these puppies:

Speaking of puppies, “the sausage” just past 90#

I posted a year or two ago when ALCOSAN went under the court order to stop fouling the waterways.  My water & sewer bill was less than my Direct TV and internet.  Even though I don’t like the higher bills, I agree water is more important than TV and the internet.  When ALCOSAN came up with their boondoggle $3 BILLION solution with concrete pipes and holding tanks.  River Life offered to assist with green suggestions and ALCOSAN flat out rejected their offer.  ALCOSAN told them they could make suggestions once the plan was approved.  Now the arrogant SOB’s at ALCOSAN are asking for River Life’s suggestions and others for suggestions.  $3 BILLION could finance a lot of rain gardens, rain barrels, swells, and my big suggestions they keep ignoring.  Make a new standard so when the replace storm water catch basins, instead of the entire box being concrete, leave the bottom open with a gravel base.  A ton of water would percolate down into the soil!

Thanx for putting up with my rant.  It was so beautiful today, I got around to painting the gecko swing.





First of all Happy Valentine’s Day!  Tomorrow is Remember the Maine Day (ship blown up while at anchor in Havana Harbor 1898 starting the Spanish American War), it is Lupercalia (the anniversary of ancient Roman fertility festival) and the withdrawal of the Soviet troops in Afghanistan (1989).  Birth anniversaries include actor John Barrymore (1882), Anton Cermak (the mayor of Chicago who took the bullet meant to assassinate President Elect Franklin Roosevelt in Miami (1933) and inventor of the reaper Cyrus McCormick (1809).

The gorgeous stained glass windows Joedda installed in Chenille and Oleander were not supported correctly.  They were just the stained glass and the lead supports.  Which weren’t strong enough to support the weight of the stained glass and lead.  So I sent Oleander’s out to be rebuild and put in a proper frame so they survive.  They were bulging all over the place and ready to fall apart.  Here’s a picture of Oleander’s windows:


After sending Chenille’s stained glass windows out to be rebuilt I got them backabout 2 weeks ago.  I had to prime and paint the exterior facing wood and stain and polyurethane the inside.  Here’s a picture of the new windows I had installed the past fall (more on that next).  These are the stationary windows that are double pained with e-gas and reflective tinting for efficiency:


Here’s a picture of the repaired stained glass windows installed over the new exterior windows:


And here’s a close up of the stained glass in the new frame:


The fall window project seems to be paying off. My December 2014 gas bill was $1,300 and this past December it was $300 (granted this December was much warmer than last). Both January’s had similar temeratures and the 2015 gas bill was $1,450 and this January it was $750. 🙂 Big smile. I’m closing in on almost 100 windows replaced.

So UPMC is planning to build a new hospital in Jefferson Hills across from Allegheny Hospital’s Jefferson hospital which sits six miles from McKeesport.  I guess that’s the death toll for UPMC’s less profitable McKeesport hospital.  They are being even more aggressive than when they closed the less profitable Braddock hospital and then built a new one basically  across the street from Allegheny Hospital’s Forbes regional hospital something like two miles away.  Braddock and McKeesport are both economically challenge neighborhoods, Monroeville and Jefferson Hills are both economically well to do neighborhoods.  I guess prejudiced is what warrants Jeffrey Romoff’s $6.4 MILLION dollar bonus.  He needs that to afford his home that occupies a full floor in the US Steel building.  Not that he personally pays for it, I assume it’s part of his “compensation” package by getting a floor in the building UPMC basically rents most of.

I recenetlhy hosted a visit by artist Michael Sirvet, who set up a show at James Galleries in the West End.  Michael has very vibrant pieces, he’s not afraid of color.  🙂  He creates restructuralist sculpture using various materials.

The Northside Chronicle had a feature story on St. Anthony’s Chapel up on Troy Hill.  St Anthony’s has the largest collection of relics outside the Vatican!  They are authenticated by the Vatican.  They were mainly collected by a a Belgian-born noble/physician turned priest Suitbert Godfrey Mollinger.  He traveled Europe during war times collecting these relics.  It’s quite impressive.  The chapel is generally open from 1 – 4 with formal tours generally starting around 1:30 Saturdays through Thursdays.

TVs are getting harder and harder to recycle responsibly. eLoop the major electronics recycler no longer accepts them, nor does Goodwill, Salvation Army or Best Buy. Evolution E-Cycling on the South Side does accept TVs, but for a price between $10 – $60.

After moving to the Northside ten years ago, The Northside Chronicle finally is running an article on me, The Tribune Review has had two stories on The Parador and the Post Gazette has never run a story on me.  Follow the link to the on line version, the print version will be out in next month’s print version.  Thank you Neil.

There’s an amazing show at Photo Antiquities over on East Ohio Street,  Chris Togneri did a great article on them in The Trib.  There’s still a lot of power in good photography.  When I was in the army in Munich, I ended up going to Dachau several times and the thing that still sticks with me is a photograph of a well dress boy about 8 years old and he’s standing in the cold, well dressed and the rest of the image was Nazis and the only thing you could see of them was their jack boots and knees.  The confusion and fear in his face obviously left a lasting impression on me.  Photographer Ed Salamony of the former Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, who passed away in1999, went over to Bernies Photo for some equipment to develop some pictures he took during the Great Depression.  He ended up giving the negatives to Bernies for their collection.  What curator Frank Watters is trying to show, is even in extreme poverty and hopelessness you can have dignity.  Very interesting and well written article in the trib an very powerful images at Bernies.

A couple of years ago, The History Center purchased the Dietrich Building behind it.  They use it for storage and that’s where they refurbish pieces. Sections of it are now open to the public.  It’s included in the admission price.

At the PABBI conference I signed up with a new credit card processor, and Tom Weiskotten was right, his rates are noticeably lower than I was paying previously to Heartland.  I also signed up for a new on line reservation system Think Reservations.  And didn’t want to roll out the new system while I was busy.  We scheduled to do it in February and it went live last week.  My previous system Webervations was so outdated and unresponsive (the staff).  Taking a reservation was so cumbersome between getting the credit info securely and transferring all the personal information into my data base took a lot of time.  And people were always getting confused because the system could not automatically include the specials or other discounts.  There’s now codes you put in and it automatically gives the appropriate discount.  And it knows how to tell the three week days it takes to qualify for the Caribbean Freedom Special.  It automatically sends the reservation confirmation.  Richard programmed the system so that with one click I can easily print the welcome letters instead of going back and forth between different programs.  The system also automatically takes a one day deposit.  If you are a cash customer (Michelle 🙂 ), or one of my regular business travelers, call me for the secret promo codes (Liz & Jim for example).

That’s it for today, keep warm, its supposed to go back up close to 50 towards the end of the week,




Tomorrow is the anniversary of Thomas Edison’s Black Maria Studio (the first motion picture studio) (1893), the first car insurance was issued (1898), the first session of the Supreme Court (1790), GI Joe was introduced (1964), Late Night with David Letterman premiered (1982), General Electric Theater premiered (1953), Geensboro’s Sit-in (1960) and the space shuttle Columbia disaster (2003).  Birth anniversaries include actor Clark Gable (1901), flim director John Ford (1895), African American poet & author Langston Hughes (1902) and Russian president Boris Jeltsin (1931).

The Haslett House Bed and Breakfast finally got their CO and are open for business.  They are a log cabin in Old Economy, 16 miles north west of me.  As I hear the horror stories of Inns trying to open, I wonder why anyone would be crazy enough to start a bed and breakfast.  When I look back on my battles with the city, they almost seem minor compared to what Dennis did trying to open The Haslett House or what Justin is still doing trying to open The Allegheny Inn.  I know Justin has been fighting bureaucracy for at least two years trying to open.  I’m hearing Justin should be getting his CO within about a month.

First off, I wasn’t too excited in the beginning of January when I got my gas bill.  December 2014 my bill was $1,347 and my bill for December 2015 was $387.  December 2015 was much warmer than December 2014.  Now January 2015 vs January 2016 was pretty much equally cold.  January 2015, my gas bill was $1,459 and January 2016 the bill is $746!  The new windows are doing the trick.  Several January’s were close to or just over $2,000 in the past.

Originally built as The First Immanuel Evangelical Church, Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center is located at 1000 Madison Avenue in the Deutschtown area of the Northside.  Built in 1889 it has been transformed into an art center and event center.  They have two spaces for rent, the chapel on the second floor and the gallery on the main floor.  The current exhibit in the gallery is work by New Zealand resident artist Fiona Amundsen called Like a Body Without Skin based on photographs by German photographers Hilla & Bernd Becher who photographed several Pittsburgh blast furnaces.  Who published a book by the same name in the 1980’s.  The exhibit is free and runs through March 31.  Neu Church is open Monday through Friday 10 am till 6 pm.

Dinner Lab contacted me last week, they wanted to host one of their dinners in my Ballroom.  But they were anticipating 120 guests, I can fit 100.  So I had to decline.  In case you aren’t familiar with Dinner Lab, it’s something like the white dinners.  Twenty five years ago Francois Pasquier hosted the first Diner en Blanc in Paris.  He invited some friends to a dinner at a secret location.  And some of the friends were bringing friends, so he asked everyone to wear all white so guests could identify each other.  And the trend started.  It’s a fun pop up kind of an event. Pittsburgh is just starting Diner en Blanc an Dinner Labs.

James Simon loves his art in a big way.  His medium is usually clay and cement.  He just completed a 16 foot tall woman playing bass, two six foot dogs, two nine foot dancers and a large jukebox for Perry Harvey Park in Tampa.  He’s the artist that did the clay musicians in the 900 block of Liberty Avenue.  Obviously, he cranks out some remarkable pieces in his uptown studio.

I just came back from St Pete, Savannah & Charleston.  I drove down to Tampa with my friend Jeff that co-owns the Inn on the Mexican War Streets.  Karl and he are building this colossal lodge in West Virginia, it will be the third largest residence in the state (the governor’s mansion is larger and #2 is just slightly bigger).  They had to cut a road in to reach the top of the mountain:


And here’s the view from the main level:

view from main floor front window

And here’s the view from the end of the above field towards the lodge:

front from a distance

Here’s a view of the unfinished main floor:

main floor towards welcome area

They’re thinking of getting out of daily Innkeeping and just doing corporate retreats, etc.  Quite the undertaking.

Tomorrow is Ground Hog Day, Punxsutawney Phil, lets hope he doesn’t see his shadow.  The House at the End of the Road, was a bed and breakfast close by and they had all kinds of stories about the crowds that come up for the festivities.  They closed the Inn so they could travel and enjoy their grand kids, etc.

The William Penn Hotel opened March 9, 1916, so their 100 anniversary is about a month away.  What a grand building.  I worked there in the 1990’s.  Servico owned the building back then and money was scarce.  Don Berger, my boss and still good friend, had made all the ornaments that decorated their lobby Christmas tree back then.  He had made them several years before I started and it was mass production repairing them each fall so everything was ready to decorate.  It was pretty fun (and funny).  In the late 1920’s they created an addition facing Grant Street which brought the number of rooms to 1,600.  That is the reason the sides do not match and you frequently have to go up or down stairs to go from one place to another.  They were very small rooms, but state of the art at the time with a unique amenity at the time, private baths.  When Alcoa bought it in the 1960’s and did their renovations, the dropped the number down to just under 600 rooms and suites.  If you’ve never seen the ballrooms, you really should go up at some point and see the grand ballroom (which is cool) and the Urban Room an amazing Art Deco styled ballroom adjoining the grand ballroom.  During prohibition, they had a speak easy tucked away under the stairs which has recently re-opened.

That’s it for today, enjoy this great weather while we have it.  I was able to hose accumulate winter grime off all three porches today,



Tomorrow is Nepal’s National Unity Day, Morocco’s Independence Day, the US Surgeon declared cigarettes are a hazard (1964) and the designated hitter rule was adopted (1973).  author of The Federalist Papers Alexander Hamilton (1755), Puerto Rican patriot Eugenio Maria Hostos (1839) an founder of National Woman’s Party Alice Paul (885).

Of 50 states, Pennsylvania is #5 for organic farms, behind California, Wisconsin, New York and Washington.  We are #1 for organic mushrooms, #2 for organic eggs, #3 for organic turkey production and #6 for organic Dairy production  Sarver Farms in Hempfield, Westmoreland County which started in 1979was credited as being organic in the 1990’s.  It produces 30 tons of organic vegetables on 20 acres.  Rondale Institute in Kutztown, Berks County was founded in 1972 on a 333 acre farm is widely recognized as as shepherding the modern organic farming movement.  Farmers from around the world look to the institutre for evidence-based data to advance their work.

There’s a new tiny house in Garfield and they are having an open house January 31 from 1pm until 4 pm at 200 block of North Atlantic Avenue.  It is a 350  sq foot house.

The Audubon Society has the web cam working on the eagle nest in Harmar.  This was quite the challenge, if the nest is where I believe it it.  It’s on a very steep and remote hillside.  They just got the web cam up and running and I was just there and seems to be no feed yet.

Speaking of birds, The National Aviary is rolling out their new free flight show featuring a palm nut vulture named Severus, a year old burrowing owl (so small and cute) named Attie and a seven year old noisy kookaburra from Australia.  I’m assuming these three new guys are in addition to the traditional raptors that star in the show.

The judge finally ruled in favor of the owner of the camera that Naruto sagged and took a selfie of himself. In case you missed it, a British tourist left his camera sitting around unattended and Naruto took a selfie of himself.  PETA has sued  claiming the macaque monkey owned the copy rights to the image.  It’s such a cute image.  Follow the link to see him.

I think we should have an open and frank discussion on immigration and gun control, not necessarily directly related subjects.  We don’t get anywhere clouding the facts with spin and emotions.  I was in a discussion with someone recntly about assault rifles and was told they just look like military automatic machine guns, they are in fact automatic machine guns.  See what Wikipedia has to say. There is no need for a machine gun to hunt deer in the woods and a hand gun works just fine in defending your home.  And extend ammunition clips are not needed for these purposes either.  How many innocent American citizens need to die before we act?  Sandy Hook is the one most prominent in my mind, if that nut case had to fire individual rounds, someone could have taken him down, before we lost all those kids.  With the increasing threat of homegrown terrorists, we need to get these tools of mass destruction off the streets.  And we need back ground checks, again Sandy Hook comes to mind with his history of mental illness.  If his mother’s not smart enough to keep weapons out of his reach, the back ground check should have done the job.  I like what France is proposing, expelling anyone with dual citizenship convicted of a terrorist crime.  An ISIS affiliated emigrant would have at least second thoughts if he/she knew not only were they risking their lives, but if they’re not killed, they would be returned to that hell hole Syria.  Yes, there was a number of people seeking asylum in Germany New Years Eve that took part in that disturbance in Cologne.  I say they should also face deportation, they’re not even citizens yet.  Again I bet they would think twice before acting as criminals.  I’m not condoning what occurred in Cologne, but where were the police?  We are a nation of laws and if you don’t like our laws, we’ll send you back to the impoverished failed states you have come from. Again, not minimizing what happened in Cologne, of 1.1 million refugees, 130 criminals does not warrant to me not accepting refugees.  Most are law abiding individuals, that are extremely grateful to their host country’s generosity.

The Parador hosted the Humane Society of Western Pa’‘s medium fund raiser last night.  Nice turn out and nice event!  All were happy, especially the spirits.  Da kidz were the hit pre-event (put them in the office so they weren’t a distraction during the event.

That’s it for today, have a great evening and keep warm,



Birth anniversaries tomorrow include President Andrew Johnson (1808), English statesman William Gladstone (1809) and cellist Pablo Casals (1876)  The YMCA was first organized in Boston (1851), the Wounded Knee Massacre (1890), Texas was admitted to the Unio (1845) and the assassination of Rusian monk and mystic Grigory Rasputin ((1916-did Vladimir drop the Ras off to shorten his name)?  🙂

Last year I talked about the Smallman Galley, a restaurant incubator in the Strip.  Their first batch is set to fly the coop.  In case you didn’t read that post last year or don’t want to go back there to read it.  Basically what Ben Mantica and Tyler Benson have done is create an environment where chefs could hone their culinary concepts while learning the business side of restaurants.  In addition to building up a loyal clientel prior to opening their own restaurant, the chef’s are also under the watchful eye of potential investors.

Have you heard about The Dress?  BBC picked up a story about a woman that bought a dress for a wedding that’s white and gold, sent a picture of it to a friend and the friend say it as black and blue.  Then the controversy started and it’s taken the Internet by storm.  In  nut shell, no one knows why different people see this picture of the dress in different colors.  Generally women see it as blue and black, men see it as white and gold.  Take a look and see what you see.

I don’t know how many more years I will be sending my holiday cards out by postal service.  I do like them and they seem well received, but the Post Office is such a mess to deal with.  It’s a significant amount of money and work between creating the card and mailing them.  I expect to get some back, and I always have extras I can mail when I get corrected address.  Of the 5,000 I sent out I probably got 200 returned, but the postal label says incorrect address, when I’ve mailed cards to that address for years now and they are still at the same address.  Of the 200 returned, maybe three had new addresses.  I don’t know if it’s incompetence or laziness on the postal employees part, but I put all that effort into it and they don’t do their job.  Also, I went to three post offices looking to purchase extra stamps, the only post card stamps any of the offices had was in packs of 100.  At least they are forever stamps.  I’ve come a long way from when I used to print the labels, attach them to the cards and the affixed the postage.  So much easier.  🙂

A wild sea otter gave birth to a baby and mom needs to groom the new born so their fur is buoyant, nothing’s cuter than a bundle of fur fluffing a baby bundle of fur.

Speaking of fur, The Western PA Humane Society will be hosting a pet medium at The Parador Saturday, January 9.  Tickets are just $25 for this fund raiser.  Get your tickets before they sell out and I’ll see you at the event.  Maybe Razor will make a special appearance.  ):

Today’s dirt bag of the day is Davin Gartley slum lord in Carrick.  He had refugees living in apartments with raw sewage in the basement and their only source of fresh water was when he would come over and turn on a hose connected to another of his buildings.  The Trib actually posted a picture of him in the print addition.  But not on the online version.  The newspapers should routinely publish a picture of these scumbags and shame them.  Not that someone like this could actually be shamed, but if you live in the area you can voice your opinion if you see him walking the streets.  Which was something else he did, run a prostitution ring out of one of his residences.

Let’s lighten things up a bit and talk about the local eagles.  The Hays eagle’s web cam is back up and running, if you want to track them.  They are busy improving their nest, over the years, eagle nests can grow in excess of a ton with all the additions these busy guys do.  Unfortunately, last year, neither of the eggs produced eaglets.  This is their fourth year nesting there.  Last year a raccoon tried raiding the nest and the eagles chased him off.  I didn’t see it live, but I did on replay, pretty funny.  The Harmar couple are on their third year, unfortunately for them, last year they didn’t have any surviving eaglets either.  The Audubon Society purchased  2 1/2 acres around the Harmar nest.  And are trying to install an eagle cam there as well.  This will be a challenge because the Harmar eagles are up on a steep hill and is very inaccessible.  When they get the cam working, I’ll post a link if you’d like to follow them.

It looks like our luck with warm weather’s coming to an end.  But I don’t see anything extreme in the next two weeks.  Please have a safe New Year’s eve and watch out for the other guy,



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,