Tomorrow is Turkey’s Republic Day (founded in 1923), the anniversary of Great Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Internet was created (1969).  Birth anniversaries include Nazi leader Josef Goebbels (1897), Scottish biographer James Boswell (1740), American writer and journalist Dominic Dunne(1925), baseball executive Charles Ebbets (1859) and the creator of song Dixie, Daniel Emmett (1815).

The latest exhibit at The Warhol is Pittsburgh native Chuck Connelly: My America. Chuck’s been working in Philadelphia for the last three decades and seldom sells his works.  He is so famous as a financial failure that HBO did a documentary on him, The Art of Failure: Chuck Connelly Not for Sale in 2008.  He has something like 4,000 paintings in his Victorian home!  I like his whimsical art, kind of like Warhol with a sense of humor.  :)  The exhibit is included in the admission price and runs through January 4.  More info at the Warhol website or by calling 412-237-8300.

It’s been a good season for my compost.  Those darn worms really worked their butts off (do worms have butts?).  This is by far the best batch they’ve done yet.  I took the rest of the Arundo donax out from the front fence (those plants that everyone thinks are corn before they get 10′ tall).  They’ve been used in the South and Midwest as bio fuel crop and it turns out they’re pretty invasive.  So I decided to get rid of them and just finished digging their roots/tubers up and added this black gold to fortify the soil.  Here’s a look at the front with the fruits of my lovely worms labor:


I also had enough to spread over that small garden in the back of the parking lot. Look see:


With as busy as The Parador has been (at least 86% occupancy the last three months), we are only putting out one trash can a week for the trash collections.  A lot of that is my obsession with recycling and Dee & Ty’s buying into it.  Recycling starts at the point of purchase and goes from there.  I avoid heavily packaged products.  We dry out guest rooms bars of soap and when I have a box full, I run them over to the local YMCA that has a men’s program.  Metal goes into a box in the basement (coat hangers, etc) and I periodically go out the Construction Junction and donate any tools, building parts, etc and they have a dumpster you can put clean metal in.  Also, I save wine bottle corks and there’s a store adjacent to CJ that recycles art supplies and the corks go out there.  I’ve even found a place that recycles Styrofoam (the peanuts I’ve taken to pack and ship stores for years, The Appliance Warehouse takes all those packing Styrofoam and to-go containers).

I’ve talked about Natrona Bottling Company in a past post.  They are the makers of Red Ribbon Pop, Jamaica’s Finest Ginger Beer (what we use as vases here at The Parador) and Plantation Style Mint Julep (They also have a couple of smaller brands as well).  The 110 year old company had been family owned all those years.  A couple of years ago someone bought them and I thought it was going to be the end of them as they were.  Fortunately, Vito Gerasole, the self proclaimed sultan of soda, embraces the old style bottling.  They still use sugar cane for sweetener, instead of high-fructose corn syrup all the big guys now use.  The big guys have seen a decline in sales each year for a number of years now.  Now that Natrona has new leadership, they’ve grown 60%!  You can see them around like at stores like KS Kennedy Floral and Gourmet down the street from me and Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop in the Strip and out in Beaver.

I don’t know if will help, but the Allegheny Commons Bridge has been listed on the Young Preservationists Association top 10 list for 2014.  At YPA website, they only have the 2013 top ten, so I’m not sure if they selected the pedestrian bridge (which the span over the railroad tracks has  already been demolished, so I’m assuming not) or they are speaking of the West Ohio Street Bridge down near the National Aviary.  That bridge is structurally deficient and needs to be replaced.  The railroad is trying to force us to raise the bridge three feet to accommodate double stacked trains.  They want us to pay for it so they can make more money.  Doesn’t seem right to me.  Especially since the other option is for them to pay for lowering the tracks the three feet for them to be able to make more money from double stacking.  On top of the cost issue, raising the bridge three feet would seriously impact the Commons because they would have to regrade West Ohio Street to meet federal standards.  Many of those hundred year old linden trees lining West Ohio would have to be cut down!  The Commons is such an iconic park.  It started as a common grazing area in the 1800 for Allegheny City and grew into the park it is now.  There’s all kinds of visual treats for you when you walk around the park and take a minute to look around.  Besides being the oldest park in the City of Pittsburgh, it also is the largest.

Well, you don’t have to be in Pittsburgh (or Florida for that matter) anymore to get a Primanti’s sandwich.  The Pittsburgh iconic can be ordered through Goldbely.com.  For $109.00, the kit contains enough lunch meat, cheese, fries,cole slaw and Italian bread to make four sandwiches.  As a bonus, for a limited time you also get a limited edition T-shirt.

There’s a new hotel in a classic building in the planning stages Downtown.  The old German National Bank building on the corner of Sixth and Wood Streets is in the planning stages of becoming a 104 room boutique hotel.  They plan on having two bars and a restaurant for their guests as well as being open to the general public.  Currently called the Granite Building, the new name will be the Forbes Hotel.  That’s in addition to the new 247 room Hotel Monaco under construction on William Penn Way in the former Reed Smith building and the proposed 180 room Drury Hotel in the old Federal Building.  There’s also a number of Holiday Inns, Embassys and Hiltons also in the works.  Either under construction or proposed is 1,505 new hotel rooms in da burg.

What’s up with our judges?  I’ve had issues with our legislative and executive branches, both state and federal for some time.  But always held the judicial in high regard.  Sending kids to juvenile facilities so the judges could take pay offs, Supreme Court Justice Orey CONVICTED and she’s she’s still fighting it.  Now another supreme court justice is caught receiving and sending racy e-mails.  I’m pretty indifferent to porn through e-mails, if I get one I just delete it.  I think their stupid.  I do have a problem with judges receiving and sending them on “company time”.  #1 they should be the epitome of  decorum.  #2 doing this on the job?  State Supreme Court Justice McCaffery also got called on the carpet for “speaking” to the judge at the Philly traffic court where his wife got a ticket (I don’t care whether he was making a social call or trying to get the ticket fixed, either way it shouldn’t have happened).  And his wife making hundred of thousands of dollars in referral fees from lawyers while she was his administrative assistant.

This brings us to the controversy over the potential threat of Ebola in America.  We just don’t trust the government anymore.  I don’t believe  I would contract Ebola from riding on an airplane with someone with the virus (unless we exchanged bodily fluids :) ).  But the CDC let that nurse travel knowing she had potentially been exposed to the virus while treating a patient makes you question their reliability.  It’s like the Legionnaires deaths at the Pittsburgh VA Hospital.  Two years later and we don’t have answers, we have the latest spin the VA’s trying to put on it, while the people running the place got bonuses!  It’s OK to make mistakes, I do it all the time.  And I fess up and pay the price, whatever it may be and move on.

I don’t know if you saw the story on Howard Lutnick, but when he was a junior in high school, his dad passed away.  He started college at Haverford and one week into his freshman year, he learned his mom passed away due to some medical mistake.  The dean called Howard into his office and said “Howard, your four years are free.”  Well Howard graduated and worked his way up in a financial company in New York to where he’s now chairman.  His company lost 658 employees in the 9/11 attack, he would have been in that number if he hadn’t have to take his son to school that day.  He/his company has continued to donate millions to various causes, usually requesting a project be named after one of the lost.  He personally just donated $25M to Haverford’s library.  Why can’t we see more good stories like this?

Yesterday, I got the elephant ears dug up and most of the large vegetation cut down.  Now that I no longer have the Arrondo donex, the pile is much smaller.  In the past, Jeff that owns Peppi’s right down the street has let me use his dumpster to get rid of it.  It’s a bit of a pain for me because I can only put so much in at a time.  It bothers me putting anything into a landfill and so I called the city today to see if they have a program for composting.  They sort of do, it’s one of those programs where you fill those brown paper bags with the vegetation and put it out to the curb.  I’d have to fill the street to get rid of all I have.  The city employee I spoke with said I could take it to a city dump over on the West End, but that defeats the purpose of keeping things out of landfills.  Then I thought of Western PA Conservancy, they’re the great people that plant all those gardens around the city and throughout Western PA (they also run Falling Water).  I see them in the Fall taking all the plants out of their gardens and putting the old plants in trucks.  I figured they have some kind of a system for composing bulk and so I called them. Sure enough, they do and I met with one of them and we took my truck up to their compost heap.  It’s much larger than mine.  :)  He’s a picture of the garden I sponsor through the Conservancy on the corner of Brighton and California Avenues:


It looks prettier in the spring and the summer when it has flowers.  :)

Have great one and Happy Halloween,



































Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Crimean War (1853), the first birth control clinic opened in Brooklyn, NY (1916), John Brown’s Raid occurred (1859), Marie Antoinette was executed (1793) and Yale was founded (1701).  Birth anniversaries include Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion (1886), jurist William Orville Douglas (1898), educator Noah Webster (1758) and poet/playwright Oscar Wilde (1854).

The latest addition to The Parador’s Halloween decorations is a scary tree:


My last post talked about haunted houses.  Here’s two other Halloween activities you might be interested in.  I hear there’s a Zombie Outbreak in Emsworth.  They must be stopped by November 2 or the planet it is doomed.  You can suit up and join the fight at 500 Huntington Avenue, Emsworth, PA 15202.  Paint balls are provided.  :)  More info at their website or by calling 412-327-2078.

Speaking of Halloween, the Western PA Humane Society will be hosting their 8th annual pet costume contest Howl-O-Ween at the Mall at Robinson from 7 – 9 pm on October 24.  Registration starts at 6:30 at entrance C by Macy’s.  You need to register to participate.  The categories include Look Like Owner, Group Theme, Most Original, Most Macho, Funniest and Cutest Pet.  The cost is $20 in advance per category or $25 at the door.  You can enter as many categories as you want, proceeds benefit WPHA programs.  More info at their website or by calling 412-321-4625.

I don’t want to be an “I told you so”, but Merrill Stabile is proposing building two 11 story office buildings over the parking garage he plans to construct on property he owns  between the stadiums!  Just to remind you who Mr. Stabile is, he owns Alco Parking and offered $10M to buy the parcel of land behind Stage AE that is being developed by the Steelers and Continental Real Estate (the Steelers and Continental have exclusive development rights to the properties where Three Rivers Stadium used to stand paid and only paid $1M for that land).  When the Steelers and Continental announced their plans to develop that parcel, they claimed it only warranted a three story structure, but Mr. Stabile thinks there’s a market for 22 stories of office space (two 11 story buildings).  There’s time limits on the Steelers and Continental to develop the areas of the Northshore currently being used as surface parking lots.  They had to start development last year or they would lose their development rights and so they hurried up and built a minimal building to keep their exclusive rights to development, at a $9M savings!

Our very own WQED turns 60 this year.  PBS is only 45 years old.  Pittsburgh certainly set the stage 15 years before the rest of the country!  Governor Rendell slashed state funding for public television when he was in office and that not only meant a $1M loss in state money but also matching federal dollars.  They are surviving, but by a thread.  There is a movement to get Governor Corbett to restore funding, good luck with that.  I’ve been watching this show on WQED on sanitation in America.  America started trying to clean up our cities in the 1850’s Chicago.  Chicago is very flat and level with the lake so they couldn’t dig holes to put sewers in.  He came up with the idea to RAISE the city!  Ellis S. Chesbrough embarked on raising the City of Chicago, connecting the buildings to an integrated sewer system and then back fill!  Most amazing.

Are you looking for that big break to the big screen?  They are looking for background extras for the new Will Smith file about former Allegheny County forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu credited as being one of the first to identify football brain injuries.  His study of former Steelers center Mike Webster’s brain after he passed away was pretty cutting edge at the time.  Jeanne Marie Laskas wrote an article in the 2009 GQ Magazine on how the NFL tried to discredit the study.  Casting call will be Saturday, October 18 at the Double Tree Hotel, Bigelow Square Downtown from 8:30 till 4 pm.  More info at Movie Extras website.

Having worked in Atlantic City casinos in their heyday, I’ve always watched them.  It’s such a shame watching the HUGE missed opportunity.  They had such potential with so much money, and blew it.  Four casinos are closing this year and AC is still such a waste.  If you go a block or so away from the main drags, it’s the same as it was when casino gaming was past.  Revel, the newest casino, opened 2 years ago.  It cost $2.4B (yes, that’s a B) in a market that was already in steep decline. Obviously it lasted just two years before going into bankruptcy.  A Canadian company with casinos in Las Vegas is in the process of buying it for $110M, quite the discount.  :)  I wish them luck.

You’ve probably heard of “farm to table,” but how about “field to garment”? In Alabama, acclaimed fashion houses Alabama Chanin and Billy Reid have a new line of organic cotton clothing made from their own cotton field.  There was just a segment on NPR about them.  It would be nice if more cottage industries were able to take off and make a go of it.

Thank you Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala.  The little guys in the August Wilson Center flap have an advocate, Mr. Zappala.  I know $32K is chump change the grand scheme of things like $9M, but for the lowly stage hands (I use that term loosely-no offense to the stage hands who worked hard for their money and the money that was paid in advance to the AWC) who’s money owed was going to disappear, it’s a big deal.  Mr. Zappala filed a theft and wage charges stopping the sale until these are settled.  I bet it gets someone’s attention now.   Judith Fitzgerald is getting her $590,000 for six month’s work (to be fair, it was her and her legal team), Dollar Bank was getting most of their $9M (a lot of that was just fines and penalties), even the developer 989 Liberty Partners were going to get a cut in the deal to cover their “expenses”.  I can’t believe the URA, Pittsburgh Foundation and the other partners in this deal were willing to stiff all these little guys.  How immoral!  Now I hope Mr. Zappala looks into the small contractors that were also going to be left high and dry.  Fitzgerald (note my lack of proper address can be taken as my lack of respect for her) also has not released her list of small time contractors also facing getting stiffed .  Fitzgerald (again my lack of respect) has said she “planned to do that ONLY if there was enough money in a purchase deal to repay them.”  Hey Fitzgerald, let’s take it out of your FEES!  Then I bet it’s worth her time.  Totally outrageous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Out in Oakmont, the Kerr Museum recently received a significant donation.  The Kerr Museum was built in 1897 for doctor Thomas Kerr.  It was his family home and his doctor’s office.  His only daughter lived in the house until her death in 1994 and she bequeathed the family home to the city of Oakmont to be used as a museum dedicated to her father.  Helen Burch of Mt Lebanon wanted to donate her grandmother’s trousseau (the clothes, household linen, and other belongings collected by a bride for her marriage) so they could be properly cared for and appreciated.  Her grandmother, Emma Jackson married Harry Burch in 1891.  These items have been kept wrapped and in their original trunks for years.  It was like a treasure trove when the members of the historical society arrived at Ms. Burch’s house and examined the items.  The exhibit is only on display until November 15, so if you want to see it, shake a leg.  :)  The museum is only open Saturdays from 10 am until 2 pm  (if you get a group of 8 or more, you can get a private tour on mutually agreed upon time).  More info at their website or by calling 412-826-9295, admission’s $8 and gets you in to see the entire first and second floors of the museum.

If you’re looking for that slightly different night out, here’s some suggestions:  They hold Party in the Tropics at Phipps Conservatory about once a month from 7 pm to 11 pm and you must be 21 or older.  The normal price of admission gets you in, you can wander around and pick up beverages of choice and munch a bit while enjoying their vivid Flora.  This year, events are scheduled November 7 and December 5.  More info at their website or by calling 412-622-6914.  Not to be outdone by Phipps, the National Aviary at Night hold their evening soirees the third Thursday of each month from 5 to 9 pm and its for the 21 and older crowd as well.  It’s half priced tickets ($7) and you can take an additional $2 off if you bring a receipt from a Northside restaurant.  Atria’s Kookaburra Cafe has food available and there’s also a cash bar.  More info at their website or by calling 412-323-7235.  The Andy Warhol Museum has happy hour every Friday from 5 to 10 pm and also offer half price admission.  The Warhol also sponsors contemporary independent music in the Warhol Theater.  For more info, go to their website or call 412-237-8300.  Tired of all those screaming kids at the Science Center (that’s what the Science Center’s for, by the way)  :)  , tired of not being able to play the many interactive games because little kids are all lined up?  Not to despair, the Science Center offers 21+ nights once a month from 6 to 10 pm.  Cash bars are on each floor helps limber you up for the challenges (or you can blame it for doing worse than a ten year old).  :)

That’s about it for now, have a wonderful day,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of the founding of the American Library Association (1876), the assassination of Anwar Sadat (1981) and it is the anniversary of the Yom Kipper War (1973).  Birth anniversaries include physician Florence Seibert (1897), industrialist George Westinghouse (1846), tennis star Helen Moody (1905), Polish composer Karol Szymanowski (1882), actress Janet Gaynor (1906) and Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyedahl (1914).

People drive me nuts.  Mayor Peduto initiated our first real bicycle lanes in the heart of Downtown.  I think it’s a fabulous idea and hope to see a lot more of it.  As the Mayor of our fair city and the person responsible for public safety, he made the command decision to place police officers at strategic locations to be sure the transition from a two way motor vehicle road on Penn Avenue to a one way motor vehicle lane with a dedicate two way bicycle lanes went smooth and no one was injured.  Of course there’s the negative residents out there whining about the police overtime.  Would you rather have a cyclist get run over by an inattentive driver that was used to Penn being two way for cars?  And the other thing they are whining about is the lack of bikes on the new lanes.  Did they expect Rome to be built in a day?  It’s going to take awhile to get people out of cars and start being more healthy riding bikes to work and other activities Downtown.  One of the reasons I don’t bike is I’m afraid of the drivers.  I can’t tell you how many times I would be taking RJ down to the park for his run and while crossing the Brighton and Western Avenues intersection (with the green light for us) we were almost run over by a distracted driver on the phone.  One was so close I slammed my palms on her hood to get her attention!

SCORE‘s celebrating their 50th anniversary this year.  Score is generally retired professionals that donate their time and expertise to people thinking of starting their own business.  They are retired accountants, attorneys, business executives, and such.  Not only do they have the experience to guide potential new business owners in the right direction, they have the networks (in SCORE as well as their personal contacts) to steer you to professionals that have more experience where you need help.  When I was getting ready to open The Parador of the Palm Beaches, I worked with the TED Center in Delray Beach and they were very helpful getting my business plan together and they connected me with other small businesses that helped me a lot.  The nice thing about these resources is there’s nothing in it for them to string you along.  It’s totally nonprofit and if your ideas don’t add up, they have no problem telling you so. If you are thinking of starting a new business, I highly recommend checking them out, they’re not perfect, but certainly can give you an edge on getting started than going it alone.

Well, it looks like the August Wilson Center spat is over.  980 Liberty Partners have withdrawn their offer and the group of non-profits is going to pay off the bills.  They are still almost $1M less than 980 offered, so we’ll see how this pans out.  The non-profits are suggesting they may add a hotel on top of the Center themselves.  My concern with this arrangement is there a fair amount of small creditors that I’m afraid will loose out, and their the ones that can least afford it.  One of the main objections the non-profits had was there’s over $30M in citizen money involved in the Center (government as well as non-profit’s money) and they didn’t want to loose that investment.  980 wanted to take ownership of the entire building and give the Center “some” space to continue their operation.  I don’t understand why 980 didn’t just come up with a proposal to leave the Center to the Center and just do what the Fairmont did in the PNC building. You enter the PNC building and take an elevator up to the hotel’s front desk. 980 could have leased access to the hotel they had planned on building.  Anyway,  it seems the Center will now be solvent, they will have a steady revenue stream from the hotel.  The Center just needs to find a developer and a hospitality company to build and run the hotel giving the Center a percentage.  It seems to be a win win for all concerned.

Do you have a smart phone?  If so, so you have a security code to open it’s operation?  Usually it is a four digit number and is fairly secure.  Google is working on face recognition software that if you want to use your phone, you turn it on and aim it at your face.  The phone then will recognize if it is your or not.  There’s nothing much more secure than your own face.  That can’t be hacked.  :)

What’s with Goddard College in Vermont inviting Mumia Abu-Jamal to speak at one of their commencement ceremonies from prison?  Jamal was convicted of ambushing Philadelphia Police Officer Faulkner, shooting him in the back  and as Officer Faulkner lay helpless on his back cold bloodily shot him in his face.  Officer Faulkner left behind a widow and I think two little kids in this 1981 crime.  I’m all for rehabilitation and I think we should look at the way we treat ex-cons.  They’ve paid their price, hopefully did something productive while in prison, like Jamal did and get a college degree.  But Jamal has never expressed regret that I know of and he’s still in prison.  Speaking at a commencement is an honor.  I believe in free speech, but certainly wouldn’t invite James Holmes from Aurora,  CO to speak either.  If I was anyway connected to that college, they certainly would hear from me.

Well, it’s that time of year again, Halloween.  It’s a trend that more and more adults are enjoying Halloween.  It’s a strictly fun holiday with no strings attached.  Thanksgiving you have to worry about cooking, Christmas you have to worry about gifts, cards, decorating, multiple entertainment commitments.  National holidays you remember the horrors and courage that made our country great.  Halloween is just fun, and if you want, it’s a time to give in to our fears.  Fears come in many forms like walking down a dark deserted street in a questionable section of a city, jumping out of an airplane (with a parachute, hopefully :) ), watching a scary movie.  They all induce a basic part of nature in us, fight or flight and our mind releases a chemical dopamine that makes us feel invigorated and invincible.  The thing about scary movies and haunted houses is we have that fear sensation while being aware that we are in control, not like walking down that dark alley.  And even though we know on some levels the haunted house is not a real threat, the fear response does not does not control the rational side and we receive that chemical high.  So if you’re game, here’s some scary things you can visit to get your adrenalin pumping:

Bruce Klein of Photo Antiquities (part of Bernie’s Photos) over on East Ohio Street is hosting his annual Spirits! Good and Evil exhibit.  The exhibit features post mortem photographs which became popular in the 1840’s.  Because of the high infant mortality, parents would frequently have pictures taken of their children after they passed on for remembrance.  They would have the kids staged as if they were asleep, sitting up and some even had their eyes open.  Bruce also has “Spirit” photographs.  These feature translucent or ghost like images that are captured by using a double-exposure technique.  Bruce has an amazing collection of photographs, he can only exhibit a small portion of them at a time.

Academy Hill Ghost Walk, October 17  & 18 starting at the Greensburg YWCA at 424 N Main Street.  Tickets are $10 at the door or $8 in advance.  More info at their website.

Castle Blood in Monessen runs Fridays and Saturdays in October and cost $16.  Castle Blood is located at 100 Schoonmaker Avenue.  More info at their website.

Cheeseman Fright Farm runs Fridays through Sundays in October and cost $15 and are located at 147 Kennedy Road, Portersville, Slippery Rock Township.  More info available at their website.

Demon House is located at 417 Coyle Curtain Road, Monongahela and costs $18.  Open Saturdays and Sundays in October and more info can be found at their website.

Downtown Butler Ghost Walk will be held October 24, 25, 31 and November 1.  Tours cost $10, they begin and end at Diamond Park and reservations are required.  More info at their website or by calling 724-256-9026.

Haunted Guyasuta will occur Saturday, October 18 and will be held at the Guyasuta Boy Scout Camp at 300 23rd Street Sharpsburg with tickets between $10 and $20.  More by calling 724-782-2669.

Haunted Hills Estate runs Fridays through Sundays the month of October and run $14 – $15 per adventure and are located at 236 Rolling Hills Estate Road, North Union.  More info at their website.

Haunted Hillside Haunted Trail runs Fridays and Saturdays through October and cost $17.  They are located 7217 Route 819, Mt Pleasant and more info at their website.

Hell’s Hollow Hunt is Fridays and Saturdays in October and cost $20 ($12 for children 12 and under) and is located at 340 Bestwick Road in Mercer.  More info at their website.

Historic Ghost Tour will be held October 16.  The tour begins at the Tarentum train station and ends at the Gatto’s Diner.  Sponsored by the Tarentum History and Landmarks Foundation the cost is $10 and more info at 724-612-0076.

Historic Haunted Hayride will be October 18 at Bushy Run Battlefield, Route 993, Penn Township.  More info at 724-527-5584 or their website.

Hobgoblin Hikes will be October 17 at Twin Lakes Park, Hempfield and October 24 at Cedar Lake Park, Rostraver.  This one is free and it recommended 8 yrs old and older.  More info at 724-830-3950.

Hundred Acres Manor in South Park is one of the best recommended and is daily (except October 13 & 14) at 1 Hundred Acre Drive, Bethel Park cost $18.  More info at their website.

Huston’s Haunted Hollow Fridays through Sundays all month long cost $18 ($14 for under 52 inches) at 126 Woodland Road, Rockwood (out by Somerset).  More info at their website.

Lincoln Caverns Ghosts & Goblins Fridays and Saturdays in October on Route 22 at Lincoln Caverns just past Huntingdon cost $19.98.  More info at their website.

Lonesome Valley Farms Corn Maze cost $8 Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October and will be next to the Westmoreland County Fair Grounds  in Pleasant Township.  More info at their website.

Monongahela Candlelight Ghost Walk will be October 11 & 12 and 17 & 18 and cost $10 and is sponsored by the Monongahela Historical Society.  More info at 724-258-2377 or at their website.

Nemacolin Castle Halloween Ghost Tours cost $9 ($4 for kids) at 136 Front Street in Brownsville.  Presents Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October.  More info at their website.

Phantom Fright Nights is at Kennywood Park Fridays and Saturdays through October cost $32.99.  More info at their website.

Rich Farms Fright Farm runs Wednesday through Sundays in October and cost $25 – $40 for all five attractions.  Located at 2043 Springhill Furnace Road, Smithfield.  More info at 724-564-7644 or their website.

The Scarehouse Thursdays through Sundays in October cost $29.99 and then $29.99 for one guest and $49.99 for two guests to enter the basement.  This long running venue is in Etna with parking at the Zoo’s parking lot.  More info at their website.

The Shadows Haunted Attraction is at 748 Bull Creek Road in Fawn.  It’s open Thursdays through Saturdays (weather permitting) the month of October.  The cost is $10 and more info at their website.

Terror Town is on Smallman Street by 17th Street where that discount seconds store used to be in the  building that has all those night clubs.  Open Thursdays through Sundays in October and cost $20 – $30.  More info at their website.

Terror Trolley Tours depart from Station Square Thursdays through Sundays and cost $25.  More info at 412-391-7433 or their website.

I got this list from a Trib article by Kellie Gormly.  Check the links to the sites, some of the attractions have even more dates they are open.

If you want to be truly terrified, visit The Parador during October to see our fun and ghoulish decorations:

Halloween SkullSpider

Halloween Basket

Halloween Parlor

Halloween Library

Well, that’s it for today, keep warm and have a great week,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Warren Report (1964), the famous letter from “Jack the Ripper” (who most attribute as a hoax-1888) and the battle of Cambrai-Saint Quentin (1918).  Birthdays include Revolutionary leader Samuel Adams (1722), political cartoonist Thomas Nast  (1840) and Confederate naval officer Raphael Semmes (1809).

Sorry, I just posted this and forgot to include pictures of my new chairs.  I found these fabulous campaign chairs at the Ohio Valley Antique Mall on route 65.  Check these out:

front campaign chair

back of campaign chair

Once I get them fixed, they will end up in African Tulip.  I think they’ll be perfect.

Such a warm and fuzzy story.  Pittsburgh Police Detective Jack Mook is a volunteer for training kids how to box.  Two boys he met and coached six years ago became friends with him (the boys were 9 and 5 at the time) and they obviously came from a challenging home environment.  He’d encourage their school work, take them out for pizza after practice sometimes, was sort of a big brother to them.  As time went by, the boys became more and more introverted and without being pushy, Jack would talk to them about their home life, trying to coach them on that as well.  When the biological parents got busted for drugs and they were facing jail time, Jack offered to foster the kids and the parents agreed.  On September 16th, Jack formally adopted the boys.  Though they complain about his strict rules, they admit the structure he gives them a sense of stability.

The VFW is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year.  Did you know they held their first convention at the Schenley Hotel in September, 1914?  They are facing steep declines in membership, from around 2.1 million in 1992 to around 1.4 million today.  They definitely have an image problem.  The younger generation views them as a bunch of wizened old guys sitting around drinking cheap drinks in a smoke filled hole in the wall (part of that is true).  :)  But they also burned a lot of bridges.  I wasn’t permitted to join because they didn’t recognize Vietnam Era vets as equal to them (or at least the chapter I tried to enter).  They actually do a lot more than sit around drinking cheap drinks.  They were instrumental in starting the Veteran’s Administration (the current faults of the VA has nothing to do with them), they helped form the National Veteran’s Cemetery system and my hat goes of to them for the the GI Bill which paid a lot of my expenses at Penn State.  They are trying to clean up their image by recruiting on college campuses and admitting women.  Actually, they trace their roots all the way back to 1899 after the Spanish American War and the Philippine Insurrection, but didn’t formally form until 1914.

Back in June I spoke about the House of Gold, it’s a house, once a home, in Wilkinsburg that was slated for demolition.  Artist Dee Briggs lived next door and was distressed that this home, general store, neighborhood anchor was facing a inglorious destruction and thought it deserved better.  She recruited a bunch of friends and 32 gallons of metallic gold paint and covered the entire place so it had some dignity.  She then started a website and blog to chronicle what made this house important.  Her latest endeavor is to have the building gently demolished.  She’s teamed up with a couple of local contractors (Justin Lacey of Day Shift Furniture and Adam Lackett of Engine House Design and construction firm) to take the house apart piece by piece and recycle/reuse everything possible.

Penn’s Colony will be back this weekend with around 185 craftsmen and artisans this weekend in Saxonburg.  They’ve been having this festival for the past 30 years and there’s lots to see and eat.  They have battle re-enactors, live entertainment, etc at the camp grounds.  Admission is $7, $6 for seniors, kids $5 and little kids free.  Saturday it will run from 10 am until 6 pm and Sunday from 10 am until 5 pm. More info at their website or by calling 724-352-9922.

For 25 years, Stephen Chernicky has been building children’s dreams out in my hometown Finleyville at his Lillyput Play Homes.  I never realized how big of a business he ran.  They were hit hard with the housing crash in 2008 and dropped from around $2M to just over $1M last year.  Obviously, a custom child’s playhouse is a luxury and he was afraid he might loose his business during the recession.  He dropped from a workforce of 25 to 15 and entered the international market and his company is on the rebound with international orders.  One of his most unique orders was $60,000 for a pirates ship for a  family in Pakistan.  35% of his sales are now international.  He doesn’t exclusively make high end extravagances.  Some of his more basic playhouses are in the $5k neighborhood.  So just keep in mind, just because it’s not looking too bright, there’s things you can do to keep your dream alive.  :)

RAD days start this week.  RAD (Regional Asset District) collects a portion of the 1% added on sales tax for Allegheny County and one of their requirements for institutions receiving funds must have free admission during the event.  Since founded in 1994, they have distributed $1.5B to various non-profits.  RADical runs from September 24 through October 12 and the free admission is on different days for different institutions.  (There is one “late bloomer”, the Zoo and Aquarium’s RAD day is November 9.)  Check RAD’s website for dates at venues you may be interested in.

I still love John Conti.  He really has some amazing insights, frequently agreeing with my view (like what the Evil Empire Buncher Group tried to pull by tearing down 1/3 of the iconic Terminal Building-they lost totally, by the way.  Buncher is totally out for development plans for the Terminal Building).  :)  Something that has bothered me for years, subliminally was how they treat our hills for development.  And his article in this Sunday’s Trib is very enlightening.  He likens ripping hillsides out creating verticle walls to what strip mining used to do to us.  And the analogy is spot on, except the strip mines were forced to remediate the land they abused.  The hundred plus foot shear cliff behind the Walmart, Lowes, at Robinson Town Center IS an eyesore, and it will be for the next century or more.  Longer than those businesses will be there.  He points out two local developments that were sensitive to the hills they were to occupy also on the Parkway nearby.  Bayer has been on the hillside over looking the Parkway for years with their main building facing the Parkway and parking in back.  As well as Foster Square on the other side of the Parkway closer to town (Foster Square is that development with a Marriott and other businesses tucked in the hills and you really don’t see if from the Parkway).  How many times have you heard the comments from non Pittsburghers about how green our hillsides are and they are amazed at the greenscape in and around our metropolitan area.  I will blame Mr. Conti for every time my blood pressure goes up when I see these eyesores from now on.  :)  As he points out, there’s a lot of advocates out their for many assets that can’t speak for themselves, bike trails, rivers, parks, etc but non for our hills.  And land use control is left up to the local jurisdictions and we all watched what happened down on Route 65 when Walmart’s misuse of grading collapsed onto the road and railway a few years ago.  We need a countywide, at least, land use ordinance to control this development or our grandchildren will have bad things to say about us.

The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society is hosting a bingo this Saturday at Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Crafton Heights.  It’s $20 at the door, doors open at 9:30 am and bingo starts at 11 am.  Fun, food, prizes, raffles and furry friends to give you luck.

Also this weekend, Deutschtown is hosting their house tour Sunday from 11 am until 4 pm.  Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.  Tours start at The Priory Courtyard at 614 Lockart Street with free parking in The Priory parking lot.

It’s not every year, but when it happens, it’s BIG! This year, Deutschtown will be hosting the 2014 Historic Deutschtown House Tour on Sunday, October 5th from 11am until 4pm. This year’s self guided tour will feature 8-10 beautiful homes and gardens, many built in the late 1880’s.  The homes are more modest than the mansions in my neighborhood, but lots of loved homes with some unique twists showing what you can do with affordable city living on the Northside.  Maybe you’ll see a home you love and end up being my neighbor.  :) You can’t beat a fifteen minute walk Downtown.

My question on ISIS is if they are making an estimated $2M a day off oil, why can’t we dry up their supply system.  We paid bribes to Pakistanis trying to get supplies through to our troops in Afghanistan and our convoys were constantly under fire by the Taliban.  $2M dollars a day is not a kilo of heroin hidden in the trunk of a car.  It’s pipelines and lots of trucks!  Why can’t we disrupt this?  And why have I never heard anything on this on the news, I ready and listen to it a lot.

Well, that’s about it for today.  Enjoy this spectacular Fall weekend they are forecasting,



Tomorrow’s the anniversary of adoption of the Constitution (1787) and the battle of Antietam (1862).  Holidays include Japan’s Respect of the Aged Day and Jewish Rosh Hashanah.  Birth anniversaries include Chief Justice Warren Burger (1907), baseballer Andrew (Rube) Foster (1879), C & W star Hank Williams (1923), Prussian born Revolutionary General Baron Von Steuben (1730), Orville Wright’s passenger that was killed when the plane crashed Thomas Selfridge (1908) and tennis pro Maureen Connolly (1934).

Holy Cow, business has absolutely unbelievable.  We had an 87% occupancy in August and we will go over that in September!  August I was frequently serving 18 – 20 guests breakfast DURING THE WEEK.  A lot of leisure travelers.  September we have a lot of business travelers.  Even though we’re sold out frequently during the week, I may only have 8 or 10 for breakfast, since most business travelers are single.  And my international trade is way up.  We had a Scottish family in for a week several weeks ago, currently we have a gentleman originally from Iraq that lives and works in Australia, and a couple from Singapore in for several days for the same convention.  I received a reservation today from a couple from Mexico coming in for a Steelers game.  I should sit down and make a list of all my foreign guests to see if there’s a pattern.

The 709 Gallery on Penn Avenue is hosting a show by artist Tina Williams Brewer through November 16.  The show is of her quilts and she does them overlapping printed, dyed and various materials to create her images.  African American of heritage, she reaches back to her heritage to use old hieroglyphs and symbols to tell stories.  Most of her imagines are based on mandalas, the ancient Hindu/Buddhist symbol for the universe.  These circles are the center piece of her work.   Tina needs to update her website, a show from 2011 is still listed and Pittsburgh Trust Arts needs to update their website to reflect this show.  But you can see images of what Tina does on her website and the hours, etc for 709 Gallery are at least on that website.  I love that African/Caribbean art.

They estimate that almost half of Americans have had personal or financial information hacked from corporate computers.  And this is not going to let up, it’s just going to get worse, so prepare for it.  By far, most of it is by Chinese or Russian (many formerly Russian republics).  Why go rob a bank, when they can sit on their butt and hack into computers continents away and they don’t have to worry about the police showing up at their door.  You can’t stop it, but you can take precautions.  Use your credit card as much as possible, versus your debit card.  Credit card companies protect your money much better than banks.  Once hackers have access to your bank account, they can siphon off all your $ and there’s not much you can do at that point.  If your at location that takes your credit card out of your sight (many restaurants have there machines back an a pantry kind of area), use your credit card, not your debit card. In particular, use your credit card for all online purchases.  Most hackers seem to do a test run of maybe $10 and keep increasing it until your dry.  I use Slovak Savings Bank and they are incredibly vigilant.  I also use USAA for my credit cards, they also are extremely customer service centered and watch my back.  As always, get your free credit report directly from Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.  You are entitled for a free credit report once a year and more than that if there’s suspicious activity on your card.  Most credit card companies alert you of large and suspect purchases.  You can request alerts for most any amount, if you want. The solution (at least until the hacker figure out how to break this system) is going to the form used by most other developed countries, using a microchip instead of a magnetic strip.  But that’s going to cost a lot of money for the card issuers to create all new cards and businesses to buy the new machines.  But at the rate these hackers are stealing from us, it’s about time we make the switch.

While we are on the subject of money, I would like to encourage you to have a conversation with friends and family.  Don’t make it accusatory or anything that would put people off.  Most states allow credit collection companies to garner 25% of a persons salary to pay off a dept!  They also allow credit collection agencies to confiscate ALL of the money you may have saved up in a bank account.  They main way they get away with this is people don’t show up for a court hearing.  If someone receives a summons for a court hearing on a debt, DON’T IGNORE IT.  They win by default, even if it’s not your debt, a minor debt, a debt you can correctly fight.  The attorneys representing the debt collection agencies make their money on how many judgements they get in their favor, so they ALWAYS show up for the hearing.  Another ploy they use is to request a postponement when you do show up.  They know how they can legally do this and will do it repeatedly until you get fed up and don’t show up for one of the hearings.  Again, they win by default.  Collection agencies are on record for charging up to 200% interest on the amount owed!  Usually the people in this fix are ones on the lower end of the income scale that are busy working two jobs or such trying to make ends meet.  Frequently their recent grads trying to get started and work long hours and trying to create a new life for themselves.   (But that’s not always the case).  If you know someone that might be in such a situation, have a general conversation that you can bring this up without offending them that “they can’t manage their money.”  This is a very scary thing.

Edgar Kaufmann was one of the most innovative merchandisers of his time, and he was a huge fan of the arts.  In 1929, he commissioned Boardman Robinson to create a a series of 10 huge paintings they called the History of Commerce.  Mr. Kaufmann did a radical thing with his remodeling of the first floor of his Downtown store in the early 1930’s, he put the counters at angles and hung this artwork from the ceilings.  There were there for 25 – 30 years and then came down for a future remodel.  These huge paintings (8′ x 15′) couldn’t fit anywhere for easy storage and because of there size, Kaufmann couldn’t find a museum to take them.  Robinson eventually went out to Colorado and co-founded the Colorado Springs Art Center and the paintings are now stored there in a climate controlled vault.

Have I told you lately I love our new mayor?  Other than like last last clown that sent a crew out slapping down bicycle lane stickers all over the place and declaring us a bike friendly city, Mayor Peduto is taking his time and thinking about how to incorporate bicycle exclusive lanes connecting different areas of the city.  These lane will connect to our many trails and bicyclist will be able to safely navigate the city.  I think I spoke about the diverse and highly educated and experienced people he’s been bringing in to run the city, instead of the ole ‘burg thing of appointing cronies to various positions.  Case in point is our new police chief, Cameron McLay.  A thirty five year police veteran that is known for community involvement and inclusion.  This past weekend, he went to FOP softball game in Brookline to meet with off duty officers to see what their concerns are.  And he didn’t take office until this past Monday.  He’s aware of the racial tensions in the city and called from his old home while coordinating his move here various leaders of stake holder organizations around town to introduce himself.  And supposedly this was strictly on his own, no prompting by Mayor Peduto or others in his office (and I believe this).

I’m a big fan of non-conventional things, in particularly banks.  I know I rant about the greedy SOB’s frequently.  I’ve talked about Kickstarter and the other crowd funding sources, but they are basically charity where you might get a tee shirt or something.  There’s a new thing out there for peer to peer lending sites on the Internet.  Lending Club is the largest, closely followed by Prosper.  While traditional bank lending has been decreasing around 2% per quarter, these options have been growing at 84% per quarter.  Now granted, the percentage is huge because they are so small compared to traditional lenders, but the options are there.  Since they are not a part of the traditional banking system, they write their own qualifications.  Naturally, they want to know what you want the money for, what your assets and liabilities are, but they also have the creative options to take SAT scores into account for new grads and other non-traditional ways to determine credit worthiness.  Though the interest rates on these loans can run from 6% to 40%, depending on your credit worthiness, they usually are less than what credit cards charge.  And the cool thing about this is if you have some extra cash, you can become a lender.  A lot better return than the 1% your bank’s giving you on you savings account (if you can get that much).

Enjoy this cool Fall weather,



I posted this last night from my old computer and it didn’t seem to go out right, so I’m resending from the new computer.

Tomorrow the anniversary of the first electric lighting by Thomas Edison in lower Manhattan (1882), the founding of Los Angelos (1781) and Captain America premiered on TV (1954).  Birth anniversaries include architect & city planner Daniel Burnham (1846), French poet Francois Chateaubriand (1768), first lady Sarah Polk (1803) and broadcaster Paul Harvey (1918).

Did you know bacteria accounts about 2% of our body mass?  Yet they outnumber our human cells by 10 to 1.  The reason for this is their small size.  They are critical for our survival doing such things as aiding in digestion and fighting off disease.  There’s enough bacteria in our bodies that could fill a 1/2 gallon milk jug.  Scientists have studied how personal bacteria is to us, although we all have bacteria, we all have our own personal group living in/with us.  The scientists have been able to determine who lives in which house by matching their unique set of bacteria with those found in their house.  Almost like a DNA signature.  These people that are obsessed with antibacterial soaps, lotions, and the such are off the mark.  Bacteria is so important for our health, that one of the frequent side effects of using an antibacterial regiment to fight an illness frequently get diarrhea and other side affects.  It’s in our own bacteria’s self interest to fight of new bacteria, that’s why they are so important to our immune systems.  It’s OK to clean up your kitchen and sanitize it, just don’t be overly zealous with this, we need our microscopic buddies.  :)

The hotel industry is learning from the airline industry.  Though hotels have always had their overt fees (like minibars) and hidden fees (like you can’t park your car in their parking facility, you have to pay their valet), like the airlines, they are taking it to new levels.  Your flight doesn’t leave until 6 pm, check-out is by 11 am.  Some hotels are now charging to store your luggage.  Some hotels charge you $2.50 per night for in-room safes, whether you use it or not.  On top of the $5 they charge you for that can of soda out of the minibar, there can be up to an 18% restocking fee.  Some hotels charge up to $25 to store your stuff in the minibar.  Some hotels are taking the playbook right out of the airlines, what express check-in?  There’s a fee for that.  Want an early or late check-in, check-out, there’s a fee for that as well.  When booking, if you want anything specific on the room (farther from the elevator, view, bed size, etc), yep there’s a fee for that as well.  This is one of the reasons I left the corporate hotel scene and opened my own Inn.  What to avoid the hidden fee game, come and visit The Parador:)

West View residents are starting their own food pantry at Ridgewood Church with a Performing Arts Festival at their Bronx Field on Center Avenue.  They have nine acts lined up to perform from noon to 8 pm next Saturday.  They have a wide variety of musical styles from soloists, rap, hip-hop alternative and the closing act will be Johnny Angel and the Halos.  Johnny Angel (aka Jack Hunt) is from nearby Brighteon Heights and has his own store there Ginchy.  They also will have food, games and art.  Admission is canned or at least shelf stable food to stock their pantry.  More info at 412-931-1313.

Also next weekend, A Fair in the Park will be back in Mellon Park in Shadyside.  Friday from 1 – 7 pm, Saturday from 10 am – 7 pm and Sunday from 10 am – 5 pm.  They will again have over 100 booths featuring jewelry, ceramics, glass, wood, metal, fiber, paper, leather, mixed media and more.  Live music, kids activities and food will also be there.  A lot of cool stuff for pursuing and maybe buying.  Besides a list of local sponsors, they even have the New York Times as one of their sponsors.

The Harvest Home Dinner will be celebrating it’s 125th year as a fund raiser for St Alphonsus Church in Pine September 6 from 1 – 6:30 pm.  Fresh produce from Shenot Farm, Soergel Orchards, Eichner Farm and Wexford Farms all donate fresh produce for the event.  Last year 600 volunteers prepared 1,061 dinners, they hope to surpass that. Dinners are just $13 for adults ($15 for carry out) and $7 for children ($8 for carry out).  More info at 724-935-1151.

Another church fundraising food fest with a Lebanese twist will be held at Our Lady of Victory Maronite Catholic Church in Scott.  The Lebanese Food Festival will run from 11 am – 10 pm September 12 & 13 and from noon – 6 pm September 14.  200 volunteers created meals for 5,000 guests at last year’s event.  Things you can expect will be kibbee, roasted chicken, lamb kabob, tabbouleh, grape leaves and  much more.  This fund raiser has been going on since 1979.  More info at their website or by calling 412-278-0841.

On Sunday, September 14, it’s the 50 year anniversary of the Beatles first and only concert in Pittsburgh.  Tickets were $5.50!  :)  There’s several events scheduled, the largest will be Beatlemania Now at the Benedum Center at 8 pm on September 13.  Tickets are $36.95 and $48.95.  Beatles tribute band The American Tour 64 will headline other tribute bands that influenced the Beatles.  The include tribute bands of Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley.  Long time Pittsburgh concert promoter Pat DiCesare (who brought the Beatles to Pittsburgh and many other concerts) will be signing his book Hard Days, Hard Nights: From the Beatles, to the Doors, to the Stones, Insider Stories Fram a Legendary Concert Promoter (quite the long title).  :)  Greensburg’s Palace Theater will be having a Beatles tribute band on September 17 starting at 8 pm.  Their tickets are $40 – $65.  From 11 am – 8 pm this Friday and from 11am – 6 pm on Sunday there will be a Beatles Rock Art Show and Sale in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel.  Ron Campbell will be on hand.  Ron is an artist and animator of the Beatles Yellow Submarine movie.

Kyle Holbrook founded Moving Lives of Kids Art Center (nicknamed MLK) in 2002.  He pairs youth with artists and together they create murals throughout the city to beautify neighborhoods and teach kids art skills and discipline.  Kyle also introduce youths to careers they may not have considered like graphic design or working behind the scenes of movie and theater production.  This year, 87 youths have created 15 murals around the city (one right up the street from me by the intersection of Brighton and California which is where the Pittsburgh Conservancy’s garden that The Parador sponsors.)   The kids work four to six weeks creating each mural and earn a stipend for their efforts.  Kyle has taken his program overseas to such locations like Uganda and Portugal.  A great program for kids and the adults that guide them.

Tomorrow, the Travel Channel’s filming at The Parador!  They have that series The Dead Files about paranormal.  They are investigating an old mansion in Homewood and the location is fine for the paranormal, but not real pretty.  So they’re doing the “exit interviews” with the paranormal, historian, etc in our Parlor.  This could be HUGE!

Business is still unbelievable, take care and enjoy,



Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the civil rights march on Washington (1963), like an early Google, radio figured out they could make money off advertisng (1922) and Jamaica’s Port Royal hurricane (1722).  Birth anniversary include film star Charles Boyer (1889), Vaudeville performer Donald O’Connor (1925), first lady Lucy Hayes (1831), naturalist Roger Peterson (1908) and German author/poet Johann Goethe (1749).

Apparently, when we rebuilt my website, we disconnected my Twitter feed.  It’s back up.  :)

Not to beat a dead horse, we are again setting a new record.  July was the biggest month EVER at either Parador (Pittsburgh as well as Palm Beach) and August is going to beat that, hands down.  We haven’t had less than 10 guests for breakfast each morning.  Generally it’s been 14 to 20, and I’m talking weekdays!  And it looks like we’re going to be on The Travel Channel this fall!  They are going to use the Parlor for the interview of their most popular show, The Dead Files.  They’re not doing a paranormal investigation here or anything like that, they’re just shooting the interview between hosts Steve and Amy and their experts here.  Six minutes, one million viewers.  :)

And of course during all this business, my computer died.  I bought a new commercial reach-in refrigerator and knew it would fit through the door.  What I didn’t account for was the ice machine doesn’t move.  The delivery guys from Penn Fixture had a real hard time getting it in, there’s a number of gouges in the tile floor, a big crease where the new refer fell into the ice machine and the coup de grace was when they knocked the statue of a chef my nephew bought me onto my computer killing my computer screen.  I’m addicted to my computer.  I do all my own marketing, accounting, data base, reservations, Welcome Letters, etc.  And for it to die in the middle of all this business was just nuts.  So as much as I hate big box stores, I went out to HH Gregg for a new Toshiba .  They only had the floor model of the one I wanted, so I told them to un-program the demo software and return it to factory standards.  Billy the sales associate and JC his boss both seemed well informed and knowledgeable.  In the mean time, JC offered me a screen I could plug into my old computer so I could do my work until the reprogramming was complete.  I eventually brought it home, had my computer guy Mike install my programs and carry my files from the old computer to the new (he could do it without the screen).  All is fine, I thought!  Friday, it was working fine in the kitchen that afternoon.  I closed it up, took it to the Office that evening.  I took a shower and settled in for the night and went to check my e-mails and the screen wouldn’t come up.  It was turning on, but the screen wouldn’t work.  I tried several times that evening (what is it they say about insanity is trying the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result?).  :)  So Saturday I took it back to HH Gregg and encountered JC’s replacement Eddie.  What an idiot, he’s why I don’t shop big box.  Someone that doesn’t know what their doing and so they blame everyone else.  He first blamed my computer guy, he then blamed a virus, he kept deflecting the problem instead of trying to figure out what’s wrong.  The screen finally came back on and Eddie said “it’s fixed”.  After a terse conversation (I knew I wasn’t going anywhere with him), I took it home with him saying don’t worry you still have two weeks left on your 30 day warranty.  (Stupid me, I should have backed up my accounting and data base and didn’t).  ):   Sunday, the screen did the same thing.  So Monday, after breakfast, I go out to HH Gregg to return the computer and get a new one.  (My opinion, the demo power system was damaged from being “on” all day long on display).  Luckily, Eddie wasn’t working.  Billy and JC were both on shift and it was quickly, politely and professionally handled.  Now I had to get Mike back to transfer the files AGAIN, and this time I had to recreate all my accounting transactions from receipts, printed checks, credit card receipts, etc for two weeks.  (I made Ty do the data base.)  :)  So I’m back in the saddle with a totally functioning computer and a happy camper.

So this is why you haven’t heard from me for a bit.

Speaking of publicity, we were just in The Trib.  The title of the article, “Who needs coastline? Pittsburgh has its own sandy retreats” and talks about various Pittsburgh businesses that have a beach theme, like Kelly’s Down by the Riverside Saloon, Paradise Island Bowl & Beach, Sandcastle, Cabana Bar, Rumfish Grille, and how can you talk about the beach without including The Parador Inn. They missed a few local tropical retreats like Redfin Blues

Roberto Clemente was the first Latino player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Not only was he a huge superstar on the field, he was a real role model for kids growing up in the sixties and early seventies.  He overcame numerous obstacles and never lost sight of who he was and what he believed in.  Hearing the Nicaraguan dictator Somoza was stealing relief supplies Roberto was involved in collecting and sending down there. Somoza was selling the supplies on the black market.  Roberto decided to fly down with the supplies to ensure the supplies got to the people who needed them.  That’s the famous plane crash that took his life.  New Hampshire playwright Alki Steriopoulos (a Pittsburgh native) has written a musical 21, based on Roberto’s life from childhood in Puerto Rico through his untimely death.  Point Park University will be premiering the musical in October at The Pittsburgh Playhouse.

At the age of 89, Lauren Bacall recently passed away, what a great actress and lady.  The Fashion Institute of Technology is opening a museum showcasing hundreds of items of clothing she donated.  It is slated to open next spring.  Lauren worked with many clothing designers and had an extensive collection of one of a kind garments.  Lauren started modeling at the age of 16 and by 19 she was discovered by Harper’s Bazaar and from there, Hollywood found her.  She possessed a subtle seductiveness and yet was full of fire and self confidence.  She will be missed.

The “Deer” at Carrie Furnace National Historic Landmark was created by George Davis, Liz Hammond, Tim Kaulen, John Latell, Mike McFadden, Joe Small, Tim Yohman and Bob Ziller 17 years ago as a “pop-up” art installation.  It was never intended to last this long and since it has, and is suffering from the elements.  The Deer has created quite the following.  Rivers of Steel, the nonprofit in Homestead that owns the site and is trying to turn Carrie Furnace into a regional attraction includes the Deer in the tours they offer.  I’ve talked about Rivers of Steel in the past.  They occupy this very nondescript building on 8th Avenue in Homestead that you could very easily pass without noticing it.  But they are huge, I forget the number of people that pass through their doors or do their tours, but it’s massive  They started an effort to restore and stabilize the Deer and they started a Kickstarter campaign a couple of weeks ago.  They’ve actually raised the $5K minimum needed and have 18 days left in their campaign left.

It’s that time of year again for you medieval folks, the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival is in full swing out in West Newton.  It runs Saturdays and Sundays (also Labor Day) through September 28 from 10:30 am until 6:30 pm.  They feature swordsmanship, jousting and other medieval sports.  The Washing Well Wenches will again be performing their comedy routines and performing pipe and drum shows. As well as arts and crafts and a wide array of food services both contemporary and medieval.

The Pittsburgh Public Market will be opening a new service next month and I’d say it’s long over due for such a facility in Pittsburgh.  They are opening a shared commercial kitchen on September 15.  I have an official commercial kitchen and have been approached on several occasions but start-ups wanting to use my space until they can get on their feet.  It’s a bit of a pain for me, I’m not a traditional restaurant doing breakfast prep, followed by lunch prep followed by dinner prep, but I do use the kitchen throughout the day.  For example when I have a free hour to make bread for tomorrow in the afternoon.  I had one start up I knew and let them use my kitchen, I charged a nominal fee.  Every time they left, if the kitchen was left as clean as when they arrived I was lucky.  Usually I at least had to wipe everything down again.  They mopped the floor once in the four months until I told them they had to clear out.  It’s not in my job description to follow up and point out what they missed.  Being a commercial kitchen run as a rental unit ($17.50 per hour), they’ll be set up with someone who’s job is to be sure the kitchen’s left as it should be and the hourly fee would cover a clean-up crew to do heavy cleaning.  The kitchen’s going to be available 24/7, so if you need to come in at night after your day job, you can pursue your cooking.  They have on-site lockable storage available (I don’t know if this includes refrigerated space as well, or just for your knives, etc).  It will be production designed, so I imagine if you are hosting that party for 100 guests in your home, you could probably rent it, get everything done on a commercial scale.  Doing quantities of food in a commercial space is SO much easier than in a normal home kitchen.  They plan on eventually expanding the kitchen into the vendor area so they can offer cooking classes and demos.  A great addition to the Public Market.  I haven’t been in the Market since they moved to 2401 Penn Avenue several months ago, I need to check out their new digs.

The Pittsburgh Biennial is celebrating their 20th year through November 2 at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside, in fact, it’s grown to include space inside the Pittsburgh Filmmakers.  On display will be the works of two dozen artists with Pittsburgh connections.  Most will be mixed media or installation type pieces.  One of the pieces, Steve Gurysh‘sThe Long Cloud is a print that used 2 ounce of uranium (yes the dangerous stuff).  Don’t fear, it’s encased in thick plastic and concrete with a Geiger counter  attached so you know if there’s any leakage.  There’s Chris Beauregard‘s The Smudge which is an axe embedded in a wall and it’s wrapped in bundles of sage (I’m sure you are aware the belief that to take sage, light it and carry it around letting the smoke drift in the corners of your house/room to cleanse the room/house of troublesome bad spirits/energy).  There also the floor to ceiling creation by Eli Blasko‘s A Plot in Perpetual Flux with an interesting use of pillows, flowers and stairs reminiscent of an MC Escher print.  The show’s put on by non-profits and they suggest a $5 donation.

Tom Atkin’s one-man show, The Chief, will air on WPXI (Channel 11) at 8 pm on August 30.  It’s the story of Art Rooney, the founder of the Steelers.  The Chief was first performed at the Pittsburgh Public Theater in 2003 and had sold out crowds for the seven years of it’s performances. It’s set in Rooney’s office at the old Three Rivers Stadium and features the straight talking, cigar smoking legend talking about his youth growing up on the Northside through the Steelers rough start through the glory days of repeated Super Bowl Victories.  It was recorded in 2009 and it’s pretty impressive that it will air on prime time.

That’s it for now,






Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the Atlantic Charter between Britain and the US agreeing to mutual goals (1941), VJ Day (1945), the Social Security Act was passed (1935), the Cologne Cathedral was completed (1880) and the Navajo Code Talkers Day.  Birth anniversaries include biologist Ernest Just (1883) and the comic ballad Casey at Bat author Ernest Thayer (1863).

I had one hell of a day yesterday.  For some reason, payroll decided to take the money out of my account a day early.  Luckily, Slovak Savings Bank is a small bank that watches out for their customers and we got everything straitened out quickly.  The two door refrigerator in the cold kitchen died for the third time this weekend and I went to Penn Fixture on Monday and got a replacement.  Didn’t measure the clearance at the door/ice machine space and I’m not even going to re-live that.  In course of battling the new reefer, that statue of a chef my nephew gave me that sits on the ice machine was knocked down and fell on the little table next to it I use as a desk.  Spoiler alert, I keep my computer on it during the day.  After we got the new refrigerator in, they left and I got it cleaned up and turned on; I went to check my e-mails.  We cracked the screen on my computer.  The mechanics were (are) fine, but I can’t use the Icons to access the different programs, can’t type or do anything.  I am so incredibly dependent on my computer (and business is HUGE this month.  Even bigger than last month-over 200 room nights sold already!).  So I went to HH Greg to get a new one.  Of course the computer I wanted they were out of stock, they only had the floor model.  The sales guy said it would take an hour or so to un-install the floor model stuff and return it to factory specs.   I went back 2 hours later to get it and it was only 50% complete.  The manager said it takes up to 5 hours sometimes.  I threw a minor (but polite) fit and they gave me a monitor I can use until I finish check-ins tonight and run back out there to pick up the new computer.  That’s what I’m using to finally finish this post.  Hopefully I can get the new computer up and running tomorrow with all theprograms I use.

It must be in the water.  You’ve heard me complaining about the developer Buncher in the Strip District that wanted all kinds of subsidies to develop his 55 acres behind the Terminal building.  And he also wanted to tear down 1/3 of that historic building to put a road to access his property.  That was the only thing acceptable to him, he even threatened not to build the project if he didn’t get his way.  Yea, right, like he’s going to walk away from such a massive undertaking because he couldn’t tear down the Terminal Building.  I generally referred to him as the Evil Empire.  Now Charles Hammel from Mount Lebanon who owns Pitt-Ohio Express in the Strip is using a loophole to cheat the city out of $2M in transfer taxes.  He received $2.9M in state grants, $1M in a URA low-interest loan and a ten year tax abatement to build the wildly successful (ie profitable) Cork Factory Apartments.  Now he wants to do a slight of hand in selling it undervalued to avoid paying taxes you and I have to pay when buying or selling a property in the city.  The other Evil Empire player in this game, Dan McCaffery, CEO of MaCaffery Industries says, and I quote “It’s another one of those instances where you do something that’s perfectly legal and those in government have a different view.”  And he followed up with “I think if it’s not something that should exist, they should go about changing it instead of complaining about it.”  Yo, Hammel & McCaffrey, just because you can afford high priced attorney’s on the backs of city tax payers subsidies, doesn’t make it right.  Play the game right or move to another city.  If any of you know either of these dirt bags, please direct them to my blog.

And then there’s the River’s Casino.  They have paid $795M in taxes and donations since opening six years ago.  Not only do they live up to the tax code (not that they have much choice here), they have honored their commitments to their neighbors ($6M), they’ve paid $50M towards Consol as well as donating cash and event space for local charities like the libraries, Humane Society Riverlife and many others.  They’ve subsidized the free “T” service from the Northside through Downtown (Along with the Steelers and ALCO Parking).  They also support local businesses by partnering with us.  All of this with no public subsidies, tax deferrals, or other government give aways.  Why don’t Pittsburgh’s Evil Empire businesses learn from decent businesses and and be community leaders instead of money hungry oligarchs?

As part of his 31 day trip across America, Willie Baronet was recently in Pittsburgh on his We Are All Homeless project.  He drives around and offers homeless people money for their signs.  He pulls up to homeless panhandlers and offers to buy their sign, if they come to terms, it becomes part of a piece of an art installation like attaching them to a wall, ceiling, creating digital iterations, etc.  Willie is a Dallas based artist that teaches creativity and design at Southern Methodist University and has collected around 800 signs since he started this endeavor in 1993.  His goal is to create an installation for each city he’s visited on this trip.  If I hear any details of a Pittsburgh installation, I’ll let you know.

On August 16th from noon till 4 pm, The Homewood Cemetery will be celebrating receiving the arboretum certification, there’s only 23 in the entire country.  Founded in 1878, it is the final resting place of many Pittsburgh notables like the Mellons, Fricks, Benedeums, DL Clarks as well as jazz icons Erroll Garner and Walt Harper among others.  There’s 78,000 interred in the well tended cemetery.  To reach the arboretum status, the facility must be well maintained, educational program must be in place, a plan in place to replace trees as they pass on so there’s always a mature canopy, the trees need to be diverse and inventoried and the facility needs to be free and open to the public.  WQED’s Rick Sebak will open the ceremony and there will be refreshments, a scavenger hunt, hoop rolling and entertainment by Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh.  Allegheny Cemetery is the oldest and most visited, but a trip to Homewood Cemetery will not disappoint you.

Chloe Kondrich was born in 2003.  She had undiagnosed Down syndrome that became apparent when she was born.  The hospital staff was very uncomfortable when Chloe was born (probably feeling guilty they didn’t diagnose this ahead of time).  They listed the the things Chloe wouldn’t be able to do and a nurse gave Chloe’s mom printed material from an outdated website.  When the Kondrich’s got involved with staff specializing in Down syndrome, they learned all the things Chloe could do.  They started advocating for the rights of children born with Down and their parents.  So much so, Chloe was in Harrisburg and signed “Chloe’s Law” with Governor Corbett on July 18. Chloe’s Law requires practitioners to give up to date information on Down syndrome as soon as it is diagnosed in the fetus or the when the undiagnosed baby is born to the parents so they are better equipped to deal with the challenges  they are facing and not be left in the dark.  A very heart warming story about Chloe is Chloe’s dad is a retired Pittsburgh Police Officer and they’re friends with Sue Sciullo, wife of slain Police Officer Paul Sciullo.  The Sciullo’s lost a baby during pregnancy 46 years ago.  Chloe told Sue “I see Paul in my mirror” and when Sue asked what she saw Paul doing, Chloe said “He’s holding the baby in heaven.”  Sue & Paul’s loss had never been mentioned to Chloe.

Next Saturday, August 16 from 9am until 1pm Penn State’s Master Gardeners will be hosting their annual Gardens in the Park Field Day in both North and South Parks.  They will be highlighting basil, garlic and tomatoes, but it’s a great way to meet this gardening experts and field questions not easily answered at a nursery (and you don’t always get accurate information at many nurseries.)  :)  More than thirty Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer your questions.  Just remember if you are bringing a sample, be sure it is in a zip lock baggie.  You don’t want to expose other plants to a problem.

Be good and enjoy,



Have you seen the You Tube video of Casey, the 9 year old schnauzer from Murrysville?  Rebecca, the family’s daughter had been in Slovenia for two years and when she finally comes home, he’s so excited he faints. Its pretty cute.

Pittsburgh’s always taken pride in our ethnic diversity.  Although we never received a huge influx of certain ethnic groups as many other large cities have, we still have our representation from around the world.  We have a number of ethnic bakeries that create a host of delicacies from their home as well as a fusion of items that’s a hybrid of different cultures.  We have several Asian bakeries like The Pink Box Bakery and Cafe  that just opened on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill.  In addition to cakes and cupcakes, they have more adventurous items like pork taro buns, strawberry coconut layered bun and green onion pork bun for the more adventurous.  Also on Murray Avenue is Bubble Pi Baking Arts.  She’s know for her flavored teas with tapioca “bubbles” on the bottom, many western sweets and standard Taiwanese bakery items.  For a Korean twist, also on Murray Avenue there’s Sumi’s Cafe.  She makes red bean bread, mango cream bread, taro buns in various flavors are available.  There’s several well known French bakeries around as well.  There’s some lesser know like Jean Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery on North Avenue in Millvale.  In addition to those pretty confections that look to pretty to eat like their tartelettes and Pari-Brest pastries they have pretty substantial quiche Lorraine and crisp and buttery Brenton cakes.  La Gourmandine Bakery and Pastry Shop on Butler Street in Lawrenceville also as those “too pretty to eat” pastries as well as more substantial fare like the Jambon Croissant  which has sliced ham, melted cheese and is covered with bechamel sauce.  There’s the Greek Gourment also on Murray Avenue that’s more of a deli but also carries homemade honey soaked baklava and some other Greek pastries.  Out in Beaver, there’s a Czech bakery that makes all kinds of Kolache, hence the name Cafe Kolache, a Czech tradition that doesn’t use overly sweet doughs.  So the fit well with traditional sweet fillings as well as more substantial ham, bacon and veggies.  For an Italian bakery, Moio’s Italian Pastry Shop on Wm Penn Hwy in Monroeville has been around since 1935.  Specializing in cannoli with a wide array of fillings and pasticciottie and sfogliatelle.  Main Street in Butler is the location of Dolce Mia, of Italian heritage and bent, she also does many non ethnic pastries like cream puffs, cheese cakes and lava cakes.  Biscotti Brothers is located in Greensburg, but you can find them all over the city (they also ship all over the country).  In addition to the many flavored biscotti’s they are known for, they also make cannoli, pizzelles, cakes and pies.  Over on Brookline Blvd, Pitaland has been cranking out Pitas and other baked on premise Mediterranean fare.  Besides their pitas (which you also see all over the city), they also carry baklava and rolls filled with everything from apricot, coconut, cashews, apples or strawberries.  They serve their Lebanese treats and meals in their Cafe.  It may be the excuse you need to go over to see Brookline’s new street face that was just completed.

Speaking of ethnic and Brookline, it’s one of our neighborhoods with a large diverse options.  In addition to Pitaland, there’s Daree Salam African Grocery,   they sell staple African cooking ingredients and are happy to share family recipes. There’s Las Palmas Carniceria Y Supermercado, they carry a lot of Latin food products not easily found in many Pittsburgh markets.  They also make street tacos right out front!  Their Mexican bakery is set to open soon right down the street.  Brookline also has a barbershop that’s been in operation continuously since 1947, Sal’s BarbershopCannon Coffee is the local coffee shop.  It’s Greek to Me is a Mediterranean restaurant with homemade hummus, gyros, souvlika and lamb kebabs among other Lebanese and Syrian foods.   For Italian fare, Mateo’s owner/chef, originally from Calabria, has been whipping out Italian meals there since 2008.  And for your sweet tooth, Party Cake has been in operation since 1964 with it’s 1960’s facade.

Are your ready to “cut the rug”?  The Pittsburgh Area Jitterbug Club meets twice a month at various locations.  Founded in 2003, they boast 200 members from as far away as Ohio.  And it’s not just Jitterbug, they also do Cha Cha, Hustle, polka, West Coast, East Coast and others.  Check out their website to learn more about they’re all about and schedules.

The Hollywood Theater in Dormont just passed a milestone.  They’ve been doing fund raising for about a year now, trying to buy the new projection equipment they need.  The film industry no longer sends movies out on reels and they are even phasing out DVD/Blu-Ray discs.  The new digital format is done as an anti piracy precaution as well as a better final product with the film.  But it doesn’t come cheap, the new projectors cost of $60K!  A lot of money for anyone, let alone a small non-profit.  When their old projector started dieing in June, they new they had to take a leap to stay afloat.  They started a Kickstarter campaign needing a little over $7k more for the down payment.  They ended up raising $10k and are ready to make the leap.

Speaking of Kickstarter, Randy from Randyland recently ran a Kickstarter campaign.  There’s that map of the Northside he painted on the side of one of his buildings a number of years ago.  The paint hasn’t held up and the vinyl he used for the street names pealed of years ago.  So he wanted to raise $10k to get the proper materials to make a more permanent map.  He also passed his fund raising goal.

Pittsburgh got a 200th birthday present early (we were incorporated in 1816), the National League of City’s will be holding their 2016 convention in the city.  Although the number of attendees doesn’t make it a huge conference (they estimate 5,000 attendees), those attending will be the folks that run most of the major cities in the country.  Very prestigious.  It is scheduled of November 16 – 19 of that year.

OK, this will be my only rant this post.  There’s a lot of people up in arms (pun intended) about the military downsizing because of sequestration.  #1, we shouldn’t be going through a sequestration, the lawmakers with all their lavish lifestyles should come up with a sustainable budget.  But putting that aside, they fired 1,200 captains last month and 550 majors got the axe this month.  They are going up to these officers, some still on duty in a combat zone in Afghanistan and telling them they need to leave, go home and prepare to be processed out of the army.  How cold is that?  The military are the organizations that “lost” BILLIONS of dollars of equipment in Afghanistan.  These are the organizations that have spend $800 on a toilet seat!  We can’t pave our roads, educate our children, replace aging water and sewer lines and the military has a 640BILLION dollar budget and are complaining about cuts.  Lets get real!

OK, thanx for being patient with me, my rant is over and I do feel better.

I also feel better because the numbers are in for July and we had the biggest month ever since I opened in Florida in 2000.  Thank you to all my wonderful guests, I love you.



Tomorrow is the anniversary of the sinking of the cruiser Indianapolis (1945), NASA was established (1958), Hebrew Tisha B’Av (the destruction of the first and second temples, Norway’s Olsok Eve and the Spanish Festa De Santa Marta De Ribarteme.  Birth anniversaries include new anchor Peter Jennings (1938), French politician Alexis Tocqueville who wrote Democracy in America (1831), first lady Alice Roosevelt (1861) and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini (1883).

Up in Mercer, two ladies have started Bed Dog Restoration.  They specialize in taking vintage things and turning them into furniture and accessories.  They’re not cheap, they have a queen bed whose frame is a 1956 Chevy truck at Artistry in the Strip for $15,670.  Ouch.  It is very cool, but I don’t know if I’m in the mood for a $15k bed.  They also make trundle tables out of old barn wood.  I don’t know if you ever go to Artistry, it’s on Smallman right around the Smallman Street Deli and they have some great pieces.  I’m really on a roll here, I also love the Smallman Street Deli, one of the best in the city.

Some things are just too strange.  In 2004, they planted a pine tree in Los Angeles to commemorate George Harrison, the Beatle that passed away in 2001 from cancer.  George, an avid gardener, would have appreciated the irony of a beetle infestation killed a tree dedicated to a Beatle.  :)

I admit, I’m a 20th century guy, not a 21st.  I do own an iPhone, a computer and have GPS in my car.  But really hate people tracking me and my habits.  I’m always shutting down cookies on my computer trying to track me, I don’t use frequent shopper “rewards” cards. This is one of the reasons I seldom shop Giant Eagle, they are just over the top trying to force me to buy what they want to sell me, not what I want to buy.  Giant Eagle did force me to get one of their rewards cards because I always use the self checkout line and they claimed I had to have a rewards card because they were having trouble with shop lifters going through the self checkout line.  I don’t buy that, they just wanted an excuse to force customers like me into their network and since I do need to pop in a Giant Eagle store on occasion, I signed up for one. With their Advantage card, they track what you buy, how much, when and all kinds of other information, just like Google, but on a different scale.  They have studied grocery shopping  to the extent that they know for every 140 feet further into the store, you typically spend an additional $2.54.  They are now developing an App that can send you coupons on your phone to encourage you to spend more.  It’s like some of those stores (I don’t remember which) that have GPS kind of system set up in their store and even if you don’t have your iPhone turned on, they can track how long you’ve been a particular counters and other data.  That’s just too scary for me.

While we’re talking about shopping, let’s just jump over to vending machines, they aren’t just for sodas and chips anymore.  And they aren’t just in office and school break rooms.  Sprinkles Cupcakes is installing cupcake dispensing machines at all 16 nationwide outlets they have.  These machines can hold up to 760 cupcakes and turn the outlet into 24 hours service.  The machine has been tracked selling on average 1,000 cupcakes a day, 50% of the sales!  Burritobox has a menu of various types of burritos, even fajita burritos that are warmed when you buy them.  You can also order sides like guacamole, sour cream and warmed chips.  For safe food purposes, these machines warm the burritos to 195 degrees internal temperature.  There’s pizza vending machines, burger machines, you name it.  Europe and Asia are pretty far ahead of us in this, they have machines that sell gold bars, eggs, live beetles to name a few.  Wow.  :)

The Pennsylvania Resources Council has been around for 75 years now trying to keep our environment clean and wholesome.  Somewhat ironically, they will be hosting their 75th collection at Boyce Park on Saturday from 9 am until 1pm.  (No, they do a lot more collections each year than one, for the longest time there wasn’t a way to recycle or at least neutralize hazardous materials.  They just been collecting them the last few years).  But, since 2011, the have kept more than 4 million tons of these products out of the environment!  They take paint, cleaning supplies, pesticides and other hazardous materials.  They charge $2 per container, so if you want to be frugal, marry like products together (take three quarts of latex paints and pour into a one gallon can).  Just be sure to marry “like products”, latex paints with latex paints, not latex paints with oil paints.  More info at their website.

As we all have heard, obesity is epidemic in America.  Where do you stand?  They say three out of four people that would be officially classified as obese think they’re actually alright.  Even if you’re not obese (or at least don’t think you are)  :) you really should check out your bmi (body mass indes).  It’s super easy and might give you the added push to take of a couple of pounds.  Go to the Centers for Disease Control’s bmi site and fill in your heights and weight (and you have to be honest here).  I did if for myself and on a mission to drop about 7 pounds.

The House and Garden Tour for the Manchester Historical Society is next Sunday (August 3) from 11 am until 3 pm.  You can pick up the $15 tickets the day of the tour at the Pittsburgh Conroy in the 1300 block of Page Avenue.  PediCabs will be available if you don’t want to walk, the Mark Strickland Group will be performing jazz from 1 – 3 pm, one of the houses has a “Wizard Garden”.  One of the houses on the tour is a restored 1883 mansion, tours will point out historical sites and a modern adaption that was saved from the wrecking ball because of a Manchester initiative a few years ago.  That was amazing.  The city came up with 100+ buildings to be demolished in Manchester.  The civic council said “NO”.  They agree to 10 – 20 frame buildings that were beyond repair.  The rest the city wasn’t allowed to touch.  The the civic council came up with a “package” for about 12 of the buildings.  Because if was a group of buildings, Manchester was able to negotiate a low interest rate with a bank, a property tax deferred from the city and a contractor willing to work good numbers.  Manchester figured out what the house would be worth fixed and worked from there.  Say a three bedroom, two bath would have a market value of $167,000, that was the price they put on it.  The price included total renovations, the deferred tax and low interest rate loan.  Now the price might include Formica counter tops and you wanted granite, you could negotiate with the contractor for an appropriate increase.  Manchester then did a “house tour” of these properties and if you were interested, you signed a form one of the volunteers had at that site.  After the tour, Manchester started with the first person on the list and if they could qualify for the loan, they got the house.  If the first person couldn’t qualify for some reason, Manchester went to the second person that signed the list.  How cool was that?

It’s that time of year, regional county fairs are hitting our local counties.  The Fayette County Fair winds up this weekend.  Next up the Butler County Fair starts Monday and runs through August 9.  The Washington County Fair starts August 9 and runs through August 16.  The Dayton Fair in Armstrong County will be in their 134th year starting August 8 and closing on the 17.  The Lawrence County Fair runs from August 11 until 16.  From August 15 until 23 will be the Westmoreland County Fair.  August 16 through 23 the Somerset County Fair will take place.  The Hookstown Fair will run from August 19 through 23.  And finally the Indiana County Fair will run from August 24 through 30.  Lots of good clean wholesome fun, check one out.

Ty came up to me Sunday and asked if he could run a free night offer through Facebook.  As of now, there has been over 3,000 people have been reached.  If you already Like The Parador, you just need to Like that post and share it to qualify.

Well, that’s about it for this post.  Enjoy your summer and enjoy it safely,