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,



Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the Allies taking Palermo (1943), the Pied Piper of Hamelin (maybe (1376), the death of John Dillinger (1934) and Switzerland’s Dornach Battle Commemoration (1499).  Birth anniversaries include journalist and etiquette expert Amy Vanderbilt (1908), artist Alexander Calder (1898) and geneticist Gregor Mendel (1822).

The art of American Modern Art and Design in Pittsburgh was pretty much headed by CMU professor Samuel Rosenberg in the 1950’s.  Professor Rosenberg taught at both CMU and the Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association for about 40 years and personally created over 500 pieces of art.  His artwork was even displayed in the 1939 World’s Fair.  To teach his students, Samuel created pieces in this style to show them the technique.  A dozen of these works by him, his colleagues and students have been assembled at Concept Art Gallery in Regent Square that runs through September 20.  There was a lot of corporate money here in Pittsburgh before they all started to bail on us starting in the 1960’s, so there was a lot of artists and designers being brought in for corporate offices in the 1950’s and 1960’s..  In addition to the artwork, there is classic modern design in furniture and accessories from the period as well.  More info at their website or by calling 412-242-9200.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water is just an hour east of Pittsburgh.  A three hour trip to Buffalo, NY is home to a cluster of Wright’s masterpieces.  The sprawling Darwin Martin House, a series of buildings including the main house and out buildings, many of which are connected by cantilevered pergolas in the low slung Wright style.  The Martin family owned Larkin Soap Company in Buffalo and lived in the  house until they lost their fortune after the great depression.  A public/private corporation was founded in 1991 to save and restore the house.  Close by is the Martin’s summer house, Graycliff Estate overlooking Lake Erie.  Since 1997, that also is being restored after being the home to a group of Hungarian priests as a mother-house.  There are several residences designed by Wright In Buffalo that are still private residences.  But Buffalo has taken plans that never left the drafting board and have been recently brought to life.  Rowing Boathouse was completed in 2000.  And the stair step looking Mausoleum for the Martin family was never constructed for the Martins, but the president of Forest Lawn Cemetery was able to raise the funds and had Blue Sky Mausoleum built in 2004.  The Martins had all passed-on by that time, so the vaults are available for anyone.  And just opened this year is the gas station Wright had designed, but was never built for the Tydol Oil Station .  This was built in the Pierce-Arrow Museum and features copper roofed overhangs to keep the motorists dry in inclement weather, gravity fed fueling tanks, a second floor waiting area with a fireplace and you can watch them repair your car.

I like small businesses and the creativity we need to use to succeed.  I also like the impact small theaters can have on small business districts.  Combine all that and you have The Parkway Theater in Stowe (near McKees Rocks).  Owner Aaron Stubna bought the old theater (it had been vacant for 25 years), cleaned it up, did some remodeling and started showing movies in it in 2012.  Aaron is a full time barber at his family’s barbershop Lincoln Barber Shop in Bellvue, and a full time movie buff that’s working on a dream.  He currently has a snack bar that’s a lot more creative than those TUBs of popcorn drowned in make believe butter and super sized sodas.  His goal is to take half the theater out and make a restaurant and bar out front that he can run in conjunction with theater events or as a separate operation.  But he’s theming things up like running Spaghetti Westerns paired with a spaghetti dinner.  He’s had a Stooge Fest (who in theaters hasn’t had one of them?)  :)  Other theme’s he’s looking into is a series of Martin Scorsese’s films, a family night with board games, even a gnocchi making class before the screening of Big Night, the story of two brothers attempting to run an Italian restaurant.  I would love something like that here on Western Avenue, what a great asset to the community.

Speaking of community, I heard an interview with Mayor Peduto the other day.  I miss Mayor Lukey, he was too easy to pick on with the ridiculous things he did, like sending a crew out to slap bicycle stickers all over the place with no thought to it.  It was just a numbers game to him so he could claim so many miles in Pittsburgh are “bicycle lanes” and he can get credit for making Pittsburgh “bike friendly”.  Mr. Peduto is looking to create official bicycle lanes and two are set to be in place by summer’s end, I believe.  These will be bicycle only lanes which dramatically increase safety for the bicyclist and motorists.  Mr. Peduto said he’s not looking for a quick solution, he’s looking into 5, 10 and 20 year plans and goals.  Did you know that in Copenhagen, 36% of their commuters use bicycles?  You can’t get much healthier or greener than that.  Yes, in the process we will loose parking spaces and other things, but to make traveling safe for cyclists would be a huge amenity to the city.

And now, speaking of healthy, did you know PNC Park came in #3 in PETA’s ranking of Vegetarian-Friendly Ballparks?  We were bested by Philly’s Citizen’s Bank Park and #1 San Fransisco’s AT & T Park.  Cited were options vegetable roll, BRGR’s veggie burger, seaweed salad, hummus and chips, veggie stuffed pita, grilled veggie toaster and select grilled flat breads.

The Frick’s showcasing their new Orientation Center (we used to call them Welcome Centers).  :)  Pulling in to the parking lot, most people didn’t know where to find the Frick Art Museum, the Henry Clay Frick’s family home and museum, the Car and Carriage House, the Frick Cafe, greenhouse and park.  The Orientation Center is right there complete with a gift shop, resource center, information center on where and what is located on the 5.5 acre property.  This was the first of three phases of renovations they are planning.  The next phase will be to create a new building for the car and carriage collection and turning that building into an educational center.  And the third phase will be to create a community center where groups can be fed and meeting space for groups and the local community.  All toll, the improvements are looking at $15M.  More info on their website.

Northside’s City of Asylum is creating a River of Words public art project.  They will be hosting a community open house next Friday, July 25.  They are using this project to show connections between words, people and locations.  A quick synopsis, City of Asylum houses dissident artists of the written word in their Northside homes.  There’s several up on Samsonia Way, right down the street from The Mattress Factory.  One of them has a poem written in Chinese on the front of the house. CA acquired a vacant lot and was going to turn it into an event venue, but ran into resistance from residents concerned about parking.  CA altered their plan and are turning the lot into a garden near their other houses and plan on building a “trail” between their current locations and their new project Alphabet City in the old Masonic Temple on North Avenue next to the Garden Theater.  Three dissident arts have been working on words trying to keep in mind Pittsburgh’s unique character.  For example, several of the words they selected were zombie (for George Romero’s classic work), pirates in deference to the Bucco’s, and others.  They made these words out of vinyl, metal, acrylic and other media and the artists asked residents on the path from CA’s main campus to the new Alphabet City to allow them to place the words on their house.    The residents got to pick their words.  The kick off is from 6 – 8 pm next Friday at 318 Sampsonia Way.  More info at their website or by calling 412-391-2060.

Many of my guests have enjoyed visiting Randyland.  Randy’s houses are over by The Mattress Factory also and he’s painted them all kinds of colors and his Courtyard is filled with all kinds of eclectic pieces.  One of the highlights of Randyland is his map of the Northside that he created several years ago.  It’s pretty popular, but the paint he used is really tired, pealing and in need of replacement.  The vinyl he used to identify the Northside streets have pretty much pealed off.  So Randy started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10k to make the necessary improvements.  He’s already met the minimum, but would like more to afford other upgrades.  His only source of income for the project (other than his regular income working as a waiter) is a tip jar in the Courtyard that most people ignore (or don’t notice).  If you would like to help Randy out, go to the Kickstarter link.

I understand what a mess the bloated Pennsylvania State Legislature is.  So I don’t blame republican Governor Corbett for failing to get the equally bloated and corrupt Liquor Control System privatized.  I give him credit for trying to enact pension reform, $50B in unfunded obligations obviously is not sustainable. And this is with a republican controlled House and Senate!  I blame him for not making any headway in actually creating a viable state budget and blaming his inaction on not getting pension reform. He’s the one that slashed state funding on education and blamed it on the federal government.  He’s trying to claim a balanced budget by relying on new revenue sources through letting the gas and oil drillers tap our state forest and game lands.  Not to mention his slight of hands use of one time income by tapping reserves and overly optimistic revenue collection rates that won’t bear out his claim.  No wonder he’s the most “vulnerable” incumbent governor in the country.  There’s even talk that the NRC won’t commit to funds to his campaign, that’s pretty bad.

On that negative note on the State of our State, I’m going to sign off for today.  I hope you are having a great and safe summer.  Enjoy,



Tomorrow is France’s Bastille Day and the anniversary of the Birmingham Riot (1791).  Birth anniversaries include Italian painter Andrea Del Sarto (1486), folk singer/activist Woody Guthrie (1912), President Jerry Ford (1913), actress Ingmar Bergman (1918) and cartoonist William Hanna (1910).

There’s a book being released featuring Pittsburgh ten years after terrorists obliterated it with a bomb (or bombs).  This is the debut novel by a new Pittsburgh native Thomas Sweterlitsch called Tomorrow and Tomorrow.  It’s a blend of science fiction, detective, romance and high tech.  Ten years after the destruction of Pittsburgh, the main character, John Blaxton, through The Archive for bits and pieces of the wife he lost in the the destruction.  The Archive is like a futuristic Google where all information is kept and accessible not through an external devise but through links in your brain.  John (or anyone) can’t actually come back to the ‘burg because of contamination, so he has to do his research through The Archive.  Thomas, a CMU graduate and now Pittsburgh resident uses many Pittsburgh landmarks in his book.  An interesting thing is this is his first novel and there was a filming rights battle already fought for it and it looks like Sony Pictures will be making a movie of it.  There’s going to be a reading and book signing at the South Hill’s Village Barnes and Noble on July 25 at 7 pm and Thomas will be featured at Writer’s Live August 7 at the CMU campus at 6 pm sponsored by Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures.

The Bricolage is seeking 50 muses to inspire several new shows.  They plan on having a creative Town Hall meeting on July 21 at 6 pm at their location 937 Libery Avenue at 6 pm.  The “muses” will work with actors, writers, directors and a dramaturge to come up with elements such as theme, character and setting.  Participation is open to all, but registration is required.  You can do this at their website.

Will you be Walking with Dinosaurs the end of July/August a the Consol Energy Center?  Well, you may be interested in the next block buster there, Marvel Universe LIVE will be coming in October.  Marvel has put together a show where such super heroes like Spiderman, Thor, Iron Man and two dozen action figures will be in a choreographed show where the superheroes beat up the bad guys, run around in souped up cars and motor cycles and other flashing exhibits.     Marvel is a division of Disney, so it’s probably going to be quite the extravaganza.  By the way, guess who’s their vice president of global creative services, Tom Marvelli.  No kidding.  :)

The Downtown Art Institute of Pittsburgh hosting their annual art show by alumni and students in their lobby through July 20 from 9 am until 7 pm Mondays – Thursdays 9 am – 5 pm Fridays and 9 am – 4 pm Saturdays.  These commercial arts exhibit their mature artwork in the fields they work.  Like Arthur Germer’s sign for the new BRGR located in PNC Park.  He has their trademarked letters in a diamond with the bases in three of the corners, the beef image in BRGR’s normal logo and crossed bats to signify baseball and hint toward the crossed sword Jolly Roger pirates flags.  George Schill (who works for American Greeting Cards) shows a Halloween party invitation he created with some zombies in a cemetery with the words “Of Corpse You’re Invited to Our Halloween Party.”  And there’s a collaborative effort by a group of Alumni Andromeda Quarterly , they used to have a monthly publication, but has since opted for a quarterly publication.  It’s always fun seeing what they come up with and it’s free, always a good thing.  More info on their website or by calling 412-291-6200.

Rose Smiechowski & Carolyn Barber have founded Hidden Harvest.   Based on a similiar program in Carolyn’s native Toronto, they find food bearing trees in the city and see if the owner would be interested in donating harvested food to the food bank.  In 2008, the Toronto group harvested 70,000 of food donating 22,000 to the food bank.  Pretty impressive.  They use a three way reward system, the tree owner gets 1/3 of the harvested food, the harvester gets 1/3 and the food bank gets 1/3 (of course the tree owner or harvester can donate their portion to the food bank, if they want).  If you have an under utilized food tree (I’m using the word food tree to indicate there’s nut trees, mulberry trees in addition to the traditional apple and pear trees we first think of), or interested in signing up to be a harvester, just contact Rose & Carolyn at their website.

Fourteen year old Zack Abel is a cancer survivor.  Diagnosed with cancer at age of 6, a bright spot in his battle came when Make A Wish gave him a seven foot Tyrannosaurus Rex, which he treasured and it helped him through some pretty dark days.  At twelve years old, Zach decided to return the kindness and had his first fund raiser for Make A Wish.  So far, this young man has raised $65K and hopes to have his best this year with raising $30K at this year’s event.  This year’s Zack’s Make a Move for Make A Wish five mile walk/run/bike starts at North Park’s boathouse on July 27 around 8 am.  $25 for adults, $15 for kids.  What a great kid.  You can get more info by contacting his mom natalie.abel@hotmail.com or by calling 412-370-5070.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Twilight Wish Foundation.  It’s a non-profit for granting seniors with limited income the chance to do something they really want.  It’s a national organization with a chapter here in Western PA.  85 year old Clara Parrish wanted to go on a “girls trip” to Las Vegas with some friends years ago.  Her husband didn’t allow her, afraid of what men in Sin City might do.  Mr. Parrish has passed on and Twilight Wish has arranged for Clara and some friends to take a trip on the Gateway Clipper (she had never been on it before).  Twilight Wish has provided a washing machine, a lift chair, even a Neil Diamond impersonator to a gentleman’s nursing home.  How sweet.  :)

Scott Brusaw from Sandpoint, Idaho is working on an interesting concept, solar roadways.  He’s engineered the hexagon squares that are solar panels that link together.  He built a prototype parking lot at his headquarters Solar Roadways.  He envisions roads being built from these panels to create a tapable solar system.  He says they are durable enough to withstand vehicle traffic (including trucks), inclement weather, water, etc.  Now he hasn’t disclosed what the cost of these panels will be and there are many skeptics out there.  I find the whole concept intriguing.  If you know me or follow my blog, you know how green I am.  We need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, it’s just not sustainable.  I support (with reservations) solar, wind and hydro powers.  But recognize the negative sides of these like fried birds at solar farms and decapitated birds at wind farms.  But they are movements in the right direction.  And the idea of building roads that could supply our power is definitely thinking outside the box.  He might not have it right, but what a quantum leap outside our normal thought process.  If he starts the idea, someone else can improve on it and maybe we can change the world for our children.

It’s time to support your locals.  Dairy Queen has a contest going on for their S’mores and John Rohlf, Santino Tomasetti and Paul Koudouris are finalists.  Their video is cute, music upbeat and it has Pittsburgh as a back drop.  So click the link and vote for the hometown boys  (you can vote for them even if you’re not a ‘burg native.  :)

The roof project continues.  When I bought The Parador, I added central AC to the Mansion and the Ballroom.  There’s a five foot flat roof between the Carriage House in the Courtyard and the Loft.  Under it, the Knights of Columbus installed the men’s room and access to the Loft, which was their kitchen.  The HAVC contractor wanted to put the condensers on that roof.  My concern at the time was would the roof hold the two units?  They assured me it would.  And it did, more or less.  What I didn’t think of at the time was roofs fail.  I’ve had a leak into the lady’s room for awhile trying to figure out how to fix it.  To repair the roof, the condensers have to be moved.  Either once and put back or a permanent solution needs to be figured out.  I’ve spoke to several roofers and ideas included building a roof over the units, but that’s not fixing the problem.  Another option was to move the units over the one story connector between the Carriage Houses.  Mike, with Energy Savers Windows, the contractor that replaced the 30 windows last year and put the new bathroom in Ruellia and new tub/shower in Lady Palm suggested bringing in an iron worker to permanently build iron bracing attached to either building with cross pieces to support all three units (the two for the Ballroom and one for the Loft).  Once their up on the iron work, he’ll rip the old roof off and  replace it.  They finished the iron work and moving the condensers Friday and coming back tomorrow (weather permitting) to replace the roof.  You pay now, or pay later.  So here’s my relocated condensers:


Well, that’s it for today.  I hope you all are having a great summer,




Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the  ratification of the 14 amendment to the constitution (1868), the first open heart surgery (1893), the largest Tsunami recorded (1958-300′ wave hit Lituya Bay, AK) and two independence days, one in Argentina (1816) and South Sudan (2011).  Birth anniversaries include actor Vince Edwards (1928), composer Ottorino Respighi (1879) and inventor Elisa Howe.

There are about 39 churches involved in the Family Promise of Southwestern Pennsylvania that aid local homeless families.  Participating churches invite selected homeless families to stay overnight at the church for a week at a time.  A great thing about this program is it keeps families together, a mother with teenage sons would not be able to stay together at a normal homeless shelter.  Church members volunteer preparing evening meals, caring for the children, driving families back to a day center in Crafton, assisting with job searches and finding permanent lodging.  Family Promise was founded 19 years ago in Washington County.

Plum is the latest community to join the Troop Banners program.  I’ve talked about this in the past, a gentleman in Castle Shannon came up with the idea and they initially installed the banners with pictures and information on veterans from that community in a small park.  It became so popular that they ended up lining several major streets with these tributes.  11 year old Richie Hrivnak saw the banners while traveling through Whitehall and petitioned Plum’s City Council about the idea and they agreed.  It costs about $80 per banner which includes the full sized banner, a smaller one for the family, a bracket to hold the banner and the hardware for mounting.

There’s a new recreational boating option in Pittsburgh,Sharpsburg Island Marina is renting pontoon boats for $80 – $360 depending on the day and time.   The boats accommodate 10 people and unlike most other watercraft, people face each other and it creates a much more social environment.  Traveling at a much more sedate pace than a speed boat, they are much more conducive to social interaction, view the great views of the city from a more leisurely pace.

Speaking of boating, they closed the locks to recreational boaters in 2012, but it looks like they may be opening them to recreational boaters again on weekends and holidays.  Recently passed legislation allows the Corps to accept donations from private groups and The Allegheny River Development Corporation has funds to give the Army Corps of Engineers to achieve this.  Have you ever gone through the locks?  Kind of scary when the lock is empty and you’re looking up those huge walls towering about you and your small watercraft (the locks were built to accommodate barges and tug boats)!

Sandcastle is celebrating it’s 25th year anniversary this year.  The park has grown to 15 water slides, three pools (the Mon-Tsunami Wave Pool, Mushroom Pool and the Tad Pool-guess who that’s for), Lazy River rafting and Wet Willie’s Water Works.  Of course there’s also the Boardwalk with traditional honky-tonk gift stores and food and concert venue.  You can travel by car or pull your boat up to the dock for a day (and or night) worth of fun activity.

It’s that time of year again for Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix.  Running July 6 through July 20 in Schenley Park.  What’s really amazing about this event is it is primarily a volunteer driven event with 1,200 people donating their time.  Another amazing thing about this race is It is not only America’s largest vintage race, but the only one run on city streets – the way sports car racing began.  This is the 30th year for the race and proceeds benefit the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School.

Summer is here and even many Pittsburgh natives are not aware of dining options around, specifically roof top dining.  Some of these restaurants have had this option for years like Six Penn Kitchen Downtown.  Also Downtown on Penn Avenue, Il Tetto offers roof top dining as well.  In the Consol Energy Center is Uptown that offers a roof top option as well.  East Liberty has a BRGR that has a roof top otion as well (I like BRGR’s burgers, but still prefer Paul’s great burgers right down the street from me in Benjamin’s, no roof top but sidewalk and patio options).  Southside has two options in Carson City Saloon and Skybar both on Carson Street.  Finally, over in Mt Lebanon Bado’s Pizza Grill and Ale House has a roof top option.

There’s several interesting non profits out there, Thru My Eyes  and Memories Live does a video taped message of people with potentially life threatening ailments for their families.  With all this media these days like Skype, selfies, etc, I’m surprised this concept is just gaining ground.  What a nice concept, particularly with young parents to leave a farewell video with their voice and face delivering the message.

OK America, you’re doing a good job, but don’t let up.  Since the Great Recession, Americans have trimmed their personal debt by $1T and increased savings by 4%.  When the recession hit, Anna Jones from Denver had $24,000 in debt on her credit cards.  Her salary covered her mortgage and utilities and everything else she placed on credit cards.  She decided to fix it and in 15 months she had eliminated all of it by curtailing her spending.  It can be done.  She has since gotten married, had a baby and sold her duplex and put 20% on her new digs.  She has a website of her endeavors to clear up the mess we put ourselves in, And Then We Saved.  Keep up the good work!

That’s about it for today, enjoy your week,



Tomorrow’s the anniversary of Amelia Earhart disappearance (1937), the US Constitution took effect (1788), the first solo balloon flight around the world (2002) and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (dah-1964).  Birth anniversaries include English clergyman, martyr and reformer Thomas Cranmer (1489), justice Thurgood Marshall (1908) and tennis star Rene Lacoste (1904).

The asteroid formerly known as No. 1990 AA has a new name, Henrybuhl.  In preparations for Buhl’s 75th anniversary, staffers at The Carnegie Science Center were discussing asteroids named after people from Pittsburgh and realized none had ever been named for the founder of Pittsburgh’s Buhl Planetarium.  Taking steps through the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, they applied to the International Astronomical Union based in Paris that names asteroids.  Buhl passed away in the late 1920’s and his foundation established The Buhl, the fifth planetarium in the country.  Located for many years on the Northside next to what became the Allegheny Center Mall, it was eventually absorbed into the Carnegie Science Center.  In case you are thinking of having a planetoid named after you, here are the rules:  It can be named for people, places, events and even fictional characters, but not politicians or military figures that haven’t been dead for 100 years yet.  No profane names, nor can an asteroid be named after the person submitting the request, so you’ll have to get a friend to nominate you.  :)

Have you been following Shane the Deli guy?  This fictional (?) guy supposedly works at Walmart and it’s a series of posts from “management” to him.

On June 30, 1864 President Abraham Lincoln took time out from the Civil War to sign into law what many call the birth of the National Park System.  He dedicate Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove (commonly known as Sequoia Park) “for public use, resort and recreation .. inalienable for all time.”  The Park Service on the 150th anniversary of that signing on Monday broke ground on a $36M restoration moving the hokey gift shop out of sight and limiting parking and buses so you can enjoy our national treasure with out diesel fumes and garish trinkets in your face.  The famed Wawona sequoia (made famous by well meaning park employees who cut a car path through the middle of the tree) toppled during the severe winter of 1968-69.

The Carnegie Science Center is offering special tours of the USS Requin on select Sunday mornings (July 13 & 27, August 10 & 31 and September 14) from 9 – 11:30 am. These guided tours (by submarine veterans and Carnegie staff) will go places the general public doesn’t get to see like unrestored compartments, the periscope and conning tour.  Visitors will learn what life was like living on a submarine.  Because of the nature of the sub, they are not able to accommodate handicapped or children under15.  Tours are limited to 12 persons, the cost is $20 per person and advanced reservations are required.  More info and reservations at their website or  by calling 412-237-1637.

Through October 5, The Frick out in Point Breeze will be featuring works by French impressionist Edgar Degas.  Of the 100 works on display, 55 are by Degas.  These are on loan from Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts of San Fransisco.  Interestingly, two of Degas’ works feature Northsider Mary Cassatt.  Degas said he drew every Old Master in the Louvre by 1860 which he amassed 700 drawings.

On the corner of Baum Blvd & South Highland is the location of The Last Billboard.  Artist Jon Rubin selects messages submitted to him from artists around the country.  One of the signs he posted was “I wonder some days if Facebook isn’t a broad all encompassing cry for help.”  Since Jon was featured on Buzzfeed, he’s been inundated with suggestions for his next post. Los Angeles artist Marc Horowitz submitted a question mark  and his phone number.  He received a hundred responses a day since.  Marc worked for Crate and Barrel and once wrote on a dry erase board “Dinner with Marc” and his phone number.  Crate and Barrel ended up using the image in one of their catalogs and his phone rang off the hook.  Why would you do that?  :)  Anyway, next time you’re in East Liberty, look up and see what Jon’s latest is.

Did you know there are 422 official bridges in Pittsburgh?  How I picked up that piece of trivia was when the River’s Casino opened, one of it’s restaurants was named 422 and when I asked I learned something new.   Well, here’s another piece of trivia.  The new restaurant going in the old Garden Theater’s name is going to be ARDE and I was curious where they came up with that name.  Domenic Branduzzi, owner of ARDE and Piccolo Forno in Lawrenceville came up with the idea from the old Garden Theater sign which is being restored.  He intends to have the G and N dark with just ARDE lit up.  Cute.  He hopes to take possession in a few weeks from the developer to start construction of his latest venture.  The menu is going to emphasize wood fired oven pizzas and pastas.  They’ve taken the back wall out of the old Garden and he’s planning on courtyard dining in addition to the indoor seating.  Full service beverage service and an open floor plan.  Unfortunately (fortunately in many people’s mind’s I’m sure), they weren’t able to save much of the old Garden, but Domenic plans on using memorabilia from it’s past life saved.  He’s hoping to  have his new venture open before the winter.

Next door, City of Asylum’s has plans in place for their new venture, Alphabet City Literary Center.  In case you aren’t aware, City of Asylum is based here on the Northside and they provide housing for dissident literary types.  Mainly poets from Asia, but they are open to all in need.  They own several small house above the Garden where they house these people.  One of the residents (I don’t know if he’s still there) wrote a poem in Chinese on the front of the house.  Pretty interesting people.  They plan on having a bookstore, cafe, conference room, performance space and space for educational programing on the first floor and basement.  They plan on making the book shelves movable so they can configure the space for groups of 20 to 200.

Citiparks has announced their Cinema in the Park schedule for Riverview Park.  July 5 will be Las Vegas, July 12 Thor: The Dark World, July 19 Saving Mr. Banks, July 26 The Hunger Games Catching Fire, August 2 42, August 9 The Great Gatsby, August 16 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, August 23 All is Lost and finally August 30 Oblivion.  All are family friendly and free.  Just bring a blanket and snacks and camp out for the showing.  Riverview Park is a great Northside park up on the hill overlooking the city.  You can even plan an outing and take in the Allegheny Observatory as well.

Have a great and safe Fourth of July holiday,



Tomorrow is Colombia’s Independence Day (1810), the Geneva Accords to end the hostilities in Vietnam (1954), the western great Locust Plague of 1874, the Special Olympics (1968) and the official Riot Act was introduced in England (1715).  The only birth anniversary is explorer/mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary (1919).

OK all you Parrot Heads, next Thursday(June 19) there will be a live concert at area drive ins.  Grab a picnic blanket, basket and beverage of choice and party with your fellow Parrot Heads.  :)

Had these great guests from Ontario a couple of weeks ago.  When they were leaving, Rob said his aunt was a missionary in Africa in the1960’s and they’ve had this original oil painting they liked a lot, but really never fit in with their decor.  He wanted to know if I would be interested in it.  I asked him to send me a picture and he did.  In the picture he sent it looked nice and I said OK.  When it arrived, I absolutely love it.  When I get a new piece of art, it sometimes takes me weeks to decide where to place it.  Ty came up with the idea of over Lady Palm’s desk, what do you think?


When I opened The Parador of the Palm Beaches, I was WAY under capitalized and desperate for money.  Before I started waiting tables, I worked as a temp for various catering companies.  One of the companies I worked for regularly serviced events at John Goodman’s estate in Wellington (not the comedian, the owner of Amana products).  He was huge into polo and  his entire crew was from Argentina.  Great group of people, but wow were they carnivores.  There was platters of meat, chafing dishes of meat, sliced meat, cubed meat, meat in every form you can imagine.  The funny thing was all the Argentinians had their own knife stuck in their back behind their belt.  We never supplied steak knives and their knives where all so unique.  There’s a new restaurant in the Strip, Gaucho Parrilla  Argentina on Penn Avenue right before the 16th Street Bridge.  I haven’t eaten there yet, but I did have a guest that did and really enjoyed it.  It’s mainly a lunch and early dinner place, they close at 7 pm.  More info at their website or by calling 412-709-6622.

There’s two new active attractions around Pittsburgh.  Fun Sides Skate Park is a carpeted skate park where you were special frictionless shoe covers to slide around on the carpeted challenges.  It’s in Ross at 1130 Perry Highway (up McKnight above the shopping malls).   Owner/developer Don Edwards is a former carpet installer that came up with the in the idea in 1992 from using those glides used to move heavy furniture around a room.  He thought “Why not attach those glides to the bottom of your shoes and glide around yourself.”  His first skate park was in Irwin, he closed it to open one in Greensburg. In addition to the shoe covers, they also have friction resistant slides you can ride down six foot slopes.  More info on their website or by calling 412-364-0400.

Then there’s a national chain, Flight Trampoline Park out by Bridgeville that true to their name is a trampoline facility.  You have to be twelve or older to participate (they do have under twelve sessions in the mornings).  They also have trampoline parks in New York, Connecticut and Virginia.  In addition to the general trampoline fun, they host birthday parties, slumber parties, Club Flight (which has a laser light show) and do corporate team-building events.

Instead of bringing farm fresh food to you, Jacob Mains is bringing you to the farm.  Last year he had eight dinners scheduled, because of the popularity, this year he’s bringing ten dinners at five different farms over the summer into the fall.Obviously, each farm doesn’t have all the ingredients needed for a particular meal, so what he does is feature whatever that farm raises and augments that with products from other local farms.  The dinners are limited to 75 persons and are $100 per person (BYOB).  The farms are spread over Butler, Westmoreland, Beaver and Washington Counties.  Dates, locations and details are on his website.

There’s a new movie in town, Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville.  Brian Mendelssohn took an old row house and former store and turned it into an 83 seat theater.  The grand opening is a screening of Pulp Fiction next Saturday.  As with much of Brian’s ideas, the normally hard to seat front seat he eliminated and instead placed comfy couches for guests to lounge on.  Prices are $9 with a $6 price for Lawrenceville residents students and anyone where a costume related to the film’s theme.  Again, pretty innovating thinking.  Brian plans on offering three to six vintage films a day, all revolving around a theme.  One of the things he’s planning on doing is having marathons of the likes of Terry Gilliam and Mel Brooks movies.  Adjoining the theater is Atlas Bottle Works, a venture he is also involved with.  Not sure if you will be able to bring craft beers from one side to the other, but that could be fun.

At Carnegie Melon University, professor Dale Clifford is working on some interesting new concepts for building construction. They’re calling it bio-stimulant architecture, architecture that mimics biology in the real world.  Some of the things they are working on are solar petals that open during the heat of the day to absorb the heat and close at night to release the heat (it’s a concept for the building’s skin, so get that idea of a bunch of rose petals out of your mind).  :)  He’s also working on glass blocks that are of a similiar design that are translucent during the day making the window like a window and it frosts over at night when it cools, again trapping heat during the day and releasing it at night.  With the glass blocks they are researching a thing called phase-change.  For example water phase changes at 32 degrees and turns to ice as well all know.  But palm oil phase-changes from solid to liquid at 70 degrees and this is the “motor” he’s working on to power this process.  This is the first of his endeavors that seems to be gaining real traction.  It is being used in the new Frick nature center in the planning stages.  When you think of all the “off and on” switches in nature that naturally occur with changes in light and temperature, it’s really an intriguing idea for modern architecture.

The Three Rivers Regatta is coming up July 2 through July 4, mark you calendars.  The sand sculpture Sandsational will be creating recreating the Battle of Fort McHenry and Francis Scott Key’s composition The Star Spangled Banner.  They are pretty amazing artists.  In addition to the yearly power boat races, dragon boats and anything that floats races, they are also having sail boat competitions and Pogopalooza.  They will have pogo athletes competing in xtreme contests with their super-charged pogo sticks.  There’s going to be an open area where you can try your hand (or feet in this case) :) at the sport.  The big concerts this year include Steve Augeri, formerly from Journey performing at 8 pm July 3 at Point State Park and Beatlemania at the River’s Amphitheater 7 pm July 3.  More details at their website.

This Sunday, June 22 The Mattress Factory will be hosting their free family friendly Community Garden Party from 1 to 5 pm.  The theme will be Wild West and you will be able to square dance to Haygood Paisleys, pose for Wild West postcards with Fishstep Studios, play Skee-Ball with the Nomadic Arcade and more.  More info at their website or by calling 412-231-3169.

Ever consider wood carving as a hobby?  There’s a number of wood carving clubs around Pittsburgh.  Chisels and Chips Carvers of North Pittsburgh meet the second Monday of each month at Parkwood United Presbyterian Church at 4789 Mount Royal Blvd, Allison Park from 6:30 to 10 pm.  If you go, you can meet some talented wood carvers, pick up some tips and they even introductory workshops.  Dale Kirkpatrick is a member and is quite the carver.  One of the  biggest annual shows is in Dayton, OH called Artistry in Wood that draws thousands of enthusiasts each year.  This year’s show will be held November 8 & 9, a great place to pick up that unique Christmas gift.

That’s it for now, enjoy your weekend,



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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week,