Tomorrow’s the anniversary of Niagara Falls running dry because of an ice jam (1848), the first comic strip Mutt & Jeff to run in a syndicated newspaper (1908), the Knights of Columbus was first chartered (1882) and it’s National Mom & Pop Business Owner’s Day. Birth anniversaries include Karen Ann Quinlan (1954), President John Yyler (1790), politician Eugene McCarthy (1916) and the Evil Empire founder of Walmart Sam Walton (1918).
My favorite piece in the Inn, the Sheppard boy by French Victorian artist Auguste Moreau, was knocked off his pedestal and broken.
The screw holding the light fixture sheared off. I got my nephew to tap the remainder of the screw out and took the remnants of the screw and the Sheppard boy up to Rollier’s Hardware in Mt. Lebanon to get a new screw. The gentleman assisting me found the proper sized screw, but it still wouldn’t go in the hole. He then got a self tapping screw to clear out the threads on the inside. It works perfectly now. All this for a twenty-three cent sale. Rolliers really go above and beyond in their customer service. Wouldn’t find this a Lowe’s or Home Depot.
The non-profit Good Jobs First just released their report on government subsidies since 2000, it’s pretty shocking. Banking and energy companies were the biggest winners in receiving grants and tax credit. Bank of America recieved $3.5T (yes, TRILLION) in loan guarantees and bailout assistance! According to government records, the feds have doled out $68B in grants and tax credits since 2000, six companies received $1B or more and twenty-one recieved $500M or more! And children go to bed hungry in this country.
A friend is in the process of purchasing his first home and it reminded me I hadn’t talked about this in awhile. If you are thinking of making what frequently is largest single purchase of a person’s life, start your homework now! Your first step is to pull all three credit reports from TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Check these reports for anything that’s incorrect. If it’s a negative like a late payment (over 90 days), is it actually you? Some times they place someone else’s problem on the wrong account. If it’s a negative entry with someone you actually deal with and don’t remember it, ask for clarification. They need to be able to justify giving you a negative comment. Back when I had a pretty questionable score, I had two late payments by banks that had been bought up by bigger banks and I knew these reporting banks no longer existed. When I questioned the validity of these the banks had to retract the negative comments because they no longer had the records or the effort to find them wasn’t worth it to these big banks. My two “get out of jail for free cards.” Do you still have those Gap credit cards and haven’t shopped in Gap in a long time? Contact them to cancel the cards. One of the things they look at is how much credit you have available and compare it to your income. If you have a zillion credit cards, you could potentially go out tomorrow and max them all out. So get rid of the cards you don’t anticipate using again. Obviously, pay your bills on time. Back when I was first trying to clean up my credit score, I went over 90 days on a Discover card. My fault, when the bill came in, it was for something like $10 and I thought I’d pay it the following month after putting some more on that card. Well, it got lost in the shuffle and I went over the 90 days (huge with your score). I contacted Discover to see if they would remove it since it was five years old and I had paid my Discover bills on time since. The customer service agent I spoke with said there was nothing she could do since I was guilty. I stewed over this for a month and then called Discover to cancel my card over this. This agent I spoke with pleaded with me not to cancel the card, she could remove it. She did, I canceled my Discover card a month later and have never dealt with them since. When you get your credit score as clean as you can, then talk to banks about getting a loan for your new house. You should have at least two banks making an offer for your business and compare rates, fees and other terms. The interest rate is just one of the factors you should be looking at. Fixed term, variable rate, down payment required are a start. Be careful of what some banks call “Loan Origination Fee”, this is sometimes a catchall for all kinds of hidden fees. They want to charge for a survey, appraisal, credit reports title insurance, notary service, they even will try and charge you for making copies. Much of this is negotiable. The last time I refinanced, my banker at Slovak Savings Bank viewed my loan amount to the assessed value and because the loan was a certain percentage below the assessed value, she was able to to waive the appraisal saving me $5,000! I strongly recommend having at least one credit union or small savings and loan bank bid on your loan, they are a lot more flexible (and honest) than the big banks and their quotas and set in stone requirements.
The Northside Food Pantry is hosting a spaghetti dinner fund raiser at Northmont Presbyterian Church (8169 Perry Highway, 15237) on Saturday, April 25 from 4 – 7 pm. There are few things that evoke comfort food than church sponsored fish fry Fridays, spaghetti dinners, etc. More info at their website, by calling 412-323-1170 or e-mailing Jay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaking of food, The National Aviary is having an Easter Brunch on April 5, Mother’s Day Brunch on May 10 and a Father’s Day Brunch on June 21. With just two seatings (10:30 and 12:30), space is limited and if you want to celebrate with our avian friends, I’d call soon. Aviary admission is included in the $35 adult, $17.50 children (under 3 it’s free). Food is by Atria’s that has an exclusive arrangement with the Aviary. I’ve eaten at Atria’s a number of times and actually was invited to an open house last night at the Aviary with Atria’s catering the event and I can vouch for their food. The menu is much more than I care to type, just click the link to see what they’ll be serving. More info at the Aviary’s website or by calling 412-258-9445.
In North Fayette, the Pittsburgh Botanical Garden had a soft opening last August and is opening year round next week. This garden is 460 acres of abandoned mining land next to Settler’s Ridge Park. It will be one of the largest botanical gardens in the United States. It’s hours will be 9 am – 5 pm daily (until dusk on Saturdays) and admission is $9, $8 for seniors and $6 for children. They have several gardens already open and more in the works. One of the first new projects will be an orangery. The concept started in Renaissance Italy to show the wealth of individuals. They build basically green houses where they could move orange trees in to protect them from winter weather and then pull them out during warm summer weather.
That’s it for today, I’m enjoying the visiting company of an old college friend Jennifer that runs The Copper Whale Inn in Anchorage, Alaska. Enjoy, this cold has to leave us soon,