Hi,

Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the discovery of the South Pole by Ronald Amundsen (1911-Robert Scott was there the following year), Alabama was admitted as a state (1819), the national bird count has begun 7 days before the Solstice and 7 days after since 1900 and it is the death anniversary of George Washington (1799).  Birth anniversaries include running back Ernie Davis (1939), aviator James Doolittle (1896) and Nostradamus ( 1503).

In the past, I’ve talked about the food trucks that are cruising our streets.  There’s a newer one, the Lomito Truck, they serve Paraguayan food.  Folks in Paraguay, like their neighbors the Argentinians, are huge carnivores.  (I used to work parties thrown by John Goodman, from the Amana appliance fame, he was huge into polo and his entire staff was Argentinians.  You have never seen parties with so much meat).  One of the co-owner’s wife is originally from Paraguay and traveling there, they decided to start a food truck based on street food down there.  Rocio’s husband, Damon is a graduate of NE Culinary Institute and a recognized chef.  A lomito completo is sirloin steak with ham, melted cheese, lettuce, tomato, chimichurri sauce and a runny egg on a roll.  Not surprisingly, one of their regular haunts is late at night outside Harris’ Grill in a Shadyside neighborhood with a number of popular bars.  They also offer a vegetarian Feijoada which is black beans & rice topped with tomato, Chori Panne an Argentinian sausage with tomato and a vinaigrette on an Italian roll and corn served Havana style (cheese, sour cream and chilli pepper).  A better option than going to Denny’s after closing a bar.  :)  More info at their website or by calling 412-555-5555.

The housing market has been showing signs of growth for the past while back.  Did you know a big factor in this is?  Investors, large and small.  Investors make up about 1/3 of pre-owned home sales.  And these investors are very strong here in the Pittsburgh market.  Being priced out of the big markets like San Fransisco, New York and Atlantic, they like our more modest prices.  Some of these investors are local companies buying and flipping houses, some are actual out of state investment companies!

Not surprising, banks are reporting record profits this year of $141.3B and the average chief executive pay is $552M.  My question is why is 1/3 of bank tellers are on some sort of public assistance?  That’s roughly 165,000 bank employees not being paid enough to support their families!  You and I are subsidizing their income so the banks executives can live lavish lives.  Way too out of control.  This was in an article I saw in the Trib quoting a Washington Post article.  At the time of these record bank profits, PNC Bank is working to do away with human bank tellers.  They eliminated 600 teller jobs this year and plan on starting an aggressive program to redesign their branches and replace tellers with branch concierge desks where they can advise you on investment, mortgage or retirement needs; oh and they can direct you how to use their upgraded ATM machines.  I guess this is one way to get out of the hot seat for underpaying their tellers.

The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside is housed in two adjoining mansions, the Charles D Marshall mansion and the A.M. Scaife mansion.  The Center for the Arts is an umbrella organization representing the Craftsmen’s Guild of Pittsburgh, Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh, Group A, Pittsburgh Print Group, Pittsburgh Society of Artist, Society of Sculptors and Women of Vision Inc.  (The Center was founded in 1945)  They have 70 works by members on display through January 19.  Artists on display include sculpture by Cydra Vaux, glass by Jeffrey Moyer, ceramic by Christy Culp, fiber art by Jane Orgren and print artist Sharon Wilcox.  They ask for a $5 donation and are open from 10 am – 5 pm Tuesdays through Saturdays (till 7 Thursdays) and noon – 5 pm Sundays.  More info on their website or by calling 412-361-0873.  Also, their holiday gift shop is open with handmade gifts from 200 local artists.

The Pittsburgh Foundation is offering to match $100,000 or more in donations to the Greater Pittsburgh Area Food Banks on donations made through December 31.  You can donate to the main food bank, or if you prefer one of the 15 local neighborhood food pantries by going to Pittsburgh Gives and the foundation will match your donation.  No one should go hungry in this country, particularly this time of year.

Nestle is cutting ties with a local Wisconsin farm after videos of their staff abusing the cows by being stabbed, beaten and dragged by tractors.  The video was provided by Mercy for Animals of the treatment at Wiese Brother’s Farm who said they were “shocked and saddened” when confronted with this video.  Thank you Nestle for doing the right thing and don’t watch the Mercy for Animals video unless you are ready to be terribly depressed.

Pittsburgh City Council again delayed taking action on designating the Terminal Building as historic until next week.  And the vote looks kind of iffy at this point.  I have written of my support numerous times here in my blog as well as contacting City Council.  My latest contact with City Council, I contacted each Council Person and after expressing my strong belief in the historic designation, I told them I would post how they vote in my blog.  Not that I expect my threat will have as much impact as the traditional city hall value of greased wheels.  You can contact any or all of the City Council members by going to their website and don’t need to be a city resident to express your concerns.  Just go to the website, click on the council member and below their picture is an Icon Feedback.  Click on that and it will take you to the form.

Pittsburgh’s own Sharif Bey has returned to his roots and has 33 ceramic works of his on display at the Manchester Craftsman’s Guild where he got his start in the 1980’s as a teenager.  Sharif, an assistant professor of art education at Syracuse University, has returned to the Guild for his show and to give a workshop.  His work includes:)  some of which are functional as in his pots and some of his jewelry could be functional but are of such a large scale they might be difficult to wear.  They are on display through January 3.  More info at the Guild’s website or by calling 412-322-1773.

Well, that’s about it for today, keep warm,

ed

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