Hi,

Tomorrow is the birth anniversary of novelist Emile Zola (1840), author Hans Christian Anersen (1805), librarian and philanderer Giovanni Giacomo Girolamo Casanova (1725), vaudeville & film star Buddy Epsen and actor Sir Alec Guinness.  It De Leon (1513).

Something very interesting came out of the Steubenville rape trial.  The police confiscated 13 mobile devises of teenagers associated with their investigation.  They found 396,270 text messages, 308, 586 photos and 940 videos.  These weren’t all related to the rape investigation, in fact by far most were not.  I’m just pointing out how kids today are using their mobile devises.  Parry Aftab, a New Jersey social media expert who teaches the repercussions of online actions says the average kid texts 4,000 messages a month!  Unless I’m whining about Port Authority, I don’t have that much to say in a month.  :)  Point Park’s associate professor Heather Starr-Fiedler says parents should have “the discussion” on what is appropriate and what is not in social media.  Much like the talks on sex, drugs and alcohol.  And this definitely should included one of my pet peeves, texting while driving.  I have recently read somewhere that adults are actually worse at this than teens.

This Saturday and Sunday, the 11th Banff Mountain Film Festival at Byham Theater will be offering a new service, bicycle valet!  :)  This is being coordinated by BikePGH with free valet parking for bikes inside the theater.  Pretty creative way to encourage less cars on the road.  More info at the festival’s web site or by calling 412-456-6666.

Fair Isaac Corp., the company that provides the software for lenders and credit reporting companies uses payment history as the most important fact in your score-35%.  The amount you owe comes in second at 30%, the length of your credit history comes in at 15% and 10% goes towards what kind of credit you have and another 10% goes to recently added credit.  TransUnion, Experian and Equifax all fine tune this software to what they are looking for.  This fine tuning explains the differences you’ll see when you pull all three.  Obviously, to get a great credit score, pay your bills on time.  But after that, pull your three reports (for free) each year and look into what they say.  I believe anything negative has to be off after seven years.  If the company that listed that negative activity doesn’t pull it, that information stays there and “doesn’t officially effect your score”.  But that’s up in the air, actually.  So pull your reports once year and don’t wait until you want a new mortgage.  Correcting the information on your credit score takes time.  You can get your free report by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.  If you find a mistake, the FTC has found that four out of five people that report a mistake have it corrected (not all perceived mistakes are actually mistakes).  Once you report the mistake, the creditor that put it on your report has up to 45 days to respond.  If he/she doesn’t respond, it automatically comes off.  As I said above, credit reporting companies look at how much you owe.  A huge thing is how much of the line of credit you have on a particular card is used up.  If you have a $10K limit on a card and owe $9K, bad thing.  It doesn’t matter that you have another card with a $10K limit and it’s paid off.  If you want a quick fix to boost your rating, move maybe $4K from the card that’s mostly maxed out to the paid off one.  As a general rule, they like debt to be 30% or less of the maximum amount of credit available to you.  Another option is to call the credit card company and ask them to raise your limit.  If they agree to do this, it immediately gives you a better ratio of credit available to you versus actual debt.  When you look at your credit reports, make sure the credit limits on the cards are listed on the report.  Some credit agencies don’t automatically list you credit limit which obviously effects your score.  Collections reports are some of the most harmful to your credit score.  But, if it’s an old item, it may be better to let it just sit there.  As it ages, it becomes less important and making a partial payment brings it right back up to the forefront.  A final thing to keep in mind is the reporting agencies don’t know anything else about you.  They don’t know how much your earn or what your mortgage or rent payments are (unless they are late).  :)  They also don’t know if you go to church, volunteer at a local shelter, etc.  It’s a pretty objective system.

Our newest National Park is Pinnacles in California.  If you follow me, you know how green I am and how I think we should preserve this wonderful world we have.  But at this point in time, do we really want a new National Park when we are curtailing the operations of the ones we currently have?

If you are looking to increase your fish consumption for a healthier diet, but are concerned about the sustainability of the seafood, there’s several sites out there to help you.  One of them is the Seafood Savvy Guide.  There’s a label fish mongers can apply for that you can look for, the Marine Stewardship Label certifies that the seafood you are purchasing comes from sustainable sources.

Antiquing is a favorite of many people.  Here’s some options you may want to explore.  The Wexford General Store has been housed in an old Pony Express stop for more than fifty years.  With twenty-two dealers, you are sure to find something interesting.  More info at their web site or by calling 724-935-9959.  One that I frequent down the road a bit from me is the Antique Mall on Ohio River Boulevard.  Three floors of thirty-one vendors has something for everyone.  From retro lava lamps from the 60’s, stained glass, wicker, shaker, one of a kind architecturals you can find it here.  And you can’t miss the bright purple building.  Parking can be a challenge.   More info on Yelp or by calling 412-561-6331.  Leesburg Station Antiques is a collection of several “stations” with varied antiques in them.  Leesburgh Station is in this really cute town of Volant.  More info on their web site or by calling 724-748-3040.  T.J. Haaland & Company found a unique place for an antique mall, the Shenango Valley Mall.  The 15,000 square foot space houses the wares of twenty-six vendors.  It is a bit of a trip, it’s located just above I80, a little better than an hour’s drive.  More info at their web site or by calling 724-981-0870.  The Schoolhouse Shops at Leesburg is also in Volant.  Situated in the former Springfield Township School from 1920 to 1980, this store has an eclectic grouping of furniture with visions of the past poking through like an old chalk board behind a dresser or a metal locker still embedded in the wall.  More info at their web site or by calling 724-748-4005.  Down in the Strip is Mahla Antiques on the corner of Smallman and 17th Streets.  (Right by Costume World).  Some very fine pieces and prices to match, not over priced, but you won’t find a bargain here, just quality wares.  More info on the link or by calling 412-471-2090.  For the finest antiques in Pittsburgh, there’s no place like Artifacts over on the West End.  Seriously, some of their antiques make mine look pretty shabby.  The place is HUGE with quality from around the world.  The owner is not from Pittsburgh, he chose the location because Pittsburgh is basically half way between New York and Chicago, his two biggest markets.  More info on the link or by calling 412-921-655.  Down in Coraopolis is Off the Avenue Antiques.  Staffed by owner Jim Barricella and his two assistants Fred & Vickie (two pugs), this friendly shop is home to 18 different vendors.  More info on the link or by calling 412-299-0877.  You will find the Heidelberg Antique Mall just south of the city with a wide selection of antiques.  More info on their web site or by calling 412-429-9222.

Take care,

ed

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