Tomorrow is the anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima (1945), Bahamas & Granada Emancipation Days (1934), Bolivia Independence Day (1825), Jamaica Independence Day (1962), the first death penalty carried out by electrocution (1890) and the disappearance of New York Supreme Court Justice Joseph Crater (1917). Birth anniversaries include comedian/actress Lucille Ball (1911), penicillin discoverer Alexander Fleming (1881), actor Robert Mitchum (1917) and artist Andy Warhol (1928).
Northsider Steve Hoover is again collaborating with fellow documentary producer and Pittsburgh native Danny Yourd. They won the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for US documentaries for their film Blood Brother. That was the story of a disenchanted American that became a dedicated volunteer at an Indian orphanage for children with HIV. Their latest endeavor is a film about Gennadiy Mokhnenko, a Ukrainian cleric that has dedicated his life to helping orphaned children, many of which have become addicted to sniffing glue, alcohol, shooting diluted cold medicines in their veins and many other heart wrenching stories. He finds these kids curled up next to steam heating pipes to keep warm, abandoned buildings and other desperate locations and situations. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the orphanages as many other infrastructures also collapsed. What Gennadiy does is load these kids in his unmarked van, takes them to his “orphanage” and the addicts he locks them in a room to detox cold turkey. The film explores when is it OK to to force someone to change. UNICEF reports that there are 100,000 homeless children in the Ukraine, some are orphaned, some run away from abusive homes, some just run-aways. They are trying to raise at least $40,000 for travel and related expenses to complete this project through a Kickstarter campaign. They have composer Atticus Ross lined up to make an original musical score for the film (he did the score for The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). For pledges of $50 or more, you are invited to attend a screening on August 16, where else, but at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont of Blood Brother. The Kickstarter campaign just lasts until August 16, so shake a leg.
Want a tour of the City of Pittsburgh? There’s many options which include the WWII amphibious vehicle tours. The Duck (actually DUKW in military speak) is a six wheel drive truck and boat that deposited our troops on foreign soils during that war. With a top speed of 5 to 6 mph in the water, this is a leisurely way to view the city from the rivers and then also from the roads. Trips last about an hour, take off from Station Square and tickets are $22 for adults, $15 3 – 12 and $5 for those under 3. Reservations are strongly recommended at the Just Ducky website or by calling 412-402-3825. Molly’s Trolleys is also owned by the same guys. These tours are offered Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays mornings and afternoons also depart from Station Square. These tours are two hours long and the same price as Just Ducky. Obviously, twice the length you get a much more in depth view of the city, including a trip up to Mt Washington and a ride on the Duquesne Incline. More info at their web site or by calling 412-391-7433. Haunted Pittsburgh offers ghost tours of Downtown, Oakland and even on the Duquesne Incline. Most tours are weekend evenings when the streets aren’t too busy. The cost is $15 or $18 and more info at their website or by calling 412-302-5223. The Gateway Clipper fleet offers lots of different kinds of tours on the water. The knowledgeable tour guides and captains for the six boats and unparalleled view of the city from the water really gives this option a unique twist. The Clipper fleet offers day and evening tours as well as dinner cruises, dance/party cruises, school field trip cruises and shuttle service to both Heinz Field and PNC Park when the teams are playing. Way too many options here for me to list, go to their website or call 412-355-7980 for more info. They also are located at Station Square. Pittsburgh Tour Company Double Decker Bus four bus fleet is originally from England. They wind all over the city including both the Strip and Cultural Districts, Phipps, Oakland with 21 stops in the city. Something that’s cool about this tour, is you can select an option where you can get off the bus in say the Strip, do some shopping and then get on the next bus. The price of the tour varies (the off and on option versus the continuous tour), hours of operation changes with the season and such. So just go to their website or call 412-381-8687. Also starts at Station Square. Segway in Paradise tours start, guess where, Station Square. Do we see a theme going on here. :) Their main tour is the two hour Downtown tour, but they also offer a two hour sunset tour on Saturdays, a Northside tour and a four hour Adventure Tour with stops at the Wood Street Galleries, National Aviary, Heinz History Center and other stops. Prices vary from $59 to $97 for the four hour tour. You must be at least 14 and they give you instructions first on how to navigate the Segways and the tour guide speaks to you through earpieces so you can hear him/her without worrying about city noises. More info at their website or by calling 412-337-3941. Lenzner Trolley Tours offers a morning Historic Neighborhood Tour highlighting Mt Washington, Northside and Downtown and an afternoon Heritage Neighborhood Tour that covers Downtown, Oakland and the Strip. Either tour is $25 for adults and $40 for a combined tour. Discounts for children. They pick up at several locations, but both tours actually start at Station Square, the morning tour at 9:45 and the afternoon tour at 1:15. More info on their website or by calling 412-761-7000.
Sarah (illustrator) and Frank (author) Cunniff have released their second on-line comic book series Doc Red. The story takes place in the old west around 1862, where Doc Red is quite the character. She’s not only a doctor, she’s also kind of a John Wayne kind of character. Roughedly independent, she travels with her Native American daughter-in-law on a stage coach and they explore the two diverse cultures of these two widows. The story includes Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first American woman to receive a medical degree from an American school. The image for Doc Red is actually Pittsburgh native and psychologist Ellen Redinbaugh of Squirrel Hill who is a long time friend of the Miller family (Sarah’s maiden name is Miller) who own the Blue Dust restaurant in West Homestead, I’ve spoken of this fabulous restaurant that has the best smoked brisket sandwich in da Burg.
The city is moving to the suburbs next weekend (Saturday, August 10) from noon until 5 pm. The Northland Public Library (McCandless) will be hosting seven Pittsburgh food trucks in a fund raising event (20% of sales goes to the library) in their parking lot. The trucks include PGH Taco Truck, Franktuary, BRGR, The Pittsburgh Pierogi Truck, Oh My Grill, Dozen Bake Shop and Fukuda. Many of these food trucks are off shoots from brick and mortar restaurants. These aren’t the old “roach mobiles” of the past you’d see at construction sites. Last year the library partnered with the Pittsburgh Pierogi truck and the lines went around the library, so they expect quite the turn out. Should be fun.
There’s 10 homes in Mt Oliver that are being affected by mine subsidence. I grew up out by Finleyville and remember the gold/yellow water in the creek across from the railroad tracks, the sulfur smell and lack of anything living in it (not like the creek with salamanders and other aquatic life behind the house in Baldwin we lived in until I was in sixth grade). You know, this is my biggest problem with long wall mining and Fracking, the long term effects of these processes. The coal barons in the 19th century made their fortunes and walked away. We are and will be for many years in the future paying for what they caused. If you are in an area that has been mined, you really should carry the state mine subsidence insurance. It’s cheap, like $60 a year and will be well worth the investment. It’s easy to find if you are in an area extensively mined by going to the Pennsylvania mine subsidence website. Click on the link and a graph pulls up for Allegheny County. Click on your town (or area) and it will show where know abandoned mines are. You can also start the process to purchase insurance from the same site. This site is not all inclusive, there are many mines that were never registered, but it’s a good start. Most abandoned coal mine in Pennsylvania are in Western PA, so think about this.
A walk down memory lane. The best job I ever had in corporate America was by far the hardest, dirtiest and most demanding. I was Executive Steward (chief dishwasher) at Resorts International Casino in Atlantic City. My crew (a staff of 125 hourly employees and about 15 supervisors of various levels of responsibility) was what made the job so fulfilling. Within six months of accepting the position, of the seven separate kitchens in the facility, we turned the six with conditional satisfactory ratings to satisfactory. I have tons of stories from my stint doing this, but the bottom line was I had an incredible crew. I was there when Trump opened the Taj Mahal next door and he was offering across the board, a twenty-five cents and hour raise over the union negotiated rates. I lost some, but not a bunch and since all of the local low skilled talent were being hired there, Ana and myself would go out to the fields west of Atlantic City and recruit farm workers. (Ana came because of her fluency in Spanish and I trusted her judgement-she was very intuitive). For these kids we hired, I started programs to acclimate them into the American mainstream society, “big city” living, banking, classes on English as a second language, etc. They all had to be legal to get hired because they needed a casino license, even to work in the kitchens. The reason for this introduction is I saw something in the newspaper that caught my eye. In Los Angeles 19 companies have signed up to participate in a program getting migrants properly documented. For the immigrants, dealing with English speaking bureaucrats in suits can be quite intimating. These people qualify for documentation. It’s a win win for the companies, they take productive employees they already have, make them “legal” and have very grateful and loyal employees afterwards. Also, the immigrant population is a very inner-connected group of people, when you do well with one, recruiting a new employee is so much easier. And it doesn’t cost the companies or the employees anything. The National Immigration Forum sponsors the Bethlehem Project that sends people out to the work place to handle all of the details.
Don’t look at this link if you want to keep a dry eye, Christine Swidorsky married her fiancee Sean Stevenson this past Saturday in Jeanette because their two year old son Logan has terminal leukemia and only has a few weeks left. What a cute picture.
Do you own a small business and not have $3M for a Super Bowl ad? No sweat, I have you covered. Intuit, the company that makes business software like Quick Books, has a contest up and running that if you win, they pay for the ad and even have a PR company lined up to make the ad for you. All you have to do is convince them that you are the one. Go to Small Business Big Game and tell your story, the public will vote on who goes on to the next round (call all your friends and have them vote for you, I will). The 50,000 winners of the first heat Intuit employees will cull that down to the 20 best. Again Inuit employees will vote that down to the final four whom the general public will pick the winner. It’s worth the try, what do you have to loose. You will have to convince them that you have the infrastructure to handle the massive influx of business an ad during the Super Bowl will bring. (The Parador Inn was just mentioned in the New York Times the year after I opened and my website experience a 100% increase in visits the next day).
That’s it for now, enjoy this almost Fall like weather until the blistering August temperatures return,