Tomorrow is the anniversary of the patenting of the Cathode-Ray Tube (1938), President Cr4linton’s impeachment (1998), It’s a Wonderful Life premier (1946), Macau reverted back to Chinese control (1999), the Montgomery Bus Boycott ends (1956) and the death anniversary of Sacagawea (1812), she the interpreter that followed Lewis and Clark expedition, many accredit the success of the expeidition to her assistance.

The nicest holiday trend seems to be happening, and it’s with a big box store.  K-mart has seen a rash of anonymous people paying off lay-aways for the lower income.  They are targeting lay-aways that have toys and children’s clothing.  These people pay off all but a few dollars or cents so the items remain on lay-away until the family is ready to finally pay the balance off.  What a great surprise during this holiday season.  This is happening all over the country and there seems to be no organized campaign to target K-mart in particular, but they seem to be the major recipient.  A young father in Omaha, Nebraska was standing in line to pay off his lay-away when a woman approached and paid his balance.  She then passed out fifty dollar bills to people standing in line.  When asked why, she said “Just remember Ben”, an apparent reference to her recently deceased husband.  But this is happening all over.

There is an art exhibit at the Concept Art Gallery, 1031 S Braddock Avenue in Regent Square through January 15.  Free admission and hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 a.m. until 5, Thursdays open until 8.  Sunday hours are noon until 4.  Felix de la Concha, born and educated in Spain was residing in New Hampshire when Fallingwater’s Director, Lynda Waggoner approached him about doing a project for Fallingwater’s 75 anniversary.  Many artist can paint from photographs, which makes their job much easier that waiting there for the right light at the right time of day to work.  The show covers both floors of the gallery.  When you enter, it’s like entering Fallingwater over the foot bridge crossing Bear Run.  There’s seven huge panels giving that initial view of the Kaufmann house as if you are actually at the Laural Highlands landmark.  Upstairs, there’s a 34 foot interior view of the Great Room in eight panels.  In  additon to de la Concha’s artwork, there’s also a collection of photographs of his endeavors over the year creating this presentation.  More info at the gallery’s web site, de la Concha’s link or by calling 412.242.9200.

For those of you familiar with the Northside, the James Street Pub was an icon for jazz and good food for years.  They closed, Legends of the Northshore did a short stint with the location.  (Legend’s is one of the best Italian restaurants in the city, this just was not a good fit for them).  It then became Sassy Marie’s, who did a real nice job with food and service, but they had some issues with actually running a restaurant.  The next carnation was Serendipity.  That was a short lived experiment, thankfully.  It’s newest version is the James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy, which opened last week.  On my way out to do some errands I stopped for lunch and had a pleasant meal.  The bartender was very accommodating and attentive.    The menu was creative and the food was good.  I met the new owners that were quite personal and seemed knowledgeable.  I hear they had the independent restaurant MTR and even brought the chef.  I wish them the best of luck.  Their hours of operation aren’t on their menu yet, nor on their web site.  Their menu is on the web site.  More info at 412.904.3335.

ELoop is making recycling akward items easier.  They’ve teamed up with eight Guardian Storage facilities, Construction Junction and four others making recycling more convenient.  They are taking electronics, batteries, old holiday lights even.  More info at their web site or by calling 877.801.6057.

The Morgan Gallery has a show through the end of January where the artists use multiple mediums.  Mark Abildgaard of Woodland, CA creates “crystal vessels” using a “lost-wax casting technique” that makes these vessels that appear to have come directly from nature.  Alex Fekete, a native of Czechoslovakia, uses a technique of blown glass and then delicately sand blasting it’s cold surface for the final effect.  Richard Parrish, from Bozeman, Mont (the home of Greg Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute, one of my favorite charities) creates carved, layered panels of kiln-formed glass that resemble topographic maps.  The Amy Morgan’s gallery is at 5833 Ellsworth Avenue in Shadeyside.  More info at her web site or by calling 412.441.5200.

Apps are growing exponentially.  Half of the adult population smart phone users have apps on their devices that do various things.  But shopping apps are new and many adults aren’t using them.  This is the rear occurance where businesses are busting way ahead of the consumer in this, particularly the big retailers.  Here is some examples:  Amazon Price Check will scan the bar code on a product and then look in it’s data base to see if the same item is available in there system for less (a little self serving)  🙂  They also have a wish list friends and family can view, pretty blatant “Buy me this.” 🙂  Amazon has started giving discounts of up to five dollars if you go into a store, scan an item and then buy it from Amazon.  Critics complain Amazon are using brick and mortar stores for their showroom.  RedLaser is eBay’s take on that as are Google  Shopper.  Key Ring is an app that scans and stores all your store loyalty programs, if you are one of those that use them  That way you don’t have carry all those plastic cards to get your rewards.  Mall giant Simon Property Group has an app that if you let it track you through GPS, it will automatically alert you to the closest Simon’s mall and what sales are going on in that mall.  It used to cost up to $100,000 to develop an app when all this first started.  Scott Hirsch, founder of appsbar of Deerfield Beach, FL has created a free app building software and has 50,000 users.  You are going to see more and more large and small use of apps in the immediate and long term future.  Watch out for The Parador Inn app, to be debuing in 2012.  🙂

That’s it for now,


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