Tomorrow is Devil’s Night, it is the anniversary of Orson Wells initial broadcast of The War of the Worlds (1938) and also the anniversary of the closing of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 where that evening the Mayor of Chicago was shot and killed. It is the birth anniversary of the second president John Adams (1735), Charles Atlas (the skinny Italian immigrant that went on to be the famed body builder-1893), Emily Post (1872) and poet Ezra Pound (1885).
I heard something on NPR that has me concerned. The European Union is sending election monitors to the United States on our election day. What, have we become a third world country? In the last major election (presidential), of the millions of voters, 63 were caught doing voter fraud. Now there’s the big push for voter ID that they’ve screwed up so bad in their rush to put this in place. One of the problems with the Pennsylvania law was it specifically said the ID’s had to have an expiration date and that college picture ID’s were OK. Some Pennsylvania college ID’s don’t have an expiration date. Senator Mike Turzai of the 28th District here in Allegheny County was secretly recorded saying “Now that we have the voter ID law passed, Pennsylvania is Governor Romney’s”. Of course that was misinterpreted, according to Turzai’s people.
I don’t know why I keep noticing things about Angry Birds, I’ve played it a couple of times and never was too impressed. But Rovio (the maker of Angry Birds and Star Wars Birds) is releasing Bad Piggies soon. This is a blend of physics game and a building puzzle, the stages are brain-tickling but not difficult enough to frustrate.
Here’s a new slant on thrift store shopping. The Shop Till You Drop consignment bus tour is set for November 10 from 9 am until 5 pm. Yes, you heard me right, a bus tour. The $40 tickets include lunch, bus, beverages and chocolate. You must pre-register by this coming Thursday by calling 412.262.0833 or 412.788.0899. The tour will meet at the Consignment Cottage in Moon and then travel to Eco Chic in Robinson, Savvy Fox in Peters and Mt Lebanon, Kindred Spirits in Pine and Ambiance in Oakmont. That’s quite some territory to cover in just 8 hours.
It’s about time for you pumpkin cutters to get your tools out. Here’s a few tips from the pros. When purchasing a pumpkin, one of the things to consider is the stem. Only buy a pumpkin with a healthy stem, even though the pumpkin is cut off the vine, the stem is still providing nutrients to the pumpkin. On this note, don’t make the traditional cut around the top to scrape out the pumpkin. This keeps the nutrients from circulating into the pumpkin flesh. Cut the opening in the back. Scrape as much of the inside out as you dare. The dryer the flesh will last longer than all that moisture hanging out inside. Although, other than with photography, there’s no way to “preserve” you pumpkin. You can use “delay” tactics. You can soak your pumpkin in water when not on display. You can treat the edges with a lemon juice/water mixture, vegetable oil, petroleum jelly or you can buy Fruit Fresh in the baking aisle of your grocery store (you can use this throughout the year to preserve fresh sliced fruits while on display. This is a mild taste to this, but works great when you want to present fresh fruits like apple slices). For more inspiration, go to The Maniac Pumpkin Carver’s web site, The Pumpkin Gutter’s web site, The Pumpkin Geek’s web site and Villa Fanes Studios. There’s also a ton of UTube videos you can peruse for ideas.
Charitable donations are a good habit, like teaching children to save. If you create the habit, it’s just like brushing your teeth in the morning or at night. I believe in our social safety net programs, but I think a lot more of our charity should come from us, individually. We should take direct responsibility for our neighbors. There’s the big headline practices like Warren Buffett and Bill & Melinda Gates’ program The Giving Pledge where they ask billionaires to commit to donating have of their wealth to charities. They have nearly 100 individuals and families have signed up for this. Just last month, another 12 have signed on. And you don’t actually have to be a billionaire to participate. With this challenged economy, last year charitable contributions climbed 4% from 2010 to 2011. Pretty impressive, particularly when you see that hard number of $218B for 2011. It doesn’t take a lot to make a difference (ie, you don’t have to be a billionaire to make a difference). You can pick a charity you find deserving like the Food Bank, CAI, Brother’s Brother, Northside Common Ministries, etc. I always look for smaller groups that don’t have the high overhead of organizations like United Way. There’s a bunch of small groups that pool their money and democratically select where the money is to go each time (frequently quarterly) like the One Percenters that’s geared towards a younger crowd to get in the habit of donating. If you are so inclined to start your own charity, Giving Circles is a grassroots group that gives tips on how to start up you own charity. Another resource is Giving Circles Network. Remember, it’s not how much you give (although it’s always nice to give as much as you can), it’s more important to create the habit of giving. Just as one of the most important aspects of saving is to “create the habit”.
Pittsburgh had another minute in the spot light this month. Architectural Record Magazine highlighted da ‘burg as a prime example of New Life for the American City. It has three articles about us, one on the new PNC tower being built and they have an emphasis on the building being the tallest office building to use natural ventilation, rather than being a hermetically sealed box. The magazine also talks about Phipps new Center for Sustainable Landscapes Building and the David L Lawrence Convention Center and how all these buildings are setting new standards for sustainability. Also, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Institute of Architects gave out several design awards. One is for the old Lantern Building (next to the new PNC/Fairmont tower that used to be a Liberty Travel) and both AIA and Architectural Record mentioned Perkins Eastman Architects rendering of the Allegheny Riverfront Boulevard. This is a comprehensive look at a possible way to develop the Allegheny riverfront from the Convention Center up to the 40th Street Bridge. (Of course this award winning design is being totally ignored by the Buncher group that want’s us to give them $50M AND allow them to tear down 1/3 of the iconic Terminal Building so they can create some more white-bread space on prime real estate.
OK, I’m through whining. Keep dry these next couple of days and keep safe.