Hi,

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the attack on the US Mainland by Japan (1942-Santa Barbara, CA), the diesel engine was patented (1893), US Flag was raised over Iwo Jima (1945), Dolly the first adult clone was announced in Scotland (1997) and Brunei Darussalam Independence Day is observed.  Birth anniversaries include American education advocate Emma Hart Willard (1787), American journalist William Shirer (1904), German Composer George Frederick Handel (1685) and earlier London blogger (they used to call us Diarists) :) Samuel Pepys (1633).

As you, I’m sure, I enthusiastically embrace this thaw we’re experiencing.  I’m so over this continually frigid temperatures and snow.  Instead of having a snow storm for several hours, we’ve received very light continuous snow over 10 to 14 hours.  I’d go out and shovel the front sidewalk and by the time I finished the 140 feet length, where I started was covered in snow.  It was so frustrating.  It was kind of funny, I had this ice pack along the brick sidewalk in front of the Carriage house.  I kept it open to Ruellia so guests could move safely, but was sort of negligent outside the office.  So I had this solid sheet of ice outside the office that was several inches thick (I’d sprinkle sand so poor Razor could navigate it).  When the thaw started earlier this week, the water didn’t have anywhere to go, so it kept building up outside the office door.  When it started to seep into the office, I finally broke down and chiseled a trough for it to drain into the year.  That worked for awhile, but the ice was even over the grass and I had to extend my canal deeper into the year.  :)

Here’s a picture of the fabulous original oil painting Colleen Black made for the guest room Ruellia:

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She did this amazing thing with this painting.  You can’t see it, but with a special paint, she put a hummingbird feeding off that first flower that only shows up with a black light or at night when there’s no light.  Also, the sun turns into a moon and there’s rays of moon light dropping down from it.

Here’s a picture of the painting hanging on the wall:

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I’m very much against the rogue website airb&b, they promote lodging in unlicensed, un-inspected and accommodations in questionable environments.  I have no problem with Bob & Mary renting their spare room as long as it’s inspected to ensure it’s safe and wholesome, I don’t view them as competition.  I also object to them not paying taxes on this income as I do.  On the other hand, this past weekend, guests asked about getting a taxi and I gave them phone numbers and suggested they call right away because they had dinner reservation and it was a Friday night and it might be awhile before a cab arrives.  As I was registering them, one called Yellow Cab who couldn’t commit to an arrival time.  I took them up to show them their room and wanted to change their clothes for dinner .  While showing my guests their room, the cab arrived.  He couldn’t have been a mile away.  I told them I would go down and ask him to wait, they would be down as soon as they could.  They told me to tell the driver to leave the meter on, they had no problem paying for him to sit there.  I went down to speak with the driver who turned out to be extremely rude and surly.  He said he didn’t care about running the meter, he would wait five minutes and then leave.  This attitude is what I continuously see from Yellow Cab and their drivers.  For this reason, I support the two new endeavors for taxi service in Pittsburgh.  Uber is an app you download and it connects you to independent drivers dispatched through Uber.  The other start up is Lyft that operates under similiar guidelines.  They’re the ones with those tacky, but funny, bright pink mustaches on the front of their cars.  I’m all for the PUC setting guidelines so these start ups can give this nasty monopoly  a run for it’s money.

Want a Miller Lite?  Don’t go to the new bar at 1704 Shady Avenue, Squirrel Hill called Independent Brew.  Brothers Matt and Pete Kurzweg just opened the bar and they only carry independently crafted brews from Western Pennsylvania like the now famous East End Brewery and Sprague Farms Brew Works.

The animal that shot his co-worker in cold blood, Ken Konias was sentenced this week   Luckily he was sentenced to life away from civil humans with no chance for parole.  During sentencing he interrupted Judge Cashman with “Your honor, may I?”, the judge said no and he again interrupted the judge with “I was just going to suggest that you wouldn’t lecture me so we can just proceed”.   OMG, what an unrepentant piece of crap!  He took a human life!

Facebook, which I don’t like, is facing their demise.  Although still HUGE and worth billions, the new younger kids are not signing up much anymore, they don’t want to be a part of their parent’s social media and Facebook is loosing ground in foreign countries.  That’s why they just paid $19B (yes, that’s billion) for WhatsApp.  This is an app that acts like the old school chat rooms in previous website.  You sign up for the app and you can chat with friends (multiple if you want at the same time), share pictures, etc.  The way it’s set up, you can avoid pricey long distance charges for far away friends normally charged by traditional phone companies.  Currently, Whatsapp doesn’t do advertising, but I’m sure that’s going to change.

Honest, I’m not obsessed with land/water vehicles, it’s just in like a week I see articles on two different kinds.  Gibbs Sports Amphibians in Michigan is cranking out a quad bike that also travels in water.  These are personal vehicles (1 person) as opposed to the last ones I spoke about that could handle several persons.  They start at around $40k.

Pennsylvania has a history of artist creativity and fame.  Andy Warhol is probably the first to come to mind, being originally from Pittsburgh.  His Factory in New York was the hub of contemporary pop art.  York is the origin of pop artist Jeff Koons who’s Balloon Dog (Orange) recently sold for $58.4M, a record for the sale of a piece of art from a living artist.  Also in the pop art arena, Keith Haring grew up in Kutztown and became famous as a graffiti artist.  He’s known for his bright colors and tribal influence.  Andrew Wyeth, origin Chadds Ford, was one of the most famous realist artists of the mid-20th century.  His most famous piece, Christina’s World hangs in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  Born in Lawnton, Alexander Calder was the grandson and son of famous sculptures.  He invented the mobile, in fact, arriving at the Pittsburgh International Airport, you are greeted by one of his pieces that premiered at the Carnegie International (which is currently running through March 14, if you haven’t made it you really should).  Philadelphia born Alice Neel is know for her expressionistic portraits that can be actually quite brutal.  :)  1800th century John Peto, also from Philadelphia made a name for himself with tromp l’ oeil (French for “fool the eye”) painted objects that were the size that they were in real life to add to the illusion.  Another 18th century artist born in Philadelphia is Thomas Eakins.  A realist, his most famous painting The Gross Clinic sat relatively unnoticed until a New York Tribune art critic saw it and wrote “one of the most powerful, horrible, yet fascinating pitcures that has been painted anywhere in this century”, it’s home now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Take care and enjoy this improved weather.  It’s going to get cold again, but shouldn’t be as brutal as it has been the last two months,

ed

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