Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Battle of Kernstown (1862), the space station Mir was abandoned  (2001), it’s Pakistan’s Republic Day, “OK” first appeared in print (1839), Patrick Henry’s famous Liberty Speech for arming the Virginians (1775) and the Germans initially used the terrifying new gun Big Bertha (1918).  Barney Clark passed away after living 112 days (1983) and it’s near miss day where a mountain sized asteroid came within 500,000 miles of earth (1989).  Birth anniversaries include actress Joan Crawford (1905) and the 17th vice president Schuyler Colfax (1823).

It’s about that time of year, finally, spring cleaning.  The Pennsylvania Resources Council will be hosting four recycling events for those hard to recycle items.  Free drop offs include computers, cell phones, televisions, printer/toner cartridges, microwave ovens, used cooking/vegetable oil, compact florescent light bulbs and polystyrene packaging.  A small fee for alkaline batteries, tires, small appliances that use freon, fluorescent tubes, vacuum cleaners and small kitchen appliances.   On April 5 from 9 am until 1 pm items will be collected at the Galleria in Mount Lebanon, same hours on May 10 at the Consol  Energy Park in Washington, August 16 at a location to be announce in West Mifflin and at the Mall at Robinson on October 4.  More info at the Resources Council website.

I’ve spoken about Toby Fraley in the past.  He’s the artist that set up the Robot Repair Shop across from Heinz Hall on sixth avenue Downtown.  He’s also the guy that built those robots at Children’s Hospital in Lawrenceville.  He has a show running through April 27 at Space, 812 Liberty Avenue called Toby Atticus Fraley:  The Secret Life of Robots.  He says “This show was finally my chance to create mundane, flawed, un-heroic robots that I find interesting”.  He makes his robots out of vintage vacuum cleaner parts, gauges, all kinds of flotsam and jetsam from society.  The challenge is not for you to look at a piece he created and first recognize the vacuum cleaner used as a body, he wants you to see a robot and then realize the body is actually part of a vacuum cleaner.  He has a bunch of whimsical dioramas like a robot laying on the floor with it’s hand up to a telephone like the TV ad “I’ve fallen and can’t get up”.  One is a deceased robot with his spirit floating above.  Pretty creative and fun.

Walking with Dinosaurs is coming back to Pittsburgh after seven years, new and improved.  As is the current speculation in scientific circles that many dinos had feathers, some of the puppets are sprouting feathers.  The show features 20 life sized dinos from 10 species, the cutest is a moma T-Rex and baby.  The largest is a Brontosaurus 36 feet tall and 56 feet long.  It’s going to be at the Consol Energy Center from July 30 through August 3.  More information at their website.

Speaking of dinosaurs, The Carnegie Museum Museum of Natural History‘s  chicken from hell is finally official.  Anzu wyliei (Greek for feathered demon because chicken from hell is a lot less sexy in Greek) was finally formally recognized this week.  A recreation of what scientists thought this guy looked like has been on display in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History for years.  But it wasn’t until scientist got enough pieces of this 7 foot tall 500 pound to officially categorize him.

As always, The Parador is on the cutting edge.  🙂  I’ve talked about planking and tebowing, the new thing is whaling where you leap up and arch your back like a whale coming out of the water.  Check the U-Tube video.

The Spring Flower Show at Phipps Conservatory is taking a new twist this year with a musical theme.  Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” will be playing in one room with ‘trees of green, red tulips, see them bloom for me and for you’.  Other themed songs include Tommy James and the Shondells Crimson and Clover, Led Zeppelin”s Tangerine and from the Wizard of Oz Over the Rainbow will be in one of the rooms.  In addition to the thousands of spring flowers, Phipps will be working musical instruments into the displays including a fountain made from a tuba, French horn and trumpet that visitors can use buttons to control water shooting into a pond.  Lots of fun and color after this brutal winter.  More info at their website.

American Indians watched the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker drill holes into maple trees and suck out the sap and came up with the first maple syrup, a skill they passed on to the early settlers.  Today, Pennsylvania is the 5th largest producer of maple syrup in the United States, 60,000 gallons last year.  Although it’s running late this year because of the bitter winter, maple festivals are springing up all over.  Next weekend there are two, Maple Madness is put on by the Audubon Society of Western PA at the Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve in Fox Chapel starting at 10 am.  Festivities include talks on how maple syrup is harvested and processed, walks through the woods and a pancake brunch, reservations recommended.  Admission is $10, more info at their website or by calling 412-963-6100.  Also next two weekends is the 67th Pennsylvania Maple Festival in Meyersdale, Somerset County.  Admission is $5 with more information at their website or by calling 814-634-0213.  Closer to home, Butler’s 37th Annual Maple Syrup Festival runs in two weeks at Brady’s Run Lodge on Route 51 in Fallston.  Free admission and more information at their website.

On Saturday, May 17, The Pennsylvania-Delaware Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture will have their climbing championship in Dormont Park.  Events will include simulating common work tasks graded on technique, timed events for climbing trees and climbing ropes, tossing throw lines and climbing lines accurately into trees as well as a simulated rescue of a stranded coworker.  For the use of the park, the arborists donate free day’s  tree maintenance in the park, estimated about $30,000 for Dormont Park.  Nice trade.  🙂  Last year they did this in the Commons right down the street from me also they’ve been in North Park and Allegheny Cemetery.  There isn’t information on the arborists website, they haven’t updated it in months, but I’ve included the link in case you want to learn more about them.

I hope Mayor Peduto finds a qualified and strong person to head our Department of Public Safety soon.  The police are really out of control.  I do not mean to disrespect the many fine officers that are dedicated to serve and protect.  And I really don’t necessarily overly blame them for what’s going on, there has been a lack of over sight and control in that department.  As in a recent post, police officers are often needed to serve in the private sector for special events, establishments serving alcohol and other activities that the citizens of the city shouldn’t have to pay for.  This should be all above the board, with a city employee paid out of the fund companies pay for this added security.  Never should officers pick and choose who gets what.  And NEVER should compensation be paid in cash. One of the issues with the officers is they want to continue this cash basis on plum assignments.   I’m OK that this has taken place in the past, but it’s not right and the police have no business insisting that this process continue this way.  The excessive force some officers use is just not right.  I’m not saying Jordan Miles didn’t deserve to be arrested, I’m not saying he didn’t have cause for concern when three white plain clothes men approached him.  I’m leaving all those details to the courts.  I don’t understand why that teenager got beaten to a pulp by three grown men.  Officers don’t have a Sunday school job and have to get down and dirty at times (I don’t say dirty as in dishonest).  But if the three adult TRAINED officers can’t subdue a teenager without inflicting such damage, they shouldn’t be on the force.  And the latest controversy causing this tirade (tirade in general, I don’t believe I’ve ever ranted about the police).  Officers are assigned duties during their normally work week.  That’s their job.  If a fellow officer is called in on over time because more manpower is needed, that first officer on a regular shift does not deserve overtime pay.  That’s their shift!  I pay enough taxes, the city is in bad enough financial shape to pay these greedy SOBs.  The audacity of even requesting this extra pay astounds me, let alone to take it to court.  This kind of crap is what gives unions, who are representing these officers, such a bad name.

I’m a board member of PABBI, the Bed and Breakfast Association representing all Inns in Pennsylvania and we met this past week for a board meeting.  We discussed general topics and started planning for our conference at Toftrees in State College in November (you don’t have to be a member to attend the conference, if you have interest in doing so.  It’s a very informative conference).  The first meeting was in the morning in Carlisle, PA and instead of getting up at 4 am and driving there, I left Monday afternoon and stayed at my good friends’ Inn in York PA, The Stone Manse Inn  It’s been three years since my last visit, my oh my.  It’s great to see how much they’ve grown since I was last there.  If you’re every in the area, I highly recommend a visit with Myra, Phil and Alex.  The next meeting we had in Lancaster, Lynne that owns The Australian Walk About Bed and Breakfast was an excellent host with a great Inn.  Her Inn was full with other board members and I was lucky enough to “have to stay at another Inn”.  Lynne’s good friends and neighbors own the Walnut Lawn Bed and Breakfast right down the street.  Another great fine.  Tom and Sarah couldn’t have been more gracious and what a well maintained Inn.  You now have several options when visiting the area, be sure to tell them I said hi.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend,


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