Tomorrow is the anniversary of the signing of the American Constitution (1787), the battle of Antietam (1862) and the founding of the National Football League (1920).  It’s the birth anniversary of Hank Williams (1923), Warren Burger (1907) and Andrew Foster (1879-the “father of the negro baseball league”).  Also, the premiers of Mission Impossible (1966), MASH (1972), Bewitched (1964) and The Fugitive (1963).

Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators is a group of about 160 professional commercial illustrators publish an illustration directory with samples of the various artists work.  This way art professionals see samples of each artists style and can then contact them for further discussions.  This year, instead of doing the traditional directory, the artists picked a cocktail recipe and did an illustration tailored to that mixed drink.  This book is called Drawing Under the Influence and is only $5.  You can buy it from their web site or better yet, go to Gallerie Chiz at 5831 Ellsworth Avenue in  Shadyside through September 30 and see the original pieces for the book and purchase the book while there.  The Gallery is open 11 – 5:30 Tuesday through Fridays and 11 – 5 Saturdays.  Word of warning, if you go to the Illustrator’s web site, the link to Gallerie Chiz doesn’t work.

The connection between natural and mechanical worlds is known as biomimicry or biomimetics.  This is real, stay with me here.  We all know of Swiss engineer George de Mestral that took note of how jaggers  would stick to his dog’s coat in 1941.  He started working on this and Velcro was born.  A British company called Sound Foresight developed the Ultra Cane created on the way bats use radar to guide them for bugs for dinner.  Blue mussels’ ability to cling to wet and slippery rocks inspired Columbia Forest Products to create a nontoxic waterproof glue.  Metin Sitti, a professor mechanical engineering at CMU had a pet Gecko, but never paid much attention until a colleague came back from Thailand and talked about Geckos walking on the ceiling.  Sitti’s team came up a polymer to replicate the tiny hairs on a Gecko’s feet and applied them to a small robot’s feet and it is able to get it to hard to reach or too dangerous for humans.  It only works on clean and smooth surfaces, they are currently working on adapting it to dirty surfaces as well.  Termites were the inspiration for air conditioning of a large office/shopping complex in Harare, Zimbabwe.  To preserve their food, termites have created these huge towers with air vents that take the hotter air up through the top with cooler air being pulled in from the bottom.  They are using the same concept at the high rise building.

Southside resident, Geoffrey Goldberg, a bridge engineer, got interested in bridge post cards in his youth after finding some at an antique store in Massachusetts.  6,000 cards later, he decided to make a book on his collection.  Bridges: A Postcard History is available from Schiffer Publishing for $49.99 and it’s a coffee table type book.

Admiral Heating installed my central air conditioning back in 2005/2006 when I bought the property.  Totally trust and respect them.  They did an amazing job keeping all the lines carrying the cool air out of sight.  And they were very aware of the importance of keeping the system from being intrusive in the beautiful Mansion.  But, it hasn’t worked well since I opened.  Particularly when I have events and people are opening and closing the doors so much.  I’ve had Admiral back several times over this.  I’ve had that general contractor, Metro Classic Builders, that has his own HVAC company he likes to use.  So at one point, I asked John with All Pro Plumbing and Heating to look at my system.  He thought there wasn’t enough return air for the system and suggested that we put a large return in the ceiling of the linen closet on the second floor and leave the transom over the door open.  It’s amazing the difference.   Lesson to be learned, open you mind to new possibilities, even if you designed and installed a system.  Admiral made a small, discrete vent (one of several), but they weren’t pulling in enough air.

Another lesson learned (which I actually learned a long time ago.  That’s why people say I badger  🙂 ).  I get my low fat vanilla yogurt at Restaurant Depot in the Strip.  I like the flavor and texture of this product.  They were consistently running out of it this past spring and I complained to several staff members.  The answer I kept getting was Corporate ordered it and there wasn’t much they could do.  I kept buying plain yogurt and doctoring it up.  About two months ago I poked my head in their office and there was only one woman in there.  She asked if she could help me and I explained my frustration.  She apologized and said she wasn’t aware of the problem and would see what she could do.  They have had low fat vanilla yogurt EVERY time I’ve been in there since.  I like employees that make things happen.  🙂

Another milestone at the Point State Park renovations (that have been going on for over five years), they opened the Cafe (just in time to close it for the winter).  🙂  They are making progress.  They are supposed to start fixing the fountain this fall and it should be finished by spring.  I hope so, that’s such a center piece for the city.  If you get a chance before the winter sets in, you should make some time and walk around and see the improvements.  What they’ve done is very nice.

93 year old Henry P Hoffston donated his home’s preservation easement  for the mansion on Fifth Avenue in Shadyside he grew up in to the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.  It’s one of those striking mansions on Millionaire’s Row in Shadyside.  The mansion can be sold, but will never be able to be demolished or radically altered.  Mr. Hoffston, who still lives in the mansion, says he doesn’t take the stairs as much as he used to, but still gets around it OK.  I can see me at 93.  🙂

Well, that’s about it for now.  I have a rehearsal dinner tonight and a wedding tomorrow.  Have a great weekend.  Go Steelers (please),


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