Tomorrow is the anniversary of the first telephone call, Alexander Graham Bell calling his assistant in the next room “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you.” (1876), the Salvation Army was established in the United States (1880) and US paper money was introduced (1862).

Technology, Entertainment, Design is what TED stands for, it’s a movement to get ideas moving around on these subjects.  It has a national following and the annual, national TED conference is highly respected and well attended by a lot of innovative people.   Past speakers at the TED conferences include Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Sir Richard Branson, Philippe Starck to name a few.  TED has been around for a number of years and TEDx is locally grown TED groups.  The TEDx in Pittsburgh is Tedx Grandview Ave.  They will be having a local conference at the New Hazlett Theater on Saturday, April 26 starting at 11 am.  This year’s conference (Pittsburgh’s second) will last until around 5 pm with around ten speakers.  The theme is Dare to Create.  There’s an after party at the National Aviary.  Tickets are available now and it’s $40 for the TEDx and $55 if you’d like to attend the after party.

Some neighborhood associations are civic minded and care about their overall community.  Like Bellvue’s neighborhood association had a holiday house tour last December and all proceeds went to charity.  The Mexican War Streets Association just had a successful Progressive Dinner and their keynote speaker, David McMunn had a very insightful comment in his speech “We don’t take grant money.  We produce our own money for our own neighborhood.  We’re out to make the best neighborhood that Pittsburgh has”.  Up coming events include a Guided Historical Tour May 18 at 2 pm and a walking tour June 22 about ways to capture the architecture of their neighborhood on film.  It’s been 2 months since the Northside Common Ministries, our local food pantry, made a plea for assistance to my neighborhood association.  Common Ministries sent representatives to all the neighborhood associations asking for a one time $1,000 donation to help them through this very difficult time.  One excuse my neighborhood association made was “We don’t have a budget yet” and another excuse was “We don’t know if our charter will permit this”.    I won’t quote exactly how much money my neighborhood association grossed at their holiday tour or what they sold a house for, but they grossed almost as much as I did last year, without $2,000 monthly gas bills in the winter, $13,000 property taxes, etc etc.  And yet I donate monthly to the the food bank, no one should go to bed hungry in America.  (Or the world for that matter).  I wonder what their next excuse will be to not donate to the food bank.

United States has the largest defense budget in the world, over $580B (yes that’s a B as in billion) this year.  The country with the second largest defense budget is China with $139B followed by Russian with $68B.  I’m just setting the stage here.  The defense department has been pursuing the F35 fighter jet for years now, it’s seven years behind schedule and $163B (yes, that’s another B) over budget.  If Lockheed ever gets it working right, the military plans to purchase these planes at a cost of $400M, which is more than twice what it takes to put a man on the moon.  If you know me or follow my blog, you know I’m very patriotic and believe in a strong defense, but listening to these generals and admirals whining about budget cuts and how it will destroy our defense systems is more than I can bear.  And what is their solution to budget cuts?  Reduce the size of the armed forces (I’m not against this, by the way), reduce pay and retirement benefits (I’m not necessarily against this), reduce housing allowances, health benefits, close and redefine the PX system.  OMG, a budget of $580B and they’re going to balance their budget by closing a PX!  There’s no excuse for the F35 being $163BILLION OVER BUDGET.  (Sorry for shouting, it just makes me incensed that they’re going to cut housing allowances and continue to pay Lockheed more and more covering every expensive mistake they make).  You know, my contractor  measures a window for replacement and his measurements are wrong, I don’t pay for two windows.  I can’t get away with “The stealth coating we applied to the jet worked fine in the lab, we don’t know why it won’t stick on the jet when it actually travels.  Give us more money and we’ll figure it out.”  This is where the defense budget needs looked at.

The Allegheny Observatory, up in River View Park above me has a connection through Samuel Langley I didn’t know.  Langley and John Brashear where the scientists behind the building of the Observatory built in 1912, it is owned by Pitt and besides being a teaching facility, it also does a number of jobs like finding planets in the cosmos by measuring light around a star (or the lack of light) that indicates a celestial body.  But I digress here, Samuel Langley was also very interested in aviation and actually built the two first successful aircrafts (non-manned).  The first one, an Aerodrome is housed in the Smithsonian and the other one is in Pitt’s Posvar Hall.  It reached speeds of almost 30 miles an hour and proved heavier than air flight was possible.

Celebrating his eightieth birthday, Pittsburgh native and artist Robert Qualters has a show of 64 of his pieces at The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts all the way through November 5.  Educated at CMU and the California College of Arts and Crafts he returned to Pittsburgh to teach art for awhile before moving on to teach art in New York and picking up his Masters degree before returning to teach art at Pitt in 1968.  His oils are marvelously complex and colorful and usually represent Pittsburgh’s many famous locations.  Some of his pictures has a central image with “tile work” around the edges with peripheral images superimposed over the tiles.  During the exhibit, a film by Joe & Elizabeth Seamans “Bob Qualters: The Artist in Action” will be shown in the conference room from noon til 3 pm.  The film will have a screening at the Melwood Screening Room in Oakland on March 20 starting at 6:30 with a reception afterwards.  On the night of his birthday, March 13, a book launching party for Vicky Clark‘s book Robert Qualters Autobiographical Mythologies at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts with a tour of the exhibit starting at 6 pm.

Though it’s a bit chilly today, the forecast says it’s going to start going up into the fifties this week.  It’s almost over,


  • It’s working again. My new website is under construction and one of the things Nick’s going to address is the security field so it’s more user friendly. Roy’s coming to day to continue photographing the Inn. One more visit should complete that project (other than the outside shots we need to wait for spring to come for that). The new site’s looking pretty exiting.

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