Tomorrow is the anniversary of Mount Pinatuba erupted in the Philippines (1991) and King Kamehameha Day in Hawaii (a state holiday celebrating the monarchy from 1737 to 1819). It’s Queen Elizabeth’s official birthday celebrated throughout the kingdom and former colonies, undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau (1910), author William Styron (1925), German composer Richard Strauss (1864), footballer Vince Lombardi (1913) and landscape painter John Constable (1910).
Is anyone else fed up with our corporate America? Since the great recession, they have been reaping record profits, sitting on massive amounts of cash and instead of investing in new production facilities that would create jobs, or R & D that would move this country forward, they are taking all this cash they are sitting on and buying each other out making massive companies! (And the corporate executives on both the buying and selling companies are making tremendous payouts on these deals). ATT bought T Mobile, Comcast is buying Time/Warner, Verizon’s buying Netflix. That’s just the communications companies in the last few months. We could look at the drug companies, tech companies (are particularly obscene with the money they are spending) and the rest of corporate America. The rail lines are refusing to make safe tanker cars to transport the record number of gallons of oil (and such products) while forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for raising bridges so they can transport even higher cars making more money. Why don’t they invest in a high speed rail system between Boston and Washington, DC or San Fransisco and LA? I bet they could construct lines for a lot less than government subsidized rail lines and make a ton of money with quick movement of people that don’t have to go through the hassle of airports and flying. Sorry for the tirade, but I’ve been watching commentary for the last few years about the record amounts of money sitting in corporate coffers and the debates of what they should do with this money. The banks are sitting on tons of reserves, but won’t lend money to small businesses and regular citizens to buy homes. 64% of home sales in Florida are cash deals, that’s not the normal Joe and family buying a home. There are some empty nesters that are selling their northern homes and down sizing to warmer climates, but the majority is money people investing cash in real estate. Enough.
I was down at the Art’s Festival this afternoon. As usual, I appreciate the artist’s wears, but most don’t really grab me like The Way Home a couple of years ago:
It’s a real photograph that’s been photo shopped to make it somewhat creepy yet interesting and inviting. While walking to the “T” at Gateway, there was a ban playing Machete Kisumontao on the Stanwix Stage. I’ve never heard of them before, but apparently they are a local Puerto Rican band that plays around Pittsburgh a good bit. They didn’t draw a huge crowd, but it was pretty funny watching people stroll past that would get caught up in the music and start swaying to it as they walked by. And the people out front of the stage certainly had a fabulous time. Apparently they have a following because I saw a number of people singing along that knew the words.
Speaking of CREEPY, a museum in Karlruhe, Germany has cloned an ear from a decedent of Van Gogh and his it on display. Too weird for me.
The Block House will be celebrating it’s 250th anniversary this year. The Block House is the oldest structure in Pittsburgh. Six years after the British gained control of the point and Fort Pitt was pretty much trashed by flooding twice, they built the Block House and four other redoubts are constructed to help with the defense of Fort Pitt. The fort was eventually dismantled and the Block House became a trading post. Every Saturday through August 30 at 1 pm and 3 pm they will feature musket demonstrations. The major celebrations will be held August 9 and 10. More info at their website or by calling 412-471-1764 (cute phone number).
Here’s one for you, a sixth grader’s science fair project produced an unexpected result. By chance, he discovered Truvia, the sweetener drops the life expectancy of fruit flies from 38.6 days to 5.8 days! The results (his father noted the decrease in life expectancy and performed further tests) were published in PLoSONE. Makes you wonder when your reach for that sweetener for your coffee would think.
There’s a number of houses and buildings in Wilkinsburg that have fallen into disrepair and are being torn down. One caught Artist Dee Briggs’ attention and she looked into the history of the building and she didn’t want it to go away without someone loving it again. It had several long term owners over it’s 139 year history and a bunch recently before being abandoned. So her and a bunch of people took 32 gallons of gold paint and “dressed her up” one last time. Dee says “This is not just a vacant house; it’s a place. People grew up here. Everybody in the neighborhood once had a relationship with this house.” Dee created a website house-of-gold that’s very cute. She chronicles the history in the first person. On the website the house says “I’ve been pretty much abandoned. When I was full of people and children, I was a happy house, most of my parts were handmade and lovingly cared for. Now it’s time for my life to end.” How cute and touching is this?
There was a nice article in the Trib this past Sunday about the soul food restaurant down the street from me, Carmi. Named for CARleen and MIke King (hence the CARMI). They had their rehearsal dinner here at The Parador about two years ago and are the nicest people around. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere, serving soul food by family (literally, it’s staffed with cousins, nieces, nephews, their children, etc). Each year, they prepare Christmas and Thanksgiving meals for economically challenged people with turkey and the fixings for around 10 – 15 people. What a nice “give back to your neighborhood” attitude. The Nazi’s in my neighborhood association could learn a lesson from them. The Nazi’s organization refuse to support the local food bank “because it might set a precedence”. What BS. There’s no place in my world for children to go to bed hungry because “it might set a precedence.”
This year is the 200th anniversary of the British shelling 1,500 bombs (some weighting 200 pounds) at Fort McHenry that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen The Star Spangled Banner. A couple of the myths surrounding him penning the song is he was not a prisoner on a British ship, his ship was stuck in back water waiting for the hostilities to end. Also, he wrote the lyrics to work with The Anacreontic Song, an amateur-musicians club song from London. He didn’t pen the lyrics on the back of an envelope, envelopes didn’t exist at the time. Betsy Ross did not make the flag, Mary Pickersgill did. Although the song was quite popular from 1814 on and played at many inaugurals and patriotic events, it didn’t become our national anthem until 1931. Speaking of patriotism, don’t forget this Saturday is Flag Day, display them proudly.
Don’t let the rain bother you, the weekend’s looking spectacular again,