Tomorrow is the anniversary of Rudyard Kipling’s birth (1865), the establishment of the USSR (1922) and the anniversary of the sinking of the Iron Clad Monitor (1862).

Automobiles have changed drastically over the years.  What was once cast iron pistons are now an alloy.  Oils & lubricants are much more effective these days.  The oil used to need to be changed every 3,000 miles, but not so anymore.  That you need to replace your oil every 3,000 miles is a very successful campaign by the oil change industry.  Depending on the make, year and model, oil changes are suggested every 3,000 up to 10,000 miles!  In it’s continued effort to reduce oil consumption, the state of California has created a web site where you put your make, model and year of your vehicle in and the site gives you the new recommended mileage for an oil change.  Visit Check Your Number.

I had guests two weeks ago that called as they were leaving Canada for Florida and Pittsburgh was a convenient location to spend the night.  So they booked and when they arrived Nicky’s kitchen was closing in about an hour, so I gave them a quick tour, registration and showed them their room.  While in the room, she said she looked forward to taking a bath.  They went to dinner and I saw them when they came back and they said they really enjoyed Nicky’s.  I got a phone call from them later saying there wasn’t any hot water for the tub.  This was odd, because in five years, I’ve never had that complaint on that room.  But it’s an old house and quirks happen.  So I recommended leaving the water run for a bit.  She called again and said there still wasn’t hot water.  She said we have two options, one is I discount their room 50% and they’ll take a shower at the YMCA the next morning or they could leave.  I thought if the bath was important to her, why not just go elsewhere and told her I would meet them downstairs and give them a full refund.  When I met them and gave them a full refund, they seemed OK.  (Not particularly happy, but not mad).  A couple of days later, she trashes me on Trip Advisor.  She said “The Inn keeper was very unwelcoming”-they got the same tour any of you that have visited got.  She said there was no hot water, I’ve never had that complain for that room in the past and when I checked it the next morning, there was plenty of steaming water.  I her review, she failed to mention she gave me two options, in her complain she said “he told us to leave”.  A blatant lie.  What did I do to make her so angry?  And having done this forever, I’m pretty good about knowing when people are upset.  I bugged me and bugged me how I missed this.  What I decided was she pulls this on Innkeepers all the time and get’s half off.  Most Innkeepers are overly nice and she preys on this.  She stewed over this the entire drive to Florida and that’s why the nasty review.  It reminds me of the two sisters I had two years ago.  They also complained about the hot water, but this time in Lady Palm (Lady Palm is on the third floor and if you are the first one up in the morning, it does take awhile to reach there).  I don’t remember what the other complaint they had, but when we were discussing how long it takes the hot water to reach the third floor, the one sister said “When we stay at a Marriott, they always give us a free night when we complain”.

The famous “They” are always putting cookies in our computers to track our movement.  By far, most are benign.  Some cookies remember you so when you are a repeat customer to an on-line retailer, they remember you and you don’t have to fill in all the forms again.  That’s how those forms get pre-filled and you have the option of just clicking Enter, instead of retyping all that info.  Some cookies are design to follow where you go on the Internet for marketing purposes.  If someone had the decency to ask ahead of time, I probably would let let them.  I really don’t have anything to hide.  But being nefarious, it bugs me. The Network Advertising Initiative has an Opt-Out option on their web site.  Visit their web site and click on the “Consumer Opt Out” button and it will evaluate your computer.  It will identify which organizations have cookies on your computer and gives you the option to disable them.  The cookies this identifies are not ones you normally use receiving e-mails and visiting on-line sites you frequent.  These are cookies implanted by third party programs and other sneaky tricks.  This Opt Out through NAI is a voluntary program, there’s no law or requirement to honor this.  There’s a way to keep these third party cookies from being re-implanted in your computer.  If you use Internet Explorer 9, click on the Tools Icon, on the bottom, click on the Internet Options button, next click on the Privacy tab on the top and then click on the Advanced button (not the tab on the top, but in the middle of the box between Import and Default).  Check the Override Automatic Cookie Handling Box and then click on the Block for Third Party Cookies.  This should keep those sneaky Petes out of your computer, at least for awhile.e

There’s a great service opportunity for any of you that would love to help disadvantaged children but can’t commit to either adopting or fostering.  CASA (Child Advocates Society of America, I think the acronym stands for) is a national organization and need volunteer right here in Allegheny County.  They also have chapters in Beaver, Washington and West Moreland Counties.  The objective is to pair a sane adult with challenged kids (up to age 21) that are in the court system some way.  Pittsburgh CASA is hosting open houses and training for anyone interested helping these kids that don’t have a stable home or anyone there to represent them in the court system.  This isn’t so much about being there when a truant goes to court for shop lifting or worse.  It’s more about getting to know the child and being involved in parent-teacher meetings (their actual parents usually don’t attend), a contact person for schools and others for praise and concerns about the student’s performance.  Did you know that children in foster homes are 2.7 – 4.5 times higher percentage of being on psychotropic drugs than those not in foster?  Sometimes a child is placed on a “maintenance” drug for certain behavior that really isn’t needed, and then something else happens and another doctor recommends another drug.  Much of these behavior problems can be traced back to the home environment and do not need drugs to remedy them.  As the child’s advocate, you are also in a position (to be taken seriously) to request a re-evaluation of the medications the child receives.  This is kind of like Big Brothers and Bid Sisters, but with this you’re not just a buddy (not disrespecting the wonderful job those dedicated people do).

In addition to Brother’s Brother, the other non profit I am a huge fan of is the Central Asia Institute.  Founded by Greg Mortenson, it’s goal is to educate children in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.  Although they do take on “side jobs” like building a bridge so an area is accessible to the school and creating systems to bring fresh drinking water to these impoverished villages.  Greg does this work on a shoestring and Sixty Minutes trashed him last year.  They claimed many of the schools CAI claimed to have built did not exist, that Greg used CAI money for his benefit and he used the CAI events to promote his books, which he profits from.  As I said in a past blog after viewing the Sixty Minute segment, even if the worst of what they were portraying were true, the work Greg is accomplishing makes it worth it.  There was a part of the segment were they attempted to interview Greg and he declined and they made a big deal about him leaving the fund raiser by the back door.  Well, they are the professionals.  Their job is exposing scum like Bernie Madoff, what’s his first name Schilling from Enron and other despicable people that are only lining their own pockets.  Greg was way out of his element when they pursued him.  Obviously I have supported CAI in the past and continue to do so.  As a sponsor I get a yearly calendar and a quarterly magazine championing their accomplishments.  Finally, CAI is defending themselves in the latest magazine I received.  They have a whole slew of pictures with names and addresses of some of the many schools they’ve built or continue to aid.  In addition to highlighting pictures and names of schools in their latest magazine, CAI took Sixty Minutes directly on pointing out that a cameraman claiming to be doing an audit was actually paid by Sixty Minutes to clandestinely film a school’s principal.  Come on Marley Safer, use those tactics on MF Global.


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