Tomorrow would have been Steve Jobs 57th birthday, Estonia’s independence day (1991), Wilhelm Grimm’s  birth anniversary (1786-of Grimm’s Fairy Tales fame), Pittsburgh’s own Honus Wagner’s birth anniversary (1874) and Chester Nimitz’s birth anniversary (1885-commander of all forces in the Pacific Theater during World War Two).

OK, OK, OK.  I don’t hate Catholics, stop being mad at me.  I hate organized Muslims, Catholics, Presbyterians, Jews, Hindus all of them and the ones I missed.  In my world, things are right and things are wrong.  I acknowledge there are degrees, running a stop sign is less wrong than stabbing a man to death.  But it’s still wrong.  Killing a human is wrong, it is one of the most wrongs.  To say it’s OK to kill the infidels to take back the holy land was wrong.  To kill inocent people in the name of Jiah is just as wrong.  And that was a church that not only sanctioned those killings, they offered special dispensations to the crusaders.  As does the current Muslim Jiadist clerics.  Organized churches sanctioned slavery, killing young women accused of being witches, gays and anyone else that didn’t fit in their mold of what they wanted.

Here’s a novel idea, why not rent your kids toys?  Toy sales is a $21.8B industry.  Toddlers in particular loose interest in new toys quickly.  As kids get older and define their interests, toys have more longevity.  Nikki Pope founded Toygaroo that operates a lot like Netflix.  You choose a membership level and can receive from four to eight toys at a time.  Membership runs from $24.99 to $52.99.  There are no due dates or late fees.  You keep the toys until you are ready to trade them in.  More info at their web site.  Locally, thee’s the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library that has a similar program at 5401 Centre Avenue, Shadyside.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.682.4430.

The old Pittsburgh Morgue at 542 Fourth Avenue Downtown has been designated to become a county office building by 2013.  (If you remember the morgue moved to a county building in the Strip between Penn & Liberty by the 16th Street bridge.  After extensive renovations, including adding a floor, it is one of the most modern morgues in the country).  The county is expecting to spend about $4.5M to upgrade the mechanicals in the building as a comprehensive approach.  They also are going to add a second floor in the space over the old actual morgue.  They intend to move the law offices currently in the Fort Pitt Commons to the new facility.  There will be no alteration to the exterior or any of the historic interior facilities.  I believe the morgue was designed by HH Richardson, he worked all over the country.  In Pittsburgh he did our Courthouse and connecting Jail as well as Emanuel Episcopal Church right down the street from me.

There’s an interesting art showing at the Box Heart Gallery at 4523 Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield through March 3.  Photographer Nadim Sabella is from San Francisco where property values don’t allow a property to deteriorate too bad.  He became fascinated with abandoned house and has taken photographs of houses in the process of returning to the earth.  He’s taken these photos from abandoned houses in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and New Orleans after Katrina.  Not only has he taken these thought provoking images, he actually created a miniature house complete with decaying rooms.  Old abandoned buildings have always been a draw to me.  I love going into them and seeing the depressing deterioration while enjoying details you’ll never see in modern buildings.  I love the uniqueness as opposed to the cookie cutter approach in current building projects.

There’s a new web site that seems kind of cool.  Nextdoor.com is a site that links neighbors together, like chatting across the fence, but virtually.  A neighborhood group starts a site and to join, you need to verify that you live within the boundaries.  There is currently 13 registered Pittsburgh neighborhoods with around 600 involved.  I think this concept has a lot of potential.  Instead of waiting for the monthly neighborhood meeting and then missing it because you were in Florida and having to wait another month, you have instant access.  You could pass on relevant information, ask local questions and if your neighborhood association is a part actually have the minutes of the monthly meetings posted.  Overall, I prefer face to face interactions, but have no problems with enhancing the world with virtual options as well.

I met Patty Knouse a couple of years ago when I ran the Allegheny West Gift Shop during their holiday tours.  Her and daughter Nicole had a booth and were selling teas and tea accompaniments.  She was talking about starting a tea house.  Well apparently she opened one with a partner and then decided to go off on her own.  Her and her daughter (that makes jewelry) started AntiquiTea Tearoom and Gift Shop at 454 Perry Highway in West View.  They are open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and offer the high tea experience as well as regular lunches.  They also host larger shower type teas upstairs.  They have a gift shop with Nicole’s jewelry, tea acrudements, bagged and loose tea.  More info at 412.301.0283 or their web site.

Penn Forest Natural Burial Park, in Penn Hills, has been certified by the Green Burial Council.  The Green Burial Council out of Santa Fe accredits funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries that offer eco-friendly products.  Penn Forest, founded last year specifies that no toxic embalming fluids can be used, caskets and shrouds must be biodegradable and grave markers must be made of local wood or stone and be flat to the ground.  They only have one grave in the 32 acres cemetery, but have sold 20 plots.

Watch out Betty, Peter Kantorowski, 71 has filed to evict his 98 year old mother.  🙂  Peter became owner of Mary’s home several years ago as part of a financial planning move (I assume to avoid inheritance tax).  This is not as cold blooded as it first appears.  Mary’s ability to fend for herself has deteriorated to a point that she’s somewhat of a danger to herself.  And she doesn’t want to leave the house she’s lived in for sixty years.  We just went through that with Betty two years ago (not evicting her, but convincing her that moving into an independent senior apartment was best for all.  It was very hard on her [and us] to give up the old homestead.)  I can only imagine trying to convince her in another 10+ years to make the move.  My heart goes out to both Peter & Mary and wish them a smooth solution that will ensure her safety and care and his nerves.

Ten month old Sea Monster made her public debute last week at the Pittsburgh Aquarium.  She’s a Great Pacific Octopus that was caught up in a fisherman’s net.  She arrived in Pittsburgh last June.  This twelve pound little cutie changes the color and texture of her outside “mantle” to blend in with her surroundings to hide from potential predators.  Eric Kellar, her keeper, said if Great Pacific Octopus aren’t continually stimulated, they will go insane.  (When I mentioned this to some guests the other day, that asked how can you tell if an octopus is insane).  🙂  To keep her stimulated, Eric hides tasty morsels in her aquarium to keep her on her toes (actually six foot tenticles).  🙂  She recognizes people by their smell and clothing.  When Eric is not working with her, he locks a lid over her enclosure.  She’s frequently seen probing the lock to see if she can get loose.

Well, that’s about it for today,


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