Hi,

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy (1963), where were you?  Also, the anniversary of the first China Clipper flight delivering mail to the Philippines (1935), Lebanon’s Independence Day (1943), Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was first published (1859) and Margaret Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister (1990).  Birth anniversaries include pilot and stunt parachutist Wiley Post (1898), French President Charles De Gaulle  (1890) and novelist George Eliot (1819).

When I talk, you better pay attention.  Apparently, Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority did.  :)  PWSA is planning on spending $155M to comply with the EPA mandate to keep raw sewerage out of our waterways during heavy rain. PWSA plans on dedicating $10M out of the first $80M investment on green infrastructure.  The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (PWSA’s county counterpart) intends to include green infrastructure in their $2.2B plan.  GM George Hawkins wouldn’t commit how much would be earmarked for green infrastructure and I don’t expect a lot after hearing his comment “We don’t think we’re going to save money by going green, though we do get all of these other benefits.”  Well, for one thing, passive rain gardens and swells don’t need much maintenance.  Porous paving is pretty permanent.  I have sent a suggestion to PWSA on numerous occasions that I am sure would greatly reduce the volume of storm water entering the sewer system.  When they rebuilt Western Avenue out front of The Parador a couple of years ago, I was excited because I thought I saw a very ingenious way to reduce storm water runoff going into the sewers.  They replaced the catch basins.  They dug the old ones out, put a healthy layer of crushed rock in the hole and the new cement catch basin was sitting next to it, five sides of concrete.  One had the hole for the pipe to take water out of the basin and one side was totally open.  I thought if they put the open side down over the crushed rock and raised the pipe opening, water would naturally percolate through the rock into the ground.  If this was the new standard throughout the city, we would keep tons of water out of the system.  PWSA has never even acknowledged my suggestions.

How about Mayor Elect  Bill Peduto?  Once again he’s impressing me.  He’s offered current city employees an early retirement package if they’re concerned about the performance bar being raised.  Other than his inner circle, hiring will be done through an organization set up by the Pittsburgh Foundation.  The committee will review applications and forward the most qualified to his office.  This should keep politics and “the old boy” patronage system out of government new hires.  The Mayor Elect does not have to accept them, he has the option of rejecting them and asking the committee to find another candidate.  He’s also set up advisory panels of volunteer city residents to meet and come up with solutions to the many problems the city faces.  He’s had nearly 900 residents volunteer for these positions.  I’m not saying Joe Residents knows how to fix all the problems in the city, but when you pare concerned citizens with experts you start thinking outside the box.  This could truly be huge.

Starting Saturday at 6 pm, as part of Light Up Night, they are having a candle light horse drawn carriage parade from the convention center down Liberty to the Gateway “T” stop.  More than 100 horses, 30 carriages decorated like Cinderella’s pumpkin and other themes.  Clydesdale and miniature ponies and mascots including the Pirate Parrot, Iceberg and the Pierogies  will join Mr McFeely in the parade.  Sounds pretty fun.  There’s so much scheduled for Light Up Night, it would take forever to list them in my blog, please visit their website for details.

Thanx Ravenstahl, back when you were running for mayor, you showed up for the Veteran’s Day parade.  But now that you don’t need our votes, you’re too busy hob knobbing with the rich and powerful to honor Vets.  We’ll remember.

I’ve been against ethanol since the fad started.  Yes, the burning of an ethanol and gasoline blend gives off less carbon dioxide.  But my first concern about it is there’s millions of people starving around the world, many hungry right here in America.  Farms should farm food.  As time goes by, more and more scientists are getting on the bandwagon showing how when you add the cost of actual farming (tractors, etc), trucking the grain to processing plants, trucking to ethanol to blending plants it’s a net negative for the environment.  And, because corn prices are at near record levels, farmers in the mid West and Western states are tearing up virgin grazing lands releasing pent up carbon in the soil below the grasslands.

Fifty years ago this week, touch tone phones were first introduced right here in Carnegie and Greensburg.  Developed in Bell Labs, they ran the experiment in these two local cities because of their relative size, average income and isolation from larger sections of the old Bell Telephone system.  What’s kind of interesting here is with all the advances with cell and i phones, the key pad is basically the same as it was 50 years ago.  Some ideas last.

The basic books in my foodie collection that I highly recommend are the reference books A Food Lover’s Companion, a dictionary of culinary terms, many you probably never heard before.  For all there is to know about beer, wine and spirits, Grossman’s Guide to Wine, Beer and Spirits is the source.  For all things cooking, the Culinary Institute of America’s New Professional Chef is a must have.  These aren’t so much “cook books” as much as reference books.  The reason for these three recommendations is I  read one of my favorite writers for the Trib, John Conti’s article in Sunday’s Trib “Bigger and Glossier Doesn’t Always Mean Best Book.”  Although John isn’t an architect, his insight always amazes me and if you are looking for a reference book on architecture, whether it’s architecture in general, Pittsburgh’s architecture or even hiring an architect, you really should read this article.

A belated congratulations to Center Fielder Andrew McCutchen’s landslide winning of the National League’s MVP player.  He’s just one of six Pirates to receive the honor since the award started in 1931.

Pittsburgh’s indie market of local artisans “I Made It” is being held at the Waterfront Friday from 5 pm until 10 pm and Saturday from 11 am until 6 pm.  Since 2007, local crafts persons have offered unique gifts of photography books, reclaimed wood wall hangings, housewares, apparels, ceramic, baby items, furniture, Pittsburgh themed items and much more.  There will be more than 90 local crafters located in the former Abercrombie and Holister retail space.  If you want a unique gift and meet the creator, here you go.

Have a great day,

ed

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