Newspaper reporter Nellie Blie wanted to beat the fictional Jules Verne’s Phileas Foggs air balloon trip around the world in 80 days (she did in 72 days) landed on 1890 in New Jersey, Apple’s Macintosh premiered in 1984, Pan Am had the first scheduled trans-continental flight from California to New York (1959) and the first modern winter Olympic Games was held in Chamonix, France in 1924.

The Cleveland Aquarium opened Saturday, January 21.  It’s part of the city’s effort to rebuild the riverfront district on Lake Erie.  It was built around a powerhouse that used to power Cleveland’s streetcar and railroad lines.  The powerhouse was built in 1926 and because it is a historic structure, the developers were not permitted to alter the structure.  Which makes the layout quite interesting with the saved brick walls, smoke stacks and other architectural as a back drop.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia really scared me.  I have always had a lot of respect for the Judiciary thinking that judges in general are fair and unbiased humans that are beyond politics.  Some make poor decisions (in my opinion), but the decision was based on a logical thought process based on facts.  And I’m fine with someone having an opinion different than mine.  When asked about his decision two years ago that approved the Super PACs.  He said, and I quote, “People are not stupid.  If they don’t like it, they’ll shut it off.”  Does this mean children should be entrusted to turn the television off when they approve porn being shown during prime time?  Does this mean when a criminal shoves a gun in  our face we should close our eyes?  Maybe if your house is on fire, you should go to another room?

Cliff Wilson, started at 16 at his father’s Ritchie Industries livestock equipment business in Conrad, Iowa, a town of 1,110 people.  At 76 years old, he was ready to retire.  The only buyers interested were those stripping companies the remove any equipment they can salvage and leave a vacant building.  Loosing this employer of 65 persons would be devastating to Conrad.  Mr. Wilson grew up and lived his life in Conrad and didn’t want that to happen to the town, but there wasn’t many options.  He agreed to let his employees do an ESOPs.  That stands for Employee Stock Ownership Plan.  Actually, there’s quite a lot of ESOPs in the country, 10,900 in 2011.  ESOPs aren’t easy to get off the ground, usually the employees don’t have enough cash to talk a bank into lending the balance.  Frequently the previous owner has to carry at least a significant portion of the amount.  Banks are very wary of start up businesses, even ones that are already operating because this would be a new management team.  Mr. Wilson took a down payment in 2004 and the ESOP made the last installment in 2011.  He financed the entire transaction.  Sales have increased 50%.  “Workers are much more engaged in the business-from safety to work habits, to new innovative ideas, right down the line.”

Artist Keith Haring originally from Reading/Kutztown, after graduating high school went to the now closed Ivy School of Professional Art here in Pittsburgh.  He also took classes at Pitt before moving to New York City and enrolled in the School of Visual Arts.  His first solo exhibit was at the Pittsburgh Arts and Crafts Center (now the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts).  He famous for his vivid colors and primitive shapes, reminds me of Peter Max.  He did several short films for Sesame Street, the first of which was Exit, which features live kids dancing to the music Exit with his animation finalizing the short.  His art work is on show at Toonseum at 945 Liberty Avenue, Downtown through February 26.  Hours are from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Friday and Saturdays.  More info at Toonseum web site or by calling 412.232.0199.  Admission is $5 for adults and $1 for kids, great family entertainment.

Valley of Decision, written by Marcia Davenport that lived in Allegheny West was published in 1943.  The story was adapted to a movie in 1945 staring Gregory Peck, Greer Garson and Lionel Barrymore.  The movie was nominated for two Academy Awards (one for best actress and the other for musical score).  The story is Pittsburgh based on a the son (Gregory Peck) of a steel mill magnate that gets involved with an Irish immigrant housekeeper (Greer Garson).  This classic movie is being presented by the Allegheny City Society at the Unitarian Church on North Avenue on April 4 at 7 p.m.  I don’t know the price, but I’m sure it will be affordable.

That’s about it for today, keep happy,

ed

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