Hi,

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler (1943), Mattel introduced the Ken doll (1961), planet Uranus was discovered (1781), the Arab oil embargo ended (1974) and ear muffs were patented (1887).  Birth anniversaries include author L Ron Hubbard, gastronomic Lorenzo Delmonico (1813), the clergyman that discovered oxygen Joseph Priestly (1733) and American astronomer Percival Lowell (1855).

One of my favorite contests is underway, The Tribune Review’s Peep Show.  Show your creativity by submitting your peeps in a diorama.  Some of them are really funny.  The deadline is 5 pm, Monday, March 25.  Watch for The Parador Inn‘s tropical entry.  :)

There was some good news that came out of the Commerce Department recently.  Raw statistics imply that factory workers income has dropped quite a bit from previous to the great recession compared to a comparable worker outside manufacturing.  But that doesn’t take into account medical and retirement benefits added to the basic hourly rates.  This combined with the fact that factory workers generally work more hours than their counterparts add up to factory workers have actually gained income since the great recession.  Add this to increased productivity of factory workers in that time span, it’s a win win.  I’m not saying things are good, I’m just saying there is some blue skies out there.

Has anyone noticed the huge increase in corporate casual dining advertising?  Applebee’s, Chili’s, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, etc are really spending a ton of money on advertising.  That’s because their sales are way down.  Some studies indicate that the general public’s spending more money on the less expensive fast food than what they were spending on corporate casual dining.  I’m hoping the shift is to  independent restaurants.

There’s an official name for that really ugly architecture I’ve hated for years.  Brutalist!  I remember the first time I saw Pitt’s Posvar Hall, what a monstrosity.  In the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s French architect Charles Edouard Jenneret pioneered this style known for interlocking spaces and abstract shapes.  This style was very academia driven and that’s why you see it more often on college campuses that in general building.  Other local examples of this style are the Duquesne University student union and Chatham University’s Jennie King Mellon Library.  This style welcomed industrial appearance of large unadorned spaces often with things like leaving the impression of wood forms in the concrete.  Sometimes they would cover this with a more appealing covering of limestone (Prosvar Hall) or something like this, but the big bulky structure is still there.  Even windows were minimized, the new county jail on Second Avenue is an example of modified Brutalism.

Pittsburgh’s experimenting with a bike share program.  Funded by $4M the initial leg of this program will be from Oakland to Bakery Square.  Users can buy a $7 per day, $15 for three days, $25 per month and $75 for a year long pass.  You pick up the bike at one of the designated locations and drop it off at another.  Trips are supposed to be just 30 minutes and you get a surcharge if you keep the bike out later.  This is in addition to Bike Pittsburgh that also rents bikes out, their closest location to me is under the Bill Mazeroski brige (6th Street by PNC Park) that also rents kayaks in warmer weather.

The city’s offering a free shuttle service this Saturday for St Patrick’s Day, the 144th annual parade  starts at 10 am.  You can park for free at the 2nd Avenue lot (by the 10th Street Bridge where Greyhound was set up while the transportation center was being built).  And then it’s free shuttle service between Downtown and Southside.  Service is scheduled from noon until 4 am and you can even leave your car in the lot overnight if you imbibe too much.  :)

Primer on touch screens.  We all have seen touch screens around for years.  Earliest major use of them were at ATM machines and point of sale terminals for restaurant and retail workers.  These were two pieces of material, separated by space and covered with a protective pad.  When you pressed on the screen, the two sides connected where you touched sending a signal of what you were trying to do.  The iPhone came up with a new technology where there was a single glass sheet that was electrified and this is what Steve Jobs got to do multiple tasks like expanding the screen.  The use of touch screens is huge, obviously in smart phones, computer notebooks, etc.  Northside’s own Dawar is huge in specialized touch screens for manufacturing, medical and other specialized uses.  They customize each application for it’s intended use.  Dawar (founded as Davis & Warde publishing 144 years ago) took over the USA Gourmet building behind Wendy’s and McDonald’s on Allegheny Avenue about six years ago.  They manufacture this pads here and obviously in China and employ about 40 here and 600 overseas.

Peaches and cream, hot dogs and relish, apple pie and vanilla ice cream-some things just go together.  How about Cops and Doughnuts?  In 2009, when a local bakery was getting ready to close in Clare, Michigan, several police officers got together and bought the venture.  It has been quite the success, and with menu items like the Night Stick (cinnamon twist), Taser (lemon filled doughnut), and Felony Fritter (large fried apple fritter), how could they go wrong?  The bakery has been such a success that they have opened The Traffic Stop Diner next door and even a remote location in nearby Harrison called the Precinct Store.  Pretty cute.  :)

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