Tomorrow is the anniversary of the first magazine published in American, The American Magazine (1741-three days before Benjamin Franklin’s General Magazine), Colonel Bernard Irwin was the first to win the new Medal of Honor (1861) and it is the anniversary of the Dresden Fire Bombing (1945).  Birth anniversaries include first lady Bess Truman (1885), Venetian artist Giovanni Piazzetta (1682), American artist Grant Wood (1892) and the winningest college football coach Eddie Robinson (1919).

Ruellia is finished!  I love it.  It’s basically cleaned, there’s some detail work to do and we have to finish putting it together tomorrow.  My next blog, maybe Friday I will dedicate to it with pictures.

Good news, my “competition” The Allegheny Inn is back under construction. They seem to have worked out their dispute with the city over their fire alarm permit.   Great people, great building, I’m sure it’s going to be a great Bed and Breakfast and asset to the Northside.

Reinvention is a good thing, it’s a great business strategy to keep your business fresh and exciting, as I’m redoing the two bathrooms.  Let’s take this to a new level and change those horrid Food Courts that are in all indoor shopping malls (and other places).  Instead of Food Courts, there’s a trend called Food Halls.  I’m not sure of their total structure, but I would assume there’s a central commercial kitchen Food Hall vendors have access to for making stocks, roasting meats, etc and then they have the typical storefronts you find in Food Courts.  These Food Halls are generally being developed by international chefs around the country.  The traditional Food Court has been around since 1974 in the malls.  One of the pioneers of Food Halls was chef Sebastien Bernsidoun when he opened his first one in Chicago 16 years ago, basically a flop, but he tried again with the Chicago French Market in the West Loop in 2009.  What a great concept for malls!  Instead of greasy fast food and hard plastic tables & chairs and plastic plants catering to teenagers (no offense to teenagers, but they don’t spend money in the mall), offer artisan foods  in a more upscale dining area.  It doesn’t have to be white table cloth, nice wooden tables and chairs with real plant segregating the area into groups would work fine.  The two more famous Food Halls include chefs Anthony Bourdain & Todd English join venture in New York’s Plaza Hotel has been around since 2010 and chef Mario Batali’s Eataly now has locations in both New York and Chicago.

Another trend I think is kind of interesting is banks setting up games for customers to increase their credit worthiness, this trend is being called gamification.  It’s a trend more foreign banks are starting, but there is some movement in the US towards this.  It’s an App the bank develops and depending on the bank, some have you go through the App to take classes on money management and financial instructions.  You get points for completing these “courses”.  Also, you may get points for paying your bills in time, not bouncing checks, etc.  The more points you get, the lower your next loan interest rate will be.  Also, you can get a higher interest rate on your savings account the better you do.  I can see this expanding to things like encouraging growing your savings account gets you more $, starting an IRA could be included and many other financial incentives.  What a win/win situation, better educated customers are better for the bank, the better the customer and the more opportunity for the bank to make money and loyalty.

The Natural Bridge in Virginia is entering a new life.  This 215 foot high natural bridge is located in the scenic Shenandoah Valley also has 150 room hotel, cabins and caverns.  It has long been a tourist attraction dating all the way back to when Thomas Jefferson bought the acreage from the King of England for 20 shillings in 1774.  The private owner, real estate developer Angelo Puglisi, sold the bridge (the bridge alone is valued at $21M) AND threw in 1,500 plus acreage to the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund for just $8.6M.  Once the Fund retires that debt (they’re hoping within a year or two), they plan on donating the property over to the Virginia Parks Service.  Maybe the owners of Svonavec Quarry out by Shanksville could take note.  They were in a big fight with the National Parks Service over the value of the property they used to own that was needed for the Flight 93 Memorial.  Initially offered $25K, wanted $750K and said the property was worth $25M.  The Natural Bridge is a very cool thing and deserves to be in the parks system.  Flight 93 is a national treasure.  His $25M figure came from expected tourists and a hot dog stand (vending options) they could rake in through admissions.   Svonavec should be ashamed.

I’ve spoken several time in the past about the importance of managing and safe guarding your financial information.  I’ve spoken about how you should get a copy of your credit card for free by contacting the three reporting agencies yearly (or at least every other year) to see if anything unwarranted shows up.  (Don’t use those sites that advertise free credit reports, they usually demand a credit card number and then they give you a free limited credit report and sign you up for their monitoring, for a monthly fee that is sometimes hard to stop).  I’ve talked about how you can improve your credit report as well.  What I just realized is I never discussed what you should do in the case of a breach in your credit.  Notify your bank.  File a local police report, it just takes a few minutes and now it’s “official”.  Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-438-4338.  Contact the fraud department at the credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a SIGNIFICANT increase in the amount of spam I’ve been receiving.  In addition to the 200+ spams my website host pulls and puts in a spam filter for me to review once a day, for the past two months Outlook has been pulling over 100 spams into my Junk Mail folder AND I’m getting close to another 100 in my regular In Box each day.  Much of the spam isn’t nefarious.  Many are legitimate solicitations of things I don’t want and have never inquired about.  Examples like right now I probably get over 25 solicitations for roses with Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching.  I get a lot of dating sites and low cost loan offers (many are legitimate I think), dieting sites and so much more.  What I believe is going on is companies set up data mining on the Net and then these miners sell bulk addresses to on line businesses.  These businesses operate under the assumption that if you throw enough mud on a wall, something will stick.  🙂

Well, that’s about it for now.  It’s supposed to go up into the 40’s next week, I for one can’t wait 🙂



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