Hi,

Happy Leap Day.  I hate posting on the last day of the month, there are so many anniversaries and special days on the first of the month.  Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Articles of Confederation being ratified (1781), the eightieth anniversary of the Lindbergh kidnapping, the anniversary of the raid on Richmond (1864), the start of the Salem Witch Hunt hysteria (1692), Yellowstone National Park was established (1872) and admitted to the Union was Ohio (1803) and Nebraska (1897).  Birth anniversaries of William Gaines (1922-Mad Magazine), Glenn Miller (1904), Pete Rozelle (1926) and Dinah Shore (1917).  For you teenies, Justin Bieber was born on 1994).  :)

I’ve certainly finished joining the 21st century.  Two years ago I got my iPod, last year I got my iPhone, this year I got my Prius with Bluetooth and a Garmin.  I really like Bluetooth, it is so much easier (and safer) to speak on the phone while driving.  And Garmin is such a change from Mapquest.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used it and tried to find someplace at night, pulling off the road trying to read directions in the dark.  :)  Not only does it tell me when to turn, give me a “heads up” of the next move, it also gives an estimate of when I should arrive.  I know, you people that have been using GPS for years now are laughing at me, but I’m happy.  :)  I’ve heard people complain about Mapquest, but I’ve always had pretty good luck with them.

I belong to Netflix, I’m not overly current, but do keep up on things.  I saw one of the strangest movies.  Cowboys vs Aliens, what a weird movie.  :)

Slick.  With TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline in limbo, they’ve decided on a new tactic.  Because a pipeline within the United States does not need a presidential approval, they are going ahead with a pipeline from Texas to Oklahoma.  There’s a bit of a squawk in Texas about this pipeline because the “for profit” business is using eminent domain to acquire permanent easements against landowners.  These easements include a clause that you can’t drive heavy equipment over the easements, which specifically will block farmers from driving their tractors over the easements which actually blocks them from direct access to parts of their farms.  With this mega company using their high powered (and expensive) lawyers to concoct this, makes you wonder how responsible these players would be in the event of an oil spill.  I’m even more against the Keystone KL pipeline.

Those poor people at Brunton Dairy in Aliquippa are finally reopening.  Next week I think.  If you remember, they closed last summer because of a bacteria scare.  Several people got ill that had consumed their dairy products.  As far as I recall, they only actually found this bacteria once in a package of their ice cream.  This dairy founded in 1832 makes fresh pasteurized milk, butter and cheeses.  Their store also carries locally produced eggs and other farm products.  They are about thirty miles west of Pittsburgh at 3681 Ridge Road, Aliquippa, PA 15001.  More info at their web site or by calling 724.375.5910.

The Mongol Studios on Thirty-first Street in the Strip went through some ownership changes last year.  The financial backer to the project back from the guy whose idea it was for back payments.  This new leadership seems to be doing the right things.  The Thirty-First Street Studios, as it is now called, is a 300,000 square foot facility in ten acres in what was the Pittsburgh Flatroll Company.  Chris Breakwell, founder, has deals with Paramont On Location (the equipment side of Paramount) and Knight Vision Studios (the brains behind the special effects of Avatar).  Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Program is also partnering with the group and will be sending graduate level student interns to learn the film making craft hands-on.  James Knight is creating a “motion-capture” studio in the complex, which will be the only one outside of Hollywood.  That is the process where they create computer animations using action recordings of live actors.  Film making brought an estimated $100M to Western Pennsylvania each of the last four years, according to Pittsburgh Flim Office.

Speaking of film making in Pittsburgh, Michael Kadrie is working on opening a Pixar/Dreamworks kind of studio also in the Strip.  The founder of zoetifex has a number of things in it’s favor for a start up. Todd Eckert of Knight Vision Studios (see above)  :) is on their board of advisers.  The tax incentive that has encouraged more than a dozen films to be shot here in the last two years.  The number of skilled animation professionals either from the area or underemployed in other locations like California that would love to live and work in our less expensive cost of living area.  Kadrie got the rights to two of Michael Garland’s children’s books Christmas Magic and Icarus Swinebuckle which he would like to turn into film by Christmas.  Kadrie also go the rights to Queensryche’s album Operation Mindcrime. Creation of a film based on this 1980′s metal band’s concept album would definitely be a lot darker than the films based on Garland’s children’s books.

Have a happy March,

ed

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