Hi,

This didn’t originally post to facebook, so I’m posting it again.

Tomorrow’s birth anniversaries include author Zane Grey (1872), baseballer Jackie Robinson (1919) and composer Franz Schubert (1797).  It is the death anniversaries of movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn (1974) and the controversial execution of Eddie Slovik for desertion (1945)-after being buried in France, he was finally returned to the United States and was buried next to his wife Antoinette in 1987.  It is also the anniversary of the Marshal Islands Landing in 1944 after two weeks of intensive bombings and almost 8,500 killed, the marines acquired a major foot hold in the Pacific.

Here’s a very heart warming story.  Kelly Smith, director of the Omega Horse Rescue, was walking through a holding pen for horses waiting to be slaughtered in Lancaster County, PA, when she noticed a mare with blood running down her leg.  Kelly had built up a relationship with the people that run that facility and got permission to have the horse treated.  Kelly ended up paying $360 for the horse and put pictures of this mare on her Facebook page for adoption.  In the  mean time, Brittany from Harwich, Mass. was researching for a paper she was doing for school on horse slaughtering and came across the picture.  The horse looked familiar.  Brittany had a very similar looking horse a number of years ago when she was younger.  She contacted Kelly and inquired whether the mare had a distinctive scare below her tail and sure enough the horse did.  Word spread through the Cape Cod community and they raised the $400 needed to cover the costs so Brittany and Scribbles could be reunited.  When they met, Scribbles immediately remembered Brittany.  What a small world we live in.  :)

Here’s something pretty scarey.  Since even before the Great Recession, technology has been kicking the middle income out of their jobs by the boat loads.  This isn’t like earlier technological advances that created efficiencies and middle class workers were able to move to better paying, more productive jobs with increased wealth.  The increased efficiencies are not creating new opportunities, just saving money for the companies employing these new applications.  Most of these job losses are in the service industries, which accounts for two-thirds of all workers.  When was the last time you contacted a travel agent for a trip?  With these “smart meters”, the number of meter readers plunged from 56,000 in 2001 to 36,000 in 2010.  In ten more years, it is predicted the number of meter readers will be 0.  Small businesses, historically the largest creators of new jobs, are increasingly using computers instead of an accountant to set their business up, instead of hiring an attorney to incorporate the new business, marketing, advertising, etc.  I’m guilty here as well, but I do farm a lot out.  This is a direct quote from the Tribune Review’s article I read on Sunday “Thanks to technology, companies in the Standard and Poor’s 500 stock index reported one-third more profit the past year than they earned the year before the Great Recession.  They’ve also expanded their businesses, but total employment , 21.1 million, has declined by a half-million”.  Nearly half of the 7.5 million jobs lost in the Great Recession were middle income jobs ($38,000 to $68,000), but only 2% of the 3.5 million jobs created since are of the middle income level.  The vast majority created were for low income positions.  There are opportunities out there, it’s just not as much as in the past and to find and qualify for them you need to be pretty laser focused.

My father passed away several years ago from Alzheimer’s disease and my mother choose to take care of him at home.  I was in Florida during his final years and clearly remember family phone calls about the difficulties with this.  If you happen to be going through this, you are not alone.  The Alzheimer’s Association has a ton of information on their web site and they offer 24/7 help at 1-800-272-3900.  And this phone life line is not just for technical advise, it’s also open as a shoulder to cry on.  Treating a loved one, either at home or in assisted care, can be extremely draining and it’s great to know support is available anytime.  You can get so mixed up with time that 2 a.m. may be the only time you can reach out.

I don’t know if you noticed, they did the first two arm transplant to a Vet that lost ALL four limbs to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.  To me, this is the real tragedy of these two wars.  It’s terrible all the young lives we lost (and I’m not making a political statement for or against the wars), but all these injured Vets coming home with such physical challenges is so depressing.  And generally speaking, the VA doesn’t seem to be stepping up to the plate on this.  I do have to give them credit for each February, the VA sponsors the National Salute to Veteran Patients.  The Salute runs from February 10 until February 16.  You can do as little as addressing Valentine cards and sending them to injured Vets or volunteering at a local VA Hospital during that time.  Last year, more than 361,000 Valentines were received at Veteran Centers, 21,904 people visited 82,493 veteran patients and they recruited 364 new volunteers.  More info the VA volunteer web site.

The I Made It Market  is holding their next event this coming Saturday from Noon until 5 pm in the old Joseph Beth Booksellers at 27th and Carson Streets.  Up coming they will be at Bakery Square in Shadyside and the Tangiers Outlets in Washington County.  This is a group that supports and promotes individual crafts persons and artists.  Visit their web site and Bookmark their site so you have a resource throughout the year for gifts.

Speaking of local, anyone that’s visit The Parador Inn, probably has noticed my “vases” are amber colored soda bottles with the Jamaica’s Finest Ginger Beer labels.  Well, I buy a case of Natrona Height’s famous ginger beer (for you long time locals, this is the original recipe they bought from Tom Tucker Ginger Ale-but they didn’t buy the name so had to re-name it) and after drinking the sodas, I coat the exterior with polyurethane.  Natrona Bottling also makes Pennsylvania Punch, Red Ribbon Cherry Pop, Chamayno , Mint Julep, Root Beer, Almond and Vanilla Cream Sodas. You can go to their web site (which they are currently re-building) and order locally crafted pop.  The carbinator Natrona uses is from the turn of the 19th century, kind of hard to find parts for.  :)  Also using a 100 year old carbinator is Pittsburgh Seltzer in Swissvale.  PGH Seltzer fills those vintage 19th century seltzer  bottles for you to use with your own choice of flavorings.  Pittsburgh Soda Pop is ideally suited to supply you with the flavorings you need for your own flavored soda pop or other flavored ventures.  The tremendously successful East End Brewery has a sister company Barmy Soda that’s producing local pop as well.  Making their own root beer are local restaurants The Church Brew Works and RiverTowne.

Want some money?  Go Green.  :)  The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has $7.25M set aside for solar heating systems and solar electric and heating systems.  Residents can qualify for up to $5k for solar heating and hot water and up to $7.5k for solar electric.  Businesses can qualify for up to $50k for solar heat and hot water systems and $52K for solar electric.  If interested, go to the DEP’s web site and use the key word Sunshine.

Well, I’m banned from working on stripping Oleander’s wood work.  I recently developed a very unsightly and uncomfortable rash, particularly around me neck.  I really could have gotten a job in some B rated scifi movie.  Little children ran screaming from me.  Well, I am exaggerating a tad.  But this just started this past weekend and I have that trip to Costa Rica scheduled for this coming weekend.  So I contacted Doctor Wilson at Forbes Regional and she was able to see me Monday.  After talking with her, we decided it was a reaction to lotion.  I was told not to use Gold Bond anymore and to find Vanicream.  It’s very old school and still made like lye soap with none of the modern additives in most lotions.  When I picked up the prescription Dr. Wilson gave me, I couldn’t find the Vanicream and so got Lubriderm which I also used in the past with no adverse affects.  Monday night, I applied some Lubriderm to my face and ankles and guess what?  I got rashes both places.  It was odd that I all of a sudden developed an allergy to Gold Bond, unbelievable that I also all of a sudden developed an allergy to Lubriderm as well.  So I called Dr. Wilson in a panic and she said there has to be something else.  I told her about stripping the wainscoting and trim in Oleander and apparently I’m having a reaction to the fumes in the room.  I’m wearing a long sleeved shirt and pants as well as heavy gloves.  I have used this stripper since moving back to Pittsburgh, but this is the largest project and hence the most exposed to the chemicals floating in the air.  Today I’m shedding skin from my neck like a snake.  :)  When I come back, the kindly Dr. Wilson says I’m allowed to finish the project only if I do in limited quantities of time and if the room is properly ventilated.  :)

Well, it’s sixty degrees today and raining.  January, sixty degrees, is this called Indian winter?  :)

As I said, we’re leaving for Costa Rica this weekend.  Not sure how much Internet access I will have (or want), so you may not hear from me for a couple of weeks.

Take care and keep warm,

ed

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