There’s a raptor bike ride on the Mon this weekend, I’m fascinated with raptors, eagles, peregrine falcons, hawks, etc.  It’s a 16 mile trek from Hays to McKeesport on the Allegheny Passage from 9 am until 2.  It’s a self guided tour, they will have experts at key locations to aid you in seeing the nesting raptors, you are encouraged to bring your own binoculars so you can see a lot that isn’t highlighted.  It’s a fund raiser for Steel Valley Trail Council who maintains that section of the trail.  Cost is $30 for couples that are members and $40 for those not members.  Individuals are $20 for members and $25 for non members.  More info and registration are on their website.

First Energy spun off their electric generation operations from the main company.  They are trying to sell off the unprofitable coal and nuclear plants.  They have been lobbying and whining for months that they need tax payer subsidies, so they can reach their corporate profit goals.  Personally I would be happy to see all nuclear power plants closed.  Mainly because the radioactive waste lasts longer than humans have been on earth and secondly because our dysfunctional government can’t come up with a proper disposal plan.  They are currently storing spend rods on site in inadequate containment areas.  I acknowledge that nuclear power plants do not emit carbon dioxide, but considering the leathality (my word) of the waste, I still think they need to go away.  I’m also against coal produced power plants.  They are so busy spending the cash they have on had buying other coal facilities instead of spending money (current profits) on R & D and figured out how to sequester the pollution or figure a way to clean it before it leaves the smoke stacks.  I don’t blame the coal companies anymore than the rest of corporate America for not investing the huge profits they are raking in for R & D to come up with solutions.  They just keep buying their competitors.  This is similar to the evil empire Buncher group that tried to rail road the city into letting them knock down a 1/3 of the iconic Terminal Building so they could have easy access the red light on Penn & 17th Street.  Have you seen the huge shoe box Buncher built behind the Terminal Building?  They first put up this huge parking garage and then build their apartments on all four sides.  I’m not an architect, but it’s possibly the most boring building I’ve ever seen, it has no visual appeal, it  is just this huge square box with some trim added to it.  They needed to build that density to reach their “corporate profit goals”.    It’s like the development on North Avenue Q development is doing.    They want a variance to the height restrictions there, it’s the only way they could “make the numbers work”.  They came in knowing full well what the density was zoned for in the area.  Also the want a lot of other variances to what the city and residents set years before like parking, set backs and mostly they want to tear down the three last buildings so they could create the density they need for their “numbers to work”.  I’m OK with variances, but within reason.  I’m tired of subsidizing the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates  so they can make their “numbers work”.  I have to have a parking spot for each guest room I have, the sports teams don’t have to do the same, so overflow parking is pushed into the adjacent neighborhoods.  The thing that sticks in my craw is the Pirates to get their subsidies had to go before the voters and it was rejected!  The city then worked around the vote to give what the Pirates wanted.  I wasn’t living here at the time and don’t know the details.  All three sports teams bring in a ton of visitor spending (I admit, the Steelers are huge for my business, but that’s beside the point in my opinion.  The rules are the rules).

I can’t leave my whining without complaining about the Airport Authorities latest boondoggle, a $1.2B (yes Billion) renovation.  The landside terminal is going away as are the trains.  Everything is going into the airside terminal.  They are also removing many of the unused gates.  I’m pretty much OK with a fairly major renovation of the airport, but $1.2B?  The “new” airport was construction in 1972 for $33M, it’s forty years old and we are spending this money?  Generally speaking I think Christina Cassotis is doing a pretty good job, although we seem to be taking it in the shorts by the agreement she signed with the Qatar freight airline.

Enough of my ranting today, lets move back to the North Avenue, Garden Theater development.  I haven’t heard exactly what will be moving into to the old Garden Theater, but they are now doing major work and you can finally see where they are making progress for whatever they are putting in there.

Also on the Northside, the National Aviary is doing a $1.2M improvement.  They are replacing 3,146 panes of glass with bird friendly glass both inside and out and the glass is specially designed to let the bird friendly UV rays in.  (the glass is even designed so predator birds on the outside do not see the inside birds.  The glass is being manufactured by Vitro Architectural Glass a Mexican company the purchase PPG glass 18 months ago.  Much of the work is in the Tropical Rain Forest Room, the oldest area in the Aviary.  They are making it more bird friendly with waterfalls, trees and other bird amenities. They just started the Rain Forest work and expect to be completed by July.  The Rain Forest is closed and they moved some of the more popular birds into Canary Call exhibit.

In 2015, the historic Century Inn in Scenery Hill, PA (near little Washington PA) was basically burnt to the ground.  This devastating fire left only the stone exterior walls standing.  The owner and her son barely got out in time and was only able to save the last remaining flag from the Whiskey Rebellion.  All the antiques, historic pictures and other mementos were lost. I remember being in it when I was in high school with my father on one of his auction trips.  Megin Harrington was (and is) the owner.  At the time, she swore she would rebuild it, true to what it was and she’s accomplished this, it just reopened.  Good job Megin!

That’s it for today, enjoy this spring weather,



I thought I talked about Ian Rosenberger, founder of Thread.  He’s a Pittsburgh native that started Thread International shortly after the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010.  He set up a plant on the island that would take trash water bottles and other plastic trash and turn it into threads to be used to make fabric.  So he hires local residents to go out and collect plastic and pays them for what plastic trash they collect.  A lot of socially conscious companies use his fabric, but he is not known because these companies push their agenda of the good they do and he gets left out.   Names like Timberland, Reebok, Kenneth Cole and many others use his fabrics.   He’s come under criticism for the use of child labor, he buys plastic from anyone that brings it to his factory.  The kids do not work in the factory in a sweat shop kind of environment, as some have implied.  He just pays these kids for walking around in the fresh air picking up litter and helping to support their family.  I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  So he’s now shifting his business model and has created a factory here in Pittsburgh (actually Homewood), but he is also working with others to create his own product line using his own fabric.  Thread’s actual website is not currently working, I’m assuming it’s down until they come up with a product line to show.

The Pittsburgh Food Truck Park at Millvale’s Riverfront Park opened for the season last weekend.  I was initially against food trucks as I am against Airbnb and for the same reasons.  Brick and mortar restaurants and bed and breakfasts have a significant investment in the building and are inspected, licensed and insured.  Food trucks do have a bit of an expense in making the truck into a kitchen and they are licensed and inspected by the county.  Airbnb on the other hand are not licensed, nor does any government agency inspect or approve their operations.  I have since dropped my boycott of the food trucks.  Currently all operations at the Food Truck Park are outdoors (even port-a-potties).  By the summer they hope to have the shipping container completed and move the beer, wine and by then spirits into the container.  They will have a roof top deck on top of the container.  They are also taking over an old warehouse (currently still in use by the city of Millvale.)  Not sure if the indoor bathrooms are going into the container or warehouse. In addition to the rotating food trucks, they plan on other activities like live bands, yoga classes and other activities.

Speaking of food trucks, Dee and myself went to the Federal Galley last week, Federal Galley is not a food truck, but I kind of think of them as similar.  I had been wanting to try the Michigan & Trumbull Detroit style pizzas.  The pizza that caught my eye was the mushroom pizza and typical Dee she said she doesn’t like mushrooms.  She said that when I started making my garden quiche (zucchini, mushrooms and onion), she finally tried it and it’s been one of her favorites since.  She loved the pizza, I will make a mushroom lover out of her yet.

I first noticed Molly’s Trolleys when I lived in Florida.  Molly Stahlmand & Bob Spagno started the tour buses around 1995 here in Pittsburgh and would travel to West Palm Beach and decided to create a second Molly’s Trolley down there.  I wasn’t aware they originated here and was surprised when I moved back.  Molly & Bob decided to close down the Pittsburgh branch in 2010 and Just Ducky purchased it and ran it until this past fall when they decided to stop doing the trolley thing and focus on the Ducky tours.  Vince & Manon LaMonica, who own Pittsburgh Tour group (the double  buses you see around town).  Those buses are limited to nice weather and they have to stop tours when the weather gets cold.  They decide to start a trolley to extend their season and be able to cater to wedding, prom and other special events where the double decker buses would be too big.  Molly’s Trolley took off from Station Square, the new venture by Pittsburgh Tour will be starting down at Southside Works.  They are just doing weekends for another week when they will start their regular schedule of tours every two hours from 9 am until 5 pm.  Unfortunately, they will not be offering the off and back on again option for a single fare the double decker buses do.

Speaking of excitement on the Northside, Cafe Brugge just opened their Northside restaurant in City of Asylum’s Alphabet City on North Avenue.  This is so hot off the press, that they have not included the new (third location) on their menu site, the menu will be vary similar to the other two.

That’s it for today,





Pleasant Valley, the homeless shelter on Brighton that’s associated with the Great Pittsburgh Food Bank is hosting a fund raising spaghetti dinner Saturday April 28 from 4:30 until 7 at the Northmont Presbyterian Church at 8169 Perry Highway 15237.  They are offering eat in and take out.  They are also offering gluten free option.  Pleasant Valley is a division of  Northside Common Ministries, the local outlet for the food pantry.  A worthy cause!

I’ve always been intrigued with the WWII Nazi Enigma machine.  It was the Nazi machine that encrypted communication within their military to keep the Allies from knowing what they were up to and planning.  The Allies spent years trying to figure out how to decipher the codes, I believe there’s a recent movie on this, which I didn’t see.  Scientists in Bletchley Park, England eventually figured it out.  Of the 35,000 in use during the war, there is only around 35 left. Carnegie Mellon’s Hunt Library has 2!  They are on public display (behind glass).  There are three types of enigmas, three rotors, four rotors and five rotors.  The more rotors, the more en cryptically secure was the machine.  The sender and receiver both had to have the same machine and they had to be coordinated that their settings were the same.

Pittsburgh’s getting our own floating tiki bars.  Dale McCue, Greg Darby and partners came up with the idea in Ft Lauderdale, FL.  They were immediately very popular.  Instead of constructing them for others, Dale decided to patent the idea and franchise the idea, smart move Dale.  They don’t seem to have a dedicated website, but have a presence in face book & Twitter.  They don’t have a liquor license (yet)  🙂 nor a license to make food (yet).  On the food side, they are partnering with a local restaurant to make up a “to go” menu you can pick up and take with you and you also can bring your “beverage of choice”.  They currently will be docked out of Station Square and are negotiating with SEA to be able to stop on the Northshore.  They plan on having a wet bar, bottled water and a Blue Tooth stereo system.  You can rent one that will old up to six persons for around $400 for two hours.

Gerrymandering has been fairly big news the last several years.  Pennsylvania’s most recent gerrymandered voting districts were created by the Republicans (the Democrats have done the same thing over the years) and this is not unique to Pennsylvania, many states are under scrutiny for this.  Does it come as any surprise that even though a case against these gerrymandered districts came up to the PA Supreme Court and the justices ruled that the Republican controlled legislature needed to come up with a more fair redistricting plan?   The Republicans whined that they didn’t have enough time to complete a new redistricting plan in time for this year’s elections.  The Justices said if the Republicans didn’t, the Justices would do it.  And the Justices were able to do it by the dead line!  So the Republicans threatened to sue that the Justices were violating our separation of powers.  Well Mr. & Mrs. Republicans maybe do you job, that court case didn’t just pop up on the Justices docket.  While your at it, maybe pass a balanced budget on time, just a thought.  🙂

While we are talking about Supreme Court Justices, lets move over a bit and talk about retired US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.  He has made a case for repealing the Second Amendment.  I’m not suggesting that we repeal it, but he makes some valid points that we should consider.  There’s part of is commentary I didn’t understand, so I will leave it to you to make up your own mind.

OK, this is kind of old news, but why can’t we play nice together.  Emma Gonzalez is one of the prime advocates from the Parkland, FL school shooting that started the Never Again movement.  She had a Cuban flag stitched on her jacket and the Republican US Congressman Steve King from Iowa picked on her for being proud of her heritage.  And worse during her speech at the DC rally she said she’s of Cuban decent and bisexual was the response of Maine state house candidate Leslie Gibson saying and I need to quote him here “There is nothing about this skinhead lesbian that impresses me and there is nothing that she has to say unless you’re a frothing at the mouth moonbat,”.  He has since apologized and dropped out of the race.  We have serious problems in America and calling each other names absolutely should not be tolerated by anyone, let alone elect officials.  I saw Emma’s 17 minutes of silence and was very moved, that last thing I thought of “Was is she a moonbat.”  By the way, what is a moonbat?    Is it a Main thing, something like a snipe we used to get younger kids to try and capture when I was a kid in Finleyville?

There is still a ban on monetary commerce between the USA and Cuba, but I believe we can swap equal values.  Pennsylvania dairy farmers are looking for new markets, particularly since Dean Foods has pulled much of their operations out of PA because of an over supply.  Cuba’s relatively close and in dire need of dairy and could supply us with their famed rum.  Shall we start a #milkforrum?

There’s a trend in interior design using shagreen, luckily they have come up with a faux product that seems to do the job.  Shagreen is untanned shark and skate skins used in the 17 & 18th centuries as a high end covering for pill boxes, jewelry cases, sword hilts and other products.  It is now being used on tables, armoires and other pieces of furniture.    That it’s faux has given out ocean inhabitants a relief.

Speaking of animals, I have some new ones (or will soon), Ester is definitely pregnant and it looks like we’re going to get another squirrel any day now.  Also, the chipmunks are back, I had them last spring and then they left.  They’re back eating peanuts outside my office window.

The Harmar eagle couple’s first egg hatched and the other should be hatching any day now.  Unfortunately, two of the Hays eagle eggs weren’t viable.  So they just have one chick.  It’s nice that you can just toggle back and forth between the two nests now.

That’s it for today, have a great one,



Here’s another guest blog, Gary Ashton has some great common sense ideas on keeping your home safe when leaving.  Personally, I always have a house/dog sitter when I travel, so much of his suggestions are mute for me.  If you follow my blog, you may have noticed I mentioned that I never said anything about going to Florida in February on face book.  My great neighbors all know when I leave and keep an eye on things, not to mention the cameras I’ve had installed and can access anywhere.

Tips for Keeping Your Home Secure While Traveling

Getting away from home for a needed vacation, a quick business trip, or for extended R&R can be relaxing or worrisome, depending on what you leave behind. Don’t jeopardize the pleasure of any getaway by assuming that all will be waiting for your return just the way you left it. Rather, make every effort to ensure that your home is safe, secure and ready for your return.

Use high-tech solutions to advantage. An interactive wireless home assistant will control temperature and lighting, as well as monitor other systems and alert authorities as needed. A security system that allows smart-phone monitoring from across the globe can be your best friend! Still, there is no substitute for old-fashioned common sense.

Alert your neighbors about your planned departure and return times, but don’t broadcast your schedule unnecessarily. If you have regular home services, be certain that you tell the service providers about an upcoming trip.

Be Wary of Social Media 

Be overly judicious about how much you disclose on social media. It might be all right to mention an upcoming trip to an exciting destination, or announce a special occasion like a family wedding or graduation, but leave out the details about dates and trip duration. While traveling, be circumspect about the photos that you post, and postpone talking about most of the details until you are safely home.

Enlist Human Help

Try to maintain “normal activity” at home. Make arrangements to have the lawn watered and mowed, or the driveway plowed, and either have mail held at the post office or ask a neighbor, friend or family member to pick it up daily. Leave a key with a trusted ally. Arrange to have the home interior, garage and back yard checked on a regular basis, at least once or twice a week. If you leave a vehicle outside, it is also wise to have someone start it, and even move it, periodically.

Take Advantage of Neighborhood Watch

If your community has a neighborhood watch or uniformed security patrol, or if your city encourages it, inform the authorities about a scheduled absence and ask that they add your address to the watch list. Either put a hold on newspapers and other scheduled deliveries, or ask the person or service responsible for periodic home checks to remove papers, circulars and trash as needed.

Leave Your House Looking Used 

Set blinds and shades in familiar positions. Install timers on lights in selected rooms, and vary the time of day that they’re on. Make the timing as realistic as possible, but try not to leave lights on in the evening in a room that’s visible from the street. It’s better to have a soft glow from an interior room than to showcase the emptiness. Do not leave a porch light burning for the duration of your trip. Ensure added security by installing motion-activated lighting at the entry, garage door and in the back yard: It’s a good idea even while you’re at home.

Trouble-Proof the Appliances

Unplug electrical cords to small appliances, “quiet” phones and answering machines, particularly if they have audible message-taking ability, and turn off electrical breakers to water heaters and kitchen appliances. Don’t unplug or turn off the power to a refrigerator, but do clean it out so that in case of a power failure the potential food loss (and the stench) will be minimal. Turn off the water to toilets, under sinks, and to automatic washer hoses. For extended absences, consider turning off the main water supply to the house.

Leaving home is always better when there is every expectation of returning to a house that is in exactly the condition it should be!

Gary Ashton is the CEO and owner of The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage. His real estate team is #1 in Tennessee, Nashville and now #4 in the world.


To continue on my last blog post, we are living in a time where the rules are changing.  I know one of the “lost boys of Sudan“, Dak, his Christian name, Paul he doesn’t use much anymore.  I’ve seen the terror in his eyes when talking about tigers and how one had eaten his sister and the happiness when he talked about how good elephants taste.  He wrote a book Out of the Impossible detailing his experiences.  Dak wanted to express his thoughts the way he thinks them didn’t let the editors change his written words and he should have.  It’s a little difficult to read, but worth the effort.  In one of my blog post I had thought about  how happy I am to be living in America.  With all our problems, we don’t have to be worried about being eaten by a tiger, or starving to death, or suffering a country wide Ebola outbreak.  Though we do have to worry about our church or temple being bombed or a mass shooting.  Did you see where that nut case Dylann Roof’s sister, Morgan Roof, was recently arrested on weapons and drug charges.  One child being a nutcase is one thing, but when you have two its a different story and maybe we should be looking at their parents?  Speaking of new rules, we need to up the ante on gun control.  Being a Vet and strong believer in out constitution (that could only have been written by aliens, I don’t understand how anyone in the 1700’s could be as insightful as our founding fathers were to create such an amazing document without being aliens (or in communication with advanced life forms).  I strongly believe in the right to bear arms, but really?  Who needs an assault rifle to kill a deer?  I don’t hunt, but strongly believe in the right to hunt for food and other products.  That doctor that paid a fortune to murder a rhino in Africa last year is an abomination and I hope he’s been driven out of practice.  When I was a youth, I thought thank god for the youth and I thought us hippies were going to change the world.  Once again I am saying thank god for the youth.  The hopeful thing about the current youth movement Never Again movement isn’t the number of youths involve, but that they are pushing for voter registration, they are showing they are a force to be reckoned with.  You better watch out you entrenched politicians, these kids were amazing when they were lobbying their legislators last week.  They were polite and respectful and did not fall for the double speak politicians are so famous for.  I listened to one recording where the politician tried to evade the questions about gun control and the kids listened and then said back to our question, would you vote for a ban on assault rifles.  🙂  🙂 that deserves two smileys.  Thanx kids.

With this new economy something else we need to think and talk about is “contract workers”.  Mike from Energy Saver Window, my contractor, that has done everything from replacing my roof last month, to installing several bathrooms and installing close to 50 new windows is a contractor.  He owns his own company, pays liability insurance, workers comp, and is licensed in his trade.  The first foray into this that I recall was when the drivers for UPS complained several years ago that they didn’t fit into the description as independent contractor workers as UPS claimed.  They drove UPS trucks, wore UPS uniforms and had UPS codes of conduct they needed to adhere to.  Now we have Uber, Amazon and others getting into delivery business and they are calling their “employees” contractor workers so they don’t have to pay workers comp as I do, insure them as I do.  Strip clubs are also claiming their “dancers” are contractor workers for the same reason.  Downtown Blush was sued, a dancer got fed up with their BS. Since the linked article, I believe Blush lost the case, but I’m not finding it on line.  You should read that article about how sleazy Blush management is.

Pittsburgh Icon Forward Lanes  closed after almost a century of being a gathering place in Squirrel Hill.

Ira Flatow, host of NPR’s Science Fridays will be bringing a live taping to the Carnegie Music Hall Homestead May 19.  Tickets on sale now.

Carol Peterson has written the history of many iconic homes in Pittsburgh, she did the history that first got me interested in Joshua Rhodes, the industrialist that build my Inn.  (He emigrated here from England with his parents at age of 4 and was orphaned by 10 and became a millionaire!).  Back to Carol, she passed away after losing a seven battle with cancer last year after writing 1,940 house histories and co-authoring The History of Allegheny City with Dan Rooney several years ago. Her long time friend Mary Coleman will be showing and selling Carols’ eclectic collection of furniture, art and other memorabilia  through April 28.  I’m not sure if the items will be at Mary’s studio The Gallery on 43rd Street Lawrenceville or at Carol’s former house.  You can contact Mary at here studio (she’s a weaver) to get the details.

That’s it for today, luckily I got the three porches cleaned and hosed off yesterday.  It doesn’t mean spring, but at least it’s getting closer and I got rid all that winter yuck (I think that is the technical term for it) :),



My cousin’s sponsoring another Rock 4 Vets July 7 at Stage Karma this year on the Southside.  More info on their Face book page and they will update is as details get more firm, save the date.

Something concerning about our Commander in Tweet, two of his top cabinet heads & his office manager are retired military.  With replacing Rex Tillerson with Bob Pompeo a retired military man, and I forget the second cabinet chief and retired military John Kelly is his chief of staff .  Do we see a coop coming up?  I can see DJT dissolving congress, a move reminiscent of other dictators grabs for power if a Russian election interference investigation gets too close.  I don’t want to raise the paranoia of my nervous followers.  I think our military is by nature dedicated to our constitution, although I find Pompeo to be a real sheep following whatever DJT tells him to do.

Yes, I am one of those paranoid people.  And I think I handle it well.  Several years ago, my dentist sent me to an oral surgeon Bumgardner (or something like that) and of course I had to fill out the form describing who I am.  One of the questions on the form was my social security number.  When I didn’t put it in and the receptionist questioned why, I told her I didn’t see a need for them to have that.  She said I had to complete the form and I told her I would leave.  She left to talk to the doctor and he agreed to “waive” that requirement.  Greedy SOB, didn’t want to loose the $.

This leads to what I wanted to talk about, last year the controversy of face book and the skewed fake news paid for and promoted by the Russians that face book initially denied.  Now face book had a company mining our personal information creating algorithms on us personally, this was done by Cambridge Analytics.  It was a “personality test” and they asked personal questions such as “Are you religious?” and then select one out of ten to describe how religious you are.  And things like “Are you paranoid?” and then how paranoid are you out of one to ten.  Face book then intended to take that information and sell it to say a bible company with an 80% chance your might buy a new bible.  And then sold the paranoid people to the NRA and gun dealers.  That outside company then took that information and used it to sent fake news directed to individual people.  Cambridge Analytics then deliberately singled out religious people and told them that Clinton was in truth a Satanist, or Clinton planned on revoking the 2nd amendment.  This was coordinated by Ted Cruz and the DJT campaign camp, the proof on this allegation is not in yet, but that’s what some are saying.  I think this is going to be huge.  This misuse of mined information is not necessarily a bad thing, I look at it as a learning curve.  The internet is still very new, and we are learning how to use it safely.  And because there’s so much money that can be made either through legitimate businesses or the trolls in third world countries (and ours) using our information for their benefit. Information is extremely valuable and within reason we need to deny giving any more than is reasonable.  As I recently posted, I didn’t announce that I was going to Florida before hand so some nutcase didn’t terrorize Claire while she was dog sitting.  With all the massive breaches lately, you are seeing less and less.  Companies are realizing they need to up the game and protect information.  If someone from Turkestan  breaks into the evil empire Wells Fargo and steals millions of dollars from them, there’s no recourse for Wells Fargo to get their money back.  (Speaking of Wells Fargo, after all the scandal about their employees creating fake credit cards to meet their sales goals, I occasionally get solicitations from Wells Fargo to switch to let them process my credit card payments.  I asked one of the telemarketers how could I trust them after the scandal, he said that was another division.  Oh that makes it OK, I guess.  Immoral companies use immoral tactics across the board).

On the bright side, I bitch a lot.  My current battle is with Directv, whom I will talk about in a minute.  I do shop some big box stores for convenience at times.  The one I am not ashamed of patronizing is Costco.  They have the longest retention of employees of any of the big box stores, they treat their employees well.  Da gerl put on weight and I started her on a green bean diet.  Costco sells a box of 12 cans for about sixty cents a can and I’ve been buying them for over a year.  There was an occasional dented can and then there was more and more dented cans in the box.  I went to the info desk in the Costco I shop at usually and complained.  (My concern was the possibility of Botulism, one of the most deadly viruses that live in anaerobic environment, ie sealed cans.  NEVER open a can that is bloated-these dents weren’t indicative of bloating, so I felt fairly safe using them, but for how long?) The lady said to bring the cans back and they would refund the money.  I said I wasn’t looking for a refund, but wanted to keep buying the green beans and was looking to get the problem fixed.  So she took my info and the NEXT day I got phone call from a lady that said she was with Delmonte who makes the Kirkland brand green beans.  She first asked where the dents were (ie where they all on the same side, like a lift jack crushed the case) & I said no, they were spread all around on different cans.  She asked if I could take a picture of the dents and send to her.  Which I did and she thanked me and told me Delmonte would send me a check for $30 for my inconvenience, I told her I wasn’t looking for that but wanted to keep buying their product.  I got a check for $30 about a week later.  The next couple of cases had dented cans, but I haven’t seen a dented can in months.

My current battle with Directv, is over the Reggae music station.  I’ve been listening to it for over ten years and a month ago, they changed the format.  It went from classic Reggae like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Johnny Osborne, Desmond Decker newer classic styled Reggae artists like Etana (one of my favorites) and replaced it with what we refer to as House Music, they are calling it Urban Music.  Not my style, nor is country music, I’m not saying it’s not good, it’s just not what I listen to.  I also prefer butter pecan ice cream over vanilla, not saying anything’s wrong with vanilla.  I don’t usually buy vanilla and don’t intend to listen to house music.  I’ve been listening to the radio in the kitchen and not even turning on the music system.  They have over 20 rock stations, 4 jazz, 3 religious, 8 Latino, 8 country 6 hip hop and R & B and close to 20 various specialized stations like Broadway, big band, sounds of the seasons, etc.  I just sent my third complaint to them, I must give them credit because they are now playing more classic Reggae than initially.  I do put the Reggae station on now and then for a short time and get fed up and turn it off and listen to the radio.  My last complaint I sent them I told them I would cancel the Music Choice option at $37 a month.

While I’m on a roll, one more thing and then I’m done.  I’m a bit of a news junkie.  I’m more interested in local news on TV.  I occasionally watch national and international news on the TV.  Since the national news companies have bought up the local stations, I’m seeing less and less local news while more and more national news is on during what’s supposed to be local news.  It’s really irritating, they start talking about a news event I find interesting and they cut it short and say more details on their website.  If I wanted to go to their website, I wouldn’t be putting up with their annoying constant stream of commercials.

That’s it for today, sorry for my tirades, life is good and things are getting better, the world isn’t ending.  Smile and be happy,



The lowly opossum is quite the figure.  Technically our North American opossum is different from the Australian opossum.  They are one of the most adaptable creatures on Earth.  They date back to the Eocene Epoch (55-33.9 million years ago), before the continents separated.  That’s pretty darn old, they have adapted through ice ages, mass extinctions of many different life forms.  If you drive down the road at night and most other woodland creatures would dart out of your head lights.  Opossums just sit there eating their road kill, they just don’t care or fear.  They look at you with a look that looks like “Go find your own road kill”.  🙂  They don’t need to worry about that, I’m not into road kill., they can have it all to themselves.  Opossums are loners, they are not a pack or family animal at all.  Mom gets pregnant, she can create 25 little opossums, but only have 13 nipples so almost half don’t make it.  Moms are called jills, dads are called jacks and the kids are called joeys.  She carries the joeys in her pouch or on with them clinging to her back until they are developed enough to go on their own.  They are not all cute and stuff, but they do have quite the following these days.  Heidi Conant of Vermont has started the Opossum Awareness and Advocacy and a Face book page.  She got 20,000 followers in just over two days and is now over 100,000 in just short of a year.  With this pedigree, you would think Heidi is some kind of professor or veterinarian, she’s actually a digital marketing professional that got caught up with a love for opossums.  Some interesting things about opossums is they are the only marsupials in North America, eat Lyme disease carrying ticks (up to 5,000 a year), they also eat mice and garden insect pests.   When attacked they “play opossum”, actually they are not pretending to be dead but go into a swoon like faint.  If you read my September 4 post about my opossum visitor, they are incapable of carrying rabies or so the animal control officer told me.

So maybe we should welcome the little buggers with a little respect?  🙂

Speaking of critters we seem to be winning with the invasive lanternfly the invasive Asian bug that severely decreased South Korea’s crop yields in 2006.  They had spread throughout the country in three years, we’ve had them for about three years and the PA Department of Natural Resources seems to have them contained in south eastern PA the only place they’ve been seen here in America. They like to feed on sap from woody and non-woody plants and leave behind a sweet fluid that promotes mold and can be devastating to crops like grapes, apples, stone fruits and hard wood trees.

Kiva is a global micro funding non profit organization out of San Fransisco.  Kiva has been instrumental in 2.7M small businesses receiving $1B since 2005 to 2.7M entrepreneurs globally.  Kiva is sort of set up like crowd funding, the applicant posts what they need and what it is for.  Individual investors scan posts and decide if they want to supply funds and how much.  The amazing thing is these are no interest loans! Kiva says they have a 97% pay back record.  If you have a loan through Kiva and are falling behind in your payments, they can try and adjust the payment schedule if possible.  They really can’t dictate any terms, the terms are agreed between the lender and borrower.  To be a lender, the minimum amount is $25.  Instead of the traditional credit information, most funding sources look for.  Kiva looks at the character and business potential of each applicant.  Pittsburgh has it’s own branch Kiva Pittsburgh has helped a number of small businesses here.  Which started in 2014 and already has funded $1M locally.  Some local recipients include jewelry artist Sarah Daigneault for equipment, Leona’s Ice Cream out of Wilkinsburg $25,000 for a new freezer, Warriors Call Boxing in Baden for $5,000 and the folks at I Made it Arcade.

I’m going to step up on my soap box for a minute, the special election in PA’s 18 district pits entrenched politician Republican Rick Saccone against new comer Conor Lamb.  I have to give both men credit, they each ran a pretty clean campaign until the national Republican and Democratic parties got involved.  And that is my point, the lies and half truths both are pouring into the airwaves is disgusting.  I view myself as an independent, but am registered as a Democrat so I can vote in primaries.  And I admit I lean more toward the Democratic party than the Republican.  I could actually be a Republican if they weren’t a bunch of liars.  The tax overhaul that is going to “help out the middle class”.  I have two letter for that BS!  Yes, you might give me a tax break for a year or two, but the 1% are getting permanent tax breaks.  Mr. Saccone worked in Harrisburg for years and we haven’t had a balance budget on time in years.  He as in Harrisburg when Republican Tom Corbett slash educational funding.  Oh yea, he’s going to watch out for the working class.  Yes, I’m being sarcastic Doreen.  🙂  My blood pressure’s going up, so I’m going to log off for now.  Have a good night and if you are in district 18, be sure to go out an vote.





Nova place’s Federal Galley opened a few weeks ago, I’m hoping to make it down there this week.  I’ve been hearing good things about it.  The food galley in Oxford Centre opened last week.  A nice change from the old style food courts of fast food you’d find in shopping malls.

New things with the eagle nests in both Harmar and Hays they re positioned Harmar’s camera so that you can now see inside the nest now and both cameras are HD, much better images if you’d like to watch the new parents.  They’re funny to watch, last week the Harmar male brought part of an old sweater that they tucked into the back of the nest.  Then he brought a piece of corn stalk that they still haven’t found a home for it in their nest, it’s just kind of hanging out there.  Harmar has one egg and Hays has three, Hay’s parents are more mature.  Something else that is nice is you can toggle back and forth between the two nests.

Also, Hope the peregrine falcon that has made her home on the top of The Cathedral of Learning has also laid an egg.  She lost her hubby last year I think it was, he was found in a field somewhere.  So she hooked up with some guy that had a nest on the Tarentum bridge and made him move to Oakland.

Point Breeze Brugge has been open for years and they added Highland Park Brugge a year or so ago.  Their third location is opening down the street at City of Asylum replacing the failed Casellula.  Bugge does a nice job, particularly their mussels special.  They are customizing the menu for their newest locations, I hope they bring the mussels over here.  They are offering a limited menu and plan on having their full menu available towards the end of April.

Lets keep talking restaurants, Union Standard in the HC Frick’s Union Trust Building is celebrating it’s one year anniversary.  I ate there when they opened, it hardly seems a year has past.  It is the only independent restaurant in the building, the others are chain restaurants.  Chef-owner Derek Stevens back ground is mainly at the Big Burrito restaurant group.  The food’s great, ambience is great, it’s well worth lunch or dinner.  If for no other reason than an excuse to go into this fabulous newly renovated building the new owners put over $100M in renovations.

Changing the subject a bit, I’m pretty much sold out this week.  I was wondering what was going on until I had a guest right before I left for Florida (more on that in a minute) I had a guest from the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts Conference kicks off next Wednesday March 14 at the DL Lawrence Convention center through the 17.  If you go and you should remember to bring a ceramic shard for Pittsburgh artist Laura Jean McLaughlin’s unity shards sculpture she will be creating in City of Asylum’s garden here on the Northside.  I spoke about Laura in a past post, she did the mosaics on some Southside Slopes stairs.  Her new installation will be uniting people from all over America and even the world.  You can drop your shards off at the convention.

Dormont’s historic Hollywood Theater has just re-opened with new owners. The new owners the Theatre Historical Society of America have pulled off a major coupe.  They are running the huge hit the Black Panther, they are probably the only single screen theater in America showing this chart topping film.  It’s not big bucks that’s bringing the Panther in, it’s their connections in the industry.  They wanted to re-open with a bang and I would say this qualifies with a big bang.  The building was owned by a real estate firm and Friends of the Hollywood Theater has been running it under a lease agreement.  FOHT has done fund raising and been steadily improving the venue.   It looks like the new owners will have the where with all to take the theater to it’s next level.  I’m glad to see the new owners are planning on keeping the FOHT eclectic mix of shows like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, anime, horror, documntaries and of course spaghetti westerns with a spaghetti dinner type events.  Tickets are a very affordable $7 general admission and $5 for THS and FOHT members.  The Hollywood was originally built in 1925 but was gutted and totally remodeled in 1948 and this is the look FOHT is shooting for with their renovations.

Speaking of renovating historic buildings, the city is looking into updating the historic Oliver Bath House on 10th Street in the Southside.  Built in 1915, actually I thought it had been closed for years, apparently it’s been open.  The city is working on a master plan to take on renovations as they can afford them.  Window replacement, making it ADA compliant and general mechanical upgrades are all being plotted out.

I deliberately didn’t mention in my blog that I was going to Florida.  Since my blog automatically posts on Face book, I didn’t want the trolls to see I was going to be gone.  Aunt Claire, is now da kidz second favorite aunt after Aunt Dee, she did a great job dog sitting, da kidz are still talking about her.  I spent the first week in Lake Worth, visiting old friends and old haunts.  I didn’t plan the trip to coincide with Lake Worth’s famed Street Painting Festival, always a good time.  While down in south Florida, I wanted to go to Monkey Jungle, one of my favorites.  But they were closed and still cleaning up from Hurricane damage, so we went to the Coral Castle also one of my fave’s.  Then I went over to Tampa and hung out with my friend Jeff that owns the Inn on the Mexican War Streets.  I like Tampa, but love Lake Worth such a cute little town that hasn’t had the massive build out of so many coastal cities with those 30 story condos blocking everything.  Lake Worth has even been successful in not having any fast food places on either of it’s two main street one way east Lake Avenue and west Lucerne Avenue.

Big news is they finished replacing the roof on the mansion, They replaced the main roof and the three small roofs facing the parking lot.

Manchester Craftsman Guild announced their jazz schedule for this year, follow the link to see who they’ve lined up.

Speaking of jazz, they jazz series at The Parador has our schedule it will be in the Ballroom on the third Wednesday of the month in May, June and July.  Details are still being worked out hours will be somewhere around 7 to 9:30.

We earthlings have a serious problem with plastics.  There’s a huge plastic dump in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, all those plastic water bottles people don’t put in a proper trash or recycling bin, etc flow down the stream out to the oceans and literally tons are collecting in this massive swarm.  All oceans have these, but the Pacific’s is the largest.  Most people are aware of this.  Something that’s getting attention these days is what they call plastic microfibers.  They finally banned their use in various cosmetic applications.  They also come out when you wash clothes with synthetic fibers (the jury is still out how harmful small amounts of natural fibers are-at least wool will eventually decompose where as plastics are around forever).  There are several products out that you can put in you washer that absorbs them and there’s also a contraption you can install on the outflow to capture these microfibers.  A big problem with these microfibers is the fish eat them and then we eat the fish.  Guppyfriend is the best known, there’s also Cora Ball that they named it because they think it looks like real coral, I think it looks like funny colored Cheerios.  🙂  Both of these run around $30.  For $140 you can install the water filter for the waste water called LUV-R that you attach to the water discharge hose.

That’s it for today,






January has been a strong month getting reservations for 2018 and I was wondering what was going on the second week in March until Jacqueline checked in yesterday, she’s the advance for the NCESA conference scheduled March 14 -17 at the DL Lawrence CC, it’s their 52nd annual conference.  Their mission is to keep ceramic arts alive in teaching, creativity, and life in general.  It seems I am getting a lot of the attendees.  While researching who that are, I found a very interesting thing on the Southside at 27th & Josephine Streets, the mosaic steps by artist Laura Jean McLaughlin:

Most of the reservations are for three or more nights, a pleasant surprise in March, a usually quiet month.  One guest is in for a week.

I’ve been patiently waiting for the shoe to drop.  I’ve been a customer of DirecTV for close the 30 years.  Privately when I first moved to Florida and then the five years I owned The Parador of the Palm Beaches.  And now since moving to Pittsburgh.  When I heard ATT bought DirecTV, I expected the price to go up, the question was by how much and wehen.  I just received my new bill and it went up $200.  Of course I bitched.  The rep I spoke with said they needed to charge me for the 21 receivers I use.  I explained the switch can handle 21 receivers but I only have 13 active receivers.  I had to verify each of the cards in the active receivers and that brought it down $100.  So now I’m paying around $300 for 13 receivers instead of the $200 I have been paying, I guess I shouldn’t complain too much, I know people that pay that much just for themselves.

Another challenge at The Parador, Full Service Network the folks installing my new phone system are unable to convert it from analog to digital (or whatever you call copper wire vs fiber optics).  They haven’t been able to get reliability with my alarm system communicating with my alarm monitor company, the office phone works sporadically and getting the doorbell up and running again was a challenge.  The doorbell seems to be working now.  I sent my contact an email (again) about my concerns and suggested taking me back to the old analog system and he seems to think that would be the best route to follow.  They are now working on the new install.

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood turns 50 this year.  The post office is issuing a commemoration stamp this year with his image.  The TV show Jeopardy featured a Mr. Rogers category this week.  Pittsburgh’s Michael Keaton will host a Mr Rogers 50th Anniversary Show on WQED March 6 starting at 8 pm.  In case you are not aware, Michael (we’re BFF, that’s why I can refer to him by his first name – my BFF Jeff Bezos introduced us that last time we went out to dinner) sort of got his show business start on the Mr. Rogers show as a stage hand and an occasional appearance.

We’re down to the last few days of a Pittsburgh icon The Uncommon Market in Bethel Park, Upper St Clair or Mt Lebanon, not shore which it is actually in, it’s in the cross hairs of all three.  Joe Labriola got his start in his Italian immigrant father’s grocery  in Larimer (started somewhere around 1927) before taking his skills and opening his own sausage  store in the Strip somewhere.  Janet Labriola grew up in the apartment over the store, married and moved to Upper St Clair.  They opened the Uncommon Market in 1978, if not the first specialty upscale market in Pittsburgh, it was one of the firsts.  It closes for good February 25.  The Gralkas’ will continue to make their sausages, using dad’s recipes and you will be able to find them afterwards at Trax’s Farms in Finleyville and the Family Deli in Bethel Park (I’m not familiar with that one).  I understand, but it’s a shame, I will miss them.  I was never a regular, in there all the time, but did frequent it.

Well, that’s it for today, the days are getting longer and the 15 day forecast has  much nicer weather predicted than what we’ve been experiencing.  I spoke with Mike today and we’re on schedule for the roof replacement in March (as well as Oleander’s bathroom window.

Take care,



I had a guest ask where I get my mattresses, they are all from the Original Mattress Factory.  Even though they are a national company, I like that they make there mattresses here right up off Freeport Road, I’ve been to their factory.  More than that they make them locally, I like their construction and comfort.  I always get a semi-firm model and try to get one that you can flip over (I like to do that during spring cleaning).

I’m not totally crazy, although there are some that would disagree with that.  🙂  A couple of blogs ago, I spoke about Kevin Saftner one of the owners of the former James Street Gastropub was starting a new venue on the Southside and I couldn’t remember the name, well that’s because at the time they didn’t have a name.  It’s Karma in the old nuisance bar on Carson Devils and Dolls.  They will have two music venue rooms one for 200 and the other will be able to hold up to 350.  Jason’s the marketing director for the venue, I wonder if Lisa his former partner at James Street will be there as well. They are shooting for as much local talent as possible.  They don’t want to be known for one genre of music.  They are planning on jazz on Sundays, karaoke on Mondays, open stage on Tuesdays, funk & soul on Wednesdays, DJs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  Fridays and Saturdays the DJs will be supplementing live acts booked.

Not much time left to get your 15 minutes of fame.  Kraft Heinz Company is seeking photos & videos to include in their pre-Super Bowl advertisements.  Follow this link to ad your contribution to their ad.

You know the big Equifax breach last summer?  Equifax had been aware of the breach for months before disclosing it.  They initially offered free credit monitoring for those affected, through pressure from many angles including many state AG’s offices they extended the free monitoring to all.  You had to sign up by 1/31/18 to qualify.  Many AG’s are seeking an extension until June 2018, this may or may not happen.   You could go to Equifax’s website to check to see if your information had been compromised.  Mine was.  I’m assuming that was the problem I had with Ticket Master claiming I ran up almost $1,000 on their site, luckily my credit card company USAA is stellar, noticed an unusual transaction on my card and sent me an alert.  I disputed the charge and Ticket Master’s response was I agreed to their terms and conditions when I signed up with them and they insisted that the charge was legitimate.  I pointed out to USAA I never had a Ticket Master account and when I went to their website & typed in my email (how they locate your account), nothing came up.  So how could I agree to their terms and conditions if I never opened an account?

I don’t normally talk about the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, but this exhibit I would like to see Emigration-Immigration-Migration sounds pretty interesting.  At this divisive time in our history I think we should embrace our roots, we are all immigrants of one sort or another.  When our ancestors came here, they were segregated and delegated to the jobs the current “Americans” didn’t want.  If we were not subjected to this, our fore bearers were.  It breaks my heart when I see updates on those poor Bhutanese immigrants that were renting from that slum lord/drug addict in Carrick had to endure.  Raw sewage in the basement, drinking water from an old hose attached to an outside faucet.  When I was Executive Steward (chief Dishwasher) at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, most of my staff was of Spanish decent and I dealt with a lot of new immigrants.  I forced our HR department to start offering English as a second language classes among other things.  Spanish come from a culture similar to ours, but I can’t imagine the culture shock of the Bhutanese.  The collection of photographs start in black and white and evolve into color.  They also show how relatively recent immigrants tried to assimilate with images of like the Hungarian Club, the Slovak Club many of which can still be seen today in the Pittsburgh area.

Pittsburgh Playhouse is closing down in Oakland and moving to it’s new digs Downtown this coming June.  The original playhouse was the old German Club in Oakland, Richard Rauth bought it for his famous actress wife Helen Wayne.  He later bought an adjacent house that became the lobby and offices upstairs.  Later they acquired the Tree of Life synagogue next door and added it to the frey.  So between the three buildings and different upgrades and improvements it became quite the labyrinth and to add to this, none of the buildings were built for performances.  Point State Park University has owned the Playhouse for a number of years and to move the playhouse into a new facility designed specifically for performances must be extremely exciting for them.  The location is where the Honus Wagner sports shop used to be on 4th Avenue for those of you familiar with Downtown.  They tore down several buildings for the new space and a couple of them were fairly iconic.  The city historic review gave PSPU permission to demolish those buildings based on their promise to reuse some of the architecturals on the inside and outside of the building.  The last time I walked past it was still the rough construction, no finishing details were in place.

The ice skating rink at South Park has finished their renovations.  It’s been closed for awhile and they replaced Olympic sized rink and Junior rink with a National Hockey League sized rink.   They installed new chillers to keep the ice hard, bleachers and scoreboard for events.  It looks like they are planning on holding more events there.  They used to have to close the rink to the public when they held events.  Fret no more, you cold weather enthusiasts they added “forest skating”  which is a big thing in Canada.  And the forest skating area will be open to the public while the event goes on.  The forest rink is oval shaped with a center island with trees, bushes and other vegetation so you feel like you are skating on a pond.  Kind of nice instead of just going around in circles.

Watch out Dee, you may be replaced.  Da gerl let me paint her nails yesterday, you no longer have a monopoly.  🙂  She did say she liked your technique better than mine:

She continues to improve.  She goes with me and her big brother for the long walk at 5:30 each morning and is showing no negative results, ie no limping afterwards.  You Go Gerl!

That’s it for now,