Sunday, September 30, 2012

Family Wedding

CARLISLE, Pa. -- My cousin Mark got married this weekend at the Cameron-Masland Mansion at Kings Gap. His new wife, Linda, is welcomed into the family with open arms.

The mansion sits atop 2,500 acres of what is now a state park. We had the entire building just for the wedding party and guests, about 70 in total.

Mark and Linda with her family

Mark with a cast on his leg sits in a seat that a friend of his built. His son Jaysen is best man.

Picking up petals.

Just as the reception was starting, we were all brought back outside by the sunset. We took it as a sign of good luck.

My uncle Vern and cousin Jaysen. Happy 92nd birthday Uncle Vern!
Cousin Donna and her husband Irwin, Uncle Vern and Mark at breakfast.
The fire alarm went off just after this was taken.The toaster set it off. The park ranger said that if he didn't call the fire department right away, they would send a couple of trucks. It's 4 miles of winding road up to the mansion, and the siren can be heard for about 15 minutes as the trucks make their way up the hill. He caught them before they left. Apparently the toaster has wreaked havoc before.

Waiting at a railroad crossing on my drive home, this was the "moo" from my car window.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Traffic Lights That Think For Themselves

PITTSBURGH'S EAST END  -- Can you imagine never again having to sit in a traffic jam?

Groups of researchers at CMU, working under an initiative called Traffic21, have developed a network of traffic lights that coordinate their signal timing based on traffic flow. The Breathe Project is psyched by huge reduction in pollution levels from just a small test. Mayor Ravenstahl and CMU's president Cohon both attended the kick-off news conference near the intersection of Centre Avenue and Penn Avenue.

They look like traffic lights on steroids.

Read more about it in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pittsburgh Mini Maker Faire

PITTSBURGH CHILDREN'S MUSEUM -- I overheard a six-year-old boy say to his mom at Pittsburgh's Mini Maker Faire:  "Stop texting on your phone for a few minutes!" He had things to see and do. Electronic gadgets to manipulate, plastic piggies to manufacture and many other fun hands-on things to learn about.

What famous paintings do you see upside down in the glass ball?

This guy is making plastic pigs not selling hair products.

Not sure what's going on here!

The Saturday Light Brigade radio team was there:

I hear she was a tough interview.

The "cloud maker" made clouds:

Geeksdanz was there, too, making dances.

The loudest musical instrument in the U.S. sits near the Children's Museum, and it makes music so loud that you can't think. It's the Great American Horn Machine, and I heard it loud and clear from a quarter mile away playing Oh When the Saints Go Marching In. They handed out earplugs for everyone close by. Check out a performance earlier this summer in Detroit:

Friday, September 21, 2012

iPhone 5 + Park(ing) Day

SHADYSIDE -- Two intertwined events on Walnut Street in Pittsburgh's Shadyside neighborhood:  the release of the iPhone 5 and this year's Park(ing) Day.

Why do people wait in line for each new iPhone? Don't they know they're being manipulated? Don't they have anywhere else to be for a huge chunk of hours on a regular old working Friday? Whatever. They came, they waited, they bought.

Just outside Shadyside's Apple Store, a couple of this year's Park(ing) Day participants set up shop. What is Park(ing) Day?

"PARK(ing) Day is an annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into 'PARK(ing)' spaces:  temporary public places. . . The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat … at least until the meter runs out!"

These folks set up a temporary dog park in 3 parking spaces:

Monday, September 17, 2012

What is this? Part 2

PITTSBURGH -- Any idea what this is?

It stood in the corner of the room where I had my hand x-rayed. It's some sort of orthopedic device. Perhaps it's a way of judging how well a person can step up and down.

I was having my hand checked because a golf-ball sized lump appeared at the base of my index finger, almost instantly, while I was just walking down the street:

It happened a couple of days in a row, and it bruised.

It has something to do with the band of ligaments that wrap around the base of my finger. No cause. No prevention. No fix. It just happened.

With the exception of a touch of arthritis at the base of my thumb, my hand is fine.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Museum-Quality Time at the Carnegie

PITTSBURGH -- The Scaife Galleries at the Carnegie Museum of Art have been closed for repairs and remodeling. They reopened quietly today, officially tomorrow. My sister Mary Ann and I got a chance to visit Renoir and Degas and Pollack in their newly beautified home.

Vincent van Gogh. Wheat Fields After the Rain.

Piet Mondrian's Trees.

Jackson Pollock. Number 4.

My sister beside Mark Tobey's Untitled.

Joan Mitchell. Low Water.
A rocking chair for the average-sized American, circa 2012. My title.

Chaotic organization. Again, my title.

Beatriz Milhazes. Nazareth das Farinhas.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Women-Owned Local Businesses

PITTSBURGH -- At my local farmers market, Jessica Graves sells her wares. Una Biologicals offers health and beauty products "made from the highest quality organic ingredients, without harsh chemicals, petroleum or artificial fragrances." I sampled the luxe face cream and the Summer Citrus Lip Balm. Loved them both. All products are produced in Pittsburgh.

Jessica has two kids (one is a teenager!). I think Jessica looks about 18. The best advertising for her products!

Also see at the farmers market, Footloose the rabbit.

Another woman-owned Pittsburgh business is Jodee Reid's Multi Healing Balm. Multi Healing Balm contains pure essential oils from Manuka and Kanuka, woody plants that are native to New Zealand, Jodee's home country.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


PITTSBURGH -- lists three definitions of geek:  One is, of course, "the computer expert or enthusiast (a term of pride as self-reference, but often considered offensive when used by outsiders)." Then there's "a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual." But the zinger definition is "a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, as biting off the head of a live chicken."


A wide range but not a lot of options.

Geeksdanz is a contemporary dance company in its infancy, and it's led by artistic director, Ellen Deutsch. Her definition of geek goes something like this:  A geek is a person who has a passionate interest in ANY topic, often to a near-obsessive level, and doesn't care what anybody else thinks about it. Dance is her life, thus, she's a geek who dances (or danzes). 

She's been auditioning dancers who will "make" dances at Pittsburgh's Second Annual Mini Maker Faire on September 22 at Buhl Community Park on the North Side. Sophia, Patty, Jamie and Lamar are part of Geeksdanz so far. I guarantee that none of them were asked to bite the head off a chicken.

Ellen at left.

Audition at the Pittsburgh Dance Center in Bloomfield.
Improvisational dance in Frick Park.