Archive for November, 2007

Pittsburgh Girls support Girls in Afghanistan


I don’t generally mix my teaching life and my blogging life, but I am so proud of the girls at the school where I work…

Snipped from a student-written press release:

As part of its ongoing fundraising efforts, The Ellis Afghan Sister School Club will present a $2700 check to Mrs. Fahima Vorgetts, board member of Women for Afghan Women. The check will benefit Khwahari, Ellis’ sister school in Afghanistan, making their running fundraising total over $16,000.

Ellis students began the sister school project in 2004 when they learned that girls like them in Afghanistan were studying in tents because they had no school building. The girls resolved to build a school.

The club will host an informal coffee and conversation session with Mrs. Vorgetts from 5:30-7:00 in the Ellis Babcock Library, with the opportunity to purchase Afghan rugs and jewelry. Mrs. Vorgetts will discuss the status of the sister school and her human rights work in Afghanistan. The event is free and open to the public.

The story was covered last year in the Post-Gazette, and the girls have a website.

Fahima is an inspiring speaker – and a real on-the-ground activist working to change the lives of women. If you are free this evening, I invite you to come to Ellis and hear her speak.

Monday Afternoon Football

I am visiting one of my closest friends, who is originally from Pittsburgh in Honolulu for Thanksgiving. We are – of course – watching the Steeler game. Honolulu is 5 hours behind Pittsburgh so it is late afternoon here. It is very strange watching the Steelers play when this is what it looks like out side. Monday night football just isn’t the same when it is sunny outside. I have seen a couple of people wearing their Steelers gear around in the past few days.
Looking towards the mountains in Ewa, Hawaii

Looking towards the beach in Ewa, Hawaii

Hidden Treasures of Pittsburgh

What would you do if you used to be a chef on Aristotle and Jackie Onassis’ yacht, but had decided to try your luck in America?

Well, if you’re Christos Melacrinos, you jump ship, make your way to Pittsburgh through a series of adventures, and end up buying a restaurant in the Cultural District. And then, if that weren’t enough to tell your grandkids, you also get your 15 minutes of fame for taking a bum from your alleyway and helping him turn his life around.

We happened to be killing about an hour last night while waiting for Avenue Q, and in search of coffee and dessert, we stumbled across Christos’. What drew us there was how packed-full it was; our feeling is that anyplace crowded has to have something going for it. What’ll take us back for dinner sometime is the story and the atmosphere. It’s a hole in the wall, and the coffee/dessert are tasty, although not the best I’ve ever had. But the pictures on the walls and trinkets in the display case, and the stories embodied in those and the menu, are better seasoning than anything any chef has in his or her spice rack.

Yet another little gem that nobody’s ever heard of hiding in Pittsburgh, and worth checking out next time you’re catching a show Downtown.

Clearing the air

I’m back to writing after taking a few weeks’ break due to travel and a knee injury that’s still being worked up by my fine colleagues at UPMC. To start back up, I’m coming back to a topic that had just hit the front page when I left: air pollution. More specifically, the suggestion from Dan Onorato that Allegheny County could stand to drop our air quality program and let the state’s Department of Environmental Protection take over. THe basic argument is that A) it’s slower than the state would be and B) it’s driving away business by making regulations tougher than they need to be.

As far as part A, follow-up articles suggest that the county agency is about the same speed as the state. So what about part B? Are we being too stringent? Could DEP do the job more efficiently? Well, according to one (admittedly biased) source, PA is currently among the worst states for hazardous pollutants and particulates. As of last year, Pittsburgh continues to lag behind other cities on multiple air-quality metrics. In other words, our state has a problem, *and* Pittsburgh/Allegheny County’s problem is even worse. A county-level agency with a mission to fix our air sounds like the sort of thing we should be paying more attention to, not trying to fob on off the state.

Pittsburgh Family gets Reality TV Technology Makeover

The Zaharkos family from Allison Park is getting a home technology makeover from My Home 2.0. This appears to be some sort of reality show/promotion for Verizon that is swooping in and giving families technology makeovers. You can stop by for the block party and be part of the reveal. Kind of like Extreme Home Makeover but this is all about technology.
My Home 2.0 Block Party – The Zararkos Family
Saturday, November 17, 1-4pm
Concord Drive & Chase Place, Allison Park, PA
The Zaharkos family really needs one as you can see from this video. They have 1 computer for 11 people – Mom Zaharkos admits she is afraid of technology so it will be interesting to see what happens when technology takes over their home.

Pittsburgh on

Current is a website and television channel. Anyone can add videos and then popular videos are shown on the television channel.

viewer-created content is tv made by anyone with a camera, drive and a story to tell

Here is a video about downtown Pittsburgh that is currently on Current.

Win a Custom Dress

This looks like an awesome event, and is a not too expensive way to support a good cause, start your Christmas shopping, and maybe even win a custom dress.
I have stopped into Jupe Boutique a couple of time over the past year and I think it is one of the best local shops. I have chatted with one of the owners, Cara, before and she could not be nicer. They have made a point to fill their shop with great items, some trendy, but everything is wearable and everything is reasonably priced – which is not often found in local boutiques. Jupe Boutique also has a great range of items from tops and dresses to jewelry, handbags and shoes.

On Monday November 5th – Jupe is hosting a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. 10% of all sales on Monday evening will be donated to the foundation. They are also holding a raffle, at just $1 a ticket your could win a custom dress or a Southside shopping extravaganza. I did a quick google but couldn’t find any more info about the event on the web. Here is the flyer I received and I am sure you can call the shop for more info.

Gasoline for the Lawrenceville fire

My post one week ago about Lawrenceville economic development is a pretty serious contender for “most comments ever on the Pittsburgh MetroBlog”, and the argument’s still smoldering along at about one comment a day. So, let’s throw a bit of gas on it. My fellow CMU eggheads have determined that Lville house prices are rising about 8% per year, putting it in second place in terms of appreciation rates. One can easily argue that this means the Corporation’s strategy is working: there’s increased demand for those homes, which means more money coming in, more homes being renovated, and a general improvement in the state of affairs. It’s certainly better growth than I expected just based on the Design Zone shops we were shown, which lends credence to the claims that there’s a lot more going on that I didn’t see on my brief tour.

So, is this study proof that the nay-sayers are just engaging in Pittsburgh negativism, or is there something more here we’re not seeing?

Singing in Closed Spaces

The other night some friends called with an extra ticket to the Tori Amos show. I accepted the invitation and ten minutes later I was heading downtown. As evenings in Pittsburgh go, I’m going to say that this was an exceptionally fine one. The autumn air was just crisp enough for a light sweater but not enough to warrant a coat. The Cultural District was abuzz with activity as many people were out celebrating Halloween a day early. We made our first stop at Olive or Twist for a round of drinks and headed towards the Benedum. Oh, and did I mention my ticket was free? Because if there’s one thing that can make a perfect Pittsburgh evening even more perfect it’s getting something for nothing which is exactly what I was doing. Simply put, all was going well. We headed into the show, Tori took the stage attired as a coquettish angel and started to play. That’s when it happened – my friend on the right turned to me, his eyebrows raised, his face begging for help as he whispered “I’m sitting next to a singer!” Oh, the horror! The inexplicable horror of sitting next to a singer!

Shop, Swap, Dance, Drink

This is just a good idea.
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