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Opinion

Into the Woods

June 15th was crisp and cloudless. carrying a chainsaw, orange surveyor’s tape and a compass, I started walking in a straight line into the pathless woods. Trailing me was my Airedale, Hawkins, and behind both of us was the little cabin that a group of friends and I built the previous summer on an island …

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An Elegy for Oscar

Some say we love our pets, particularly our dogs, because it pleases and comforts us to do so. I’m not convinced. From my experience with my own dog, who died helplessly of heart failure in his thirteenth year, I felt and still feel a sense of loss that is more than the absence of self-comfort. …

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Casting a Net

You never know what you’re going to pull in when you cast a net. Not long ago, walking along Caswell Beach on Oak Island, N.C., I stopped to watch three elderly Asian men casting their nets. Now, I’ve done this many times. But not like they were doing it. I use a four-foot net, hold …

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On a Pedestal, Fall 2021

Jeffrey Romoff After nearly 50 years at the university of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Jeffrey Romoff can look back at what he has created with a sense of accomplishment that few, if any, people in Pittsburgh during that period can match. He is the visionary leader who, along with the man who hired him 48 years …

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A Lifelong Friend

I’ve been lucky to have many close friends. But as I look back, it’s clear to me that, of all of them, my life has been most closely intertwined with that of my friend Chris Bentley. Chris and I were born less than two months apart, in early 1962, and we met before either of …

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Finding Boba Fett

Looking across the detritus left to us by 2020, we understand that we have lost a great deal: people we knew and loved, people we did not know but admired, our personal mobility, social spontaneity and, perhaps, our confidence about what will come next. But we also found inspirations. We discovered abilities we never knew, …

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Confessions of an Introvert in Pandemic Times

Most people who know me would be surprised to hear that I’m an introvert. Sure, I can be social when I have to. But honestly, social situations drain me. I recharge by coming home and crawling into a dark corner all by myself, much to my wife’s chagrin. You see, I’m an INFJ. In the …

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On a Pedestal, Summer 2021

Raising a racquet and more Armed with six years of success helping African American students prepare for the future through the game of squash, Steel City Squash (SCS) is preparing to build a new facility in the Larimer neighborhood that will dramatically transform its offerings. Built on a successful model, the athletic and academic program …

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The Year of Fear

The first time the phrase “stay safe” stuck in my memory, I was watching a TV news broadcast. After the correspondent gave his report, the anchor thanked him and then with a concerned look said, “Stay safe out there.” It was actually jarring to me because I’d been a reporter and editor for decades and, …

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In the WomanCare Waiting Room, I Consider Flamingos

The pink robes at WomanCare smell like bleach. I wonder how many times they’ve been washed and reused. I wonder how many women have worn the robe I am wearing, how many of them were fine, how many were not fine, where they are now, if they have healed, if they are still here at …

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Ode to the Nose

Somebody once asked Princess Di to name one thing she would change about herself. Without hesitation, she replied, “My nose.” Ah, the poor, long-suffering nose! Dissed by royals, no less. It’s the most maligned facial feature, but arguably the most indispensable. The eyes may be the windows of the soul, but the nose is the …

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Civility and the Algorithm

Polarity runs deep. Conversations are strained. Friendships are on edge. Might free speech and professional journalism rescue civility? It happened before. Human spirits were liberated when speech was freed. The town square became a metaphor for free speech. Free speech principles were not easily adopted. Dissension threatened feudal order. Kings were not amused. More than …

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On a Pedestal: Festival of Books, Contemporary Craft, Pitt’s Homewood Project

For the past couple of years, pandemic or not, Marshall Cohen has been meeting people and gathering support for his idea: the creation of a Greater Pittsburgh Festival of Books. A literate city with the history of erudition that Pittsburgh has should have such an event, he reasoned. And after gaining some key support—from sponsors …

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Civil Discourse

As I consider the divided state of our country, I imagine my father’s voice repeating an old adage to me. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” We can all agree that America has problems, though we’ll likely differ on what they are. Some will say the mob that former …

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Letting Go

It was bound to happen sooner or later—Joe’s going off to college. I got a stay of execution for five months, given that his university didn’t open up campus for the first semester. You’d think I would have been ready. He was chomping at the bit to leave and kept himself busy for the past …

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Silver Linings, Part IV

We asked a broad array of Pittsburghers—the pandemic has certainly brought hardships, but what “silver linings” have accompanied it that have affected your life in a positive way? At least three important positives are evident in this time of challenge. First, professional silos are coming down, and we are making great strides in organizational collaboration. …

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Silver Linings, Part III

We asked a broad array of Pittsburghers—the pandemic has certainly brought hardships, but what “silver linings” have accompanied it that have affected your life in a positive way? The pandemic has strengthened my faith in people. I’ve been humbled and inspired by our team members who courageously stepped up to meet the needs of our …

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Finishing the Cabin

In the Fall issue, I wrote about how five friends and I escaped the hunker-down COVID malaise last summer by building a 16-by-20-foot cabin on a remote island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.). None of us had done it before, and by the time they left July 25, the footers, subfloor and four walls were …

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Silver Linings, Part II

We asked a broad array of Pittsburghers—the pandemic has certainly brought hardships, but what “silver linings” have accompanied it that have affected your life in a positive way? I feel richer for the depth of humanity I see every day working in senior living. Families and staff have worked so hard to keep our residents …

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Silver Linings, Part I

We asked a broad array of Pittsburghers—the pandemic has certainly brought hardships, but what “silver linings” have accompanied it that have affected your life in a positive way? Years ago, I was given the sage advice to always “listen to learn.” This pandemic delivered a whopper of learnings. Celebrate the good in our life—family, friends, …

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On a Pedestal: Good Examples, Port Authority, Robert Levin, Executive Leadership Academy

It’s been an extremely trying time in our country these past six months, with the virus, the fear and uncertainty, the recession, George Floyd’s death and the ensuing protests and riots, the increasing orthodoxy of public discourse, and the pre-election anxiety. Many wonder what has happened to America as waves of fear and cancellation have …

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My Summer Vacation

It all started back in April, when the virus was young… I had big plans for making this the summer of exploration, intent on getting away from the quarantine/hunker down mentality and surrounding myself with the beauty of nature. The first plan was renting an RV in June and driving to Alaska via the Alaska …

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