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Opinion

On a Pedestal: Clarion River, Innovation in Education

Western Pennsylvania is blessed with an abundance of water at a time when many places in the world find it increasingly scarce. But having ample water isn’t enough if it is tainted with pollutants. And the region long has been guilty of negligence when it comes to keeping its waterways clean and healthy. The Clarion …

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Batting Her Eyelashes

As never happens, I was invited to a black-tie charity event. Already possessing a fetching black ball gown, I thought I was sufficiently prepared. A close friend, however, said I just MUST get eyelash extensions for that “little extra pizzazz.” Maybe I would finally make the P-G “Seen” column! Always on the lookout for such …

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Fairy Tale or Future: The Choice Is Ours

The Amazon HQ2 spectacle was a grand 21st Century fairy tale. It had everything: the world’s richest company promising happily-ever-after status to the city that would win its second headquarters, $5 billion in investment and 50,000 jobs. For 17 months, people murmured throughout the land. Some whispered that Amazon’s move was a brilliant marketing stratagem; …

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On a Pedestal: Pittsburgh Playhouse, Literacy Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Playhouse at Point Park University made its debut Oct. 11, opening its doors to a new era for the school, its students, theatergoers and the city. It’s built to impress. From its three-story-wide lobby bathed in natural light to a 550-seat theater designed to give passersby outside a glimpse of backstage workings and …

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The Dangerous Necessity of Beauty

At one time I took for granted the traditional definition of beauty—id quod visum placet—that which when seen pleases. Eventually I came to see that this was much too narrow a definition. It did not include what could be called beautiful when heard, touched, tasted, felt or otherwise experienced. That is why Robert Frost’s saying …

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A Turning Point for Troubled Times

By almost any objective measure, life in America has never been better. We’re not at war. Poverty is low, unemployment’s even lower, and stocks are sky high. Homicide rates are about where they were in 1950 and half of what they were in 1980. And medical care is better than ever with dramatic breakthroughs occurring …

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Redemption, Wilford Brimley and Walmart

The shopping cart wasn’t going that fast. For once, I wasn’t careening through Walmart like a contestant on Guy Fieri’s “Grocery Games,” simply because my cart was weighted down with two large cases of water, two big containers of clothes detergent (so much cheaper in the 255 ounce unliftable bottles), four vats of kitty litter …

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What’s Right, What’s Left?

So much of modern culture seems bent on eliminating humanity from life itself. In many instances, this is identified as progress. But is it? Consider the current attitude toward handwriting, i.e., cursive. In many of our schools there is no longer any emphasis on the handwritten word. When I asked my grandson recently if handwriting …

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I’d Find You Again

There’s this line in a Lukas Nelson song that goes, “If I started over I’d find you again.” I have no sense of direction, so I hope this is possible for me, but salmon do it all the time. Fall is here, and this is the time when salmon make their run. Not like a …

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Spinning Out of Control

Working from home for the past year has provided me with a one-minute commute to my home office and easy access to my favorite meal replacement—potato chips and dip. One of these perks resulted in my favorite jeans shrinking considerably and the realization that it was time to again try a dreaded fitness class. I …

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The Last At-Bat

Early one morning this summer, I was fishing with my friend in northern Michigan. The fog was thick, and Dave asked if I could tell where I was going. I know those waters and predicted that in about 30 seconds a point with a white boathouse would come into view. It did, and we rounded …

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Millennials Speak Out

Millennials are the face of the future. Born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, their ranks include doctors, teachers, students, CEOs, astronauts, mothers, fathers and future presidents. What are their aspirations, motivations, concerns and outlook? Are they happy? Pittsburgh Quarterly’s Alayna Jones visited Pittsburgh-area places, ranging from the University of Pittsburgh to the …

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On a Pedestal: Magee-Womens Research Institute

Many Pittsburghers have a somewhat vague idea that the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC successfully attract federal dollars to support their varied research activities. But the extent of that success in recent years is almost shocking when you look at the numbers and the rankings. Last year, Pitt ranked 10th on the list of the …

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Lessons from the Farm

Out at the farm, there’s an old trailer that my parents bought about 30 years ago after the farmhouse we’d been restoring burned to the ground. I’m sure that when Mom and Dad were alive and used it on weekends, the trailer had enough of Mom’s touches to make it seem homey and nice. But …

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On a Pedestal: National Flag Foundation, Clarion Quartet

The National Flag Foundation—What’s in a symbol? One great thing about pittsburgh is that, as long as you may have lived here and made a study of the area, surprises always pop up to greet you. Case in point: Pittsburgh is home to the National Flag Foundation, a nonprofit that is celebrating its 50th anniversary …

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Opining on Eponymy

It used to be you had to die to get your name etched in stone. Not anymore. Now all you need to do is fork over enough cash to your local school or library and you can purchase a brick with your name chiseled on it while you still register a pulse. Bricks are only …

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Contemplating the Death of Mice

I sit in my living room on a quiet winter morning dimmed by an opaque, gray sky. I hear crunching, first thinking a squirrel is playing on my roof, or winter snow and ice is starting to slide. The intermittent sound is persistent and peculiar. I walk toward it. It stops. I stop, looking, listening, …

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Man’s Best Friend

There once was a dog named Stormy. When he was very young, a man became his friend and carefully introduced him to all sorts of people, places and situations. He kept little Stormy away from frightening things, and Stormy grew up to love people and the world. Every morning of his life, he jumped as …

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An Open Letter to Amazon

With cities across the nation primping and preening to be the fairest of them all and win the prize of becoming Amazon’s second headquarters, I’d like to let the Amazon decision makers know about a quality which I doubt has been part of any sales pitch thus far. But first, a preamble. Pittsburgh is now …

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A Love Story

I met Rita on our mutual first day of employment in the kitchen of a suburban Pittsburgh family 13 years ago. Our boss, Betsy, was delighted with our installation, as it meant that her long and inconvenient kitchen renovation project was complete. Rita and I were placed on either side of a white, 36-inch wide, …

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Standing Tall

This fall’s NFL national anthem controversy was an opera whose bloated cast of characters would be hard to match—from President Donald Trump, to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, to team owners across the country to rich NFL players professing social concern. And as many problems as the world seems to have, for a solid week, the …

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Nailed It

I recently received a nail salon gift card, which I thought was a bit unusual, because I have short, raggedy nails and giant “Man-Hands.” My “Man-Hands” are definitely passed down from my father’s side—my Uncle Willis could bend bottle caps into little tacos just using his thumb and index finger—and my Dad had thick strong …

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