First Grill

Overused, grates still crusted with trimmings, it wasn’t much but a dented Weber picked up at a yard sale north of Jackson, a yard I remember because there were children’s books scattered in the weeds and dolls missing their legs but no one around my age, and though for fifteen cents you could take home …

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Petey and I

I am a Pittsburgh native, born in the mid-1950s. I went to grade school, high school, college and medical school in Oakland. I didn’t buy a car until the fourth year of medical school as I walked or biked to most of my destinations. If I was going someplace where I needed to drive, I …

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The Art of Peace

More than 25 centuries ago, a fellow known as Sun Tzu (an honorific rather than a name—it means something like “Master Sun”) wrote a long treatise on military strategy and tactics that has come to be called “The Art of War.” “The Art of War” is only one of the Seven Military Classics assembled during the Sung …

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RFPing Pittsburgh to the World

Donald Bonk interviews Tom Link, director of innovation and entrepreneurship of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, as part of the Pittsburgh Tomorrow podcast series. This interview was conducted before COVID-19. The transcript is abridged and edited for clarity. View the episode archive here. View Tom Link’s profile here. “I think Pittsburgh should RFP itself …

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Taming Your Investment Committee

“Desperate times call for desperate measures.” —Hippocrates, writing almost 2,500 years ago About a million years ago—in 2003, to be exact—I wrote a long white paper called “Reinvigorating the Investment Committee” (available nowhere). In that paper I discussed the origin of the family investment committee and described a long and discouraging list of problems with …

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Bajeux-Besnainou, Mohebbi, Kim, Kahn, Davies, Meyers, Campbell-Golden

Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou will become the 10th dean of Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business on Oct. 15. She will also hold a faculty appointment as a professor of finance. She is currently dean of McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management. During her tenure, she focused on interdisciplinary collaborations, experiential learning and entrepreneurship. This included …

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Roy Engelbrecht: City Life

“Pull out a camera and all of a sudden, strange things happen,” laughs Roy Engelbrecht. For more than 50 years, Engelbrecht has specialized in architectural and landscape photography and every picture, as they say, tells a story. Engelbrecht remembers them all, starting with the day his best friend gave him a box camera for his …

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Moving Through Pittsburgh

Donald Bonk interviews Chris Watts, vice president of mobility of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, as part of the Pittsburgh Tomorrow podcast series. This interview was conducted before COVID-19. The transcript is abridged and edited for clarity. View the episode archive here. View Chris Watts’ profile here. “Working closer as a unit can help us propel forward. …

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Proust’s Longest Sentence

Gilbert de Botton died in the late summer of 2000, only 65 years old. At the end of his life, he was pursuing yet another of his passions. In addition to investing money for rich people and collecting modern art, Gilbert was, amazingly, attempting to recreate Montaigne’s private library, which had been broken up and …

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Improving Muscular Fitness: The Basics

Question: “I am a 40-plus-year-old who has never lifted weights, but I want to get stronger and more toned. Can you provide some guidance?” When we speak of getting stronger and more toned, we are really talking about improving muscular fitness, which comprises three primary components: strength, endurance and power. Strength is the maximum force …

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The Gray Catbird—a Natural Mimic

“It seems like there’s a cat in the bushes, but I think it’s a new species.” That’s the report from our daughter, who is learning her birds. She knows chickadee and blue jay, cardinal and crow. She’s seen an eastern screech owl and two short-eared owls. And a merlin. Nice birds. But the phantom cat …

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A Colorful Life

The Shadyside home interior designer Colleen Simonds created for her family seems to radiate with vibrancy and joy. A riot of color, light, pattern and design envelops the residence, which was formerly a traditional, 1911 Colonial. At once youthful and sophisticated, the home is unabashedly personal. “It’s kind of a family joke. When we bought …

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The CMU Tech Recipe That Feeds Pittsburgh’s Future

Donald Bonk interviews Reed McManigle, mentor in residence at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation, as part of the Pittsburgh Tomorrow podcast series. This interview was conducted before COVID-19. The transcript is abridged and edited for clarity. View the episode archive here. View Reed McManigle’s profile here. “We need lead investors …

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Local COVID Cases Are Second-Lowest Among Benchmark Regions

COVID-19 cases rose 29 percent in Allegheny County during the first two weeks of the month. Still, the county’s infection rate is only half the national average—an indication of how cities and towns across the United States are struggling to blunt the most aggressive surge of the coronavirus since the pandemic began nine months ago. …

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Regional Unemployment Falls to 8.2 Percent

Unemployment in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area dipped to 8.2 percent in September—a drop of 2.4 percentage points from August, according to data from Pennsylvania Department of Labor Center for Workforce Information & Analysis program. Despite the improvement, unemployment in the region remained well above pre-pandemic levels. In September 2019, the unemployment rate was …

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Combating the Middle Age Spread

Question: “I am experiencing the ‘middle age spread’ and want to flatten, tone and tighten up my stomach. What machine or exercises would you suggest?” Popular infomercials would have you believe that using a single abdominal machine for a few minutes a day can provide you with washboard abs, but it is not that simple. …

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Trying to Launch the Warhol Museum

When Ms. X and I arrived at GAM in London, Gilbert didn’t meet with us in his private office, where he and I had always met in the past. Instead, apparently in honor of Ms. X’s presence, he ushered us into his conference room. “We just finished rebuilding the conference room,” Gilbert told us proudly. …

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Saving Injured Animals

Carol Holmgren lifts a baby bunny—a kit—from its bed at Tamarack Wildlife Center in Saegertown, Crawford County, for morning ministrations that include potty training and breakfast. Just four days old, the tiny Eastern cottontail weighs little more than an ounce and its eyes and ears are still closed. He and three littermates were brought to …

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Karla Boos: “All the World’s a Stage”

As a kid, I lived in Wheeling, W.Va., but I wasn’t born there. My dad worked for Titanium Metals Corporation and, before Wheeling, we moved a couple of times around the country to places where Timet plants were located. I was 10 when we settled in Wheeling, so I think of myself as a West …

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The Contours of the Creative Economy

Donald Bonk interviews Nathan Martin, founder and CEO of Deeplocal, as part of the Pittsburgh Tomorrow podcast series. This interview was conducted before COVID-19. The transcript is abridged and edited for clarity. View the episode archive here. View Nathan Martin’s profile here. “What we are doing is producing and incubating these kinds of students that …

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Employers Add Jobs, but Payrolls Still Lag

The Pittsburgh region continued to add jobs in September, but overall employment numbers reveal an economy still hobbled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers in the seven county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area added 16,000 jobs in September, according to recently U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Still, the region has lost more than 90,000 jobs since …

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The Mysterious Party

A few years after the events described in last week’s post, something happened that, at first, seemed to have nothing to do with Gilbert de Botton. I was sitting at my desk idly sorting through my mail when I came across an impossibly elegant invitation to a “garden party” being hosted by a very well-known …

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