2008 Winter

The River Starts Here

For the Allegheny River, a journey of 352 miles begins with a single drop of water. Emerging from a hillside in rural, wooded Potter County, in northern Pennsylvania, the trickle swells to a river that provides drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people, 72 miles of navigable waterway for barges and industry and a …

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Into the Woods

One of the many paths through Frick Park wanders past the house, which sits on the crest of a hill overlooking acres of woodland. Each time he passed it, the current owner would tell his wife that if it ever came on the market, he would buy it. In fact, it was on the market …

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Suitcase, Unpacked

I knew my son before he was born. “That’s ridiculous,” my mother said. I was seven months pregnant and had just told her that my unborn son had a great sense of humor. “How in God’s name,” she said, “would you know that?” I knew because every time I tried to take a nap, he kneed me …

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Randy Pausch: The Expert in Time

Thirteen years ago, a young assistant professor at the University of Virginia shared his time management techniques with graduate teaching assistants and fellow faculty members. They all wanted to get ahead—get tenure—and still have time for their friends and family. Peppered with aphorisms, the talk would have made Ben Franklin proud. It wasn’t the work …

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George C. Marshall: True soldier

On Sept. 1, 1939, as German troops thundered across the Polish border, Gen. George C. Marshall succeeded Malin Craig as the U.S. Army Chief of Staff. One week later, Marshall returned to his birthplace and childhood home in Uniontown, 46 miles southeast of Pittsburgh for a homecoming celebration. The man President Harry Truman was to …

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Crystal Clear Designs

Winter slows the primal routines of nature. Trees shed delicate, food-factory leaves before they freeze. Forests subsist on sugar hived in roots protected from the cold by the consistently above-freezing deep soils. Tender wildflowers abandon all life above ground. Small creatures build their own larders — caches of autumn’s bounty gathered and stashed underground out of …

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Bittersweet Heiress

One of the most interesting historical sites in the Laurel Highlands is the Fort Necessity National Battlefield. And a new destination for hiking and exploring in the region is a property currently owned by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and about to be added to Forbes State Forest, adjacent to the national battlefield property. Forbes State …

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Moundsville, W. Va.

As the holidays approach, frantic parents stand in endless lines or buy online, getting the hottest high-tech “made in China” toys. If that seems overwhelming, try visiting the Official Marx Toy Museum of Glen Dale, W.Va. Located in Moundsville, just south of Wheeling, the museum takes visitors down memory lane as they enjoy Louis Marx …

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Driven to Drink

We’ve been conditioned to think of beer as decision-making’s devoted contaminant, so when I tell you that beer almost single-handedly explains Scott Smith’s current whereabouts, you might think this story won’t end well. Four years ago, Smith worked for a Fortune 500 company in a consumer products job. But the longer he did this, no …

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Duck, Duck, Gull

Winter weather on our three rivers brings a variety of duck and gull species to western Pennsylvania. So when frozen floes churn by or great sheets of ice cover upstream sections of the Allegheny or the Mon, the time is right within the city limits or towns nearby to look for some of the winged …

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The City’s Fortune Depends on It

Among subjects of continuing public attention, none resonates like the size and efficiencies of local government. For some months now, a citizens group under the leadership of Mark Nordenberg, chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, has been investigating the potential merger of city and county government, either in total or in part. I cannot recall …

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Consol CEO: J. Brett Harvey

If you find yourself driving east across Pennsylvania on I-80 and want to take a detour to the mining industry’s grim past, consider taking the tour at the Lackawanna Mine near Scranton. First opened in the 1860s and active until 1966, the sprawling underground maze of tunnels gives sobering insight into the wrenching conditions miners faced. …

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Image and Reality: When They Don’t Match

There’s a saying in Texas, “He’s all hat and no cattle.” I don’t know why I was thinking about Texas as I flew aboard a US Airways flight bound for Ireland. It’s probably because I had just read Doug Parker’s Letter From The CEO in the in-flight magazine, Attaché. Parker’s obligatory dear-dummy letter was an …

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From the Publisher, Winter 2008

In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, winter comes early. You can feel it when the mercury drops to 30 and you’re in a summer cottage with just a fireplace for heat. And so it was one late fall day, when Smokey and I were the only dog and person left on the island. Cold rain fell on …

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Stocks & Pedestal, Winter 2008

Just after saying it has no plans to cut here, US Airways has reneged again. Pittsburgh built the airline a $1 billion airport and has supported US Airways despite high fares and poor on-time performance, spurning low-cost carriers interested in this market. The result? Astounding cuts and the loss of hub status as one new …

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Friends in Unfriendly Times

Adena Johnson Davis remembers marching up to the front desk at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Nursing, plunking down her test scores, report cards and transcripts. She was a slight, young woman and had been an ‘A’ student at Peabody High School. For sure, she thought, this will get me in. The school’s secretary, …

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Abraham J. Twerski, Psychiatrist and Rabbi

I was born in Milwaukee where my father was a rabbi. Two of my brothers were six and eight years older than I and were off to yeshiva when I was about 7. My younger brothers weren’t born until I was 8. So I was a lonely child. Not only didn’t I have siblings with …

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Dye, Burgess, Coonelly, Sadovsky, Wafer, Zubik, Lamoureux, Sarro, Mellah

Robert Dye is vice president and senior economist for The PNC Financial Services Group. Dye came to PNC from Philadelphia, where he was vice president and econometrician, analyzing the economy and commercial real estate markets for Realpoint, a division of Capmark Investments. He has also been senior economist for Moodys.com and Wharton Econometrics.Dye is a …

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Miller, Rogal, Tannehill, Schmidt, Woodruff, Levinson

Eliza Miller, 92: She was an artist who was best known for her sculptures in steel but whose large, ceramic works can be found in local schools and playgrounds. She was born into a prominent family, and her grandfather designed a famous steel mill in Homestead, which he named after her — the Eliza Furnace. …

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The Jet Set

Amadeo Marcos was the first surgeon to take a piece of liver from a healthy living donor and successfully transplant it into an unrelated critically ill patient. In the nine years since, he’s done more of these complex surgeries than anyone. Topping his vitae is his current position, chief of the transplant division at the …

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Song of Sewickley

Would you be shocked to learn that Sewickley — the patriotic, upper-crust town just downriver of Pittsburgh — holds an annual American flag-burning in broad daylight on public property? No need for outrage or a constitutional amendment. Turns out, it’s the perfectly respectful flag retirement ceremony, in which tattered Old Glories are given a solemn …

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