2022 Winter

Back to the Future

Most students in 19th century America walked to their local one-room schoolhouse to learn reading, writing and arithmetic in a classroom with a handful of other kids ranging in age and ability. With the youngest children seated at the front of the class, they memorized and recited their lessons. Once a mainstay of public education …

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Dr. Jeremy Goodman

Q: What’s the most interesting thing about your job?   A: No two days are ever the same. Despite being in the zoo business for over 25 years, there is always something new that pops up every day. Q What’s the best advice anybody ever gave you?A: A smile and a kind heart go a …

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Taking the Pre-Midterm Election Pulse

A billboard along U.S. route 22 just west of Johnstown offers up to $54,000 and “guaranteed employment” for incoming nursing students at nearby Mount Aloysius College. As the billboard signifies, higher education institutions have taken a lead role in Johnstown’s transition from steel to health care as the primary economic driver. The burgeoning health care …

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Torpedoes to Aquaponics

They called Rhonda Jordan’s dad lucky lee because he caught shrapnel just hairs away from his carotid artery over in Europe. While he was fighting the Germans, his wife was one of thousands of women who put away their heels and aprons for work in the massive Westinghouse factory in Sharon, Pennsylvania. You could say …

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A Swissvale Sleuth

Shawn Rossi is up against it, as folks in Swissvale might say. As both a Harvard Law School student in the early 1980s and as a practicing attorney in Pittsburgh in 2008, the protagonist in Ken Gormley’s debut novel, The Heiress of Pittsburgh, does his best to maneuver through multiple conflicts that often keep him …

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The War Against Aesthetics in Contemporary Literature

There used to be a saying in the painting department at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, “If you can’t make it good, make it red; if you can’t make it red, make it big,” which, as I understand, was not meant to be cynical, but to mock those attending art school for reasons …

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Facing Facts and the Future

Another year has begun with uncertainty clouding the future of Wilkinsburg, where residents wait to learn whether their borough, beset with high property taxes, severe population loss and scant prospects for reversing either, will remain independent or be annexed as a new neighborhood of the City of Pittsburgh, its more stable neighbor. Vanessa Buffry sees …

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The Dreaded Bumper Blocker

When you think about it, what’s more benign than a parking lot?  A neutral zone where idled cars pass the time like languid dogs sleeping in the sun. Well, think again.   Parking lots can be hazardous to your health.  I’m not talking about  fender-benders or road rages when careless drivers clash while parking their vehicles. …

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A Win for Wilkinsburg

After five years of construction and $6.5 million, the Wilkinsburg train station has changed from being nearly a ruin to being completely and beautifully restored. The restoration of the historic landmark provides a striking and hopefully catalytic example of what is possible in building a new Wilkinsburg. The 10,000-square-foot Beaux-Arts building opened in 1916, serving …

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Jazz Renaissance

It’s hard to play the alto sax when you’re wearing a mask, so Tony Campbell simply cut a hole in his and played right through the pandemic, appearing at any number of venues from Wallace’s Whiskey Room + Kitchen in East Liberty to a concert on the lawn at a private home in Forest Hills …

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An Alternative History of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh has been labeled variously as a “mosaic,” “hell with the lid off,” and “the Paris of Appalachia.” The East Liberty-born poet Jack Gilbert describes the city in his poem, “Searching for Pittsburgh,” as being made of “brick and tired wood/ Ox and sovereign spirit/ a consequence of America.” Those characterizations loom as well-played section …

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A farm life

From photographs I sent to expert tracker Linda Spielman, she was able to tell me wonderful little stories about what animals on our farm were doing last winter. At the top of our hill, a mouse bounded across deep snow, its hind feet sinking into holes made by its front feet. “Lots of animals do …

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After A Pitcher of Beer at Antlers Pub, I Believed I Was Brave

After A Pitcher of Beer at Antlers Pub, I Believed I Was Brave And walked with my friend Mike to the State Street Pier. Mike was funny, a good drinking buddy, and fearless.  He pissed from the edge of the pier, then pole vaulted over the railing and landed hard with both feet,  right on the lake below. …

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A Refuge for Wildlife-Watching

About an hour’s drive north of Pittsburgh, Interstate 79 is the 120-acre Cussewago Bottom Conservation Area in Crawford County. The preserve provides an opportunity to explore forests, wetlands and wildlife near a tributary of French Creek. Cussewago originates from the Seneca Indian word meaning “big belly.” Cussewago Creek flows south from Erie County for 35 …

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An Urban Farmhouse

Like many couples, the owners of this Shadyside residence decided to sell the sprawling home they had lived in since 1972 when their children were grown and gone. That was 20 years ago. “We were early with the downsizing,” the wife says with a laugh. But they retained an acre of prime property next to …

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Keep Warm and Watch for Flickers

Forty below zero isn’t cold if you dress for it. I learned that in the Wyoming backcountry when I spent three weeks winter camping one February. We ate high-calorie diets, slicing butter into hot cocoa for the extra fat, and built thick snow shelters to pass the frigid nights. When it dropped below zero, we …

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What the New Mayor Faces

Sophie Masloff became mayor as the city of Pittsburgh was mourning the death of her popular predecessor, Richard Caliguiri. Tom Murphy was elected to the office in 1994, when the city teetered on the brink of financial calamity as the region scrambled to reinvent itself after the collapse of its steel industry. The mayors who …

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Ilkin, Stabile, Weizenbaum, Harper, Wholey

Tunch Ilkin, 63 The Steelers two-time Pro Bowl tackle, team captain and longtime broadcaster on the Steelers Radio Network died of ALS. He played 13 seasons with the Steelers and one with the Green Bay Packers before retiring in 1993. Ilkin was also vice president of the NFL Players Association from 1989 to 1994. He …

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Uh-oh! Free Will Pulls Vanishing Act

“I do not believe in free will.” — Einstein Previously in this series: On Consciousness Part V: Is It All Predictable? “There is no absolute or free will.” — Spinoza We are investigating my claim that free will is an illusion that grows out of our ignorance of the factors – the prior interactions – that engender …

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Stepping into the Breach Pt. III

JANE WERNER, executive director, Children’s Museum of PittsburghWe have been amazed to see the commitment of our visitors and community in keeping kids safe while they explore joy, curiosity, creativity, and kindness at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. As challenging as this year and a half has been, and while we were waiting for younger children …

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What’s in a Name?

It’s only been a couple of decades since we kept our contacts (names, addresses, phone numbers) in leather-bound address books. Old-school, right, but that’s what we did before we were tethered to technology: Outlook on our computers, Contacts on our iPhones or Androids. My mother sent Christmas cards to dozens of people each year, and …

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Hanna, Haley, Fu, Smyrnes-Williams, Brendel

Howard Hanna Sr., 101With an initial investment of $40, which may have included the plywood for his desk, Hanna started a real estate company in 1957 that now has more than 13,500 employees and more than 400 branch offices in 11 states. Today Howard Hanna Real Estate Services is the largest independently owned real estate …

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