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Chicago Tribune travel writer gives Pittsburgh a rave

A writer from the Chicago Tribune feel in love with the spirit of Pittsburgh -- calling it one of America's most underrated cities.

New York, San Francisco and Portland, Ore., are wonderful cities that can't resist preening when passing mirrors to remind themselves just how wonderful they are. Pittsburgh is a wonderful city that doesn't even see the mirror. It just turns to its buddies and says, "Hey, yinz guys, let's go have a beer..."

Steeped in spirit and flavor, Pittsburgh can lay claim to being one of our nation's most underrated cities, with a beauty as breathtaking as it is obvious. The drive from Pittsburgh International Airport follows an unspectacular 20 miles of rolling-hills suburbia along Interstate Highway 376 and then, after a brief trip through the Fort Pitt Tunnel — bam! — there is Pittsburgh...

The city has embraced food, drink and art while long-quiet neighborhoods have been infused with fresh bustle. The fascinating downtown — a strange but appealing mix of architecture built up through the decades — sports fresh touches of its own, like the dim, marble-barred gastropub Meat and Potatoes, which I checked out on a Thursday evening with a couple of natives.


Original source: The Chicago Tribune
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PA Farm Show descends on Harrisburg

Half a million people -- and 6,000 animals -- are coming together to celebrate local food at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. (The event runs through January 11.)

There are 13,000 competitive exhibits, from nuts to Christmas trees, from chickens to cows, along with 300 commercial exhibitors, including many selling food products and crafts, and tradesmen touting their wares.
 
With the theme "Pennsylvania Farms: Growing for You," the 2014 show highlights agriculture's $67 billion impact on the state's economy.

There may not be as many farmers as once plowed the fields and milked the cows of Pennsylvania, but the number of farms actually grew by 5,000 from 2002 to 2007, according to the state Department of Agriculture. There are now 62,200 farms, and agriculture remains Pennsylvania's number-one industry.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Steelers fan files injunction against San Diego Chargers' inclusion in the playoffs

A (very angry) Mercer, PA, man has fired an injunction alleging that a missed call cost his Steelers a spot in the NFL playoffs -- and gave one to the Chargers. He named the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell, and demanded a jury trial.

Officials in that game failed to call an illegal alignment formation on the Chargers that would have allowed Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop a re-kick of a 41-yard field goal he missed with eight seconds remaining. Had he made the kick, San Diego's loss would have sent the Pittsburgh Steelers to the postseason as the final wild-card team.

Instead, San Diego won in overtime and then beat the favored Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Chargers face the AFC's top-seeded Denver Broncos this Sunday.

In the filing, Spuck suggested some possible remedies for the missed call. The NFL could suspend the playoffs for a week to 10 days, allow Succop to re-kick the field goal, or let the Steelers play the Chargers at a neutral site to determine who plays on.


The Sun has the whole complaint.

Original source: The Baltimore Sun
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High society: Pennsylvania's power brokers party on in Manhattan

The Pennsylvania Society's annual meeting, which draws politicians, lobbyists and business leaders to Manhattan for fancy food and elbow-rubbing prior to the start of campaign season, reports The New York Times.
 
“I wouldn’t know what to do this weekend if I stayed home,” said Edward G. Rendell, a Democratic former governor making his 36th annual visit. “For politicians, it’s like salmon swimming upstream to give birth. We do it by instinct.”
 
Original source: The New York Times
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Carnegie Mellon-bred Duolingo is Apple's app of year

USA Today reports that Apple has chosen Pittsburgh-based language learning app Duolingo as its app of the year.
 
Duolingo is still free, and offers six languages — Spanish, French, German, Italian, English and Portuguese.
 
Open the app, and it's like a game. It uses pictures, your smartphone's microphone and video clips to help you learn words, recite them and write them out as well.
 
Original source: USA Today
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A 31-mile run, just like Rocky Balboa's

A 'Fat Ass' run stemming from a Philly Mag blog post -- plotting Rocky's run from the film Rocky II -- took place a couple weeks ago, and earned some national press from the Wall Street Journal.

The run through distal parts of the city seems almost impossible, even for someone as tough as Rocky.

Enter the ultra-running movement to show it is possible. Nearly four decades after the first Rocky movie, a group of runners set out Saturday to re-create Rocky's training run—all 31 miles of it, the equivalent of 50 kilometers...

Before sunrise Saturday, about 150 runners huddled in the cold near the South Philly house that Rocky moves into with his bride, Adrian, played by Talia Shire. This is where he starts his training run, hoping to beat Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers.

Many runners were decked out in old-school gray sweats and red headbands like the ones Rocky wore. Phil Yurkon of Scranton, Pa., wore boxing gloves and had "Lithuanian Stallion" written on the back of his sweatshirt, a play on Rocky's "Italian Stallion" nickname and a homage to Mr. Yurkon's ancestry. The 32-year-old hadn't run more than 17 miles before this run; he heard about the Rocky run the day before and decided to try it.


Original source: The Wall Street Journal
Read the complete story here.

UPenn psychologist's book: To be likable, get others to talk about themselves

Fast Company thinks University of Pennsylvania psychologist Adam Grant's organizational psychology book Give and Take is among the best of the year.
 
Small talk gets gruesome, especially when we're crutching along asking so, what do you do? The research of Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman helps us circumvent that weirdness, as people's evaluations of themselves get primed by the questions you ask.
 
Original source: Fast Company
Read the full story here.

German-themed Christmas villages in Philly, Baltimore, spread joy

The Washington Post writes about the wonder of German-inspired Christmas villages in Philadelphia and Baltimore.
 
Both villages center on a compact collection of twee timber huts the color of gingerbread, with white lights icing the edges. In Philadelphia, the elfin structures occupied by more than 60 retailers encircle the 38-foot-tall Christmas tree in Love Park. The Baltimore venue sits on the lip of the harbor, within earshot of the trumpet blare of the ferry. A few of the 42 vendors brave the outdoors, including a purveyor of South American woolens, a mulled wine stand and a Nepalese shop of felt objects. But most are tucked inside a big-top tent illuminated by a Milky Way of lights.
 
Original source: Washington Post
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Want bars and pizza? Pittsburgh is tops in the U.S.

Pittsburgh ranked No.1 and No. 2, respectively, on the lists of top U.S. cities for pizza and bars, reports InfoGroup.

Many of the cities with a high concentration of bars compared to population also lead the list of pizza restaurants per capita. These cities were most often found in Rust Belt cities and towns housing large breweries. Pittsburgh leads the list, with 12 bars per 10,000 residents. Cities famous for pizza, such as New York and Chicago, don’t appear in the top five in that category. Orlando, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Buffalo top the list, all with at least seven pizza parlors per 10,000 in population.
 
Original source: InfoGroup
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UPenn, Carnegie Mellon among business schools vying for startup supremacy

The Wall Street Journal keeps tabs on the nation's top business schools, including those at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pennsylvania.
 
The best ideas often come at the intersection of disciplines, so aspiring entrepreneurs might consider B-schools that share campuses with top medical or engineering programs. Carnegie Mellon University's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is co-led by computer-science and business faculty.
 
Original source: Wall Street Journal
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'Something of a miracle' in UPenn's nanotechnology center

Businessweek reports on the $92 million Krishna P.Singh Center for Nanotechnology,the University of Pennsylvania's latest architectural jewel.
 
The building unfolds its full radiance in the lobby, called the galleria, which extends as a gathering space around the courtyard and opens upward full height. The exterior undulations shape this narrow atrium into a sculpture of window walls and suspended ceiling planes that cross over and under each other like slightly bent legs.
 
Original source: Businessweek
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Penn co-authored study finds a key to successful startups

Two management professors from the University of Pennsylvania co-authored a study that revealed tech-focused founders lead to more successful startups, reports Phys.org.
 
The research revealed that a technically focused team can more quickly reach market milestones, from design and prototype completion – all the way to product launch. On the other hand, more diverse founding teams are better prepared to compete against mature companies, which similarly have well-established diverse skills in areas like marketing, operations, sales, engineering and other skills.
 
Original source: Phys.org
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Breaking down student debt load by college, region

A research group's study revealed graduates of Pennsylvania colleges were among those more likely to borrow money to pay school costs and carried more debt load, reports The New York Times.
 
Average debt for graduates who had taken loans ranged from $41,500 to $49,450 at the 20 private, high-debt colleges listed. They are concentrated in the Northeast, like Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, and Utica College in New York.
 
At the 20 named high-debt public colleges, student loans averaged $33,650 to $41,650. Half of them are state schools of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
 
Original source: The New York Times
Read the full story here.

Another Pittsburgh love letter

Lancaster County-bred Allison Bustin, a volunteer coordinator, writes in Huffington Post about her deep affection for Pittsburgh.
 
This is my city. Not by birth, I was born in Baltimore, but my family is from West Virginia, and Pittsburgh is the big city. I came here for the first time when I was 18 to visit and tour the University of Pittsburgh. It was December. It wasn't snowing, but everything and everyone was apocalyptically pale and frosted. A pathfinder took my Mom and me around campus. We were happy to walk, just to stay warm. The wind didn't do the Pathfinder any favors, but I didn't need to hear anything anyway. I was set on Pitt in a second. It was the furthest away that I could get from home & still pay in-state tuition, and it was beautiful even on such an ugly day.
 
Original source: Huffington Post
Read the full story here.
 

Erie No. 2, Pittsburgh No. 8 on most recent snowiest cities list

Erie dropped from the top spot to No. 2 and Pittsburgh held steady at No. 8 on the annual list of snowiest cities in the U.S., according to Golden Snow Globe.
 
(City, Population, 2013-2014 Snowfall Totals / Average Snow to Date)
 
1-5) Billings, Mon. (104,170) 17.3 12.2
 
2-1) Erie, Pa. (101,786) 15.6 9.9
 
3-2) Syracuse, N.Y. (145,170) 14.5 11.6
 
4-3) Rochester, N.Y. (210,565) 13.5 8.4
 
5-4) Anchorage, Alaska (291,826) 11.2 22.5
 
6-6) Akron, Ohio (199,110) 10.7 3.9
 
7-7) Buffalo, New York (261,310) 10.0 10.0
 
8-8) Pittsburgh,Pa (305,704) 9.4 3.1
 
9-9) South Bend, Indiana (101,168) 9.2 5.9
 
10-10) Sioux Falls, S.D. (153,888) 7.9 9.2

Original source: Golden Snow Globe
Read the full story here.
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