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A road trip to Randyland, North Side Pittsburgh's bright spot

Roadside America checks in at Randyland, an offbeat North Side Pittsburgh attraction.

The neighborhood's revival is due, in some significant part, to Randy, who began planting guerrilla mini-gardens in the community in the early 1980s (They now number in the hundreds). His job as a part-time waiter gave him some free time, so in 1996 he purchased the abandoned buildings and yards that now comprise the Mr. Rogers-on-hyperdrive Randyland.
 
"I bought it for 10,000 bucks on a credit card," Randy says. "People said, 'You're a waiter; you don't have any money; what are you gonna do with it?'"
 
Original source: Roadside America
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Pennsylvania Rx: What the Founding Fathers might say about Obamacare

The Atlantic relates early American healthcare modeling, much of which happened in Pennsylvania, to the current state of Obamacare.
 
Still, it’s hard to say whether this Founding Father would have advocated for publicly-funded healthcare at a scale beyond that of a single local hospital. Rather than providing a solid indicator as to what Franklin would have thought about Obamacare, the story of the Pennsylvania Hospital’s founding actually shows why it’s so difficult to guess what any of these men would have thought about modern health policy.
 
Original source: The Atlantic
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NYT reviews 'Modern Art and the Metropolis' at Philadelphia Museum of Art

The New York Times reviews French painter Fernand Leger's exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, "Leger: Modern Artand the Metropolis."
 
Organized by Anna Vallye, a postdoctoral curatorial fellow in the museum’s department of modern and contemporary art, this show takes a memorably broad approach to a narrow slice of Léger’s art. It concentrates on the decade after 1918, when Léger, returning to Paris after World War I, was most enamored of and energized by the city’s modernity — manifest in everything from street life to architecture to advertising, and most of all machines.
 
Original source: The New York Times
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Only 4 in 10 Wharton undergrads want kids

Forbes writes about Wharton management professor Stewart D. Friedman's book Baby Bust that examines undergrads' shrinking desire to have children.
 
In 1992, 78% of departing members of the 1992 undergraduate class at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania expressed plans to have children, according to his research. By 2012, only 42% did. Interestingly, the percentages for men and women were similar. “Millennial men and women are opting out of parenthood in equal proportions,” he notes.
 
Original source: Forbes
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CEO swap: Philly's SEER and Seattle's Moz trade bosses

Two friends on opposite coasts traded their CEO posts and learned more than they thought they would, reports Wired.

The leadership forces behind SEER Interactive and Moz broke records on the spectrum of innovation and collaboration for a week when they swapped work lives. That’s right, they assumed each other’s professional identities, emails, and lived in each other’s homes. They did not, however, swap wives or their Twitter accounts. Rand Fishkin is the CEO of Moz, a nine year-old venture-backed software startup headquartered in Seattle, Washington with offices in Portland, Oregon. Wil Reynolds is the CEO of SEER Interactive, an eleven year-old bootstrapped search marketing agency headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with offices in San Diego. Each day, Reynolds walked from Fishkin’s apartment on Capitol Hill to Moz’s offices in downtown Seattle. Likewise, Fishkin walked from Reynolds’ home to SEER’s offices in a refurbished church in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia.
 
Original source: Wired
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Philadelphia healthcare firm puts curfew on employees' inbox with Zmail

Fast Company writes about Vynamic's email policy, which prohibits emails outside of work hours.
 
The policy, which the company dubs “zmail,” began after employees complained about stress in the annual engagement survey. Constant email contact played a role in that. Calista describes it this way: “You get an email. You’re trying to sleep. You happen to look at it right as you fall asleep, and next thing you know you’re up thinking about it. All it takes is that one.” And so the policy began: “Let it wait until the morning.”
 
Original soruce: Fast Company
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Pittsburgh's College Prowler triples revenue, expands and rebrands

CNN Money checks in on Pittsburgh-based College Prowler, which is expanding and rebranding.
 
College Prowler founder and CEO Luke Skurman says he thinks the Internet needs more user-generated reviews, which is why he's expanding his 11-year-old user-curated online college guidebook and rebranding it as Niche, a site that allows students and families to grade high schools and will eventually give them the ability to evaluate grade schools, cities, and neighborhoods.
 
Original source: CNNMoney
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Only in Philadelphia: Old City's peculiar quality

The New York Times' Four Square Blocks feature takes a deep dive into Philadelphia's Old City neighborhood.
 
Today, Old City’s narrow brick buildings house an assortment of design and fashion boutiques, along with some remaining wholesalers of textiles and heavy-duty kitchen equipment. Factories are now condominium complexes with names like the Castings to acknowledge their manufacturing heritage.
 
And the floors? They, too, are a legacy of an industrial past. Mr. Aibel believes that his hundred-year-old building, where he installs exhibitions of American craft furniture, was once a tobacco warehouse in which water flowed down the incline and out the door. Similarly, at the 1875 petticoat factory that is now the home of Roche Bobois, slanted floors are said to have helped workers move goods and equipment around.
 
Original source: The New York Times
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Lofty research goals connect India's Genome Valley to Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's connections with a chemical research company in India's famed Genome Valley are yielding more medical treatments to help more people, reports Nature Medicine.
 
Antiretrovirals have figured prominently in Laurus Labs' work since Kalidindi co-founded the company in 2006 along with Satyanarayana Chava, the former chief executive of Matrix Laboratories, a bulk drug producer in Hyderabad that is now owned by the Pennsylvania-based generics company Mylan. It was the same year that the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI)—part of the New York–based Clinton Foundation—was looking for a partner in India to help in its research efforts to reduce the cost of antiretrovirals to make them affordable to patients in poor countries. The Genome Valley company was an obvious choice. “Laurus was a pleasure to work with,” says Rodger Stringham, scientific director of CHAI's Pharmaceutical Sciences Team in West Chester, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. “We look forward to future collaborations [with them].”
 
Original source: Nature Medicine
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Bucman: Michael Keaton's unabashed love for the Pittsburgh Pirates

Actor Michael Keaton is blogging about his beloved Pirates in their first playoff run in two decades.
 
But possibly more significant is the fact that in a city known for its working-class toughness and in a business thick with machismo, McClatchy had the guts to come out as gay and finally be who he was. I know -- others, including athletes themselves, have done it. But to the best of my knowledge, not in Pittsburgh. McClatchy's lifestyle was pretty much an open secret in town. I have asked many of my friends and family more than once if they ever recalled criticism, teasing, ridicule or anyone making fun of him. To the person, they said no. I'm sure it happened somewhere, at some time, but I NEVER heard it and neither had they.
 
On Sunday night, 40,000 stood as Kevin McClatchy threw out the first pitch. That's class. That's a city on the move.
 
Original source: ESPN
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World's first digital-mapping open online course draws to close at Penn State

Maclean's writes about the latest in cartography, including the Professor Anthony Robinson and the world's first digital-mapping open online course.
 
There is a democratization of cartography, what Robinson has dubbed a “geospacial revolution.” Last month, Robinson, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, wrapped up what’s being called the world’s first digital-mapping open online course—with 48,000 registered students (36,000 of whom participated in some way). He taught students around the world to harness new software and combine it with data to make their own thematic maps, the kind that used to appear only in history or geography textbooks. “Now, if you read Wired or Gizmodo, you’re probably going to encounter, every few days, a map of slang, or where the football fans are for a certain team—you name it,” Robinson notes. Everything happens somewhere, he says: disease outbreaks, poverty, Bigfoot sightings. Thus, everything can be mapped.
 
Original source: Maclean's
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That new baby smell: Philadelphia's Monell Chemical Senses Center gets infantile

The New York Times reports on a study of how new mothers process the smell of their newborns.
 
Johan Lundström, a biologist with the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia and a study author, believes that women’s brains are hardwired this way to provide an evolutionary incentive. “We think that this is part of a mechanism to focus the mother’s attention toward the baby,” he said.  “When you interact with the baby, you feel rewarded.” A similar process may apply to men as well, Dr. Lundström said, though he lacks the data to prove it.
 
Original source: The New York Times
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Incumbent, gay PA legislator faces biggest campaign yet

The New York Times visits with Pennsylvania legislator Mike Fleck, whose chances of re-election hinge on constituents' reaction to his announcement at the end of last year that he is gay.
 
Plenty of people figured that he’d exit state politics after that. But on Monday he’ll announce his campaign for a fifth term. This time, it will almost certainly be a campaign, with rivals and an uncertain outcome, hinging on whether he can persuade his constituents that he’s the same politician they embraced before, the same man, apart from a reality owned up to, a truth embraced.
 
Original source: The New York Times
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Lights, music, avatar: Why you can't miss Pittsburgh's VIA Festival

Huffington Post compiles nine reasons why you should experience the VIA Festival, the annual music and new media festival born from a creative collective of Pittsburgh's most cutting-edge musicians and visual artists.
 
The entirely volunteer-run fest is six days of A/V showcases, film screenings and live collaborative performances, all uniquely integrated into the city of Pittsburgh. The self-proclaimed "Festival as Laboratory" is constantly experimenting and reinventing the idea of what a festival can be in today's world.
 
"Basically," Goshinski said, "VIA's not something we can best express in words. You just need to experience it."
 
Original source: Huffington Post
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How CRM tools have helped Pennsylvania agencies and can help other states

StateTech Magazine writes about the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania's use of Microsoft Dynamics CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to curb delays and inaccurate records.
 
"Recently, an adult probation chief came up to a staff clerk and said, 'I have a meeting in 15 minutes with a judge, and I need to know how many active drug offenders we've been able to put into the specialty treatment court.' In about five minutes, the clerk was able to query the case management system and print out a list of the relevant cases. In the past, all we could have done was give her an estimate. Now she can walk into the meeting with the judge and have real facts in front of her."
 
Original source: StateTech Magazine
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