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Archive for April, 2009

One thing that Pittsburgh and Austin are about to have in common: brand-new, state-of-the-art, beautiful hospitals for children. Dell Children’s Medical Center opened in Austin in 2007 and is a truly great place. Austin should be proud to have it.

Now the new Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is opening on Saturday – a spectacular, sprawling, one-of-a-kind facility that now sits in place of the old St. Francis Hospital in Lawrenceville, profiled in the Post-Gazette this week.

“We can’t change what has happened to the children before they come here,” said Dr. Andrew Urbach, medical director of clinical excellence and service, “but what we can do is make the healing environment such that they get distracted, entertained and they have a little respite from what they have to face, making it easier to face whatever challenge it is that they have.”

And a better environment for healing is just what CHP needed.

Anyone who had the occasion to visit the old Children’s Hospital – venerable home of Jonas Salk and Mr. Yuk – knows that the operative word there is “old,” not “children.” Kids who are suffering in Western Pennsylvania needed a place to heal, and still be kids. And it looks like that’s what they’re getting.

It’s light and bright and playful. It’s quiet. It’s designed for what matters to kids.

It’s good.

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I’ve been tickled by the tongue-in-cheek lists of inside jokes that spawned a Facebook group and this really fairly annoying YouTube video:

But last week when a colleague of mine who has family back in the ‘Burgh gave me a business card with all his relations’ names and phone numbers just in case we needed extra moving help or wanted to be invited to big Italian dinners, I got to thinking about some of the other ways to know you’re a Pittsburgher:

  • You really, truly care about your neighbors just because they’re your neighbors. They’re your people.
  • You approach most of life’s problems with a singular practicality. Life is complicated enough without introducing excess confusion. If the situation is x, and the way to make it right is y, no sense worrying about z.
  • You have the distinct sense that you were actually right when you were a teenager – there really isn’t anyone who understands you. You discover this when you leave Western PA and have to explain 8 times a day that Pittsburgh is clean now, and you realize that while you were learning about the rest of the country, no one was bothering to learn anything about you.
  • You believe that hard work is a virtue. If you chance to have a job outside of Pittsburgh, you are constantly praised for your strong work ethic just for doing what comes naturally, and may seem like the bare minimum considering how hard your parents worked.
  • You feel at once protective and frustrated with your city, as if it were your kid sister. You’re infuriated when anyone picks on her and will defend her on any turf, but you are constantly annoyed by her many mistakes.
  • You have a complex relationship with Nature. You either hunt or have family who does. You are proud of your city’s many green buildings and not just because of the accolades they receive from around the country – because they usually don’t (see third bullet, above). You recognize that there are vast ecological downsides to mining and refining and smelting and coking, but you also know that food was on the table of many a neighborhood family because of those industries. You are connected with the natural world in a genuine give-and-take way that many people cannot fathom.
  • You want your sports teams to stand for something. It’s not enough that they win – they must represent you and your standards. Your sports heroes are expected to be just that. 
  • Deep down, you sort of suspect that your supposed hatred of Cleveland is at least partially pity. You recognize that the misfortunes that have befallen our neighbor by the lake could just have easily been thrust upon us, if not for the combination of fate, geography, and better politicians. Perhaps you have a little survivor’s guilt. Moreover, you’re certain that most of their hatred is just envy.
  • Disaster happens. You may not have been through anything so tragic and dramatic as Hurricane Katrina, but you or someone you know has been flooded out of their home and started over.
  • You know that the saying really is true – you can’t appreciate the sunshine if you’ve never had the rain.

Here’s to the good, strong, charitable, hard-working stuff that makes us, us.

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Take me out

Guess where I’ll be June 30th?

Forbes Field 100th anniversary

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Buccoversary

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Happy Jackie Robinson Day – the anniversary of the first game Mr. TR and I attended together.

He’s at the park tonight (perhaps he’ll run into Professor Madison, apparently my kindred spirit in baseball poeticism). I’m here in the hometown of starting pitcher Ross Ohlendorf. There’s nothing right at all about that.

But there’s everything right about Mr. Robinson, and the strength and grace he brought to the game of baseball 62 years ago today. And I’m proud of how the Pirates have honored him – last year they were one of only nine teams who wore 42 on April 15, this year every player on every team wears it. We’ll keep going to PNC Park on this date, for us, and for him.

“A life is not important, except in the impact it has on other lives.”

– Jackie Robinson

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Pittcetera

1. I don’t want to point out anything about how the Buccos are playing to start the season. I don’t want to add links to statistics or analyses. I just want to knock on wood and cross my fingers, toes, arms, legs, and eyes.

2. Is anyone else puzzled by the constant profiles of the guy who gunned down three police officers? Who is really that interested in what he thinks, where he grew up, and how he votes? Recent coverage of the shooter and his family, in the PG alone:

Believe me, I understand the desire to analyze and understand what makes a person do awful things. I watch shows about serial killers on A&E too (or at least I did when I had a house with cable in it). But how much real-time celebrity do we want to grant this guy, people?

Crazy guy, crazy family, horrible outcome. The end.

3. Why, Byron, why? No, you weren’t about to be our starting QB, but you were a helluva backup who got a lot of respect for what you did. And you got a lot of playing time for a backup dude, thanks to The Ben’s frequent dates with the injury cart.

Hope it works out for ya down in sunny Tampa. I’ll be keeping your “The.”

4. Entertainment Weekly likes Adventureland too. Plenty of people out there on the internet don’t, but whatever.

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From latimes.com

From latimes.com

Sorry, Striking Distance. There’s a new favorite Pittsburgh movie in town.

Yes, I saw Adventureland, and yes, it was fantastic. And yes, there was a ton of Kennywood in it. And the 16th Street Bridge, and fireworks, and the Monroeville Mall.

But unlike that beloved mess of a cop drama, this movie is actually very good. It deals very realistically with the small traumas and triumphs that make up our youth – including the pathos and drudgery of working a minimum wage job at a place where everyone is supposed to have fun.

The story centers on James, who is forced by family financial troubles to go home to Pittsburgh and work all summer instead of trekking through Europe with his Ivy League friends, and his coworkers at Kennyw– I mean Adventureland. They all are refugees of sorts, with problems and failures in their lives that lead them to work there, and they are all recognizable as the kind of people you knew when you were young, and maybe still know now. 

There’s some funniness, and some sadness. There’s mature handling of substance use and sex, and did I mention? There’s lots and lots of Kennywood.

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Latitude

Tonight the sun sets three minutes later in Austin than in Pittsburgh. But who wouldn’t give up three minutes of daylight to have this sunset:

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