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Sprawling PA farmhouse featured in the New York Times

A charming stone house in Elverson, PA with seven bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms was featured in the New York Times' "What You Get For..." column.

This house is on more than 22 acres, neighboring a farm and a 535-acre county park. Horse and walking trails lead directly from the property into the park. Closer to the center of town is a historic district with residential and commercial buildings dating to the 18th and 19th centuries, in styles including Craftsman, Gothic and Queen Anne...Original features include some hardwood floors, molding, trim and exposed wood ceiling beams. The living room is about 630 square feet, with a fireplace. French doors open to a screened-in porch with views of magnolia and Kentucky coffeetrees. The fireplace in the dining room is almost large enough to walk into. Off the kitchen is an octagonal sunroom with five large arched windows overlooking a pond...The spring-fed pond is suitable for swimming and skating. There is a nine-stall barn with an apartment upstairs.

Original source: The New York Times
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Penn State researchers tackle 'precrastinators'

Apparently there are some folks out there who, instead of putting things off, race to finish them. Penn State researchers took a look at this phenomenon of "precrastination."

"There is an overwhelming tendency to precrastinate," according to a paper published in May in the journal Psychological Science. The behavior might include answering trivial emails, for example, or paying bills far ahead of time. “It’s an irrational choice,” the paper said, but it also reflects the significant trade-offs people make to keep from feeling overwhelmed.

The paper described an experiment at Pennsylvania State University that was meant to explore decision-making when it comes to physical effort. Students were asked to carry a beach bucket down an alley. They were given a choice: They could pick up a bucket near the start of the alley and carry it to the end, or they could pick up a different bucket that was closer to the end of the alley, walk a few steps and put it down.

The researchers assumed that most of the subjects would choose the bucket that required the least amount of lifting time. Instead, most picked up the bucket that was closer to them, a decision that forced them to carry it longer than necessary. In other words, they gave themselves extra work for no apparent benefit.

"We couldn’t figure out what on earth was going on," said the lead researcher, David Rosenbaum, a professor of psychology at Penn State. "We thought maybe we made a mistake with the instructions..."

Through the experiments, the researchers homed in on a hypothesis: People appear wired to incur a significant physical cost to eliminate a mental burden.



Original source: The New York Times
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Eat Philadelphia's best "secret menu items"

Zagat has put together a list of Philadelphia's best off-menu items. We're especially drooling over the pork pastrami sandwich at Fitler Dining Room:

Chef Rob Marzinsky has been doing intense sandwich research for the just-introduced daily 5-7 p.m. happy hour at this Fitler Square American bistro, and this dish is one of the happy consequences. After a four-day brine, pork shoulder is rubbed with pastrami spice, dried and cold-smoked for eight hours. Slices are served on a house-baked semolina roll with bread and butter pickles, spicy cabbage slaw, Gulden’s mustard and melted Birchrun Hills Fat Cat cheese.?

Original source: Zagat
Read the complete list here.

Tesla gets the green light for five stores in PA

Tesla, the high-end manufacturer of electric cars, has gotten the go-ahead to open give stores in the Commonwealth.

If you Keystone Staters are looking for a more elegant, environmentally friendly way to transport cheesesteaks and Wawa hoagies, your time has nearly come. Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett signed a bill yesterday allowing Tesla to open up five "dealerships," which means you'll soon be able to buy yourself a Model S without jumping through all those traditional (and awful) hoops. Once you've visited a location to see Elon Musk's work in action, you order one online and wait. Simple as that. As the Associated Press points out, the law opens the door for any other electric car company to do the same, assuming it doesn't try to sell (or have a vested interest in selling) cars from other manufacturers. ?

Original source: Engadget
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Update: Pennsylvania actually sends draft notices to 14,000 men over the age of 118

The quirky case of draft notices sent to late Pennsylvanians continues -- turns out the state sent out over 14,000 of them.

The notices from the Selective Service System were mailed to at least 14,250 men born more than a century ago — all believed to be dead — warning them that failure to register is “punishable by a fine and imprisonment.” The Associated Press reported.

"I said, 'Geez, what the hell is this about?'" said Chuck Huey, 73, about the notice he received that was addressed to his late grandfather, Bert Huey, who was born in 1894, served in World War I, then died in 1995 at the age of 100, AP reported. "It said he was subject to heavy fines and imprisonment if he didn’t sign up for the draft board. We were just totally dumbfounded."

...Turns out, the genesis for the glitch was the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which was transferring about 400,000 records to Selective Service. A clerk didn’t select the century for the records of those who were born between 1993 and 1997, so the system scooped up those who had been born between 1893 and 1897, too.


Original source: The Washington Times
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PennLive searches for the 'best scenic view in Pennsylvania'

Check out this list of the most scenic views in the Keystone State -- and then vote for your favorite.

This is a list of views that take your breath away. We looked for something from all four corners of the state; many are a several-hour drive from here. A few are from the midstate. Some are overlooks while forests or skyscrapers frame some others. Many evolve with the march of the calendar and the change of the seasons. All really are worth seeing at any time of the year although be aware you might need to hike to reach the perfect spot for the view.?

Original source: PennLive
 

University of Pennsylvania wins contract to treat memory deficits

The University of Pennsylvania was one of two institutions to win a Department of Defense contract to develop brain implants for memory deficits.

Their aim is to develop new treatments for traumatic brain injury, the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Its most devastating symptom is the blunting of memory and reasoning. Scientists have found in preliminary studies that they can sharpen some kinds of memory by directly recording, and stimulating, circuits deep in the brain...

“A decade ago, only a handful of centers had the expertise to perform such real-time experiments in the context of first-rate surgery,” said Michael Kahana, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania and the recipient of one of the new contracts granted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa. “Today, there are dozens of them, and more on the way; this area is suddenly hot.”


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

PA man receives draft notice 102 years late

A late Rockland Township man recently received a draft notice in the mail -- 102 years late.

Martha Weaver, now in her 80s, tells The (Oil City) Derrick ( http://bit.ly/VJQzHh ) that the Selective Service System notice arrived Saturday in Rockland Township, Venango County. That's about 60 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Her father's name was Fred Minnick, though the notice misspelled the last name "Minick" and warns that failure to register is "punishable by a fine and imprisonment."


Her father was born on June 12, 1894, which means he would have turned 18 in 1912.

Original source: ABC News
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Ride-share legislation introduced in Pennsylvania Senate

State Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Allegheny, has introduced legislation aimed at allowing ride-sharing services like Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. to operate in the state permanently.

“My legislation resolves outstanding issues and would enable the ride-sharing companies to continue operating,” Fontana said in a statement. “The bill includes provisions that promote safety and security for riders while compelling companies to maintain sufficient insurance coverage for contingencies.”
Provisions of Senate Bill 1457 include:
  • requiring ride-sharing companies to maintain detailed records;
  • establishing driver-training programs;
  • enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on alcohol use and the crafting of a complaint reporting system;
  • implementing a background check system and the developing specific driver guidelines that deal with past criminal, moving violations or driving under the influence history.
The legislation also requires drivers to have an updated photo in plain view. The driver would not be permitted to pick up passengers who "hail" the vehicle while in use. It also specifically identifies vehicles that may be used for ride-sharing and a detailed inspection protocol to alleviate safety concerns. The company must also maintain specific levels of insurance for liability, medical payments, comprehensive, collision and uninsured/underinsured coverage.

Original source: Pittsburgh Business Times
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Pennsylvania is home to 'Ringing Rocks' that could tell us something about Stonehenge

Were Stonehenge's rocks used to make music? Perhaps. Pennsylvania is home to our own set of "Ringing Rocks."

Theories surrounding the monument’s intended purpose — temple? observatory? big sundial? — go in and out of fashion. But this year, the partygoers will show up outside Salisbury, England, with fresh evidence that the site was always intended to host such shenanigans.

Specifically, making loud rock music.

Researchers from the Royal College of Art in London have found that some of the monument’s rocks possess unusual acoustic properties; when struck, they make a loud, clanging noise. Perhaps, they say, this explains why these particular rocks were chosen and hauled from nearly 200 miles away — a significant technical feat some 4,000 years ago.

Could it be that Stonehenge was actually a prehistoric glockenspiel?

...Though Mr. Devereux and Mr. Wozencroft may be the first to suggest that Stonehenge was built for making noise, they are not the first to notice the ringing of Preseli’s rocks: a nearby town is named Maenclochog, which means ringing rocks. Some local churches used the rocks as bells until the 1700s.

And ringing rocks are found far beyond Wales, in Sweden, China, Australia, the United States and elsewhere. These days, the surprisingly high-pitched chimes of Ringing Rock State Park in Bucks County, Pa., can be heard all over via YouTube...

Lawrence L. Malinconico, a geologist at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania who has studied the terrain at Ringing Rock Park for years, credits a combination of composition and density for the phenomenon. Like Stonehenge, the Pennsylvania site is filled with diabase rocks, which are abundant in iron and magnesium and spent about 170 million years below ground before rising to the surface and cooling.

“When they cool, it’s something like forging a cast-iron bell,” said Dr. Malinconico. The resulting rock is dense enough to produce a high-pitched tone when struck.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.
 

President Obama steps in to halt transit strike

President Obama ordered an emergency mediation process, halting the SEPTA transit strike in southeastern PA.

The Presidential Emergency Board will now beginning hearing arguments from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and two unions representing about 400 electrical workers and engineers. The unions want a compensation plan similar to what bus drivers agreed to a few years ago, but the agency hasn't met their demand, they say.

The workers went on strike after midnight Saturday, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, soon requested that Obama intervene.

Under the Railway Labor Act, the governor of any affected state may ask the president to appoint an emergency mediation panel to settle a union's dispute with publicly funded commuter rail services. Obama recently created such a board to help with a labor battle at the Long Island Rail Road, and employees have about a month left in the process before they may strike. 


Original source: The Los Angeles Time
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Pennsylvania wins Silver Shovel Award for second straight year

The 2014 Silver Shovel awards recognize states with the most significant industrial groundbreakings or expansions each year.

A Walmart distribution center in Northampton County and a manufacturing plant in Berks County have helped Pennsylvania win a prestigious Silver Shovel Award for the second year in a row from Area Development magazine. They are among 10 projects in 11 counties that are projected to create a total of  4,800 new jobs and generate $796 million in private investment...

Area Development’s annual Shovel Awards are open to all 50 states to submit information about its top 10 job creation and investment projects.


Original source: WFMZ
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LGBT couples now have weddings to plan

After the recent ruling legalizing gay marriage, couples get to wedding planning -- which should be a boon to the state's economy.

Getting married was not a pressing priority for Christine Donato and Sandy Ferlanie, despite their being plaintiffs in the case that led a federal judge to strike down Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage on Tuesday.

But Gov. Tom Corbett’s decision not to appeal the ruling by Judge John E. Jones III of Federal District Court suddenly transformed marriage for the couple from a distant prospect into a near-term reality...The women received the news of Mr. Corbett’s decision while sitting in the living room of their shingle-clad suburban home. Tears, cheers and hugs quickly followed...

For Ms. Donato, 45, and Ms. Ferlanie, 46, the legalization of same-sex marriage in their home state will allow them to tell their 5-year-old son, Henry, that his parents are finally getting married, just like the parents of many of his kindergarten friends.

They also hope that an early wedding ceremony will allow them to be married in the presence of their parents, who are in their 70s and 80s.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Penn State researchers explore happiness in the workplace

Researchers at Penn State looked at cortisone levels to determine how happy people are at work.

While work is widely viewed as the major source of stress for Americans, new research shows that people have significantly lower stress levels when they are at the office compared to their time at home.

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University tested the cortisol levels of 122 workers during the workday and on weekends. Using saliva samples, they found that levels of cortisol – which is a biological marker for stress – were on the whole much lower when the person was at work than when he or she went home.

The finding suggests that for many people, the workplace is a sort of haven away from life’s daily problems. At home, the pressures of juggling work and family responsibilities set in and cause us to feel more stress.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Pennsylvania Food & Wine Festival set for this weekend

Pennsylvania Food & Wine Festival at the Monroeville Convention Center will showcase the state's top producers.

Sure, you can buy wine from all around the world, but the 15 wineries participating in a festival this week want to show folks what's being made right here in Pennsylvania.

The second annual Pennsylvania Wine & Food Festival, set for June 14 at the Monroeville Convention Center, will feature more than 60 exhibitors, including 15 wineries from Western and Central Pennsylvania and other parts of the state.

“We look forward to this event,” says Tina West, co-owner of Allegheny Cellars Winery in Sheffield, Warren County. The winery makes red, white, blush and fruit wines and is bringing eight kinds of wine for visitors to taste.

“I think it educates the people in Pennsylvania about Pennsylvania wines and the different types of grapes that we grow here, as opposed to California,” West says.

At the festival's entrance, visitors will be given a 2-ounce wine glass, which they can take from booth to booth to get unlimited samples from 150 wines. If they make a purchase, they can pick up the bottle or case on the way out or drink it at the festival along with any food they buy. The food vendors, largely local, offer items including homemade dips, cheeses, meats, cookies and fudge.


Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Read the complete story here.
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