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Nation's 10 most hellish hills for cyclists includes two Pittsburgh streets

"Top 10 U.S. Steepest Streets" calls out Pittsburgh's brutal Canton Avenue. It clicks in at 37 percent gradient. 

Any cyclists out there want to take on what Lance Armstrong has deemed the "steepest climb I've ever seen on a bike"?

Then buy a ticket to for Hawaii and pedal to Waipio Valley Road, a short but tortuous climb of 800 feet in six-tenths of a mile. With sections slanted at a 45-degree percent grade, and access given only to cars with 4-wheel drive, just looking at the muscle-shredding lane can make rivers of sweat start to flow. As Armstrong said: "You know it's steep when the people walking down are walking backward."

This fearsome cliff road gets top billing on "Top 10 U.S. Steepest Streets," a ranking of terrible hills for cyclists created by Fixr and recently featured at Urban Velo. The run-down contains some challenging claims for folks who think America's worst hills are located in San Francisco or perhaps the Rockies. The second-slantiest street, for instance, is said to be Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh. It is the "steepest public street in the United States," writes Fixr, "only second steepest in the Guinness Book of Records because of a mistake in calculations (1st is Baldwin St. New Zealand, thought to have been 38% but is actually 35%)."


Number eight in is the Steel City, too.

Source: The Atlantic Cities
Check it out here

A&E sets its latest drama, 'Those Who Kill,' in Pittsburgh

'Those Who Kill,' a new series on A&E, is shot and set in Pittsburgh.

The 10-part serial was adapted from a Danish TV show, and stars Chloe Sevigny as newish police detective Catherine Jensen, and James D'Arcy as a forensic psychologist.

Episode 1 was very pilot-like, with a self-contained serial-killer story (that guy was easier to catch than a cold!), and some clunky set-up establishing the characters, their relationships to one another, and the likelihood that everybody is brooding over their own secrets.

In many ways, this first episode was a checklist of Cop-Show Tropes (COP) intercut with Filmed in Pittsburgh markers (PGH), as noted below.

So, is the show worth watching? Sure. It's fun seeing our town on TV, and the main story hasn't even unfolded yet. Seek out the first episode online or on demand, or just jump right in after absorbing these predictable aspects, listed as they played out.


Original source: Pittsburgh City Paper
Read the complete story here.

Rule change could be in the works for the state's distilleries

A potential rule change could make life easier for the state's growing stable of small distilleries.

Pennsylvania's small distilleries, four of which operate in the Pittsburgh area, could soon be shipping directly to at-home customers thanks to a rule change being considered by the state.

The state's Independent Regulatory Review Commission, which reviews and recommends nonlegislative policy changes, and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board have been vetting a proposed rule that would "permit licensed limited distilleries and distilleries to deliver their products directly to consumers [and] retail licensees, [similar] to licensed limited wineries."

The proposed policy change originates out of Act 113 of 2011, which was passed in order to give the state's small distilleries "the same privileges enjoyed by licensed limited wineries."

At a meeting set for Feb. 27, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission will have the opportunity to affirm the new regulations based on feedback received from the Liquor Control Board last month. If the commission approves the final version, the new rules would be submitted to the Office of the Attorney General for review and approval, a process that could take up to 30 days.


Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Read the complete story here.

POLITICO Magazine explores the reinvention of Pittsburgh

POLITICO Magazine takes a deep dive into Pittsburgh with a cover package on its rebirth. The lead feature is titled, "The Robots That Saved Pittsburgh":

“Roboburgh,” the boosterish moniker conferred on the city by the Wall Street Journal in 1999 and cited endlessly in Pittsburgh’s marketing materials ever since, may have been premature back then, but it isn’t now: Pittsburgh, after decades of trying to remake itself, today really does have a new economy, rooted in the city’s rapidly growing robotic, artificial intelligence, health technology, advanced manufacturing and software industries. It’s growing in population for the first time since the 1950s, and now features regularly in lists like “the Hottest Cities of the Future” and “Best Cities for Working Mothers.”

“The city is sort of in a sweet spot,” says Sanjiv Singh, a Whittaker acolyte at Carnegie Mellon who is working on the first-of-its-kind pilotless medical evacuation helicopter for the Marines. “It has the critical mass of talent you need, it’s still pretty affordable and it has corporate memory—the people here still remember when the place was an industrial powerhouse.”


Original source: POLITICO Magazine
Read the complete stories here.

PA wind and snow create rare 'snow roller' phenomenon

All the recent horrid weather has had one exciting side effect: the creation of beautiful "snow rollers" in Western PA.

According to the National Weather Service, a snow roller is a rare meteorological phenomenon in which large snowballs are formed naturally when chunks of snow are blown along the ground by wind.

The shapes are often hollow, and the conditions need to be precisely right for them to form, according to the weather service. For example, wind must be strong enough to move the snow rollers, but not so strong they're blown too fast.
Weather service records from various states note that snow rollers can be as small as a golf ball or as large as a 30 gallon drum, but typically average 10 to 12 inches in diameter.

The area where the phenomenon was spotted Monday is about 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Some residents said the shapes resembled bowling balls, while Charles Keith of Franklin described "500 Tootsie Roll-like" forms in an empty field nearby.


Original source: Christian Science Monitor
Read the complete story (and check out the pictures) here.

Ohio-PA cross-border beer collaboration coming soon

Cleveland's Buckeye Brewing and Pittsburgh's Rivertowne Brewing Co.  have teamed up to create OH-PA, an India Pale Ale.

Ed Thompkins, beer and wine buyer for Heinen's, came up with the idea and – as is his nature – acted as an intermediary of sorts between the brewers.

While the cities' football fans often are at odds, the brewers had no problem showing a congenial spirit of détente.

"Everything was great," Buckeye Brewing's Garin Wright said. "They have a kick-ass (brewing) system. It's much more automated. It was fun being there and being a part of collaborating on the recipe design. ... And they're great people. The city is cool and everyone in that brewery is kind of down to earth."

The joint-effort beer, Thompkins said, is a 4.8 percent alcohol sessionable IPA. Wright describes it as "unfiltered – we're going to try to keep all that hop character in the can. It's pretty much coming out of the tank fresh and into the can, and it will be dry-hopped twice." Dry hopping is a process where certain hops are added at varying times during fermentation to enhance a beer's aroma.

Wright said he hopes to start selling the beer at Buckeye Brewing on Tuesday, Feb. 18.


Original source: The Plain Dealer
Read the complete story here.

Photographer paints portrait of PA Rust Belt town in 'Homesteading'

Noted local photographer Zoe Strauss -- of "Under I-95" fame -- has a new project, 'Homesteading,' that examines life in a post-steel mill town.

“Homesteading” combines landscapes, street photography and formal studio portraits to explore over generations the history of those who built Andrew Carnegie’s wealth, the ways their fates were intertwined and the current lives of Homestead’s residents. After a year of research, she found it daunting to blend themes of globalization, a mythic past and the trauma of that past in a mundane 21st-century community. She actually felt she had reached the limits of what she could do with photography. So, she did what she always does when overwhelmed: Let strangers show her the way...

Ms. Strauss is not your typical Magnum photographer — she describes herself as a lesbian anarchist from Philadelphia and is unfailingly humble. She is interested as much by theory as by photographic practice, and she loves and is influenced by science fiction, art theory and epic poetry.


Original source: New York Times' Lens blog
Read the complete story here.

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
Read the complete story here.
 

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
Read the complete story here.

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
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.

Pittsburg ranks No. 5 among best cities for retirement

Livability ranks Pittsburgh No. 5 on its list of America's best cities in which to retire.
 
The city scored well in hospitals and cultural engagement. The Pittsburgh metro area has 43 hospitals, and among those eight are top ranked by U.S. News & World Report. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the highest-rated hospital in the city, is nationally ranked in 15 specialties, including geriatrics, neurology and pulmonology.
 
Original source: Livability
Read the full story here.
 

Smart innovation policies mean clean energy rebirth for Pittsburgh

Smart innovation policies lead to Pittsburgh's clean energy rebirth, reports The Energy Collective.
 
The result of Innovation Works’ focus – and the focus of the city of Pittsburgh in general – on energy innovation is its status as an emerging clean tech hub. According to the Brookings Metropolitan Policy program, as of 2010, Pittsburgh was ranked in the top 25 in the United States for its clean economy growth. Its fastest growing industry segments included solar PV, pollution reduction technologies, and green buildings.
 
Original source: The Energy Colective
Read the full story here.
 

Consol sells coal mines, shifts focus to natural gas

Pittsburgh-based Consol Energy sold five of its coal mines to focus more on natural gas and coal exports, reports The New York Times.
 
Nicholas J. DeIuliis, president of the company, which is based in Pittsburgh, said in a conference call with reporters that the five mines being sold to the privately held Murray Energy in the transaction, worth $3.5 billion to $4.4 billion, were “a very profitable business, a very stable business.”
 
But although they historically represent the center of the 150-year-old company’s business, they have limited growth potential, he said. 
 
Original source: The New York Times
Read the full story here.
 
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