Tomlin tweets

Written by Kim Lyons on .

The Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette today broke the news on Twitter that almost broke Twitter (at least in Pittsburgh):



Coach Tomlin's first tweet came a short time later:

As of 2:30 p.m., Tomlin had more than 25,000 followers. He has some catching up to do if he wants to surpass the Twitter accounts of some of the more popular current and former Steelers: Troy Polamalu (@tpolamalu) has over 500,000 Twitter followers, and James Harrison (@jharrison9292) has almost 300,000 followers.

Even Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) is ahead of Tomlin at this point, as the Post-Gazette's most-followed account, with almost 37,000 followers.

Plenty of other Pittsburgh athletes are on Twitter; Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett (@wudeydo34) has nearly 38,000 followers, and the Penguins' Evgeni Malkin (@malkin71_), who tweets in both English and Russian, has over 320,000 followers.

Professional athletes are of course known for the occasional goof on social media. After a   photo surfaced of the Steelers' Maurkice Pouncey (@MaurkicePouncey) wearing a "Free Hernandez" hat (in support of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez, who stands accused of murder), Pouncey used his Twitter account to apologize for his actions. 

It's probably unlikely the straight-talking Tomlin will get himself into any Twitter trouble. But now that he's following some of his players on Twitter, it might be interesting to see if they choose their 140 characters a little more carefully.

Do you follow any professional athletes on Twitter? Which ones do you like best... and which non-tweeters do you wish would get on board?

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Mr. Rogers sweater gets a warm reception... AGAIN!

Written by Heather Schmelzlen on .

Mr. Rogers was an icon before sites like Twitter and Reddit came about, but he has become a beloved figure on social media nonetheless. So when a Reddit post surfaced last week about a friendly neighbor making a sweater for the statue on Pittsburgh's North Shore, the response was great:

If you've ever seen the show, you probably remember the famous cardigans -- reportedly hand-knit by his mother. The Internet seemed to think the 'yarn bombing' was a fitting tribute:

With some digging, I found out that the person behind this cardigan was Pittsburgh artist Alicia Kachmar. She wrote about the project on her blog. The bad news? Those photos were from 2011, and the sweater is no longer on the statue. But Alicia, 31, of Morningside, did take the time to answer my questions on what has come to be a revived sensation and what she calls "the strangest thing I've ever done."
When was the sweater on the statue?
July 2011, for a couple weeks. We could have left it up longer, but it took a beating with the rain. It wasn't really meant to last forever.
How did you get the idea for the project?
It wasn't really my idea. Outpost Journal is a publication that was starting around that time, and each issue focuses on one city, looking at the underground arts scene. Pittsburgh was the debut issue, and one of the things they wanted to do for each city is have an artsy interaction with some sort of landmark, like a statue. A couple of my friends had heard about them wanting someone to make the sweater for Mr. Rogers. I have a crochet business, so my friends told me to apply. I did, and they chose me.
I had never made a sweater in general -- crochet-wise. I have an Etsy shop, and the things I make for my crochet business are very small. I don't do a lot of garments, other than scarves. I've never made a sweater other than for the Mr. Rogers statue.
Did you have to get permission from the city or anyone for the project?
We got permission from The Colcom Foundation, which funded the statue. It's not like a typical yarn bombing -- we asked and got permission and they were really excited about it.
What were the measurements for the sweater?
- right wrist is connected to his leg, but the length of the exposed wrist is 22 inches.  
- left wrist is 27.75 inches.  
- right bicep is 46.5 inches.  
- left bicep is 48.75 inches.  
- belly is 108 inches.  
- shoulder to shoulder: he's a little bit hunched forward, so, we measured from shoulder to shoulder at the most rounded part and it's 69.5 inches.  
How long did it take you to make the sweater?
I think I got chosen around February or March of that year, then there were some weeks spent talking on the phone and over email about logistics. (Outpost Journal is based in Providence.) I think I only worked on it for maybe two months. And then in April or May, the photographer and editor of the magazine came and we did a test run.
What were the logistics involved in making the sweater?
If you've ever seen the statue, the arms touch the legs. So you couldn't put it on like a regular sweater. I made a lot of rectangles. I didn't make it the way you'd normally make a sweater, it was very piecemeal. I used the largest crochet hook you can buy, a Q hook, and several different types of thread to make it thicker. The zipper on the cardigan is a functional zipper! I bought it from a sewing notions site, it was made to be a sleeping bag zipper, so it's something like 108 inches long, all one piece.
When I was doing it, I never really knew, "Is this going to work?"
When we went for the test run, it took forever. It took hours to piece it together, because there was a lot of sewing we had to do once we got there. You're hand-sewing with the needle to get the pieces together. I didn't have enough panels! So I had to take more measurements, and then I went back home and had a couple more weeks to finish it.
What was the response like in 2011?
It was really good. There was press then, but it wasn't national press. There was a response while I was down there, putting it on the statue. Everyone loved it.
What has the response been like since the photos were posted on Reddit last week?
The guy who posted it on Reddit, he just posted it. I don't know him. It was on the front page, there were like a thousand comments, and it kind of just took off from there. I was in the hospital at the time, so I wasn't really aware of what was going on, but I was getting all these emails. I had people say, "Come to DC! We'll do some yarn bombing!" I think some people don't really realize it's not on now.
Where is the sweater now? Any plans to put it back on the statue?
It's together-ish. It's in my parents' house here in Pittsburgh, in garbage bags. I haven't looked at it for a while, I can't remember what state it's in.
Because of all the press, I've thought about maybe asking if we could do it again, maybe at the same time Knit the Bridge goes up.
Alicia, who said she is "mildly involved" in Knit the Bridge, also shared her thoughts on that project. "I love it. I think it's great." Because of a recent hospitalization for a chronic illness, which she has spoken about in interviews and on her blog, she hasn't been able to be directly involved in Knit the Bridge, but she has organized a meetup to crochet one of the panels.
After our phone call, Alicia emailed me to offer one final thought on the Mr. Rogers project.
"Lastly, I should have mentioned how much of a 'connector' this sweater has been, in a way that Mister Rogers himself would have appreciated. 
Through it, I became email buddies with his wife, Joanne [Sara Joanne Byrd], (she makes me call her 'Joanne'), and I also became friends with Ben Wagner (and his family!), MTV producer and director of the documentary Mister Rogers and Me. So many people, especially in my generation, have memories of Mister Rogers and stories about particular episodes, or meeting him in real life, (I met him once at the Children's Museum b/c I grew up in Pgh!). All of these connections have continued to make it such a special creative endeavor. I never could have predicted the reaction/outcome of undertaking such a crochet project."
Alicia with the statue


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Seven decades of visits to Kennywood

Written by Julia Rendleman on .


Eugene and Martha Williams marked their 70th wedding anniversary in March. To celebrate, the couple made their annual visit to Kennywood today.

Their daughter, Gretchen Arrant, said her father grew up in Fayette City, and would come to the park as a kid, eventually bringing his own children.

Even after the family moved to Texas, the yearly visits continued. Eugene, now 94, was a chaplain in the Air Force, which meant the family moved around a lot, Arrant said. But they kept making their annual pilgrimage to western Pennsylvania.

"It's a family tradition," Eugene said.

Arrant said her family now lives in Denton, Texas, not far from the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park, but Kennywood remains the family favorite.

Kennywood spokesman Jeff Filicko said the couple's nephew, Michael McCormick, of Bethesda, Ohio, sent an email to the park's management earlier this year. They wanted to wait until the whole family could be together, but planned a big outing to celebrate the Williams' anniversary.

"There were about 20 of them, with grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even great great-grandchildren," Filicko said. Kennywood management provided a golf cart, to make getting around a little easier, and presented the couple with a special certificate of recognition.

"They seemed really delighted," Filicko said.

Martha, 90, recalled the first time they brought Gretchen to Kennywood as a child, and she rode the carousel 27 times without getting off.

"That's something you never forget," Martha said, "As long as we have breath, we'll be here."

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Why do YOU live in Pittsburgh?

Written by Heather Schmelzlen on .

Friends in New York, Philly and elsewhere always question why I love Pittsburgh so much (too many reasons to list!), so I was delighted to come across a Reddit post today in which user BigRyTX asks: Why do you live in Pittsburgh?

I am considering moving in the near future to a city with a colder climate but dont know much about Pittsburgh. So I was wondering what specifically makes you choose to live there? I know the colleges are great and people care about the sports teams, but what else is there?

As is usually the case on Reddit, the answers are...well, varied. Many are here for the "sports town" feel. Others came for romance and chose to stay when they found another love: the city itself. And, yes, some are sticking around for the cheap rent. Here are a few of my favorite responses:

Came here for a boy, stayed for the city. The atmosphere is just wonderful and I love how even in the city you can get to know your neighbors. Good culture, good shopping, good food and good sports teams all help too. I moved here from Denver and often say that Denver is like the stereotypical "bimbo" in movies - pretty on the outside but nothing going on under the skin. Pittsburgh is like the stereotypical "nerdy cute chick" that doesn't know she's cute until you take off her glasses - great substance and really beautiful when you take a good look.

— from user Delanakatrella

My family lives here. I grew up here. The cost of living is pretty low. It feels like a big city without actually being one. I love how all the neighborhoods have their own personality. There's always something to do, regardless of what you're into. The restaurant and beer scene is great. Lots of young people. Good hospitals. Nice people. Mostly. They're not very good drivers, though. It sure isn't for the weather. Fall is gorgeous. Winter is miserable, spring is rainy and cold, and summer is ungodly hot and sticky and everything's always under construction. There's that joke about Pittsburgh, that it has four seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and construction. Not that much of a joke.

— from user thebloodofthematador

I'm a sports fan and so I love the passion for sports in this city. It's nice to see the whole city come together when the Steelers play, and it's hard not to feel at least a little excited when they win. 

— from user ChipoMaldito

My wife and I moved here from San Francisco 4 yrs ago in order to have the life we wanted. We own a house in a nice neighborhood and have a 2mo old. I was able to leave my corporate job and start my own company doing what I find interesting. So far so good. My only regret is that its a lot harder to fly kites here than in SF.

— from user birdbrainlabs


OK, so, Pittsburgh isn't the best place to fly a kite. But there are still several smart reasons to live here (at least that's what blogger Stephen Harkleroad says). What are yours?

Pittsburghskyline 0516

Photo by Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette

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Do dads have an image problem?

Written by Kim Lyons on .

Pittsburgh city councilor Natalia Rudiak today proposed legislation  that would require baby-changing stations in the restrooms of all city-owned buildings (via Moriah Balingit)


The second paragraph caught my eye:

Ms. Rudiak's bill would require the stations in both men and women's restrooms.

The fact that dads change diapers is hardly breaking news, but this marks another step not just in the evolving roles of modern working parents, but in a wider recognition that the roles have changed. Moms don't do all the housework, and when Dads are with their children, they're not "babysitting." They're parenting.

An interesting opinion piece by Peter Mountford  in Sunday's Post-Gazette asked why child-caring dads are treated like heroes, when they're really not that out of the ordinary anymore: 

No matter how many dads you might see at the late-morning singalong, the default thinking remains: Moms are the primary caregivers, whether they work outside of the home or they don't.
Well, it's not the default in my house.

Having changing tables in men's restrooms: What do you think? Are child-caring dads viewed differently than child-caring moms? And what else could be done to make dads who look after children feel less anomalous and more like, well, parents?



Illustration by the Post-Gazette's Dan Marsula



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