Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Pittsburgh can be like an ex. Not a creepy stalker ex, but that one that you thought maybe, just maybe, you might be better off without. Fast forward a couple months and you are sad and lonely, and the ex is living life without giving you a second thought. Worse yet, people are talking about how awesome the ex is (like the President), and suddenly a hasty judgement becomes your biggest regret.
Okay, I am being a little harsh for the sake of a metaphor. A lot of fellow Burghers who now find themselves displaced certainly did not do so because of a lack of love for the city. Many people had to move, and now think fondly of the City they once called home. I learned this when I put out the call to former Pittsburgh residents, asking them what they missed the most about the city, and the response was fairly overwhelming!
YOU THOUGHT YOU HATED....
We've all been to a game where you park Downtown and walk what feels like a million miles to the stadium/arena. Well, how about stopping a sec, and taking in the energy of all your fellow fans walking through the street with you. I have to do this for hockey games, and although I still dread the final stretch up the hill to the arena, I have to say the friendly mob that stops traffic on Bigelow Boulevard, the dude the plays crazy songs on his saxophone (last time I was at a game he was playing the Flinstones Theme Song), and just the general excitement in the air helps to get me amped up for the game. My friends and family in Baltimore miss this energy. Here in the Burgh, where parking in Downtown or in Oakland is still at a premium, walking initially seemed like an inconvenience to them. Now, they miss the extra time they got to take in the sights, the people and the energy that can only be found in Pittsburgh. Kinda like missing those quirks your ex had that used to drive you nuts, and now you miss a little. C'mon, you know you've been there.....
Sorry - couldn't resist revisiting that metaphor just one last time...
SPEAKING OF SPORTS FANS.....
How about watching a game with real Steelers fans, in Pittsburgh? Or how about the parade we held in honor of both the Steelers and the Penguins? Yeah, maybe you can find a Steeler bar in every city, but you can't walk the Downtown Streets with tons of fans celebrating the City of Champions, now can you? Try piling on the black and gold and marching around the Inner Harbor in Baltimore or in Downtown Cleveland screaming "GO STEELERS!!!", and see how that goes down. Not the same, huh?
Really?! I have a friend who lives in New York City now. She has only been there a week, so it was a little unfair of me to ask her what exactly she missed so soon, but this was the first thing out of her mouth! As a fellow car-obsessed Pittsburgher, I get his one. One of the things she had to do along with the move to the Big Apple, was hand over the keys to her pretty sweet ride. Believe me, driving in Manhattan makes the backup at the Liberty Tunnel look like a Formula One race. Do you realize that you get get pretty much from one end of the city proper to the other in about 20 minutes? Yep, that is truly awesome. Now, before I get hate mail from fellow greenies, this ease in driving works for my client based business. I can't exactly pick up a client on my bike. That really doesn't fly, not even with the most environmentally conscious of my clients.
THE LITTLE THINGS.......
The South Side
THE NOT SO LITTLE THINGS.........
Of course, what makes Pittsburgh Pittsburgh? The people! Everyone I spoke with made friends here that will be friends for life. They miss the smiles on the street, the friendliness, the warmhearted, down to earth camaraderie that is found only here.
One of my fellow Twitter users said it the best (you can follow her at www.twitter.com/mariasilvestri): "I came back to Pittsburgh, and there's nowhere else in this country I'd rather be."
By the way, if you want to follow a new blog by someone who loves the 'Burgh as much as me, I recommend The Burgh Exposed. This new Blog lays it all out on the table and features some top notch writing! Follow along!! You can also follow the writer on Twitter, at www.twitter.com/gaitlady.
Hey, while you're there, you can follow me too at www.twitter.com/erinmarton.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Fortunately, if I really wanted to, I could easily find the right person to hack away at my little vacuum-bots. The heart of Robotics is nestled comfortably right here in the Burgh!
The Carnegie Mellon Institute of Robotics was founded in 1979, and offers everything from a PhD in Robotics, to summer programs for grade school students. Most recently, they made a huge splash at the G20, showing off their creations during a visit by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and wife Therese Rien, that make the Roomba look like something from the stone age. "Boss" is a self-guided SUV, that can navigate (unassisted!) through city streets. Boss won the grand prize in the 2007 Urban Challenge Robot Race. For those not versed in ScienceNerdology (again - meant with love!), the Urban Challenge is a race sponsored by DARPA that requires teams to design vehicles that can perform such functions as driving in traffic, merging, passing, parking, etc. I know some (OK - a lot of) human drivers who can't do these things (assisted!). Or, how about the "Scarab"? A lunar prospector built as a prototype for NASA. My absolute favorite, the "Snackbot". A humanoid robot that is programmed to deliver snacks to campus employees, designed to assist in the study of human-robot interaction. I definitely need a snackbot.
Of course, it can be all fun and games! Very recently, Time Magazine published an article on Pittsburgh's very own Bossa Nova Robotics. Bossa Nova specializes in robotic toys, specifically a Penguin named Penbo (hey - why not Max, or Sid, or Geno?! It is a Pittsburgh Penguin after all) and a Gorilla named Prime-8. Penbo requires some love from his/her ("it" just doesn't feel right here) "mommy", and responds to touch and sound. Prime-8 interacts and plays games, and can actually throw coconuts and chase his owner! Where were these things when I was a kid!! Guess what? These toys began their life at the mothership of Robotics, Carnegie Mellon. CMU offered co-founder David Palmer and Chief Technologist Sarjoun Skaff the perfect opportunity to test the toys in front of a rapt audience of children. Guess what else? They are cheap. cheap, cheap!!!! (At least as far as robots go). They are priced between $79.99-$99.99. Already available in European markets, my fingers are crossed for a Stateside debut next year! Maybe I can teach Penbo to whip up some coffee. (FYI - Bossa Nova is located in the same building as my office. I pass by the office door almost every day. I never even realized what the heck was going on in there - sheesh! Hey guys - why don't you bring Penbo down for a little visit???)
So much more in the fields of technology and robotics is happening in the Burgh! If you want a regular fix, you can embrace your inner science nerd and follow the blog published by the Pittsburgh Technology Council, Techburgher. If you are on twitter, you can follow Bossa Nova at http://twitter.com/BNRobotics. By the way, since you are already going there, you can also follow me at http://twitter.com/erinmarton.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Mainly, I learned that as cool as I may think I am, the 'Burgh is loaded with people far cooler and more talented than myself. Once I got over the jealousy, I had to share these blogs with my small (but yes, mighty) readership. Here are my most recent Burgh Blogger faves.
1. That's Church -
The mystery of PittGirl - solved! But it hasn't taken anything away from the blog written by the former bad girl herself! She firmly deserves every single follower she has because, quite frankly, she is a darn fine writer. If you have trouble following along, she even provides a handy lexicon of PittGirl terminology. The stuff here is roll on the ground, email to all your friends, laugh out loud hilarious. Mostly because we are all thinking the same thing.
2. Burgh Baby -
I had heard of this blog before but never followed until after the author's presentation at Podcamp. She presented on how to figure out what the heck to write about once you start a blog. Harder than you may think. Her fodder is certainly worthwhile and also super cute. No kid? No worries! You can follow her adventures in mommyland regardless because, again, like That's Church, it is an incredibly well written blog. Burgh Baby has also just had the honor of being named (with an overwhelming number of votes) the best Local Blog on the website The Bump (sister site to the Knot).
3. My Brilliant Mistakes -
Cynthia Closkey lets us peek into her life her and it is worthwhile because she is the reigning expert on all things social media in Pittsburgh. Eloquent and informative, Cynthia discusses everything from the Pittsburgh Symphony to a painful choice of shoes. Read just one entry, and you will understand why this blogger specializes in teaching businesses and individuals how to use social networking and make it work. Keeping with the theme, Cynthia is also an amazing writer. She presented on several themes at Podcamp, and is one of the leaders of the yearly event.
4. Pittsburgh Beautiful -
I would like to consider this my sister blog. Unfortunately, I have absolutely nothing to do with its inception. But, if my words were to be converted into images, it would look just like this blog. The photos provide lustrous detail of life in Pittsburgh and provide a new glimpse into some of the landmarks that we take for granted after seeing every day. Plus it is created by the person who helped me get my blog up and running, so I would be remiss to not include him in my list of Burgh Bloggers deserving props!
So many bloggers, such a short attention span. This list covers my some of my faves, but there are many more out there. If you want to take a look-see yourself, you can go to http://www.pghbloggers.org/ (again thanks to Cynthia Closkey), and find some favorites of your own!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The reasons are different for all of us, and I thought I would first tackle the question myself. Why do I love Pittsburgh and why do I live here? I could bore you with Real Estate statistics and quotes ("America's Most Livable City", fifth lowest unemployment rate in the country, Property values remaining within 1% of their value over the last ,year, blah, blah, blah) but you all already know that. The personal reasons are in my opinion more important. You may buy here because of those things, but why do you stay? My reason is simple (embarrassingly so): Dogs and Hockey.
Anyone who knows me well will tell you I am obsessed with my dogs. Once you open the door (the doggie door so to speak) I will talk your ear off. I know, crazy dog lady, but c'mon:
Monday, October 12, 2009
The First Time Buyer Credit is contingent upon the CLOSING date of the sale being no later than November 30th, 2009. At this point, most lenders and closing companies are recommending at least 45 days for loan processing and other closing paperwork to be completed once a signed Sales Agreement is in place. Under normal circumstances, a 30 day close or less is entirely possible, but the popularity of the credit has put quite a burden on many closing companies and resources are spread thin, so the extra time is required to process the necessary paperwork.
What does this mean? Well, technically you should have an accepted offer in place no later than October 16th, 2009. Yes, as in this coming Friday!
What can I do? Well, all is not lost. The movement to extend the first time buyer credit is strong, and the National Association of Realtors has launched a campaign to make it easy for the First Time Home Buyer and other consumers to contact congress and let their voices be heard on the extension. You can visit the official website here.
Just in case you are wondering if the Credit is working, stats quoted on the NAR's website state that first time home buyers accounted for 50% of sales in 2009, up 25% from the previous year. Also, the incentive is helping to take foreclosures off of the market, and helping communities recover.
Take action today to ensure that the progress made thus far continues!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
What the heck is a Podcamp you ask? (I know you ask, because I certainly did!) Well, it involves an interesting history, all starting in Boston, MA about five years ago. Originally created as an opportunity for Podcasters and those involved in the video aspect of social media (hence the name "podcamp") this "un-conference", as it is dubbed by the creators, quickly gained popularity and spread to include all aspects of social media. As the original attendees took the conference to their own cities, podcamps began to dramatically increase in attendance and participation. This year's Podcamp Pittsburgh (the fourth in the city) could boast 500 attendees and 2 days worth of presentations by local experts, eager to share their knowledge.
Now on to the highlights of the weekend! Perhaps the most well-attended, was the presentation given by former Pitt Girl herself, Virginia Montanez, (http://www.thatschurch.com/). Focused on how to dismantle your blog (and knowing when it is time to quit), Virginia along with her "butler" Mike Woycheck , detailed her adventures in shutting it all down after her true identity was revealed. Although a casual follower of Virginia on Twitter and on her blog, I left her presentation with tremendous admiration for her and a whole new level of respect. Other presentations of note included Pittsburgh Podcamp founder Justin Kownacki (http://www.justinkownacki.com/) and his "10 Things No One Else Will Tell You About Social Media" (flat out hilarious because it was absolutely true) Cynthia Closkey's (mybrilliantmistakes.com) presentation on re-finding your voice in your blog, and Jaci Malecki, corporate recruiter for UPMC, on how to utilize social media for recruiting. And yes, iJustine was there! All events were streamed live on the podcamp website, so people could participate from home and even ask questions directly to presenters.
What is the most incredible, is that this event is completely free, and can be attended by novices and experts alike. I never felt stupid asking a question or participating in a conversation. Everyone involved was just so darn nice. Breakfast and lunch were both provided, and sponsors included Franktuary and Giant Eagle Market District, who I would like to personally thank for including those tiny red peppers I have a mild addiction to. I also met some great local people, eager to network, share ideas and combine resources. No snobs here!
So, why should you care? Well, my small but mighty readership, I left this event with a renewed commitment to my blog and the quality of the content included therein. The presenters offered advice that left me eager to get started, so much my head is spinning and it will take weeks for me to process it all. My hope is that the end result is a blog that you will look forward to reading every day, and one that you will be eager to share with friends.
Here's to Podcamp Pittsburgh 5!