After visiting the Air Force Museum last weekend, Steve wanted to take me (and his son Matthew) out again this Saturday. His first idea was to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, to indulge our mutual love for baseball. We quickly agreed that, unfortunately, Cooperstown really is too far from Granville (over nine hours if we’d drive non-stop) to do this. Some of the more feasible suggestions included Cleveland and Pittsburgh. For reasons that will become apparent in a moment, I opted for Pittsburgh.
Steve and Matt picked me up around 8.15am for the three-hour drive to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA. We split up after getting our tickets, because I wanted to see BODIES… The Exhibition: one of several exhibitions around the world of preserved human bodies dissected to show the interior workings. BODIES… was nicely set up and certainly interesting, but not quite as spectacular as it’s been said to be. It was very crowded, making it impossible to study all the displays and read all the descriptions. Besides, the descriptions didn’t mention anything you can’t find in a high-school biology book. In fact, the entire exhibition contained very little I haven’t seen elsewhere.
To continue on that negative note, the rest of the Science Center was a bit disappointing, too. (Steve agrees with me there.) It’s not a bad place, but it’s much more targeted at kids than we thought it was, and even then, it was more of a small theme park than a science museum. (For the Dutch readers: think NEMO, but with less science.) It was fun, but it wasn’t what you’d expect of a place called the Carnegie Science Center.
Still, our visit to Pittsburgh was worth every minute of the six hours we spent on the road that day. Right next to the Science Center stands Heinz Field, the American Football stadium for the Steelers (NFL) and the Panthers (college). A few hundred meters further east stands PNC Park, the baseball stadium for the Pirates, which was rated the best MLB park last year by ESPN.
The waterfront promenade behind the stadium was freely accessible that day (I suppose it usually is when there’s nothing going on inside), so we could get pretty close to the outfield wall. At one point, the only thing between us and the field was the bullpen. Even if I’ll never root for the Pirates, they’ll always be special to me for their ballpark being my first American baseball stadium to visit.
But wait, there’s more! Take another look at the picture above. The tall glass building in the center, with the spires on top, houses the headquarters of PPG Industries, a worldwide manufacturer of glass and chemical products. They recently acquired the SigmaKalon Group, a paints and coatings producer based in Uithoorn, the Netherlands. This is the company my father has been working for for more than 25 years. When its acquisition by PPG was completed on January 2nd, SigmaKalon ceased to exist and PPG is now my father’s employer. The proximity of PPG’s headquarters to the Carenegie Science Center provided an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
We got back to Granville around 6pm, right on time for Steve and his wife Sandy to treat me to great T-bone steak (grilled by Steve) and side dishes (cooked by Sandy). We rounded off the day with a game of Scrabble–the first time I’ve played that in English. Steve beat Sandy and me by a good margin, but he clearly got better letters than we did. Besides, he had Matt to help him.