RIDING THE RAILS: What I Learned Aboard Amtrak Wolverine #351

Good morning, America, how are you? Don’t you know me—I’m your native son…. --train lyrics by Steve Goodman, “City of New Orleans” I consider myself an experienced traveler.  Over the past twenty years I’ve explored seven or eight countries, and all but a couple of the contiguous American states.  I’ve traveled at least twice by train:  once as a small child, when my grandmother took me to Toledo aboard the last steam train to provide service in Michigan; and once with my own children to Ann Arbo … [Read more...]

Freiburg, the Pope, and Me

Today, September 24, Pope Benedict XVI rode through the streets of Freiburg in the popemobile before meeting with a group of lay Catholics gathered at the Freiburg Seminary.  In the background of the copyrighted photo, you can clearly see Freiburg’s village clock.I was there, too, in October 2000.  I was poring through some photos and came across one in particular that I’d like to share.Our family photo reveals the village clock in clearer perspective.  It also shows you that right next door … [Read more...]

Michelangelo’s David—and the World’s Worst Toilet

Some days one idea catapults into another, with the result that the sublime slams headlong into the ridiculous, producing a flaming nonsequitur of a blog post.  Today is one of those days.I read that on September 13, 1501, Michelangelo began carving what is perhaps his pièce de résistance, the 17-foot marble sculpture of David, the Renaissance ideal of perfect humanity.   And I remembered the day we saw [well, ALMOST saw] The Statue, and the day I saw The Toilet.We, eight of us, were on a loo … [Read more...]


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