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Opinion

A Pittsburgh Wedding

It all started in March of 2020, when my daughter’s boyfriend flew to Pittsburgh for lunch to ask for her hand. Liking him a great deal, I said yes, not knowing that, thanks to the vagaries of COVID, we would have 30 months to think and rethink the wedding, and experience all the drama accompanying …

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No Option But One

In a letter to his brother Theo in 1886, Vincent Van Gogh wrote: “It seems to me that you have been suffering to see your youth pass like a drift of smoke, but if it springs up again and comes to life in what you do, nothing has been lost, and the power to work …

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No More Love Letters

I have always been amused by Hollywood’s vision of writers at work. The writer is presented seated at a desk on which sits a typewriter or a computer. Suddenly the writer seems inspired and begins typing feverishly. The camera stays on him as he continues to type, and his manuscript grows page by page into …

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Does Anybody Know What Time It Is?

In a rare show of unity, Congress seems poised to declare daylight savings time to be permanent.  No longer in March will we drive distracted as we futilely fiddle with the buttons on our old car’s dashboard in a sleep deprived commute to work.  The slight increase in automobile accidents in the week after the …

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Needed: City Leadership

Until yesterday, in 60 years, I have only called a political representative once to try to persuade him to vote on something I thought was important. It was in October 2008, when Congress was again considering the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Days earlier, the bill failed to pass the U.S. House by 13 votes, …

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The Dreaded Bumper Blocker

When you think about it, what’s more benign than a parking lot?  A neutral zone where idled cars pass the time like languid dogs sleeping in the sun. Well, think again.   Parking lots can be hazardous to your health.  I’m not talking about  fender-benders or road rages when careless drivers clash while parking their vehicles. …

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Famous Last Word

I decided a few years back, as I approached the magic number 80 that it would be a good idea to die at home. Dying at home, I figured, surrounded by my children and grandchildren, in the house where Susan and I raised our three sons and daughter, would be a storybook ending to a …

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What’s in a Name?

It’s only been a couple of decades since we kept our contacts (names, addresses, phone numbers) in leather-bound address books. Old-school, right, but that’s what we did before we were tethered to technology: Outlook on our computers, Contacts on our iPhones or Androids. My mother sent Christmas cards to dozens of people each year, and …

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A Christmas Story

It was a December Saturday in 1956 when my surgeon father decided he and I would go out and cut down our Christmas tree just as he had done as a boy. Equipped with a rope, a canvas tarp, saws, an axe and several hatchets, we left our house in suburban Pittsburgh at 9:00 a.m. …

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Into the Woods

June 15th was crisp and cloudless. carrying a chainsaw, orange surveyor’s tape and a compass, I started walking in a straight line into the pathless woods. Trailing me was my Airedale, Hawkins, and behind both of us was the little cabin that a group of friends and I built the previous summer on an island …

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An Elegy for Oscar

Some say we love our pets, particularly our dogs, because it pleases and comforts us to do so. I’m not convinced. From my experience with my own dog, who died helplessly of heart failure in his thirteenth year, I felt and still feel a sense of loss that is more than the absence of self-comfort. …

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Casting a Net

You never know what you’re going to pull in when you cast a net. Not long ago, walking along Caswell Beach on Oak Island, N.C., I stopped to watch three elderly Asian men casting their nets. Now, I’ve done this many times. But not like they were doing it. I use a four-foot net, hold …

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On a Pedestal, Fall 2021

Jeffrey Romoff After nearly 50 years at the university of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Jeffrey Romoff can look back at what he has created with a sense of accomplishment that few, if any, people in Pittsburgh during that period can match. He is the visionary leader who, along with the man who hired him 48 years …

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A Lifelong Friend

I’ve been lucky to have many close friends. But as I look back, it’s clear to me that, of all of them, my life has been most closely intertwined with that of my friend Chris Bentley. Chris and I were born less than two months apart, in early 1962, and we met before either of …

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Finding Boba Fett

Looking across the detritus left to us by 2020, we understand that we have lost a great deal: people we knew and loved, people we did not know but admired, our personal mobility, social spontaneity and, perhaps, our confidence about what will come next. But we also found inspirations. We discovered abilities we never knew, …

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Confessions of an Introvert in Pandemic Times

Most people who know me would be surprised to hear that I’m an introvert. Sure, I can be social when I have to. But honestly, social situations drain me. I recharge by coming home and crawling into a dark corner all by myself, much to my wife’s chagrin. You see, I’m an INFJ. In the …

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On a Pedestal, Summer 2021

Raising a racquet and more Armed with six years of success helping African American students prepare for the future through the game of squash, Steel City Squash (SCS) is preparing to build a new facility in the Larimer neighborhood that will dramatically transform its offerings. Built on a successful model, the athletic and academic program …

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The Year of Fear

The first time the phrase “stay safe” stuck in my memory, I was watching a TV news broadcast. After the correspondent gave his report, the anchor thanked him and then with a concerned look said, “Stay safe out there.” It was actually jarring to me because I’d been a reporter and editor for decades and, …

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In the WomanCare Waiting Room, I Consider Flamingos

The pink robes at WomanCare smell like bleach. I wonder how many times they’ve been washed and reused. I wonder how many women have worn the robe I am wearing, how many of them were fine, how many were not fine, where they are now, if they have healed, if they are still here at …

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Ode to the Nose

Somebody once asked Princess Di to name one thing she would change about herself. Without hesitation, she replied, “My nose.” Ah, the poor, long-suffering nose! Dissed by royals, no less. It’s the most maligned facial feature, but arguably the most indispensable. The eyes may be the windows of the soul, but the nose is the …

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Civility and the Algorithm

Polarity runs deep. Conversations are strained. Friendships are on edge. Might free speech and professional journalism rescue civility? It happened before. Human spirits were liberated when speech was freed. The town square became a metaphor for free speech. Free speech principles were not easily adopted. Dissension threatened feudal order. Kings were not amused. More than …

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On a Pedestal: Festival of Books, Contemporary Craft, Pitt’s Homewood Project

For the past couple of years, pandemic or not, Marshall Cohen has been meeting people and gathering support for his idea: the creation of a Greater Pittsburgh Festival of Books. A literate city with the history of erudition that Pittsburgh has should have such an event, he reasoned. And after gaining some key support—from sponsors …

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