The Delay

“Oh, they are getting me to Dallas,” the woman says, white earphones plugged into a black Samsung. “I mean, seriously, a windshield wiper motor? Like, they couldn’t have figured out that was broken last night? When the plane landed?” Welcome to Pittsburgh International Airport! As a reminder, ticketed passengers only are allowed past the ticketed …

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A Pittsburgher Goes to Florence

Take a quick international trip to Florence, Italy with Pittsburgh photographer David Aschkenas. In this photo collection, Aschkenas explores the Palazzo Pitti, the Boboli Gardens, the eclectic La Specola natural history museum as well as a few churches, including Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella and the Duomo. View more of David Aschkenas’s work at

What’s Right, What’s Left?

So much of modern culture seems bent on eliminating humanity from life itself. In many instances, this is identified as progress. But is it? Consider the current attitude toward handwriting, i.e., cursive. In many of our schools there is no longer any emphasis on the handwritten word. When I asked my grandson recently if handwriting …

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Synagogues Around the World

For the past seven years, a Pittsburgh photographer has been working on a personal project: Capturing the beauty of synagogues in Europe. Experience the architecture and history of synagogues from Prague, Budapest, Kracow, Amsterdam, Venice, and Florence in this photo collection by David Aschkenas. View more of David Aschkenas’s work at

Antarctica, Wonder that Inspires

There are times in your life that mark changes in your composition. Our trip to Antarctica was one of those times. It’s a continent without native people, but where wildlife thrives in an unpredictable environment. It’s a world without infrastructure. The scale is otherworldly and the landscape staggeringly, breathlessly beautiful. It is a landscape difficult …

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Global Glamour

It took Phileas Fogg 80 days to go around the world in Jules Verne’s classic novel. It took closer to three years for a Shadyside couple to complete their residence, a mélange of influences from their international lives and travels. The result is a journey of a different sort; a home that reflects both their …

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New Zealand

Like everyone else who saw the “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy, I was somewhat stunned by the dramatic beauty of New Zealand. But I’d never seriously considered visiting until Christmas 2014, when my oldest son was home from Shanghai and said, “Let’s go fly-fishing together in New Zealand.” I’ve always loved fishing, but not …

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The shrine on Troy Hill

The story of how St. Anthony Chapel in Troy Hill came to house the largest collection of Christian relics outside of the Vatican begins in the 1850s with a young man from a wealthy Belgian family. After attending medical school, Suitbert Mollinger became a Catholic priest who followed his vocation to America. By 1868, he …

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Of Irish Roads and Distant Kin

So I’m hauling eight of us—my wife Kay, her brother and his wife, her sister and her husband, and their two Irish cousins Ann and Peggy—down this dinky road in the farmland outside Galway, Ireland, in a blue beast the rental agency calls a “mini-bus.” Peggy is riding shotgun (“Careful of this turn now!”) and …

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Touring the Finger Lakes of New York

New York’s Finger Lakes region looks at first glance like a slice of Americana: small towns, white clapboard and main streets. Almost 200 years ago, however, upstate New York was a hotbed of social experimentation and religious reform. Residents grappled with the sudden transformation of their farming communities by the commercial success sparked by the …

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Gambling a Boon to Travel Industry

The public discussion about the pending arrival of casino gambling in the region has been largely preoccupied with one tangential, if related, subject. Is there enough money to be made from a slot machine operation within the corporate limits of Pittsburgh to fund the construction of a new civic auditorium to replace Mellon Arena? This …

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An American Lawyer in China

Twenty years ago I visited China for the first time, and my view of the world changed forever. This took me by surprise. I had studied China at the University of Virginia as part of a lifelong fascination with the country and its people, and I mistakenly thought I “understood” China. I came to realize …

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