On a beautiful April Sunday, I got up early and drove to Gettysburg. July marks the battle's 150th anniversary, and I had signed up for a two-hour horseback battlefield tour. more >
In our yard, there's no shortage of trees that old age or wind bring crashing back to earth. I cut and split this wood the old-fashioned way—with a wedge and a sledge. And as the old adage goes, "He who chops his own wood warms himself twice." I work at home, and on winter mornings, as snow swirls outside the window, I sit with my laptop in front of the warming fire. For a work station, it's hard to beat.
This fall, Pittsburgh Quarterly had a subscription campaign. Along with many of the returned cards, a nice note accompanied the check. Three people, however, returned notes sans check, saying they wouldn't subscribe to a magazine that supports Marcellus Shale drilling. One ended his letter: "You should be ashamed of yourself!" more >
In June I bowed to the demands of my three college-aged children and got the whole family smart phones. As I waited in line at the AT&T store, a guy behind me suggested I should get the "Siri" iPhone. "You can ask it anything, and it answers," he said. Perhaps I should do that, I thought, and spent the extra $200.
Twenty years ago, when newspapers were strong, the coin of the realm for ambitious reporters was winning awards. A slightly caricatured general rule was: The more intractable, insoluble and depressing the issue you wrote about, the more awards you’d win. Newspapers were in the business of problems, not solutions. more >
At a civic event 11 years ago, I saw an unusually dapper fellow—navy pinstripe suit, rep tie and perfectly combed white hair. The fact is, I thought he was someone else. I went over and introduced myself, and he said, “Bill Dietrich.” The name meant nothing to me. But after chatting for a minute or two, it was clear that he was a man of consequence—smart, decisive, and thoughtful. more >
Building natural selection into your family vacationFall 2011What could be nicer than a family trip with all three kids just before they head off to college and my wife and I become empty nesters? This, at least, was my thinking when I signed up for a three-day, two-night pack trip into Yellowstone Park this summer. Ride in on horseback, do some fishing, and be in nature. more >
It’s said the stock market climbs a wall of worry. Equally so, society. And for the past several years, there’s been great concern about journalism. The common wisdom is that, with newspapers significantly weakened, citizens no longer get the information they need about their communities, and public officials who would be held accountable by the watchdog function of a healthy press are having a field day. more >
After turbulent flights, impenetrable storms and closed airports, I reached Tucson in the wee hours. I went to meet three college friends and our former professor for a weekend seminar in that city of cacti and mountains. Three things reminded me of college days: missing sleep, not finishing the reading and contemplating what it means to live “the good life.” more >
It’s been another long winter in Pittsburgh. Snow, ice and cold, mixed with work, responsibility and deadlines. So what’s the best thing about a Pittsburgh winter and its low, gray skies? Perhaps that it makes the coming of spring a gift from God. more >
On a frigid Saturday in Jan. 2006, I packed my three children—ages 12, 14 and 15—into our family car, loaded to the axles with magazines. I’d mailed most of the 40,000 copies of our first issue, but to save money, I planned to distribute magazines door-to-door through Shadyside and Squirrel Hill. And so with the car and the same little red wagon I’d pulled them on as youngsters, we spent the day delivering magazines by hand (glove, really). more >