A freethinker’s look at two famous journeys

This essay appeared on the Faith page of the Tucson Daily Star on Sunday, August 27, 2023. The URL to it is below. Travel stories are common fare in newspapers, magazines, books, and blogs. Famous expeditions and weekend getaways to the mountains or the coast make for enticing reading, a way to vicariously slip away for a while from foreboding newscasts or the routines of … Read more

An open letter to local, state, and national elected officials

This essay appeared on the Opinion page of the Tucson Daily Star on Saturday, July 22, 2023. The URL to it is below. Greetings: I am writing about the responsibility that elected officials such as you have to the people, our system of government, and the rule of law. That responsibility transcends personal ambition and political differences. It is antithetical to the churlish behavior so … Read more

Outsmarting life

Slogans and tag lines are ubiquitous—every organization seems to have one, an unfortunate symptom of our society in which absolutely everything is for sale and advertising and the hustle are drowning out clear communication. Like enemy artillery in a heated battle, slogans are incessantly incoming: “Just do it.” “Expect more. Pay less.” “The ultimate driving machine.” “Finger lickin’ good.” “Semper fi.” Most are innocuous even … Read more

Fiction for a change — “A Small, Blue Flower”

On a car trip recently, I stopped for the night at a collection of motels, gas stations, and restaurants next to the Interstate—the sort of barren oasis that exists only to serve travelers. Calling that spot a town would be a misnomer because it was so small and because it lacked any features that would identify it as any sort of community. I didn’t want … Read more

A Season of Dying

My father died thirty years ago this fall, just shy of his 70th birthday. I am older than that now and am increasingly aware of my own mortality. When I think about his death, I wonder what my own will be like, how my children will act and feel, what their memories of that time will be. The story of his last months started one … Read more

Running out the clock

Many of my acquaintances are about my age, and like me, are retired. None of the group has to work any longer, although the amount of disposable income of each varies depending on their current circumstances, past decisions, work history, and so on. In place of the structure imposed by work, they have the luxury of time mostly free of obligations. I have often heard … Read more

The ephemeral present

I’ve been thinking recently about the past, in particular the thirty years I lived in San Francisco before leaving in 2005—memories of spending Saturday mornings at Howard’s Restaurant in the Inner Sunset with my dear friend Len after our long Saturday runs across the city, making up stories about a brave young girl named Alice to tell my elder daughter who was four or five, … Read more