The value of a human life is not diminished because there are seven and a half billion of us.  Can you remember that scene in Schindler’s List when the little girl in the red coat ambles through the black-and-white rubble of a devastated city?  She is that anonymous statistic bestowed with color, that rare … Continue reading Redcoats

Inside the Pig Palace—Smithfield Remembered

Author's note: It's been strange and horrifying to see my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota featured in so many news stories about the Coronavirus pandemic.  The following narrative describes my experience working at the now-shuttered Smithfield meatpacking plant.  The facility formally known as John Morrell's has been in operation since 1911 and was acquired … Continue reading Inside the Pig Palace—Smithfield Remembered

Remembering the Hobo Day Riots of 1990–The Skinny Kid Goes to College

  I remember the day my father dropped me off at college.  I was eighteen years old.  I gazed into the mirror after he had gone and said aloud to my reflection, “You’re never going to make it here.”  The room was spartan--concrete walls, a bunk, a dresser and a desk on each side with … Continue reading Remembering the Hobo Day Riots of 1990–The Skinny Kid Goes to College


  A storm passed overnight and the strong winds blew down the birdhouse that Miles and I had constructed over the winter from some old boards in the basement. I've never been much of a carpenter.  The boy stood beside me as I lifted the quaint, but shoddy, peak-roofed box from the ground.  I had … Continue reading Birdhouse