Niebuhr on the Road

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The hills of Pennsylvania on the road yesterday.

It used to be that when I would go on a long road trip, I would spend most of my time listening to music, first on my portable CD player and then on my iPod.  Once I had a laptop, I could also watch movies, which seemed more than anything to provide a pleasant distraction from the hours of cornfields zipping by my window.  Eventually, I started using my laptop to write while on the road, which was probably a slightly more productive use of my time.  However, this summer I have gone decidedly old school: I spend a good portion of my hours in the car…reading books.

I know, no one reads books anymore.  Why else is every bookstore but Barnes & Noble now closed?  If people do read books, they read them on their tablet, phone, or Kindle.  Only in extreme circumstances will they resort to real paper and ink (not “E Ink”).  For every person not reading a book, there are two or three people not reading a newspaper.  I recently observed that soon our libraries will be nothing more than a place where people go to sit down and read something electronically.  After all, it’s better for the environment. Continue reading

Southwest-AirTran Merger Update: “It’s Complicated”

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Photo by Wikipedia user MamaGeek

From the title of this post, you may be inclined to think that it is going to be a serious discussion about business in America, but in fact it’s mostly a rant about my latest travel experience.  Nevertheless, I think you will find that my “on the ground” observations are at least as indicative of the progress of this merger between two “budget airlines” as anything you will find on the pages of the Wall Street Journal.  So strap in and secure your tray tables in the upright and locked position – it’s going to be a bumpy ride. (I have no idea what that last sentence was about, but it sounds pretty awesome.)

About half of the flights I take are from my current home base Washington, D.C. to my original home base in western Michigan.  It used to be that Delta had a nice direct flight from Reagan National Airport – located about a 10 minute drive from my apartment – to Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I’d leave about 7:30 pm and get in around 9:00 pm.  It was low stress and even slightly affordable.  Ah, those were the good old days. Continue reading