28 November 2016– It’s a big planet. I flew from Bismarck to Minneapolis, from Minneapolis to Paris, from Paris to Rome. I started at noon Saturday and arrived in Rome at noon Sunday, though of course I had lost seven hours in time zone. It’s a big planet. By the time I arrived I wanted to burn my clothes. But I had done nothing, really, but sit in a relatively spacious set of vessels, been served drinks and altogether three meals. If I had chosen to use it, I could have made the media console deliver me five or six recent films. Headphone and eye shades were free.
I reckon I flew about six thousand miles altogether, not halfway around the Earth but perhaps a fourth of the way. We live in the best of times for those who are lucky enough to enjoy the best of times. We haven’t quite figured out decent distribution of the fruits of life yet. Perhaps we never will. And the coming of the Age of Robotics is going to make that problem much worse. But if you have a decent middle class job, as I do, you have access to the culture of the world in an unprecedented way.
Compare that to Lewis & Clark groping their way 12-15 miles per day up the Missouri. Or John Adams nearly drowning in his monthlong crossing of the Atlantic.
A taxi brought me to the campus where I am teaching. I showered, napped, unpacked, read, ate at a little tavern down the hill, bought a few necessities, and tried to sleep (not very successfully) through the night. At least ten times I either turned on the light or got up out of bed to take a few notes, read a few pages of histories or Rome, or sort through notes.
Today I will lecture for a couple of hours, then make my way into the heart of Rome to gaze at the Pantheon, eat a plain plate of pasta, explore a couple of places I have not seen or recently seen, and then come back to campus.
I’ve made long lists of things I want to read while I am here, things I want to see, projects I must keep the plates spinning for even while away, and long walks I want to take to work off the dross of 2016 before returning to North Dakota and the United States.
So much for Day One.