Do we require greatness of great people? Or can greatness come through a neighbor buying bottles of water or offering his home to shelter strangers? Can greatness come from First Responders arriving on the scene of unimaginable devastation; then thinking first of people who needed their help. We don’t think about what might be out there, one policeman said later. We just turn on the lights and breathe after it’s all over.
When one thinks about all that goes in to responding to a mass casualty event like last week’s Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, there is so much that can go wrong. But this time things went right and that was due to greatness. The greatness of people. The greatness of the people of Philadelphia. It brought tears to my eyes knowing that so many good things happened at that dark and lonely place where the Train 188 left its rails. A policeman, first on the scene, calls in … this is really bad; send me everything you’ve got. In minutes there were hundreds of police, firefighters. Organized chaos, they called it, at the crash scene and at the hospitals receiving the injured.
Reminding one that this is a different century, even in Philadelphia, we see women on scene, doing themselves proud.
A FRIEND WANTS TO KNOW what I would do in regard to people building houses in and immediately adjacent to wild lands. My response does not fit onto one or two iPhone screens. It is impossible to long live here in the West before being touched one way or another by range and grass fires. We have quite a lot of federal land here. All of it managed as open space and much of that is wild lands.
States also own large swaths of land managed to benefit public education and other state funded institutions. The above map shows federal lands. One almost might wonder, looking at Idaho or Nevada, where the population resides.
Sometime in the 1960s I am sitting in front of the black and white TV in our home in Penn Square Village and on comes this commercial for a new type of pen. A ball point pen. You don’t buy new ink cartridges for it when it needs refilling. You just throw it away. Part of our new disposable society. The quarterback says to his fellow players: “OK boys, here’s the play; buy two Bic Clic pens; get one free.”
THE SANDS OF NORMANDY slide down inside the legs of my camouflage trousers as rubber erasers zing past. Crawling along golden sands; sunbathers glare at me and return to their umbrellaed mai tais. Now chalkboard erasers are incoming fired from booming cannon miles inland. As the black felt erasers strike the sun-drenched beach, puffs of white dust rise up.
A baseball cracks off of George’s bat and he ambles to first base. The ball bounces off a tree in the infield and it’s foul. Disappointed he returns to the dugout nervously watching for snipers. We take our platoon into the forests of Verdun. But we are in the Pacific, an isolated atoll watching for enemy aircraft. We take some casualties and call on our walkie talkies with giant whip antennas for air support. But it doesn’t come. It is time for dinner. Continue reading “Surviving” »
Is it to keep us warm? To protect our heads and thinning hair from the sun?
I have puzzled over these questions and more during the long years I’ve been living west of the Missouri River. A cowboy hat is usually fairly stiff. Sometimes reinforced felt. Others a felt coated shell. Summer uniform accepts a just off-white straw version to keep the head cool. So what IS the purpose of a cowboy hat? Continue reading “The purpose of a cowboy hat” »
I DEPLANE INTO A COMMUTER terminal at DIA at 9 PM on a Saturday and there is pandemonium. The place is jammed. Really, the airport is jammed. I know semesters are ending and holidays are approaching but that’s not entirely it. More like what happens at the end of a war.
Norman Rockwell and The Saturday Evening Post capture this moment from another era in “The Homecoming.” The weary, bedraggled, young man standing there as his family explodes with joy.
SUNDAY WE ALL LOADED into AF2 and headed for the hills. I should explain that AF2 is our designation for black 1998 Volvo station wagon number 2. Air Force One (for the original black 1998 Volvo Station Wagon) and Air Force Two (for the “new” 1998 black Volvo Station Wagon with AWD).
Sunday we all loaded into AF2 and headed for the hills in the area of Centenniel, Wyoming, to hunt rocks. Not valuable rocks. Not rock climbing. Rocks. Big rocks that I can add to the rock garden that has been expanding steadily around our building like creeping charlie. Continue reading “The Rocking” »
I’VE JUST RECENTLY RETURNED from my first out-of-town trip since beginning an experiment with going gluten free. Sleeping past the free hotel breakfast I find myself wandering the empty streets of downtown Lincoln, Nebraska, looking for breakfast. I pass the Starbucks and the Panera Bread Company. No gluten-free bakery and coffee shop? I wander into the local branch of what happens to be the bank we use. I ask only for suggestions about breakfast places. A woman with a clipboard and a pleasant South American accent starts thinking but is interrupted by a hurried, important, man in a suit who asks where he can exchange money. She suggests the bank tellers right behind her. Then it comes. Panera’s! I thank her for this bit of advice and simply follow it. Continue reading “Bread, bread everywhere and not a crumb to eat” »
Living for 32 is the inspirational story of Colin Goddard, a survivor of the tragic gun shooting massacre which occurred on the Virginia Tech campus, April 16th, 2007. The winning combination of Colin’s passion, charisma and optimism has commanded the attention of the American public and media since the devastating incident which left 32 dead and 17 injured. In Living for 32, Colin shares an intimate account of terror he and his classmates endured and the courageous journey of renewal and hope he chose to pursue.
Directed by: Kevin Breslin
Produced by: Maria Cuomo Cole
Edited by: Garrett Sergeant
Director of Photography: Luca Fantini
Music and Mix by: sync2picture/54 Sound
YEARS AGO SOME FRIENDS in Lewiston, Idaho, experienced a bizarre incident involving two neighbors. Two kids were playing. One got hold of a loaded gun and shot the other. The child was seriously injured but not killed. The parents of the injured child were empathetic with the parents of the shooter: “It coulda happened to anybody,” they said. Our friends sold their home and moved to another part of town.
In the aftermath of the Rep. Gabrielle Giffords assassination attempt the governor of Arizona is describing it as a tragedy. As though nothing could have been done to prevent it. Her solution in answer to a question? Increased security. We listened to the Mayor of Tucson, the President of the United States, the President of Arizona State University, and the Tucson chief of police. To all of these people what happened in that Safeway Store parking lot was a tragedy. There was no mention — NOT ONE — about the fact that something other than a single-shot rifle must have been used to wreak this amount of havoc in so short amount of time. Continue reading “It coulda happened to anybody …” »