Archive for August, 2015

Letter From the Train 08 31 15 Ruminating about a long good weekend…

August 31, 2015

This morning, I sat on the deck, looking over the creek, fog wafted through the little valley in which the creek lies. The sun was hidden in the haze; the effect was magical. I read the New York Times and from the BBC app.

For the last three days, I have not written, wanting a little perspective on my world. I worked on my Emmy judging and my CINE Golden Eagle judging.

I strolled down Warren, noticing the new shops and old ones that seemed flourishing. As I walked, I exchanged nods with a few people who I knew by sight. It was a pleasant, warm evening, not too hot.

Arriving at the Dot I visited with friends there after perusing the new Rivertown Lodge opening on Warren Street, extending the gentrification of Hudson eastward.

This weekend was “The Travers,” a $1.25 million dollar purse at Saratoga. American Pharaoh was running, winner of the Triple Crown this year. That night, the word among aficionados of horse racing was that if any horse could beat American Pharaoh, it would be Keen Ice. And he did.

Saturday was running errands while Nick and his younger brother Mikey restacked the woodpiles and got the fountain working.

Saturday afternoon was spent on the deck and the evening watching movies. Up early on Sunday, I did all kinds of backlogged paperwork and stopped my desk from overflowing.

Sunday I lunched with my friend Alicia at Passing the Thyme, a little Kinderhook café that is closing in September. Alicia and I made plans to go there the final day. She goes frequently; this was my first time, to my regret.

Next to it is the Columbia County Museum. I was surprised to discover there was a County Museum and will go back soon to see what it contains.

They were good and mellow days, wandering the back roads of Columbia County, cornfields ready for harvesting, green fields that seemed to go on forever, people out on their decks or working in their yards. Rural America toward the end of a lazy summer, it was gloriously simple.

This morning I took paperwork to Columbia Greene Community College. If there are enough students I may teach a class this fall. Whenever I get the chance, I’m looking forward to it.

Of course, while I was relaxing in the simplicity of the country, the rest of the world was wrestling with all varieties of tumult.

IS used dynamite on another temple in Palmyra, this one built in 32 AD, to the god Baal. There is no consensus on whether it has survived or not.

More migrants drowned off the Libyan coast and 71 were found dead in a truck in Austria. The sense of crisis is growing all over Europe, a continent that feels on the verge of being overwhelmed by refugees.

The Greeks have called new elections. Trump is still leading the Republicans. In Iowa, two thirds of Republicans want a President from outside the government.   Hillary’s email debacle percolates all around her, a reality she is working her best to ignore.

Kyle Jean-Baptiste, a 21-year-old African American, the first black man to play Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables” on Broadway, died when he fell from a fire escape where he had been sitting with a friend. It is said he had an amazing voice; he was scheduled to be in the new production of “A Color Purple.” His death, so young, reminds me of the fickleness of life.

That fickleness of life seems remote during times like this past weekend when time seemed to stretch on endlessly and pleasantly.

My train, ninety minutes late, is roaring down the track, doing its best to make up lost time. I may make the dentist on time, after all.

Letter From Claverack Creek 08 28 15 Of anniversaries and other things…

August 28, 2015

It is a bucolic day here in Claverack. The temperature is in the mid-70’s and it is mostly sunny. I have spent a good part of the day on the deck. Yesterday I did my Emmy judging and today was CINE judging. I have more of that to do tomorrow because some of the links weren’t present and had to be restored.

As part of my continuing transition to life in Hudson, I went down and met with the Executive Director of the Columbia County Council for the Arts about volunteering, also meeting Dan, a member of their Board.

I’ll do something with them. I know I will need structure if I am going to be up here most of the time.

Then I meandered down to Relish, a little café across the street from the train station and had their legendary chicken salad on gluten free bread. As I returned, I needed to slow for a fawn crossing Patroon Street.

It’s been lovely to have had these two days. Down the creek, my neighbor’s dogs are playing in the creek. I can hear them splashing. It is so placid; insects are chirping and birds are trilling, the sun getting slowly lower in the sky, luscious green all around me.

I’ll go into Hudson in a while. The new hotel, Rivertown Lodge, is having a party for citizens of the city to see the renovation they did on what was a movie theater turned into a motel, now converted to a small boutique hotel. From there to the Red Dot and then home. A pleasant evening seems to be before me.

Ten years ago, Katrina was destroying New Orleans. I was watching it on CNN in New Delhi, in the Oberoi Hotel, sitting on the edge of my bed in front of the television screen and thinking this can’t really be happening. But it was.

Ten years later, New Orleans has, according to some reports, bounced back. Some parts have returned to their violent roots and parts of the black middle class has been lost, having moved to other cities and set down roots.

But that it came back at all is a miracle of sorts. There were fears in those early days that New Orleans would never recover its spirit, its verve, and all the things that had made it such a special place. I haven’t been there since Katrina but am thinking of taking the train “The City of New Orleans” or “The Crescent” down there one day and revisit a city of which I have many fond memories.

Today is also the anniversary of the death of a 14-year-old black child, Emmett Tull, allegedly killed for the brutal crime of a wolf whistle at an attractive white lady. It took a jury an hour and three minutes to acquit the two men accused of murdering him. The boy’s death did much to stir up calls for racial equality and provided an impetus for the Civil Rights movement.

Seventy years after the end of World War II, the Poles think they have found a Nazi treasure train. Rumors of its existence have persisted through the decades and now it may have been found. Wonder what it contains if it is a Nazi “treasure” train?

Politically, it has appeared to be a calm day. In the top stories, none of them were about Donald Trump! That’s a good way to end the week.

Letter From The Train 08 26 15 Keeping vigil for the fallen…

August 26, 2015

Waking up shortly after 6:30, I was having my first cup of coffee at about 6:45 this morning, reading the New York Times, looking out the window at the pristine morning at the cottage. At the same time I was peacefully sipping my coffee, a man who called himself Bryce Williams, shot and killed a young reporter, Alison Parker, 24, and her cameraman, Adam Ward, 27. Bryce Williams was the name used by Vester Flanagan when he worked as an on-air reporter for WBDJ7, the same station Parker and Ward were working for at the time of their deaths.

Flanagan/Williams sent a 23 page fax “manifesto” to ABC News. He described himself as a “powder keg.” An African-American, he felt outraged by what he saw as discrimination at work and over the deaths of the nine people earlier this year at a church in Charleston.

The shootings occurred during a live interview with Vicki Gardner, Executive Director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce. She was talking about tourism in the region. She, too, was shot and is in stable condition.

This happened on live television, shocking viewers and control room crews.

Pursued by police, Flanagan crashed his car and when officers approached, discovered he had shot himself. He died later.

The train is moving north, the afternoon sun is glittering off the Hudson River, the world in front of me seems so peaceful, pure, simple and untarnished but two young people at the beginning of careers, are dead because a man, apparently unhinged by his anger, could take no more and killed people from his former workplace, knowing it would be live, on television.

Josh Earnest, the White House spokesperson, stated he hoped Congress would pass legislation that would have a “tangible impact on reducing gun violence in this country.”

Today I spent a fair amount of time in the Acela Club, Amtrak’s answer to United Airlines Red Carpet Club, where people hovered about the television monitor listening to the live reports on CNN about the shooting. There was a quality about them of individuals keeping vigil for the fallen.

As I move north, past the river and the luscious green of late summer, I, too, find myself feeling like I am keeping a kind of vigil, attempting to comprehend something that is not comprehensible, to me.

Letter From The Train 08 25 15 Black holes, Putin’s justice and barbarians on the march…

August 25, 2015

It was a hot, muggy day in New York. About four this afternoon, as I was strolling back to the office after a meeting on Park Avenue South, a walk of about fifteen minutes, I determined that I would go home even though I have a meeting tomorrow in the afternoon.

It’s a gorgeous day and I want to be home, sleep in my own bed and listen to the insects buzz outside while I sit on the deck and watch the creek, lit up by floodlights beneath the deck.

The markets bounced upwards most of the day before closing another 205 points down. The China rout continues; one Chinese billionaire by the name of Wang has lost thirteen billion dollars so far. That’s a big bucket of dollars.

The outrage of the world about the destruction of the temple to Baalshamin continues. Much has been destroyed by Islamic militants in the last year, including the temple to Baalshamin as well as the two statues of Buddha destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan some years ago and treasures in Timbuktu.

Barbarians. Barbarous in the way they treat treasures and barbarous in the way they treat people.

Refugees are swarming across the world. The island of Kos in Greece is overrun and the Mediterranean is filled with boats of every size carrying souls from Africa. From Kos, thousands have made their way by hook or crook through the Balkans to the border of countries like Hungary, which is scrambling to build a fence to hold them back. The refugee problem is the worst it has been since the end of WWII.

Germany alone will be taking in 800,000 refugees this year, four times last year’s total. I don’t think we take in that many immigrants in a year and Germany is a fraction of our size. If I am remembering correctly, Germany has some eighty million people living there. They will be adding one percent to their population this year. That is a lot of assimilation.

The Baltic countries are balking about taking in even a couple of hundred refugees and anti-immigrant rallies are all over in Germany. The immigrant problem has overwhelmed Merkel’s agenda as thoroughly as Greece did.

Putin’s Russia has just sentenced Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian film director, to twenty years in a Labor Camp for plotting terrorist attacks against Russians after their annexation of the Crimea. The Russians say the bruises on his body after his arrest were from S&M sex he had before his arrest.

The chief prosecution witness against Sentsov withdrew his testimony halfway through the trial, announcing he had been tortured to get it.

Ah, the joys of Putin’s democracy…

Think of Sentsov in the months to come. He will haunt my thoughts for a while.

Megyn Kelly is flourishing despite The Donald’s tirades against her on Twitter. She has been gone on an eleven-day vacation, which may or may not have been scheduled. Her return resulted in her best ratings of the year, even though she didn’t mention Trump.

Her boss, Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News, has demanded that Trump apologize. What is an ice cube’s chance in hell?

Sex sites have taken a beating recently. was hacked. 15,000 of their email accounts were linked to .gov or .edu addresses, causing some wonder about our government officials and our educators. Josh Duggar was a member, furthering the nation’s perception of him as the sleaziest man alive. Lawsuits are landing on their doorstep.

Today was raided and six present and past employees were arrested. It is alleged it was actually a site for prostitution and not for companionship. I think the allegation may prove true.

Stephen Hawking, the legendary physicist, speaking is Stockholm has said that if you fall into a black hole, don’t worry. There is a way out. You might pop out in an alternative universe. Do I find that comforting? I’m not much worried about black holes, not having encountered one in my life but, if I do, I will remember this as I am sucked in.

Letter From New York 08 24 15 Of market crashes and treasures ruined…

August 25, 2015

The day started peacefully, coffee on the deck, a reading of the New York Times which presaged the market fall today, with a good article about hanging on, breathing deep and not panicking.   It was that kind of day. I was getting ready to go into a meeting when I had an alert from the AP that the market plunged 1000 points at the open.

With that in my mind, I walked into my meeting and did my best to push that out of my consciousness and center myself in the moment. I’m not sure anything will come of it but the local community college, Columbia Greene, is interested in me as a potential adjunct professor. Their enrollment is down but they won’t really know until the end of next week when open registration ends. They seem to be considering me for two potential positions, Public Communications and/or Intro to Journalism.

There isn’t much pay involved but I would love to go back to the classroom. We’ll see but it has been a fun thought with which to play.

So the big news of the day in the conversations around me is the Dow’s Dive, which follows a dive of similar proportions on Friday.

But that’s not the only news of the day. The Dow will go up; the Dow will go down. But the fluctuations, which do affect us, don’t last for millennia. What has lasted for millennia are the ruins of a temple of Baalshamin, until now. IS planted it with explosives and destroyed it. It may have been yesterday or a month ago but it is gone, destroyed. It was part of the ruins of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has seen empires rise and fall, markets rise and crash and it endured. Until now.

Once I walked amongst the ruins of Ephesus and marveled at what they were and Palmyra was so much more. This week, IS beheaded the man in charge of Palmyra’s antiquities and destroyed one of its major temples.

Barbarians walk the earth again.

As I write this, I am in one of my favorite restaurants, Thai Market. It is at 107 and Amsterdam. My friend Lionel, whose New York apartment was not far from here, introduced me to it. I come, about once a week. Some of the staff knows me and it is a good place to come, eat, and write sometimes, as I am doing now.

It is the Chinese slowdown that is so roiling the markets; I thought it would be the Greeks but the market seemed to have, over the years, factored that crisis into its workings. China was not expected.

The Greeks are going through their own drama. Tsipras has resigned, triggering snap elections. Right now an anti-Euro, pro-drachma party is attempting to form a government but without much success. It will be interesting to see what happens in Greece. Tsipras, defiled by some for his U-turn on anti-austerity, is incredibly popular because he represents something “different.”

Also representing something “different” is our Donald Trump.

Howard Bloom, my writer friend, author of “The Lucifer Principle” and three other books, is doing a podcast. The second one taped tonight. I am fresh from that. At the end, we all talked about Trump and Howard posited that he is sending out all kinds of male dominance signals, which are resonating with those who need to have their male dominance plucked up.

It makes some sense.

He holds a resounding lead in the Republican polls and that makes me think Howard may be onto something. The Donald is primal if he is anything.

Three Americans and a Brit have been honored by France with the Legion of Honor for their participation in overwhelming a potential terrorist on a fast train between Amsterdam and Paris. They took him on and subdued him. It prevented a potential tragedy. No one died and no one was critically injured. Bravo!

Ukraine is unsettled even as it celebrates its independence. More trouble will come from there before the year is out.

South Korea and North Korea have reached an agreement to ratchet down their escalating crisis. North Korea has, sort of, apologized for the landmines they placed across the border, which cost two South Koreans soldiers their legs. The South Koreans have agreed to quit their loudspeaker broadcasts across the border. The countries have gone off war footing, a good thing.

And a good thing is that my friend Robert will be coming shortly to join me and we will get some food because I am now very hungry.

Letter From Claverack 08 23 15 Thoughts about mortality and the state of the world…

August 23, 2015

It is Sunday evening and I am on the deck, looking over the creek. Insects are humming in the background and a small plane is flying over me. I hear the soft sounds of the engine, drifting off into the distance.

I am content tonight though I have lots of work I need to do and have not done this weekend.

Long ago and in the faraway, I met a man who became my friend. When I moved to Columbia County, mutual friends told us that we were close to each other. They gave me his phone number and I left a message for him. They called him and said Mathew was close by.

It was a Saturday. I went to Walmart that day, right after the messages had been left for each other and we bumped into one another. Since then, we have spent Christmases and Thanksgivings together and many other nights. He and his wife are my closest friends here in Columbia County.

It is a troubling time for him and I spent the weekend with him, talking and listening and carousing a bit as was our nature back in the day.

He has a spot on his lung and there will be an operation on the 23rd of September. He is, understandably, concerned. It is more than a little scary and we spent part of yesterday talking about mortality. He also has a son who is dysfunctional and in trouble. I know him and we talked about him; what to do, what not to do. It is a difficult conundrum for my friend.

We talked about him yesterday and today.

This morning I volunteered to do the coffee hour at Christ Church. Now that I am spending more time in Columbia County I am doing my best to become more integrated into the community. This seemed a way to do that since I have been going to church there for the last couple of years.

I have to say I did a good job. Everyone raved about the coffee service. I had fresh fruit from the Farmer’s Market and muffins and prosciutto and provolone and nuts and olives and bagels and cream cheese. It was a wild success.

Mother Eileen, the Rector, kept calling me “Frankie” and I have no idea why so I spent the morning correcting people who were calling me “Frankie” and telling them my name was “Mathew.” So it goes.

My friend and I made a round last night and today of new places that have opened in Hudson. There is a place called “Or” which has opened in what used to be a body repair shop and a place that I think is called “The Back Bar” on Warren next to the food trucks and an expensive antique shop.

Hudson, anchor of Columbia County, seems to be a “happening place.” My friend and I commented on how much has happened here since we moved here; he in 1999 and me in 2001.

A squadron of geese just flew overhead. They are fewer than they used to be and I wonder why that is. Ten or twelve years ago they were everywhere and now their presence is special.

What is special is being able to sit on the deck and look out at the creek and to write and think and ponder the universe.

The world here is serene though it is not serene anywhere else.

I wonder what I can do to change the state of the world? I’m not sure. IS fights its vile war and condemns people right and left for not adhering to their fundamental views of Islam. Gays are thrown from rooftops or stoned to death, as are adulterers. Yazidi women are systemically raped and mistreated.

Egypt is becoming a country that all are frightened to go to. At least 10 percent of the Syrian population are refugees. The world is full of pain. I know it and do not know what to do about it and am deeply trouble by not knowing what I can do.

I live is a soporific spot on earth. I could turn my back on the world’s troubles but I can’t.

What to do? I ask, as I sit, looking over the peaceful Claverack Creek.

Letter From A Train… 08 21 15 Of lights, meeting and trains…

August 21, 2015

It is Friday afternoon and I am on the Acela heading north from Washington, DC. Tuesday I left New York and went to Martha’s Vineyard for a quick visit to see The Grand Illumination, the lighting of the cottages in the Campground in Oak Bluffs. It was a spectacular if short visit to the Vineyard.

Arriving Tuesday afternoon, I ended up immediately going on a sail with Jeffrey and his hired mate, Tim, scudding across the harbor and out into the open waters, a good sail with a good wind. They worked; I watched. We sailed past a boat called “Infinity” which was the first super yacht launched in 2015. It was a beautiful boat, registered in the Cayman Islands and, though we tried, we could not find out who owned it, a secret well shielded.

We went into town, had dinner at Behind The Bookstore, and then headed home. I fell asleep with my Kindle in my hand, the light still on, waking at one and turning it off and drifting from there into a deep, rich sleep.

The next day was spent on the veranda, reading, looking at the stunning views and napping.

Jeffrey drove us to the Grand Illumination and while he looked for parking, Joyce and I wandered amongst the cottages, all lit with lanterns, some older than my grandparents. People sat on their porches, ready to tell you the story of their cottage.

The crowds were deep and only once did I engage with the owners, an elderly couple who bought their place in 1992. She was eighty; I have no idea how old he was. They were dressed in costume. They came from the theatre and had performed in thirty musicals together and had been married for 57 years. They were charming and worth the visit.

Yesterday morning I went with Jeffrey to the restaurant, had breakfast while he had coffee and then off to the airport.

Direct flights from the Vineyard were ruinously expensive on the return so I chose a flight that connected in DC. Alas, all flights yesterday afternoon to LGA on US Airways were cancelled because of “traffic congestion.”

I went to Baltimore, stayed with Lionel and Pierre, and had a lovely dinner with them. Today there was business in DC and now I head home.

The market is swooning, having had its worst day since 2011. There are fears the slowdown in China is worse than thought. The specter of a rate hike by the Fed hovers over the market and the price of oil has slipped beneath forty dollars a barrel, the lowest it has been since the depth of the Great Recession, signaling the world economy is slowing down.

Oh my! Not good. My portfolio is battered as I expect yours is too.

I think I mentioned in my last Letter that the site had been hacked. It’s the site for married people who want to have an affair. One of the married people who wanted to have an affair was Josh Duggar, of “19 and Counting” who has admitted to molesting his sisters and a baby sitter. The kink just goes on.

15,000 of the hacked email addresses are .gov and .edu. Why would people use their work email addresses in a situation like this? I don’t know but it causes me to wonder about the intelligence of the American public.

On a French train a man with an automatic weapon and a knife wounded passengers and was subdued by two Americans on the train. No motive is known at this point for the attack. Kudos to the Americans on the train.

Ted Cruz sparred with actress Ellen Page over LGBT issues at the Iowa State Fair. Scott Walker equivocated about whether he would meet with folks from “Blacks Lives Matter.”

Two women have qualified as Army Rangers, the first time this has happened. I don’t think they can fight with the Rangers but they have qualified and it’s a great first step. Congratulations to 1st Lt. Kristen Griest and Capt. Shaye Haver. Good job!

A male colleague described one of them as a “physical stud.” Wow!

Not a physical stud is the pudgy, petulant dictator of North Korea who has declared his state to be in a “quasi” state of war with South Korea. He is upset about a number of things. The US is staging “war games” with South Korean troops. South Korea has been blaring propaganda over loudspeakers into North Korea.   North Korea is now blaring propaganda into South Korea. If only he didn’t have nuclear weapons…

And, lastly, alas, Trump is moving from sideshow to main stage and that is a particularly harrowing statement about America in the 21st Century. Oh my…

Letter From Martha’s Vineyard 08 19 15 Pristine sea, cloudless sky, and trouble on land…

August 19, 2015

In the room where I am staying on the Vineyard, there are floor to ceiling windows that look, across the balcony, onto Edgartown Harbor. The water is a dark blue, the sky is lighter but both are crisp and clean. The sky is cloudless and pristine.

I have spent the morning on the porch, reading a book and doing some emails. After a late breakfast, all the batteries on my devices were running low, so I came up to my room to plug them back in. My kindle is charging, as are my phone and laptop. My poor laptop, three years old, is beginning to feel its age and I am afraid it will soon be time for a replacement.

This evening will be The Grand Illumination, a lighting of the old cottages in the Campgrounds with antique Japanese lanterns and more. I’m looking forward to it and will do my best to give you a good description tomorrow. That’s why I am writing early today. I’ll be out in the evening, taking in the Grand Illumination.

Grand are also the ambitions of Donald Trump, who is now, unbelievably and, to me, horrifyingly, being treated more and more as a viable candidate. In some polls he is within striking distance of Hillary. As I sit here looking out at the placid waters of the harbor, I am stunned.

Trump has declared that, sadly, Heidi Klum is no longer a ten. She wonders what that has to do with the election while, at the same time, mocking him back on social media. One often wonders what Trump has to say has to do with anything.

In another pre-election year kink, Al Gore is said to be thinking about a run in 2016.

IS today beheaded an 82 year old archeologist, Khaled Assad, in Palmyra. Author of many books and articles, sire of 11 children, he was one of the world’s, if not the world’s expert, on Palmyra. He refused to divulge to IS things they wanted to know. His headless body is hanging from a lamppost in town.

Turkey is restless. Following the failure of Erdogan’s government to win a majority for the first time since 2002, the country has been unable to form a government and new elections are expected soon. Two terrorists attacked the Dolmabahce Palace today, popular with tourists and home to the Prime Minister’s Istanbul offices. Kurds killed eight soldiers in the southeast.

Zimbabwe has arrested the man who owned the farm where Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist, killed Cecil the Lion. That brings to three who have been arrested. Not charged so far is Walter Palmer, whose Minnesota dental practice reopened today, but without him. He was photographed recently in Eden Prairie, MN, not far from his Bloomington, MN practice.

Jared Fogle famously became a spokesperson for Subway when he claimed that Subway helped him lose over 200 pounds. He is now infamous for child pornography charges and he has agreed to plead guilty to charges of child pornography and paying for sex with minors. He faces over a decade in jail. Sad end to a success story.

The UK is saying the e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco and is, if not exactly endorsing them, coming very close to doing so.

A female “Viagra” has been approved for sale.

Ashley Madison is a website for spouses who want to cheat. It has, like many other sites, been hacked. Millions of names have been released to the “dark web.” Only good thing: most people can’t get to the “dark web.” Not a good day to be a cheater.

The day is beautiful and I am restless writing. I want to go back outdoors and read some more and soak in the harbor’s beauty.

Until next time.

Letter From Martha’s Vineyard 08 18 15 A good day, a good sail…

August 19, 2015

As I begin this, I am sitting in Terminal 5 at JFK, waiting for the short flight from here to Martha’s Vineyard. In front of me, I am facing an iPad, from which I have just ordered a latte and on which I can check the status of my flight, though that shouldn’t be necessary as I am right at the gate. I am surrounded by people of a myriad of backgrounds and speaking a variety of languages.

Terminal 5, which services Jet Blue, feels a little bit out of a science fiction film; we could all be waiting for flights to the stars. But we’re not, we’re waiting to go to domestic and international destinations, people laughing and enjoying, caught in the pleasure of departure and arrival.

A kind young man delivered me my latte and then circled back to make sure all was well with it.

I am continuing my binge reading of the “Roma Sub Rosa” series by Steven Saylor, up to number eight or nine now, I think, out of twelve. I downloaded two more last night to tide me over, coming and going from the Vineyard as well as reading time on the island.

Perusing the New York Times this morning, it now appears that Donald Trump has a commanding lead among Republicans. Ad Age yesterday had an article that stated Trump was JUST what television needed; his polarizing personality will revitalize viewing and boost ratings. He has boasted that he is “a TV ratings magnet.” And it is apparently too true…

As I finished typing the above sentence, they called my flight and I am now on the Vineyard, having just returned from a two-hour sail and having showered to get all the salt water off me.

The wind was good; we made twenty knots at one point and were thoroughly doused at more than one point. It was great fun.

A humanoid robot went for a walk through the woods today. I hope there were warnings out that he was coming. He looked a bit frightening to anyone just stumbling upon him.

22 were killed and 120, at least, injured in a bombing in Bangkok at a Hindu shrine. CCTV footage has police looking for a man in a yellow T-shirt and black-rimmed glasses. One minute he has a backpack; the next he doesn’t.

The world is tripping on, violent as ever. There are lots of trials going on of police officers all over the country for homicide, something like five of them right now.

Greece is stumbling through two crises. One is their financial one and the other is the flood of immigrants striving to make it to the island of Kos from Turkey. It has been overwhelming resources in that already battered country.

Out the window is Edgartown Harbor. The sun is beginning to set and I must leave you tonight to go meet my friends and see what dinner plans we have. Or take a book and read. It’s been a lovely day for me; may it have been for you too.

Letter From Claverack 08 16 15 Thoughts as the sun sets…

August 17, 2015

It is moving toward six in the evening. The sun is beginning its slow set to the west; bright light glimmers through the trees and pools of sunlight litter the drive. I am sitting at my desk, looking out, keeping watch. A friend is coming over and I’m helping him think through his website, a first for him.

It has been a lovely weekend. Lionel and Pierre arrived on Friday evening, a bit ragged from a drive through heavy traffic from Baltimore. We ate at the Red Dot and then came home. Lionel and I had our traditional Friday night “cleansing vodka” and then I drifted off to a good night’s sleep.

Saturday was a lot of running around; neighbors came for cocktails and a visit with Lionel and Pierre.

This morning, I woke early. Heavy fog drifted above the creek, making the place look otherworldly, almost mystical. I prepared breakfast for the three of us and saw them off on their return trip to Baltimore. While I was doing all of these pleasant tasks, the world continued.

An Indonesian plane lost contact with air controllers and there have been reports it crashed into a mountainside. E’Dina Hines, step-granddaughter of Morgan Freeman, was stabbed to death last night in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan by a deranged man, thought to be her boyfriend, who was attempting to cast demons out of her.

Premier Li Keqiang of China visited the port city of Tianjin, the scene of a huge warehouse explosion that was so big it registered on seismic meters. The warehouse contained dangerous chemicals, including sodium cyanide. The warehouse was close by apartment complexes; at least 112 have died and 95, many of them firefighters, are missing. 721 are injured. There is a huge evacuation zone; protests are being held at the hotel used for press briefings.

Sadly, Julian Bond has passed away. He was a young firebrand in the 1960’s and went on to become a respected state legislator in Georgia and head of the NAACP for some years. He was a voice for civil rights and agitated against the Vietnam War, a man to be admired I always thought. And now he’s gone, after a short illness. I will miss knowing that he is alive.

Donald Trump is still leading the Republican polls; he is calling for an end to “birthright citizenship.” Hillary Clinton is trailing Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, which must be causing her some sleepless moments.

Sleepless in Syria are all kinds of people. Assad bombed a suburb of Damascus over the weekend. The war is going badly for him; Damascus is his nominal seat of power though he has long been rumored to have left the capital for the coast. His troops are being defeated and seem to be in slow retreat. Iran has sent ministers to Russia, seeking some kind of political solution.

Iraq, long riven by Shia/Sunni conflicts seems to be facing a Shia/Shia conflict too. I will need to do more reading to understand. I don’t right now. A few days ago, an American General stated that Iraq might have to be partitioned. And it is beginning to look like that might be a viable solution. Iraq was created a century ago by the Brits for their own reasons, mostly, one suspects, oil.

Amazon is one of my favorite suppliers. I don’t want to work there. Reports about the environment for employees indicate it’s a brutal, brutal, brutal place to work. I am, nor ever have been, up for brutal. I still use them, enormously. I am an Amazon Prime customer. Probably will be until the day I die. But not to work there. Oh my!

Apple is apparently building a self-driving car. As is Google. I will bet on Apple. Google’s devices…

Night has arrived. The floodlight on the fountain has turned on. Outside the cicadas are making noises. I am at the end of my day, about to step into yet another Steven Saylor book. I have been binge reading instead of binge watching. Actually, it feels good.