Archive for October, 2015

Letter From New York 10 30 15 Thoughts riding north through the autumn colors…

October 30, 2015

Source: Letter From New York 10 30 15 Thoughts riding north through the autumn colors…

Letter From New York 10 30 15 Thoughts riding north through the autumn colors…

October 30, 2015

Autumn. Hudson River Valley. Obama. Syria. John Kerry. Saudi Arabia. Douma. European Refugee Crisis. Halloween. Marco Rubio. GOP Debate. Donald Trump. Jeb Bush. Ben Carson. The Donald. One child policy. China. Alexander the Great. Gordian knot.

The autumn colors on the trees may have just past their peak but they are still wonderful as I ride north on Amtrak. The west bank of the Hudson is awash with shades of orange, red and some green. I am heading home for the weekend, having been in the city a bit longer this week than I had planned.

As I waited for the train to exit the tunnels so that I might have Internet again, my phone buzzed twice. First it was AP and then it was the BBC, letting me know that President Obama is sending fifty special operations troops to Syria to assist the rebels we support.

While he was announcing this, Secretary of State Kerry is in Vienna, dealing with the countries that have a stake in Syria, though Syria is not, apparently, there itself. The eyes of the world are on how Saudi Arabia and Iran will react to being the same room together. They are positioned so that they don’t have to look into each other’s eyes.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Syria, at least 40 have died in Douma, a town ten miles north of Damascus, with another hundred wounded. So far a quarter of a million people have died and ten million have fled their homes.

The resulting refugee crisis means that millions of Syrians are living in camps or attempting to go west, sometimes dying in the effort. 570,000 individuals have transited through Greece this year, making the crossing from Turkey in small boats or rubber dinghies. Yesterday 22 more died and 144 were rescued.

It is all far from here as I move north, along the Hudson River, absorbing fall colors and contemplating a quiet weekend at the cottage.

It is Halloween this weekend and I’m not sure I am going to do anything. Generally, I have gone down to the Red Dot for their annual party. Last year I dressed as a Roman Emperor. This year, I am not feeling quite so festive. I was thinking more of a martini and a movie at home.

Since last I wrote, there has been another Republican Debate. Not well wired in the city, where I was, I have had to get a feel from it from written articles. General consensus, Marco Rubio won and CNBC, the platform for the debate, lost. The debaters turned the table on the moderators, putting them in their place. Trump wasn’t as Trumpish and Jeb Bush was still Jeb Bush.

Trump is genuinely surprised to find himself trailing Ben Carson in Iowa. Perhaps the Donald will learn a bit of humility.

China has revoked the “one child” only policy though most are indicating they won’t have more than one child. It’s too expensive in time and money now. More and more couples are choosing to remain childless. China will begin to look like Japan, with an aging population. Hard to fathom…

As I finish writing my letters, I find myself pondering the state of the world, working to grasp it. I don’t always get it, usually not at all. The complexity of the politics in the Middle East are so knotted that it is probable that they may never get undone. It will take an Alexander the Great to undo this Gordian knot. He didn’t undo it; he cut through it with his sword.

Letter From New York 10 28 15 Cheery in the middle of swampy mess…

October 28, 2015

South Sudan. Dinka. Nuer.Cannibalism. Zanzibar. Boko Haram. Obama. Cameroon.  IS.  Caucasus. Iran. Syria. Russia. US. Turkey. Putin.

Outside the day is grey, gloomy, down right dark and definitely chill. My own spirits are quite the opposite. Despite the exterior my interior is quite bright, for no particular reason but I am delighted and grateful for the quiet joy of this dark day. I’m at my friend Todd’s office, doing some work for him and some for myself.

I had a couple of personal errands to do this morning and then I arrived here, an island of warmth and cheer on a dark and rainy day.

Reading about the conflict in South Sudan trumped my cheeriness. There has been violence ranging there for months and the two sides have been brutal. There are tales of the Dinka killing Nuer ruthlessly; sometimes making them jump into bonfires and then forcing people to eat the burnt flesh. There have been rapes, pillaging, burning of churches, all the things that happen when men get fire in their killing bellies.

Further south elections in Zanzibar may explode into violence and across the continent Nigeria has freed approximately 300 women from the Boko Haram.

Obama has sent three hundred soldiers to Cameroon to train soldiers. Africa and the Middle East are riven with Islamic terrorists. Some, like Boko Haram, have sworn allegiance to IS. And everywhere I look it seems we have a muddied response to it.

Iran has now joined the Syrian conversation at the same table with the US, Syria, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, its longtime regional rival. Iranian troops are on the ground in Syria. The Russians are there. The Turks seem to be chasing the Kurds there more than IS. It is a political, ideological swamp and in that swamp millions are displaced and dying.

Putin, who is playing around in Syria, has his own IS problem. There is a ragtag group of rebels in Russia who have declared the Caucasus Emirate and sworn allegiance to IS. Muslim Russians are being recruited by IS, going to fight and are returning. Mostly they are locked up or under police surveillance but the social unrest and economic hardships in that part of Putin’s Empire is making it easier for IS to recruit.

It is a cycle that may be coming around to bite Putin in the back. It’s why he says he is in Syria. Now some of the 7,000 Russians and former citizens of the Soviet Union who are there are trying to slip back into Russia to wreck havoc in retaliation.

Thinking I would get some relief by seeing what was happening in the world of entertainment, I quickly backed off when I kept finding stories about the ubiquitous Kardashians.

Goodness, looking at the world’s stories has tempered the day’s good natured-ness. I will have to get it back.

Letter From New York 10 26 15 From Hudson to the city, in color

October 26, 2015

Amtrak. James Linkin. Relish. Bacon is cancer causing. Earthquake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Taliban. Captagon. Saudi Royal arrested. Donald Trump. Matt Lauer. A small loan. Space junk. John Boehner. Budget Deal. Paul Ryan.

I’m heading back to the city, going south on the train. My friend, James Linkin, is sitting across from me, eating his lunch from Relish, the little café across from the Hudson Train Station, where I had breakfast. Today may be the last time I will have bacon; it is now categorized as cancerous as cigarettes, which I have long since quit. And so are hot dogs! Alas and alack…

The leaves are at their peak, fabulous in their colors. The train is temporarily stopped for unknown reasons, as happens now and again.

Last week, I had a week of doing some very stupid things. I left to go to the city and realized after I had shut the door, my keys were still on the table. I had the car fob so I went on my way. Getting off the train, I left one bag on it as it pulled out of Hudson when I was returning.

Gina, the conductor, realized it and called the Hudson Station, alerting them. She sent it back on the next south bound train and I picked it up after I finished my luncheon meeting in Hudson.

Nick brought me his keys so I could let myself in. It was that kind of week. Mistakes made better by helpful people.

Last night more than two hundred died in an earthquake that rocked Afghanistan and Pakistan. Measuring 7.5, it has destroyed hundreds of homes as winter sets in. In Afghanistan, rescue will be complicated by the escalating Taliban insurgency.

A so far unnamed Saudi Royal is being held in Beirut with four of his associates, charged with attempting to smuggle two tons of Captagon out of the country on a private jet. I have never heard of Captagon. It’s a stimulant. Two tons is a LOT of stimulation.

Back in Saudi Arabia, a bomb went of at a mosque, killing three, injuring more. No one has claimed responsibility. The Saudi Royal in Lebanon has an alibi.

Donald Trump told Matt Lauer that life has not been easy for him. His dad loaned him a small amount, a million dollars, when he was starting out and he had to repay it, with interest. I mean, he said, a million dollars isn’t so much when you consider what’s he built when challenged by Matt Lauer on a million being small.

It’s the perspective, you see.

WT1190F is the title given to a piece of space junk that is going to crash into the Indian Ocean in three weeks. Scientists are very excited because they don’t know what it is. It might even be a piece of the original Apollo missions to the moon. They just don’t know but they’re going to do their best to find out before it enters the atmosphere, where most of it will burn up and the rest will rust in the Indian Ocean.

Before departing Congress, John Boehner, still Speaker of the House, is attempting to close a budget deal with the White House. Parts of it, disturbingly, include cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  It does include increases for military and domestic spending. Boehner is attempting to get fractious Republicans to go along so that waters will be smoother when Paul Ryan, as it is assumed, becomes Speaker.

I am in New York now and the day is still beautiful. Hope yours is too…

Letter From New York 10 25 15 Back and Forth…

October 25, 2015

Diana Sperrazza. Hudson River. My Townie Heart. Catholic Synod. Pope Francis. Vatican. Tony Blair. Iraq as a mistake. George W. Bush. Chris Christie. Amtrak Quiet Car. Law and Justice. Hurricane Patricia. Kristy Howard. Princess Diana. Titanic. Biscuit from Titanic. Maureen O’Hara. Thomas Sternberg. Staples.

The fall colors are luscious as I ride south into the city on this grey day; without those colors the world would be a very drear place. The Hudson River is a sheet of slate grey; the weekend boaters have mostly dragged their boats to land. Sunday morning sails have been discontinued until the spring.

My friend, Diana Sperrazza, is having a book signing party for her recently published book, “My Townie Heart.” She labored for fifteen years, finished it and had no luck finding a publisher until one day she did.

Find it here, on Amazon:

Good read.

A three-week summit, or Synod, of Catholic clergy in Rome has come to an end, finishing with a document that is considered by some to be very ambiguous on matters of divorce and homosexuality. In his closing remarks, Pope Francis seemed to be chastising the conservative faction of the Church, encouraging the clergy to be more generous and understanding. He reminded them that the Disciples of Jesus had ignored the blind Bartimaeus but Jesus did not, stopping to engage him. Francis spoke of the “temptation of the spirituality of the mirage.”

One of the things we like about this Pope is that he asks all of us to be better Christians and, if not Christian, better human beings.

Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the U.K. at the time of the Iraq invasion is offering some apologies for the invasion. He’s sorry about the wrong intelligence and some of the wrong decisions that were made after the invasion. There was a lack of understanding of what would happen when the Saddam Hussein’s regime fell. That’s an understatement. Hello, IS!

Once the U.K.’s most popular politician, he has been since branded by some as a “war criminal.”   It has been a stunning turn for the man who, for a time, seemed more popular here than his counterpart, George W. Bush.

New Jersey’s Governor, Chris Christie, who is also a candidate for the Republican Party’s Presidential nomination, was booted out of an Amtrak “Quiet Car” this morning for talking too loudly. He was returning from Washington, DC, where he appeared on “Face The Nation,” accusing the President of promoting lawlessness because Obama supports “Black Lives Matter.” I would like to have seen him being kicked out of the “Quiet Car.” I am sure it was a small spectacle.

Patricia, the strongest hurricane ever recorded, slipped in status by the time it made landfall and Mexico and Texas have been spared the worst.

In Poland, a right wing party, Law and Justice, seems to have won elections there with 39% of the vote.

A young British woman, Kristy Howard, has died at the age of 20. She had raised millions of pounds for Francis House, a facility opened in 1991 by Princess Diana. She had been born with a back to front heart and was given a few weeks to live when she was 4. Her brief life astounded many, including me.

We have had an unending fascination with RMS Titanic, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1912. Some memorabilia from it will be auctioned this week in London. A biscuit from one of the lifeboats sold for about $23,000. It was saved by a passenger on the Carpathia, which picked up the survivors from the ill-fated liner.

Maureen O’Hara passed away yesterday. I remember her from sitting in front of the television watching NBC’s “Saturday Night at the Movies.” I saw all kinds of great films, including hers. She made it to 95, dying at her home in Boise, Idaho. She had moved there not too long ago to be near her only child, a daughter.

Also gone is the man, Thomas Sternberg, who co-founded Staples.

The world continues moving along.

As I am moving along, now heading back north after the book signing, the sun having come out to play, giving the afternoon a vitality the morning did not possess.

Letter From New York 10 23 15 From looking Presidential to Hurricane Patricia

October 23, 2015

Shakespeare. Relish. Benghazi. Hillary Clinton. Rep. Jim Jordan. Trey Gowdy. Fox News. Jeb Bush. Donald Trump. Ben Carson. Iowa. Politics. Paul Ryan. Tea Party Republicans. Obamacare. Assault with a carrot. AIDS. Turing Pharmaceuticals. Imprimis Pharmaceuticals. China rate cut. Pakistan bombing. Kurd hostages. Nigerian mosque killings. Hurricane Patricia. The Red Dot. Lionel White.

Outside it is a brilliant, perfect fall day, demanding a warm jacket but not necessarily needing to be zipped, a clear blue sky filled with sunlight that ricochets off the golden leaves. Turning a corner this morning near a pond, my breath was taken away by beauty; sun glinting off water and multi-colored leaves, all ablaze.

My friend Lionel is up from Baltimore, tending to his house across the street from mine. We had lunch together at Relish before doing errands after having lazy coffee moments this morning while he helped get my printer back online.

I have been having a time with my electronics this past week. Ah well, everything now seems back in working shape. As Shakespeare said: alls well that ends well.

Not perhaps ending well for the Republicans, probably much to their chagrin, was the eleven-hour grilling of Hillary Clinton on Benghazi. Today’s reports have been mostly favorable to the former Secretary of State and not very kind to the Republicans on the Committee.

It never looks very good when angry white men spend eleven hours yelling at a woman, and one who maintains composure when they do not. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio looked particularly bad, followed close behind by the Chairman, Trey Gowdy. One source said all that happened was that for eleven hours Hillary Clinton managed to look presidential while the Republicans didn’t even look Congressional.

And even Fox News had to acknowledge she did a pretty good job, which must mean she must have been spectacular.

In other political news, Jeb Bush is cutting his campaign spending and concentrating on early voting states. In Iowa, Ben Carson is leading Donald Trump, partly because he is evangelical and Trump is not.

With two more Republican groups signaling their support, Paul Ryan has agreed to run to serve as the next Speaker of the House but that doesn’t mean he is making Tea Party Republicans happy. He isn’t meeting their demands. One of which, according to The NY Times, translates, once stripped of arcane language, to: shut down the government.

Ah, Washington! That’s the place where Congress just voted to gut Obamacare, a move that will likely stall in the Senate.

A 14-year-old Virginia schoolgirl is facing assault and battery charges for throwing and hitting in the forehead her teacher, with a carrot. It is the center of much back and forth on the Internet.

AIDS is a devastating disease. Many of us lost friends and relatives to it in the 1980’s and 90’s. Then came drugs that did not cure but did extend lives and allowed people to live productive lives. It has become a disease that is not curable but is treatable.

Turing Pharmaceuticals sells one of those drugs, Daraprim. Recently, it jacked the price from less than $14.00 a pill to $750.00 a pill. A San Diego firm is going to offer an alternative to Daraprim for $1.00 a pill. You go, Imprimis!

The stock market soared today as China unexpectedly cut interest rates again, the sixth time in less than a year. The European Central Bank is thinking about another cut and The Fed probably won’t raise interest rates until early 2016.

Lest we forget, fighting continues all over the Mideast. An American soldier died in a raid to rescue Kurdish hostages in Iraq. Syria is still fighting. 22 Shiites died in Pakistan in a bombing while over in Nigeria, 42 were killed at mosques by suicide bombers.

The biggest hurricane ever, Hurricane Patricia, is about to hit western Mexico, right around the resort city of Puerto Vallarta. Tens of thousands are being evacuated. Its effects will be felt all the way into Texas, where flooding is expected.

The sun is setting and I am shortly off to The Red Dot for dinner with Lionel, where we expect to meet some friends. There is a pink tinge to the sky so that harbors well for tomorrow’s weather. “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight…”

Letter From New York 10 21 15 From sunny streets to Holocaust denials…

October 21, 2015

New York City. Starbucks. Producer’s Guild of America. Lionel White. Justin Trudeau. Joe Biden. Hillary Clinton. White House Rose Garden. Paul Ryan. Freedom Caucus. Assad. Syria. Putin. Netanyahu. Holocaust denier. Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Al-Husseini. Angela Merkel. John Kerry. Pope Francis. Wikileaks. CIA Director Brennan. Back to the Future II. XNow.

It is a brilliant day in New York City; the sky is pale blue and the temperature is 74 degrees. Sitting in a Starbucks at 93rd and Broadway, sipping tea, a posse of young students has come in, most dressed in shorts.

Tomorrow morning, I am headed back to the country, an event I am looking forward to as I am sure it would be much more pleasant to be sitting on my deck writing than it is in Starbucks.

But this is where I am, reasonably happy and enjoying my tea. Tonight there is a meeting of the Doc Committee for the Producer’s Guild and I’m going to that, then coming home, catching some sleep.

My friend Lionel is coming up to direct some winterizing tasks at his house across the street and we’ll share dinners together tomorrow and Friday, before he returns to Baltimore on Saturday.

Since I last wrote, Justin Trudeau is the Prime Minister elect of Canada, sweeping into office more seats in Parliament than anyone expected.

Joe Biden announced from the White House Rose Garden he was NOT running for President. Hillary must be doing the “happy dance” wherever she is.

Paul Ryan is considering running for Speaker of the House but only on his terms, pretty much telling the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus he will be Speaker on his terms or he won’t be Speaker at all.

Unbelievably, the Freedom Caucus thinks Paul Ryan is too liberal.

President Assad of Syria snuck into Russia for a quick set of meetings with Putin and his colleagues. The visit likely gives confidence to Assad and bolsters Russia’s play to be a power broker in the future of Syria.

“Bibi” Netanyahu has drawn broad criticism from most quarters for his declaration that it was a Palestinian, al-Husseini, the then Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who convinced Adolf Hitler to exterminate the Jews. Before that, according to “Bibi,” Hitler only intended to ship them out.

Most historians agree that Netanyahu’s remarks were historically inaccurate.

Some have been calling him a “holocaust denier.” Mr. Netanyahu has a habit; it seems, of unfortunate remarks. This one is a doozy.

As he left to meet Angela Merkel and John Kerry in Berlin, Netanyahu’s office was issuing clarifications.

Speaking of clarifications, the Vatican was stoutly denying that Pope Francis has a brain tumor.   The rumor was called “seriously irresponsible.”

In not good news for CIA Director Brennan, Wikileaks has begun to release his private emails. Shades of Edward Snowden.

Today, if you haven’t noticed somewhere else, is the 30th Anniversary of “Back to the Future II.” No we don’t have hoverboards but we do have contraptions that electrically scoot down the street on wheels, the XNow. My friend Winn arrived on one for lunch.

It glows blue when it is powered. Several fascinated people came over to chat with him about it. He offered me a chance to ride it but I declined. My sense of balance is not that good.

Some critics think “Future II” is the best blockbuster ever. I remember it as very, very good but am not sure it is the best ever.

But it’s pretty darn good. Darn good too is the afternoon and before it thoroughly evaporates, I am headed out of Starbucks for a walk in the waning afternoon.

Letter From New York 10 19 15 Refugees, Politics and Canadian politics

October 19, 2015

Canadian voting. Stephen Harper. Justin Trudeau. Liberal Democrat. Pierre Elliot Trudeau. George W. Bush. Jeb Bush. Donald Trump. Benghazi Committee. Trey Gowdy. Kevin McCarthy. Hillary Clinton. Howard Bloom Saves the Universe. Domestic abuse. Joe Biden.

The drive at the cottage is scattered with leaves, even though it was thoroughly cleaned forty-eight hours ago. THE BATTLE OF THE LEAVES has begun. Sweeping out the drive today, I left them all behind and road the rails down to the city.

It was the first really chill day of the season; it was only 21 degrees when I checked the weather app this morning. I came into the city not sure whether I would stay in the city tonight or not but now think I will.

I have to be back tomorrow evening and am not feeling like a round trip.

Stupidly, I locked myself out of my own home today. In changing jackets, I took the keys out of the one I decided not to wear and failed to put them in the pocket of the jacket I decided to wear and left them on the table by the door.

While I am typing this, Canadians are voting for Members of Parliament and the results will determine whether Stephen Harper will continue to lead Canada or whether the baton will pass to Justin Trudeau, son of the late Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who headed Canada for a very long time.

Harper is a Conservative and Trudeau is a Liberal Democrat. The collapse of oil prices have stressed the Canadian economy and recent polls have the two running neck and neck.

I’m very fond of Canada after having spent a fair amount of time there in my college years and have watched Canadian politics with some interest. Wonder what tomorrow will bring?

The Canadian election season has gone on for an enormously long time, for Canadians. It began on August 4th.

Tomorrow will see many refugees continue their struggle to reach Western Europe. Cold weather is setting in and many of them were walking through cold rain today.

While the refugees strive to get across Europe, and Canadians decide their future, Jeb and the Donald are sniping about each other. Donald is declaring Bush was responsible for 9/11; Jeb is denying it, saying his brother kept us safe.

Some journalists are asking Jeb exactly what he means by safe? While there were no more 9/11 attacks, W. did invade Iraq and ignored Afghanistan. We have a broken Iraq and Afghanistan lingers. IS rose from the ashes of Iraq. Syria broke apart. Thousands of American soldiers have died and thousands more have been badly scarred.

I have no confidence that Trump can do the job of President but his lack of self- control has asked questions that might need to be asked of a Bush who has indicated he would bring back much of his brother’s team as advisers.

Hillary did well in the debate, according to almost everyone. But her numbers remain flat.

Republican Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina runs the Committee that is investigating Benghazi and is having trouble keeping his colleagues in line.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who has dropped out of the race to be Speaker of the House, opened his mouth and inserted his foot, giving the impression that the Committee was politically motivated.

As has Representative Richard Hanna of New York also indicated on a talk show recently.

Oh my!

Some key Democrats are suggesting it is not a good idea for Biden to enter the race; he keeps us guessing. Though rumors are swirling tonight he will run and soon.

While writing this I have been at a taping of the podcast, “Howard Bloom Saves the Universe,” where there has been a fascinating conversation about the nature of domestic abuse. Powerful.

Get it next week on iTunes.

Letter From New York 10 16 15 Kardashians, Refugees, Turkey and a night out..

October 16, 2015

Lamar Odom. Khloe Kardashian. Israel. Palestine. Israeli knifings. Turkey. European Union. Refugees. Erdogan.

It is unbelievable to me that we have rounded into the second half of October in the year 2015. Stunning, the way time has been slipping through my fingers.

The last three days have been a battle with paperwork and machines. I had some complicated documents to complete and must have printed page two of the forms four times before I filled them, hopefully, correctly. They got sent off today by UPS and will arrive on Tuesday.

My Internet connection fluttered, my printer won’t print wirelessly and I have done everything in my power to get it back online, to no avail. Time to call in the experts.

Because of all of this, I am behind on a report for a client. ARGH! But all will be well, I’m sure.

All may be well for Lamar Odom, who apparently regained consciousness and is breathing on his own after losing consciousness while on a spree that reportedly included alcohol, cocaine and herbal sex stimulants. He was at a legal brothel in Nevada.

Soon to be ex-wife, Khloe Kardashian, is at his side. Do I see a reconciliation coming for the cameras? Pardon me if I am cynical.

All is not well in Israel, where Palestinians are killing Jews in knifings while the Israelis are killing Palestinians who attack them. Hamas has praised the men killed by Israel as martyrs. And that sad beat goes on; defying efforts to have any kind of peace break out.

It came to me that this violence has been a constant backdrop of my entire life.

Turkey and the EU are bickering over an aid deal to help Turkey with the refugee crisis, a deal that the Turks have called “insincere.” In the mix are suggestions from the EU that they will start accession talks with Turkey again about admission to the EU. Turkey’s Erdogan is skeptical.

In the meantime, it’s estimated 5,000 refugees slip out of Turkey and into Europe every day, not counting all the others that are striving for Europe from all across the eastern and southern Mediterranean.

Like last night, I set up a fire in the wood stove. I just got up and checked it and realized that absorbing the day’s news had made me feel physically tired. It causes me to sit down sometimes and put my head in my hands. It is no surprise that for a day or two, I might ignore the world outside my little glen.

We are all like that, I’m sure.

In the meantime, I must get ready. In twenty minutes, I am headed to the Dot to meet a friend for dinner.

Letter From New York 10 15 15 From the Kardashians to real issues…

October 15, 2015

Columbia County. P.D. James. Obama. Afghanistan. Alexander the Great. Pluto. Tom Swift. Tom Swift and His Atomic Blaster. Hardy Boys. Lamar Odom. Khloe Kardashian. The Kardashians. Love Ranch. Star Trek. Hillary Clinton.   Democratic debate. UN Security Council.

The sun setting in the west is crowning the trees on the far bank of the creek with a golden glow; the mirror still creek is golden, too, with the same light. It was a brilliant fall day in Columbia County, the air crisp and bright with a sky of soft blue across which scudded a few billowy clouds.

While observing this sun kissed fall chill day, I struggled with faulty Internet access, a recalcitrant printer and a scrum of personal paperwork that worked my nerves. In frustration, I left and went for lunch at Relish, running into Jeremiah Rusconi, between house restoration errands as he labors on a huge project across the river, in Athens.

Returning home, my stomach went tetchy and I decided it best to stay close to home, spending the afternoon continuing with the paper scrum.

Now as the day ends, I began to feel reflective, attempting to light a fire [not going well] in the Franklin stove while listening to music from the 1940’s and early ‘50’s.

In the future, I see a continuation of my reading of a P.D. James mystery while eschewing food for the rest of the evening.

Evenings like these are pleasing to me, giving me time to think, sort the world, at least in my own mind, and to enjoy the particular solitary life I lead.

While I was driving into town for lunch, I heard the confirmation of what was expected this morning – Obama will keep troops in Afghanistan for at least another year. Alexander the Great, the British, the Russians, all came to a nasty place in Afghanistan and I hope we don’t either.

While things on this planet are fairly grim, scientists are excited by the unexpected variety Pluto has to offer. It has an atmosphere. It has mountains. It is not what we expected. Information from the planetary flyby continues to come in and each new drip of information is a bit stunning. That excites me.

I was always a science fiction fan. Instead of the Hardy Boys, I read Tom Swift. One of my favorites was “Tom Swift and His Atomic Blaster.” A devotee of “Star Trek,” I hope we will continue our exploration of space. It does feel like the next frontier.

Also, while I was driving there was a radio report on Lamar Odom’s condition. The basketball and reality television star, not quite divorced from Khloe Kardashian, apparently ingested alcohol, cocaine and herbal sexual stimulants during a stay at a legal brothel, Love Ranch, in Nevada. He paid $75,000 for his stay and may also pay with his life.

Khloe is with him. He has been intubated. Not a good sign…

I have never understood the titanic appeal of the Kardashians. Boggles my mind.

While I didn’t watch the Democratic Debate on CNN, Hillary apparently, according to the pundits, is the winner while Bernie Sanders scored some points.

The United Nations has five new members on the Security Council, its most important body. They include Japan, Uruguay, Ukraine, Egypt and Senegal. It will be very interesting to watch. Ukraine is not exactly friendly with Russia, a permanent member of the Council and Egypt, usually a U.S. ally, has been playing footsie with the Russians.

We all thought this was going to be simpler when the Iron Curtain fell. Wrong.

For me, the sun has set and the golden light on the trees outside my window is from the spotlights I have installed. The mournful sound of jazz comes out of Pandora and my fire has almost come to fruition.

Tomorrow, I will continue the scrum with paperwork. But that is tomorrow.

Enjoy tonight.