Posts Tagged ‘Acela Club’

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 New York 04 14 15 Working to see with tourist’s eyes…

April 14, 2015

All around me the city of New York is thrumming, filled with the sounds of a city growing, being alive. Sitting in the office of a friend doing some work for him, the street below is filled with the clatter and the clanging of building.

This morning, as I was waking and sipping my first cup of coffee, I decided that I wanted to look at the world a little differently, as if I was a tourist in spots that were well known to me, to keep my eyes and ears open for new sensations and experiences.

Walking to the subway, I noticed the play of grey light on the sidewalk, through a cloudy sky that was hinting of rain, which didn’t seem to want to come.

There is a plastic milk box between what was the Radio Shack store and the upscale mart for sports shoes. Every day there is someone sitting on that box, begging. But it’s often a different person and today it was someone I’ve never seen before. I wonder if it is first come, first seated or do they change shifts during the day?

Certainly, it’s been an interesting day out there in the world. I’ve attempted to keep up with the world while I’ve been hunched over my laptop, doing research for my friend/colleague Todd Broder.

I have discovered that we haven’t discovered any other life in the hundred thousand galaxies we have been searching. We thought that if some civilization had advanced enough that it could have a galaxy wide imprint, we might be able to detect them but no such luck. But there are more than a billion galaxies out there and a hundred thousand is just a small fraction of the possibilities.

It is also noted today that it’s Equal Pay Day though it remains to be seen if employers will step up to achieve equal pay for equal work for women. But we have a day to mark the effort to that goal.

And also today is the 150th Anniversary of the shooting of Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes Booth, the first assassination of an American President but not the last.

150 years – an amazing amount of time and a huge chunk of American history has happened since then. The Republic wasn’t yet a hundred years old when Lincoln died.

The somber visage of Lincoln stares out at us from those haunting photographs, a window into a time long gone and just beginning to be chronicled by photography.

In Washington, Obama wants to set Cuba free by lifting its designation as a state sponsoring terrorism. If that happens, the floodgates will open. There was also a story of how ubiquitous the American flag has become in Havana, flying everywhere and on t-shirts and painted on jeans.

Currently at the Acela Club in New York, there was a huge delegation of important people heading out on the 6:00 Acela to Washington. There were police guarding the doors and the group and then they slipped out and down to the train. One was a military figure from some European nation. Everyone seemed to be paying a great deal of attention to him.

A great deal of attention is also being paid to what is happening on the first steps taken on the campaign trail. Hillary has driven to Iowa and is doing her listening. Paul Rand is back from a five state tour and Marco Rubio is facing scrutiny about his immigration and tax stands. No news of Ted Cruz today.

Today Space X successfully sent another capsule toward the space station, carrying supplies. Its first stage attempted once again to land on a platform at sea. It hit the platform but too hard.

Still, to me, it’s a step forward. Have to admire Elon Musk and his steadfastness to his vision.

The markets today seemed to do well though Google will likely face anti-trust charges in Europe.

The world in the Middle East is still very complicated. A drone attack killed a leading Yemeni Al Qaeda cleric. Russia is planning on selling missiles to Iran. Iraq’s PM was in Washington, where he got some money and a warning that Iranians in Iraq should be reporting to Baghdad.

And now I am going to go out into the streets of New York and do my best to keep my eyes open and see what I can see, with open eyes. I am off to get a martini and a bite to eat, while I continue reading a very good book, “The End of Life Book Club.”

Letter From New York 03 10 15 Some feeling pressure…

March 10, 2015

It is late morning and I am settled in at the Acela Club at Penn Station, having done some emails and doing some work before I go to my afternoon appointment. I’m catching up with my old friend, Peter Kaufman, who was one of my first clients. The day is pretty grey but it’s going to warm up to fifty degrees here in the city and that’s pretty marvelous! Rain may come this afternoon.

The ride into the city on Amtrak was a feast for the eyes. Near Hudson, the river was an almost solid sheet of ice. A Coast Guard icebreaker had cut a narrow line through the ice and a barge was majestically threading its way down the river. Further south, the ice became loose with small floes bobbing on the water.

As the train’s Internet service was going in and out, I often found myself staring out the window at the magnificence rolling by. Lately, bald eagles have been flying along the river, across from the train. A lone coyote has been seen making his way across the open ice. West Point sails by in all its sturdiness.

It will be a long time and perhaps never before the ice thaws between the current President and the current Congress. There is brutal chill right now due to the open letter sent to the Leaders of Iran by 47 Republican Senators suggesting any agreement with Iran wouldn’t outlast Obama. It resulted in a blistering response from Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif, pointing out to the Senators that what is being negotiated is not a unilateral agreement with the US but with the US and the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

Zarif has a point.

Four officers rescued an 18-month-old baby who had survived for fourteen hours upside down in her car seat while in a vehicle in a river. Her mother had passed away. After the ordeal, she is gradually improving. All four officers claim they heard someone calling for help within the car. They are not sure where the voice was coming from.

In another accident, 55 were injured when an Amtrak train struck a semi stalled at a crossing. The accident was in North Carolina. The train was New York bound.

In Argentina, three French sports stars and five members of a French television crew, along with the pilots of two helicopters, died when the two copters apparently collided. They were on the way to shoot an episode of a French reality show called “Dropping.” France is in mourning.

Ukraine has been quiet the last few days though today the Ukrainian military authorities are claiming that the rebels are using the truce to amass major weaponry.

Reaching critical mass is the cry for Hillary Clinton to say something about the email fiasco. She is expected to do so today. The right is digging its teeth into this, hoping, I expect, for another Benghazi moment. Some on the left are rising in support but most are just asking her to explain herself. Quickly, before it gets worse.

Wikipedia and the ACLU are suing the NSA over privacy concerns. Among the thousands of documents Edward Snowden leaked was one that showed the NSA was particularly targeting Wikipedia, among others, including CNN.com. Wikipedia joins a long list of corporations and foundations suing the NSA over their snooping. It will probably keep growing unless some come to court and receive rulings.

What is definitely growing is pressure on “Bibi” Netanyahu at home, facing elections. They promise to be extremely close. Some recent polls have shown him falling behind and he is claiming a worldwide effort to get him out of office. Commentators in Israel see him showing the stress.

Also facing pressure from a crumbling economy is President Maduro of Venezuela, who is facing the challenge by asking Parliament for extraordinary powers to face down “imperialism.”

Not looking very imperial today is the Euro, which has hit a twelve year low against the American dollar. It costs $1.08 to buy one Euro, a bargain for travelers but a challenge for businessmen attempting to sell their goods on the continent. The market is responding by diving lower.

And now it is time to close up for the day and head off to meet my friend Peter up by Columbia University. He suggested hot cocoa but it may actually be a day for iced tea.