Posts Tagged ‘Brian Gallagher’

Letter From New York 11 30 15 Stepping up to hope…

November 30, 2015

Brian Gallagher.  Joe Boardman.  Amtrak. Hudson River. West Point. X-tra Mart murder.  IS.  COP21. Climate Change Conference. Producer’s Guild of America.“Tut” SpikeTV. Christ Church.  Hope.

It’s a grey day, chill and gloomy.  The train is crawling south toward the city.  In front of me is Brian Gallagher, who is the sidekick of Joe Boardman, President of Amtrak, who is sitting across from him.  Brian is by way of being a friend and  I went up to say hello to Brian when I saw him, realized that Boardman was across from him and said hello to him too.  He seems a very shy man, something Brian is not.  Perhaps that’s why they seem to make a good team.

The Hudson River is smooth as a mirror, reflecting the muted colors on the banks above it.

With me I am carrying twenty pounds of textbooks from which I must choose the one I will use in the class I will be teaching at our local community college near the cottage.  It’s challenging and I have to make the plunge by Friday.

That said, I’m excited about teaching the class. 

Waking up around seven, I almost immediately plunged into emails and got lost in them.  Before I drove to the train station, I organized all the Christmas presents I’ve purchased during the year in piles for the person for which they are intended.  With Christmas carols playing, I found myself in a festive mood.

Which is the mood in which I intend to stay.

It was, as you know, a harsh weekend out there.  Our local tragedy was that a woman, working at the X-tra Mart not far from my local grocery store, allegedly went into the restroom, gave birth to a baby boy, strangled him and disposed of his body in a trash bin outside the store and then returned to work.

She is currently in the hospital receiving a mental evaluation.

As is the man who shot dead three in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

We’re all a little crazy.  I think it is part of the human condition but these folks are really crazy, in tragic ways.

Crazy zealous are the members of IS, who, I think, honestly believe they are doing what God wants of them.  How you believe in such a crazy God is another question, but they do.

On a brighter note, COP21, the Climate Change Conference, has begun meetings in Paris.  Out of this might come good news, of nations agreeing to work together to cool the planet, which was warmer last year than any other year in recorded history.

That’s important to remember that we’re talking about “recorded history.”  The planet has gone through much colder and warmer times. 

As I am a member of the Producer’s Guild of America, I get screening copies of movies and television shows to watch for judging purposes.  One of them I got was “Tut,” the massive SpikeTV mini-series.  As I was watching, it occurred to me that it is amazing how humans seemed to make a leap toward civilization about 10,000 years ago and haven’t looked back.

The time we have wandered the planet as beings you and I would recognize, has been an incredibly short amount of time.

As I am choosing to be joyous, nature has chosen to support me with a burst of sunshine.  We have just sped past West Point and the sun is glittering off the river water.

Every Sunday that I go to Christ Church, I light a candle for myself, for a friend who is struggling with brain cancer and one for all the things I should be lighting a candle for, like world peace and the eradication of poverty.

I’m older now than I have ever been and will only continue down that path and as age piles upon me [with attendant wisdom, one hopes] I will continue to seek to be grateful for all the wonders of the world, those which I have experienced and the ones which lie ahead of me.

Letter From New York 07 13 15 Thoughts while traveling south by train to New York City…

July 13, 2015

The ride on Amtrak from Hudson to New York is one of the most beautiful train rides in the country, if not the world. There are a couple of bad patches like the gravel pit that seems to go on for quite a while and there is the passage by Sing Sing Prison, ominous, concrete and barbed wire. But 90% of the ride is astounding. Right now I am passing gently rolling hills that look much as they must have when Henry Hudson sailed the river centuries ago.

Opting to come in on a post noon train, I sat on the deck this morning with coffee in hand, listening to the birds sing and reading the New York Times. It was quiet, peaceful and soul soothing.

The markets have bounced up on having a deal with Greece in sight, despite the wariness of some European governments about the sincerity of the Greeks in keeping promises they’re making. There is a long road to go because this is just an agreement to negotiate. But, as someone once said to me, something is always better than nothing.

The Greek banks are still closed and cash is very, very short.

Scott Walker of Wisconsin surprised no one by announcing he is running for the Republican nomination for the Presidency. Donald Trump still holds the lead in the polls for the Republican pack.

Chapo Guzman, “El Chapo,” escaped yesterday from a prison in Mexico. A nearly mile long tunnel was dug to his shower in his cell. Slipping in to the shower, he stepped into the tunnel and is now on the run. This is his second escape from a maximum-security prison. Last time he stayed free for thirteen years. There is, of course, a manhunt on but his escape has made Mexicans more cynical, and more distrusting of their officials. Bribery and/or intimidation are suspected factors in the escape. “El Chapo” has an estimated worth of $ 1 billion.

We have just glided by Indian Point, the nuclear reactor that sits on the Hudson River. Always controversial, its detractors want it closed. A couple of recent incidents have made people nervous.

Brian Gallagher is on the train with me. He’s the right hand of Joe Boardman, who is the President of Amtrak. Brian and I chat regularly about our favorite long distance routes. I need to go to Minneapolis this summer for my annual familial visit and I am probably going to take the train one way. I love the sense of traveling that trains provide, of moving through space on your way to a place.

Right now, as I move south, I also wish there was a boat that sailed from New York and put in at Hudson for a stop. I would love to make the trip by water, also a great way of having a sense of traveling.

While I am moving down the Hudson Valley, in Vienna there are more last minute efforts to hammer out an Iranian nuclear deal despite rumors that an announcement would be made today that there was a deal in place. Perhaps not until later this week, if it happens at all.

The Iraqis are planning on an offensive to take back its largest province, Anbar, from IS.

The President of Nigeria has fired all the heads of his armed forces and will replace them. It has been expected. The chaps fired were the ones who didn’t make any progress against Boko Haram. Now that Boko Haram has lost much of its territory, Nigeria having had help from Chad and Cameroon, it has stepped up suicide attacks.

For those whose day is not complete without a bit of royal update, Prince William launched his career today as an air ambulance pilot.

Right this minute, I am south of Croton Harmon, with a stunning river view. West Point slipped by on the far shore not long ago.

Once in town, I am meeting a friend and then we are joining a third friend for our quarterly Indian dinner, tonight at Pipalli, on 29th near Lexington, in the heart of “Curry Hill.” Nick, David and I have been doing this for three or four years, always a good chance to get caught up and have a martini, our official drink.

Tomorrow, I will let you know how it is.

Letter From New York 01 20 15 Having a good visit…

February 20, 2015

Train travel has been unpredictable today so to ensure that I am up in Hudson for dinner with my good friend, Paul Krich, I have moved my train up to the 3:15 Empire Service so that I will actually arrive in time for dinner.

I am sitting in the Acela Lounge in Penn Station waiting for my train, hoping that another of my very good friends, Robert Murray, will be making the journey with me. He needs to get home in time for a Soccer League Board Meeting. Always good company, his presence would be a boost but he might not make it until the 4:40. Last night we had dinner and drinks at Thai Market, having a good visit or, as my Australian friends would say, a good “chin wag.”

Waking this morning, it was blistering cold in New York with wind chills of minus eleven. And the heat didn’t seem to be working well last night so it was cold inside and out. I huddled under the covers, reading the Times and drinking coffee, took a long, hot shower and went out to brave the world.

When I reached Penn Station, I treated myself to a bowl of New England Clam Chowder and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc at Tracks Restaurant on the lower level and then came up to wait for my train.

In the background, CNN is on the television. They are reporting on three British schoolgirls who have apparently flown to Istanbul with the intention of crossing into Syria to join IS. Their parents are understandably frantic.

My heart goes out to them. I cannot imagine what it would feel like to wake up and find that your daughter has gone off to join IS.

IS has made an art form of their murders and have gained huge attention to them. Also very real is that everyday many are dying from barrel bombs being dropped by the Syrian Air Force, wretched weapons designed to do maximum civilian damage. But they have not gotten the attention that IS has gotten with its gruesome videos. Yesterday, I said they were clever with their messaging.

In breaking news, it appears the Eurozone has come to some sort of agreement with Greece, which is good news for everyone – until we lurch into the next Greek crisis. It may be a case of kicking the can down the road. I haven’t seen any details yet.

Yesterday, Rudy Giuliani declared that Obama doesn’t love America. It has become a bit of a case of “open mouth, insert foot.” Reactions have not been very good though Gov. Jindahl of Louisiana agrees, sort of.

Speaking of Obama, he was at the winter meeting of the Democratic Party, both mocking and criticizing Republicans, being relentlessly upbeat and energizing his party.

In Libya, 45 were killed in IS bombings. In Somalia, some government officials died while saying their prayers, killed by suicide bombers. More Muslims killing other Muslims.

Closer to home, the former First Lady of Virginia, Maureen McDonnell, was sentenced to twelve months and one day in jail. Her husband, the former Governor, was sentenced to more time than she was.

Brian Williams has resigned from the Board of the Medal of Honor Foundation and is not allowed to make public appearances during his suspension, confirmed by Bob Wright, former Chairman of NBCUniversal and close friend of Williams. A poll has indicated 52% of Americans think he should be given another chance while 40% think he should be canned.

Jeb Bush has hired a top-notch researcher, firming up convictions he is running for President.

SIM card maker, Gemalto, largest in the world has announced its SIM cards were hacked by US and UK intelligence services, a fact revealed in the mounds of documents that surfaced from Snowden. Gemalto wants some answers, not surprisingly.

Riding the train with me tonight is Brian Gallagher, the number 2 man at Amtrak. A gruff, blunt and honest man, I knew him from riding the Empire Corridor for a long time before I knew he was the number 2.

I suspect the train will arrive on time.