Posts Tagged ‘Mars’

Letter from Claverack June 30th, 2017 Beginning the weekend of the 4th…

July 1, 2017

At some point, I decided this was the year I was going to get over my fear of grilling.  Last night, I grilled a steak using a Bobby Flay recipe.  And asparagus on the grill: c’est magnifique!  Put the spears in a plastic bag with olive oil, salt, pepper, a couple other spices and grilled them for three minutes on high.  I’m hooked.

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So today I went to the market and got boneless pork chops and was going to broil them about half an hour ago but thunder rattled the house and rain fell from the skies.  My mouth turned down.  However, the sun has returned and I am going to try it, pork chops on the grill.

It is Friday, June 30th, as I write, the beginning of the long 4th of July weekend.  As I ran an errand near the train station, I saw visitors piling off the train, bags in hand, being greeted by friends, relatives, lovers and others.  Zagat, today, sent an email which had an article about 8 reasons to take the drive to Hudson; all of them being restaurants.

You can read the article here.

As someone who is here most of the time now, I took a bit of umbrage with the list.  It included Grazin’, a diner restaurant with local beef and I will need to give it another try because when I was there, it wasn’t good and the wine was south of awful.

It included Fish & Game, which is, I’ve heard, a good restaurant and I haven’t been there because it opened with an attitude.  I’ve been around the carousel too many times to need attitude.  [Hey, once I had “my table” at Ma Maison in Los Angeles, which was cool while it lasted.]

It included, deservedly, Swoon Kitchen Bar.  I don’t go there often; my ex left me for one of the waiters there; that has weighed on me ever since but it is great.

It did not include, and I think it should have, my beloved Red Dot, which is one of the hubs of Hudson nor did it include Ca’Mea, which I think should have gotten a mention nor Vico, which has upped its game lately.

We are a food town.

And now, in a break in the rain, I did grill but not the pork chops I bought as most of the recipes for grilling told me I should brine the chops and that takes some time so I grilled some sausage and finished my asparagus.  Oh, so good.

Beyond my little world, it has been a bit mad.

Our President has created a twitter storm over his tweets about Mika Brzezinski’s “bleeding face lift.”

Even Paul Ryan found it too much.

Several news sources, including conservative ones, thought maybe he should have been in a meeting rather than tweeting.  But no, President Trump was tweeting and creating a painful moment for his party.

And, today, NASA had to issue a statement it was not operating a slave state on Mars; it was NOT sending children there to be body parts for future colonists, a claim made by a guest on “The Alex Jones Show,” which airs on 118 radio stations.  Alex Jones is most famous for claiming that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged and was interviewed by Megyn Kelly on her new NBC show, which isn’t doing so well.

As I sit here in my very hygge cottage, I am astounded by what is going on out there.  We have a President who seems devoted to Twitter attacks more than he is about governing and who, according to a variety of reports, starts his day at 6:30 AM speaking to lawyers about that pesky Russian matter.

And he is going to meet with Putin at the G 20 Conference and has been asking his advisors what he can offer Vladimir Putin.  What?

There are times I feel I am living in an alternative universe.  And I know I am not the only one.

So, doesn’t it make sense I want to conquer my fear of grilling?  That’s concrete in a world that seems spinning out of control.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter From Claverack 03/02/2017 From Saba to a Trump Speech…

March 3, 2017

It has been about ten days since I’ve written; I just went back and looked.  Last time, I was on Saba, writing when I wasn’t able to sleep.  Tonight, I am back at my dining room table, floodlights on, looking out over the creek, having just returned from Coyote Flaco with Pierre, sharing chicken fajitas.

When I reached the cottage this afternoon, I felt I’d been away for a week, at least.  Monday morning, I went down to DC for some meetings for the Miller Center on the Presidency and then to New York last night to have a wonderful dinner with my friends, David and Annette Fox.  It’s a quarterly event; we gather at their marvelous UWS apartment, order Indian and catch up on our lives.

It is very hygge.  As was the dinner party I gave last Friday night for Fayal Greene, her husband, David, Ginna and Don Moore, Lionel and Pierre.  Leek soup, sautéed scallops in a brown butter sauce, and carrots in a lemony oil garlic sauce, with a baked polenta to die for, followed by a flourless chocolate cake provided by Ginna and Don, via David the baker.

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It was an extraordinary evening.

And I, at least, need evenings like this to keep me sane in these extraordinary times.

On Tuesday evening, in Washington, after an early dinner with my friends Matthew and Anne, which followed drinks with my ex-partner and his now fiancé, I watched the address to Congress by our President, Donald Trump.

To the great relief of almost the entire world, he did not go off the rails and sounded presidential.  It was, Tuesday night, all about the delivery.  Wednesday morning people started to parse what he said.  Even the conservative writers that I read, and I do read some, found a lot of flaws with the speech.

Short on specifics.

Fact checkers found a lot of fault, pointing out Trump claimed as victories some things which had been in play for a year at some corporations.  Ford isn’t keeping production in the US because of Trump; they are pulling back on their Mexican plans because those plants would have built small cars and people aren’t buying them.  They’re buying gas guzzlers because gas is cheapish again.

When talking with David and Annette, I said that if Trump had not held it together last night, his presidency would have begun to unravel.  He would actually be President but, in reality, his claim to power would have begun collapsing.  Lots of people on his side of the aisle are slightly unhinged by his behavior.  McCain and Graham are frankly, I think, apoplectic.

And he held it together and while he should have been able to take a victory lap, Wednesday morning brought the revelation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had said in confirmation meetings he had not met with any Russians in the run-up to the election, actually had two meetings with the Russian Ambassador, one in his office on Capitol Hill.

Republicans are excusing while Democrats and some Republicans are accusing.

This is a wild ride and I’ve never seen anything like it.

Sessions has since recused himself from all investigations regarding anything Russian but there are those on both sides of the aisle who smell blood in the water.

While we were having political meltdowns, Amazon’s vaulted cloud computing world went offline yesterday for 4 hours and 17 minutes because of a typo in a command.  OOPS.

It’s a little scary.  150,000 websites were affected.  Amazon is the king of cloud storage and that’s a big oops for the King.  I would not have wanted to be the head of that division yesterday.

And, before Tuesday’s Trump speech, we had the foll der wall of the biggest Oscar mistake in history.  First “La La Land” was announced as Best Picture but it really was “Moonlight.”  Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were humiliated and PwC, the accountants, were more than humiliated.  They handed out a wrong envelope.

OOPS.

When it happened, I was safely in the arms of Morpheus, having strange dreams of Mike Bloomberg dating the pastor of my church, Mother Eileen.

Snap Inc. had a very successful opening on the market today; it was the biggest initial offering since Facebook and they have a rocky road to travel and they are a force to be reckoned with and it will be wonderful to see how it plays out.  The next Facebook? Or the next troubled tech company, which is where Twitter is today.

It’s time for me to say goodnight.

By hygge.  Regardless of your political persuasion, it will help us all get through.

 

 

 

Letter From Claverack 09 30 2016 Reaching for the stars and more…

October 1, 2016

Something like sixteen or seventeen years ago, my friends, Medora Heilbron and Meryl Marshall-Daniels, began having weekly phone calls to shore each other up as we were all in transition points in our careers.

That wonderful custom has continued to this day.  Almost every week, except when one of us is traveling, we have had calls, sharing the highs and lows, the concerns, the fears, the triumphs of our personal and professional lives.

Today, we had one of those calls.  When it was my turn to comment on my state of affairs, I burst out with, “I am verklempt!”

Yesterday evening, an email that should have come in on a project I am up for did not come as promised and, for reasons that are hard to explain, released what Winston Churchill called, “the black dog.”  Discouragement and depression.  I woke at three in the morning and read for three hours before falling back into a fitful sleep.

It has been amazing to me the number of times in the last couple of years that I have awakened with a sense of happiness. Today, it was all I could do to speak my usual morning affirmations.

After our phone call, always good for the spirits, I made a decision to do NOTHING today but work on my physic wounds and get back my equilibrium.  Three loads of laundry and tearing recipes out of the newest issue of “Food & Wine” was as ambitious as I got.

The day matched my mood; grey, hostile, chill and rainy.   Marcel, the dog I am caring for, and I curled up on the couch.  He napped, I read.

Now that the day has slipped into evening, I have to say “the black dog” and I seem to be getting distance from each other.  Largely because of the wonderful support group that is our weekly call.  Together we have laughed and cried.

It wasn’t until late in the afternoon when my spirits were beginning to lift that I even looked at the news of the day.  The sound of uplifting jazz plays in the background.  Happier than I have been all day, I am sipping a martini and typing.  Getting back to the happy Mat.

What did make me happy today was that Alabama’s Chief Justice, Roy Moore, was suspended for the rest of his term over his urging state officials to refuse to grant marriage licenses to same sex couples.  Interestingly, this is not the first time he has been kicked out of being Chief Justice.  Last time was his refusal to take down a statue of the Ten Commandments.

And I was both sad and happy that Rosetta, the first spacecraft to orbit a comet, did a belly flop onto the comet’s surface and went silent, leaving behind reams of data for scientists to parse.  He/it/she was a plucky fellow.  What do you call a spacecraft anyway?

Elon Musk wants to send people to Mars.  He is thinking of a million or so colonists over the next fifty to a hundred years.  He has envisioned a rocket to take them there.  And they should be prepared to die, he said.  It made me think of the first colonists who came from Europe to the Americas.  They had a hard time too.

The thought excites me.  More than likely, I will be gone by the time there is a first rocket to go but if I were here, I would volunteer.  Wow, what an adventure…

The New World captured the imagination of the Old World and millions upon millions poured into North and South America, looking for better lives, something different.

My father’s family came from Germany.  My mother’s from Sweden.  We are a nation of immigrants and we always seem to forget that.  I am not sure how we manage to forget that but we do.

Growing up Catholic in Minnesota was nothing like growing up Catholic somewhere else as I have learned in conversations with friends over the years.  My good friend Bill told me once that he wouldn’t have been allowed to know me where he grew up in rural Missouri.

So I look forward to a time when we go out and populate the planets and then the stars.  I think it’s in our blood to do that.

Letter From New York 12 17 14 Up to ourselves…

December 17, 2014

It is dark and drear here in the Hudson Valley. The temperature is relatively mild but seems much colder due to the damp. Across the creek, wisps of fog play through the barren tree branches. Almost all the snow has been wiped away by the steady days of rain.

After my morning coffee, I built a fire and put on jazzy Christmas music and sat down and wrote out my Christmas cards, taking them to the post office and sending them off on their way. It feels like a night to curl up with a good book but I won’t be doing that until later; I am off to the Red Dot tonight with friends for a mid-week get together.

While grey and drear in the Hudson Valley, it is peaceful in Claverack. I feel far from the madding crowd and am grateful that I am. I have one more trip into the city tomorrow for a Holiday party and then I’m here until the New Year begins. I’m looking forward to that.

It will be another extended respite from the world.

And that will be appreciated. It’s not all quiet out there in the world.

The Sony hacking situation seems to get worse, with violence threatened against theaters that show THE INTERVIEW. Most large theater chains are “suspending” their showings of the comedy. Warnings were given to stay away from theaters because there might be 9/11 style attacks.

JUST in from CNN is the news that Sony is canceling the December 25th release of the film due to the threats.

Current and former employees are suing the studio over the damage while they are scrambling to protect accounts by changing passwords as fast as their little fingers can type.

Other studios seemingly aren’t pleased with Sony and aren’t rushing to its defense. Is it every man for himself?

Helen had the face that launched a thousand ships. Sony has the picture that seems to be sinking a studio.

There are other exciting things happening that I will delighted to explore from the comfort of Claverack Cottage. The Rover has detected methane on Mars, one of the building blocks of life. What will Rover find next? I’m hoping that it is a Christmas discovery.

And I will bow my head today and say prayers for the children who were murdered in Pakistan. The country has declared three days of mourning post massacre and has called meetings of all political sides to deal with the Taliban threat. In the last decade, the Taliban, driven on by their absolute belief that they alone are right, have killed 50,000 Pakistanis.

Absolutism is hard to contradict and elusive to defeat.

Before leaving for the Red Dot, I will turn on my Christmas lights. North America burns brighter in December and January with all the Christmas decorations and the difference can be seen from space.

We are perhaps combating the psychological darkness with Holiday lights, defying the literal and figurative night with joyful decorations. I would like to think so; it has been a hard year for many and I know lots of people who would like to see 2014 disappear in the wake of their lives.

It’s not easy though. The end of the year is a marker but doesn’t magically change anything.

That we have to do ourselves.

Letter From New York, November 22, 2009

November 22, 2009

Or: As it seems to me…

The exciting news of the week, to me, was that water was found on the moon. To me, that was huge news and while it didn’t make banner headlines [which, by the way, to me, it should have] it was a momentous discovery. The fact it didn’t make banner headlines goes to show just how far down the news pecking order space has gone. Water on the moon? Not so long ago it was pretty much gospel that the moon was arid, not a drop to be had at all. Yet that’s not true. Water is not flowing in rivers but it’s captured in the soil.

Where did it come from? That’s the question I’m asking. How on earth is there water on the moon? Why aren’t the papers full of discourse and debate about how this has come to be? Water on the moon? And there’s water on Mars… just not a lot of talk about it and there should be. We’re talking about mysteries of the universe and the world press is more concerned about the outfit Blake Lively wore to some premiere than it is about the wild mysteries of the universe that should be being debated.

I was space nut kid. I created my own mission control in front of the television when there was a space launch. I hauled every futuristic piece of gear I could find in the house and made my own Houston. It lifted me up, excited me, and made me feel engaged not just in what was happening in that moment but in the fate of the human race. Space, to me, was already the final frontier before Star Trek claimed the phrase.

The exploration of space excited me as a child in the way I assume children were excited, entranced, intrigued by tales of the New World back in the day when it was being discovered. It gave everyone, from child to grandparent, a sense [I think] of wonder of what MORE there was to the world. Just as the idea of space exploration gave me, as a child, the sense of what MORE there was to the universe in which I lived.

Similarly, in the first part of the 20th Century, people became excited by other people accomplishing feats that stretched the concept of what man could do. Lindbergh became famous for flying the Atlantic solo for the first time. Amelia Earhart catapulted to fame for being the first woman to do the same. Adventurers became heroes because they expanded our concept of our abilities as humans.

We live, it seems, in a time of diminished expectations. We do amazing things – just this week, men walked in space while working on the International Space Station. Certainly not the first time a man has walked in space but none the less amazing, no less so because it’s not the first time. The fact we do it is amazing. It’s something that should take up a bit more space in the public consciousness than the dress worn by a television star.

There are many amazing things happening, in space and on earth though we seem to discount them, make them small while aggrandizing the trivial – like the exploits of our favorite television and film stars. I don’t really care that we do [well, okay, I find it a bit annoying and overblown] but I do really care that we give such short shrift to the amazing things that are happening every day – things that are steps in changing the way we live forever.

I can’t use a solar powered calculator without remembering it’s a by-product of the space program, as are so many things we use in daily life. Up there in space, as well as down here on earth, men and women are slowly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and showing us the way to do things differently, better.

Robert Browning’s quote: “Ah but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for…” has been used by me before. It’s very true and is part of the essence of man, to reach to do more, something man has been doing since he emerged from the primordial soup. We can’t help ourselves so let’s do more celebrating of it.