Celebrity Death Watch: Two writers died. Barbara Mertz wrote mysteries under the name Barbara Peters. Elmore Leonard wrote thrillers, with Get Shorty probably the best known. George "Boomer" Scott played for the Red Sox. Eydie Gorme blamed it on the bossa nova.
I particularly want to highlight Tuvan throat singer, Kongar-ol Ondar. His album, Back Tuva Future is thoroughly addictive and I was privileged to see him perform at the Naadam Festival in Kyzyl in 2000.
The most interesting tidbit seen in a recent obituary was for Ali Maow Maalin, a Somali health worker, who was apparently the last person to have survived a naturally acquired case of smallpox.
Non-celebrity Deaths: I only met Mike Cordelli once or twice, but he was a valuable voice on Flyertalk. Another on-line connection (who I met once) was Jim Lawrence of Jim’s Journal who apparently died suddenly during the swimming portion of a triathlon. (I have read, by the way, that this is not particularly unusual and that doctors don’t entirely understand why.) Finally, Don Keenan died less suddenly. His widow, Trudy, is one of my most valued mentors, and I often had dinner with Don and Trudy while on business trips to Albuquerque.
Carolina Que Do: I spent last weekend in Charlotte for a Flyertalk event that was sort of focused on barbecue. We started with a few of us going to the Carolinas Aviation Museum, the main feature of which is the "Miracle on the Hudson" plane (i.e. US 1549), which Captain "Sully" Sullenberger safely landed in the Hudson after a bird strike. There is a lot of detail about the incident, including things like luggage donated by survivors. Another highlight was a docent grilling our group about commercial aviation in general.
We had lunch at Sauceman’s and dinner at Bill Spoon’s. The former was significantly better, in my opinion. I thought the food at Bill Spoon’s was rather bland, though I did appreciate that they let me order a child-size portion of the fried flounder. Also, Sauceman’s had red slaw, which is essentially a vinegary coleslaw with barbecue sauce added. This is a good thing for those of us who prefer vinegar to mayonnaise.
By the way, both of my flights went smoothly and were on time. However, I had trouble getting to my hotel every single time I drove there. I could see where I needed to go, but there was a lot of construction so the roads didn’t quite match up to where they were supposed to. I’ll note that the Courtyard by Marriott could have had better soundproofing, but that is not exactly surprising for an airport hotel.
I should also mention that US Airways has an on-board offer for their credit card which gets you 40,000 miles, instead of the 35,000 they offer on-line. That’s after the initial purchase, with no minimum purchase. And, if you return the application to a flight attendant, you get an extra 500 miles even if the application is not accepted.
Atonement: Speakeasy DC did a storytelling show last night at the Jewish Community Center on the theme Atonement: Stories About Confession, Redemption and Making Amends. Amy Saidman opened with a brief story about a possible car accident. The story was reasonably on theme and entertaining enough, though it could have used a stronger ending. Endings are a common problem with personal stories and, in many of them, I’d have liked to see that the teller actually learned something. Mike Kern’s piece about being a lifeguard was the strongest of the night, though it really had to do with someone else’s atonement, not his own. Geraldine Buckley also did a very good job, but I had heard her story about her father before and know it was greatly condensed to fit its time slot and that was not to its advantage. Overall, I felt that the stories tended to emphasize the confession aspect too much and the transformational aspect of atonement too little.
I have one other note, which probably does not affect normal people. Adam Ruben’s story involved a Scrabble tournament. If you rattle off a bunch of letters in front of someone like me, I will be distracted by anagramming them in my head and miss at least the next several seconds of what you are saying. I’m not sure how to get around this problem, however.
Civil Disobedience: All the discussion of Manning and Snowden and so on reminds me to mention something that has bugged me for a long time. Namely, civil disobedience includes accepting the punishment for one’s violations of laws. People like Gandhi and Martin Luther King didn’t whine that they shouldn’t get jail time because they had people’s best interests at heart.
Eat, Pray , Love: I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book recently. While her particular path is far from mine, all three of these are areas in my life I am dissatisfied with right now and planning to work on a bit in the next year. But that deserves its own entry.