The weather veered from rain to sleet to snow and back again so many times today I lost count. At the moment we are south of the rain/ice line, but that will change since the temp is supposed to go below freezing soon.
So here is a list of what I’m thankful for:
- My dear husband, Larry Riley, who puts up with my craziness and offers support when I’m freaking about work and other crises.
- My family – Anna, Ash, Kathryn. Unlike many folks, I not only love my family, I like them, too.
- Larry’s family. If I list them all, I’ll crash the blog.
- The members of the veterans’ writing group, “We Were There,” and Christy Billings, my colleague on the project. I’ve learned so much from the guys and have shared laughter and a few tears (mine).
- My friend Marcia Baird for allowing me to be part of her beautiful wedding this summer.
- My cherished friends Thelma, Betsy, Lucey, Linda, Wendy.
- The mostly fabulous weather we’ve had this fall, which has allowed me to take long, long walks to clear my head.
- My excellent health, which has also allowed me to take long walks.
- Elizabeth Normen, for asking me to contribute to African American Connecticut Explored.
- The various people and organizations that have offered me a chance to speak about my passions during the past year: American Association of University Women, Godfrey Memorial Library, the Mark Twain House (stay tuned for an update on another presentation), Bill Foster and the staff at Naugatuck Valley Community College, and Connie Gillies and the women of St. Theresa’s Guild at St. Sebastian’s Church.
- The beautiful experience of meeting Bernie Siegel.
Thank you, everyone.
I’m heartsick about the grand jury decision in Michael Brown’s killing, though not in the least surprised, so I’ll turn my attention to the story of another murder: Serial tells the story of the strangulation death of teenager Hae Lee Min in 1999 in Baltimore. The police charged her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, who was convicted and is serving a life sentence. But maybe he didn’t do it…
Sarah Koenig, who contributes fabulous stories to This American Life, is putting together and broadcasting a review of the case – pointing out holes in the state’s case and discrepancies in Adnan’s. She interviewed several people who have never told their stories before, probed the validity of cell-tower records, re-created the route that Adnan and his supposed friend may have taken before and after the time investigators say Hae died.
The podcast has become the most downloaded on iTunes. Vogue called it “At once a throwback to the serialized radio broadcasts of the thirties and a relative of our contemporary TV epics…” It is far more than that.
Here’s an unsatisfying interview of Sarah by Slate’s Mike Pesca, which is interesting for the “meta” view of the layers that make the podcast so fascinating. It starts at about 12 minutes in.
Of course there’s been a backlash – and a backlash over the backlash of “white reporter privilege.” All major parties to this case are American, but many are hyphenated: Hae’s family came from Korea, Adnan’s from Pakistan. Jay Wilds, Adnan’s drug dealer buddy and as the action opens accessory-after-the-fact, has ancestors who came from Africa. Jay’s friend, Jennifer Pusateri, who implicates Adnan, by her photo, is the white minority in this saga.
I’m withholding judgment on the question of white privilege and retiring to listen to episodes seven, eight, and nine.
Confusion has reigned since last Wednesday. I went to do a presentation at the church next door to the library where I conduct the veterans’ writing workshop on Thursday. So all day Thursday, I thought it was Friday. Then Thursday night, I went to coaches’ association awards banquet honoring Deb. So Friday felt like … the weekend.
I did the usual on Friday, working through the afternoon, so it felt more or less normal, except I kept feeling it should be Saturday. The real Saturday was a work day with cleaning, a walk, and other chores sandwiched in. So it felt like a weekday. Saturday evening I caught a bit of a respite going to see my nephew, Tony Petruzzello, in A Christmas Carol at Middletown High School. Congratulations, Tony!
Sunday I did the usual prep for the week, plus some paperwork for a couple of my pet projects. And more work, which meant it still felt like a weekday except for the Sunday NYTimes sitting pristine on the floor of my office.
Today, Monday, I did my usual with one big exception. The veterans’ group met tonight because, well, Thursday is Thanksgiving. So right now it feels like tomorrow should be Friday.
I’m in a “Who’s on First?” routine only it’s “What Happened to Thursday?”
The universe has converged in such a way that I will be working this weekend to complete a project by the end of the month.
Here’s a link to Salon, retracing Stephen Colbert’s Amazon evolution. I didn’t realize the war started long before the Hachette skirmish. Some episodes load slower than molasses in Buffalo, and “scorched earth” never did. If you only choose one segment, watch author and bookstore owner Ann Patchett shut him down, not once but twice.
All hail independent bookstores and their patrons!
This post goes out to my sister-in-law Deb Petruzzello, who has been inducted in the Connecticut High School Coaches Association. Add this honor to a bunch of others including awards for excellence in service to family and humanity, education awards, and the naming of the track at the middle school after her.
Congratulations, Deb! I’m so proud to be part of your fabulous evening.
This post is a quick hit because I had a presentation tonight. Here’s a link to Poynter‘s update: “Uber’s plan to completely alienate the news media is going well.” The only comment I object to is the one about the Germans. Stupidity/evil knows no limits.
The threats to journalists continue, this time from the world of tech. The incident started on Friday when an Uber exec said he thought the company ought to do “oppo” research on journalists “and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company, per Buzzfeed.
According to Poynter exec Emil Michael tried to apologize but then hung up when she refused to speak off the record. He did post a seemingly unqualified apology on Twitter, except that he called her Sarah Cuda. But as Sarah Lacy points out, this assault is merely the latest salvo. CEO Travis Kalanick had previously said he intended to use political researchers to “throw mud.” Is Uber so insecure that it can’t rest on the strength of its business model? Doesn’t it have enough money to hire people who can keep the execs on a leash?
Kalanick’s response to the controversy was met with derision because it was four days in coming and because with each subsequent tweet, he kept trying to deflect the conversation away from Michael.
The leadership of a popular and growing company exhibiting this type of bunker mentality shows that they don’t “get it.” Refusing to return calls, emails, etc., and hanging up on reporters is not the way to proceed. This follows the head-blind ads in France with nearly naked female “drivers,” among other tone-deaf adventures.
As to the journalists’ perspective, Poytner’s Andrew Beaujon raises a good point about what sort of dirt one could find on most journalists. He mentions Cayman Island bank account. I’m thinking more on the order of a raft of unpaid bills and parking tickets for anyone who functions in a metro area.
I tried to book an Uber ride when I was in NYC. So glad it didn’t work. Next time, I’ll choose Lyft, which has a much better reputation.
Thank you to my Facebook friend Richard Baldi for the following quote from “The Recycled Catholic”:
A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you. Look for them, they’ll appear.
My father put up bird feeders every winter and mostly succeeded in keeping away marauding squirrels and cats on safari. His favorite visitors were always the cardinals, which appeared in late fall and stood out against the grays and browns of the trees – and later against the white of the snow. I think he had some particular seeds that they liked and that suited their little curved beaks.
Some time later I was driving an elderly lady to church. I sent her a Christmas card one year that had a cardinal perched on an evergreen branch, something like the one above but with longer needles and no cones. I think I wrote, “When this bird you see/I hope that you will think of me” or words to that effect. My handwriting looked a bit odd, but I attributed it to fatigue. The lady called a few days after Christmas, all excited. She said she loved “the red bird” because it meant that her friend who had made the transition (she never said “died”) was nearby and thinking of her. She was convinced that I had channeled the friend.
Now when I see cardinals in this yard and on my walks, I think of my father and then I think of Vera. It’s comforting to know that they have a way to say, “Hello.”
Picking up from my review of the last six months:
- Legendary Locals (“My Brag”) has caused a stir.
- The assault on journalists (“Frozen, Not Chilled“) continues and expands. The latest outrage is perpetrated by American law enforcement. See “CPJ condemns FBI agent posing as AP journalist in criminal investigation.”
- Louie Zamperini remains a central focus of my life. I talk about Unbroken and Louie’s life on radio, to various organizations. The veterans’ writing group is eagerly anticipating the arrival of the movie next month.
- I am still basking in the glow of being a part of Marcia and Susan’s magical wedding. (“Denver Day 1” and subsequent entries.)
- And a backtrack, which gives me another chance to promote my friend Wendy Black Nasta’s fabulous work. I went to her semi-annual jewelry sale tonight and met the woman who had asked permission to use words from “Meeting the Ancestors.” And I met one of the eye doctors who went on the trip last summer. She did exams on EIGHT HUNDRED people and was so modest about her role. I came home inspired to spend way more time doing Reiki at the hospital. So thrilled for the success of the venture — and for the beauty of her jewelry.
Word arrived this afternoon that Hachette and Amazon have settled their differences. Amazon will restore the normal buttons to Hachette books over the next few weeks and will resume normal shipping. Most important, Hachette will decide the price of its authors’ ebooks. The company “will benefit from better terms when it delivers lower prices for readers,” according to the Guardian.
It is a relief that this dispute is winding down. It won’t be over until the beginning of 2015 when the new agreement takes effect.
The larger concern remains, however. As I mentioned in “Hachette vs. Amazon, Encore,” Amazon has created a climate of distaste, if not aversion. It has given me great pleasure to buy books from the local retailers and to order items from other etailers. I’ll probably return to the ebehemoth at some point but will always look elsewhere first.
The great benefit is that authors who operate autonomously found a cooperative voice, outside of a union setting (which I also heartily endorse). To use an analogy that arises in connection with independent operators, organizing writers is like herding cats. Amazon succeed in creating a pride of lions, which included cheetahs, tigers, leopards, and a few mild-mannered house cats. Don’t know if the pride will continue to prowl in defense of writers, but just the knowledge that it happened is empowering.