Storm Talk

Bombogenesis? Snopocolypse?    Snomageddon?
Bombogenesis?  Snopocolypse?    Snomageddon?

The bombogenesis (who comes up with this stuff?) bombed in central Connecticut. But at 7:30 p.m., it’s still delivering fierce snow and wind to our neighbors to the north and east. We’re still getting impressive wind gusts, along with a little snow. It’s been snowing on and off for nearly thirty-six hours!

I didn’t take any photos, so this one is from a couple of years ago.

The governor lifted the travel ban at 2 p.m., but no one I knew ventured out on the roads. It looked as though our street, which is usually kept pretty clean, still has several layers before pavement appears. Since temps are predicted to drop to about 10, it could be a skating rink.

People shouldn’t be angry with the New York officials who shut down public transportation and closed roads. The storm tracked just a few miles east of NYC.  As of 6 p.m. Suffolk County had about two feet and climbing. Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts will be digging out for days. Better to have people stuck at home than stuck on the road or slammed up against a utility pole.

Here’s my favorite story of the day, courtesy of Slate. The photo is classic: lines at an upscale NYC store with every woman wearing the same black coat (of varying lengths) and black pants. I didn’t know there was a uniform for Whole Foods shopping.

In the body of the story I love: “one of the snowiest snow storms…” “Obviously, if people really were afraid of going hungry, they’d be stocking up on batteries and cans of beans and would skip the baby arugula.”

Part of the problem is that grocery stores contribute to the panic by sponsoring the weather when storms threaten. During my usual Sunday morning foray to buy a newspaper, there were far more people with way more food in their carts.

I don’t understand the logic of buying milk before a storm. If the power goes out, it would have to be stored in a snow bank and could well freeze. In summer, it would no doubt spoil. On which subject, Larry went to the store at about 7 p.m. and returned with the announcement that there was no milk to be found.

I remember a fellow newsperson who grew up in the South said, “Y’all are different. When a storm threatens, you go to the grocery store. We go to the liquor store.”

Despite his flip tone, Daniel Engber has a serious message: We food shop for a one-day storm but can’t wrap our minds around climate change enough to make even small steps.

What I’m Reading Now


Another in an occasional series and part two of A Man From Ohio. This time I promised myself I’d slow down and take notes with the result that I have only just crossed the one-hundred-page mark. It’s been pure pleasure. Ed’s use of language is captivating: “I stole about campus like a cat.” “… walking on a wooded path through the placid budding glory of a campus spring…” He writes about seeking to achieve the perfect balance of literature. It appears that he is succeeding.

Ed offers fabulous advice about public speaking, from E.M. Forster’s advice, which was new to me, “Only connect.”

So far the most powerful exchange occurs between his Jewish-German friend Gunther, with whom he has reconnected. It’s amazing how a few words can open someone’s eyes and revealed Ed’s unconscious bias.

[Gunther] startled me. “Riot about Negro not so different from Nazis and Jews. Nazis boot Jews right in streets.”

“Completely different,” I flared, we don’t have camps.”

“No camps, same hate, race hate.”

This sort of thing should be a lesson for us all. Only someone who has undergone that sort of transformation can write with insight about the situation in this country.

Last night, as I was feeling a bit low, I enjoyed the descriptions of Ed’s travel about the British Isles where he spoke to Rotary Clubs, who financed his education at Oxford. His friends’ great fun with those travels lightened my evening.

Thank you, again, Ed.

What I’m Reading Now


I wrote this entry in January 2014 and am reviving it because it was swallowed in the great Blue meltdown. A review of Volume Two will follow.

Another in an occasional series. And another in which I’ve finished the book. In this case I had intended to sit with notepad and pen, taking copious notes so I could provide a detailed analysis. Instead I spent several enjoyable evenings (before and after the holiday rush) immersed in an autobiography that captures life as the Great Depression plagued America and challenged people to rally every bit of diligence and endurance and mutual support that was possible. Having survived that dreadful era, these same people were plunged into a war that put enemies to the east and west, as it drew in generations of men to fight the Axis powers.

So, I come now to praise my friend Ed Clark’s A Man From Ohio. We’ve known each other for thirty years, since he arranged for my mother to receive the first of her honorary doctorates from Suffolk University, where he taught. I wrote about him in At Home Inside: A Daughter’s Tribute to Ann Petry because I was fascinated that a white man from Middle America had been the person to start the Collection of African American Literature.

I can’t find a web link, but here’s what Ed says when he places the order for books: “The Collection … consists of works by about 1,325 black American writers from the beginning in the 18th century to the present, along with related works by writers of all races, with about 5,650 works.” The collection emphasizes works by and about black writers associated with New England and has offered me an education in literature far better than anything I learned in any college course.

The 370-page Man From Ohio opens with accounts of his family. It closes as a young Ed is about to return to the United States, having served as a member of the U.S. Army 78th Infantry Lightning Division.

Throughout, I could see the seedlings of the man I know: his love of words, his growing sensitivity to the differences among people, his curiosity about what makes the world tick.

What struck me most was the evidence Ed’s passion – for sports as a youth, for journalism and later for literature, for people (especially beautiful women) and for his friends, most especially for the friendship of Günter Krüger, the young Jewish German man he met in Berlin during the Occupation.

Ed, you exemplify “the Greatest Generation.” Thank you for sharing the story of your life with us. I look forward to the next volume.

More Banished Words


Lake Superior State University made its selection of banished words, which I blogged about earlier this month. Thank you to Christy Billings, my partner at the veterans’ writing workshop, for finding the History of Banishment.

The effort has been only moderately successful. The words for 2010 included “shovel ready,” “tweet,” “czar,” and “friend” as a verb.

Here are a few of my choices, with business speak crimes leading. For these purposes, words include phrases.

  • brand, except when referring to cattle
  • team unless it’s a sports reference
  • metrics, limit this one to meters in poetry
  • price point, drop the point
  • seriously when one is being sarcastic, especially if followed by a question mark
  • illegal alien unless the creature arrived by UFO and was accompanied by a sick bird

Punctured Day

This ring was round until yesterday.
Round until yesterday.

Yesterday was beautiful until about 5 p.m. My Reiki volunteer service was especially fulfilling and ended with a meditation with Hospice volunteers, the nonpareil group at the hospital.

I was gathering thoughts and figuring out what to write here when   Larry arrived home. He had gauze, tape,  bandages, and I don’t know what all else plastered all over his hands and arms. He said a dog had bitten him but that he was OK. He went upstairs. I went up a bit later and found him in the bathroom, sink filled with huge splotches of blood, tape and gauze and bandages everywhere.

I mentioned the doctor. He said no. I helped him retape some of the gauze and bandages and cleaned the sink. A bit later, I found more tape and bandages and blood. Following the second cleanup I said, “We need to go to the doctor.” It was after six, so most places closed. I don’t get the concept that illnesses keep a workday schedule. Much searching for a nearby urgent care clinic, nothing appeared within a twenty-mile radius. He still didn’t want to go to the hospital, but I threatened. I won’t say exactly what, but it involved family. We made our way to the E.D.

We agreed that the three-hour experience was surprisingly pleasant. The doctor said that “we” made absolutely the right decision to come in. They checked the vitals. Then began the rather long process of patching the wounds with small pieces of adhesive that the Patient Care Technician  said would dissolve on their own. No stitches because they want to leave spaces so air can help with the healing and minimize the chances of infection.

The tech was a veteran, so he and Larry bonded over military experiences – trying to dis women the process. I won. Best line of the evening from the RN, also a woman, came after the PCT called her “Ma’am”: “Don’t call me Ma’am. I work for a living.”

One of Larry’s veteran buddies showed up and sat with us. We still don’t know how he found us but he was a fabulous support.

Now we wait for the healing and for the swelling in his fingers to go down so we can get the rings fixed. I can’t get a really good shot of his wedding ring, which has teeth marks in it.

Best reaction to his ailments came from his sister who said, “Oh, the poor dog.”

How Far Have We Come?

Slate has a fascinating update on the ins and outs of the girls in the famous Little Rock photo.

Here’s a current image from the neighbor upstairs.


We do have a black president, and many more African Americans have access to education, employment, health care and other necessities. I’m still dismayed when I walk into an airport or a hotel and see that the employees of color are waiting on people, cleaning the restrooms, and carrying bags while the managers are white.

Also from Slate, celebrating Robert E. Lee, the denier of equality for African Americans, on MLK’s birthday.


There was absolutely no coverage in any of the main stories on the Hartford Courant website as of 6 p.m., but Google put Dr. King’s image in the middle of the “oo.”



It’s time to have fun with errors. Every year Craig Silverman at Poynter compiles the worst (or best) errors of the year. Past years have included the awful: misidentifying the Newtown shooter, reporting U.S. Representative’s Gabrielle Giffords’ death. This year of course the top of the list belongs to Rolling Stone for the campus rape story. The fallout from that one will continue for years.

The top prize for 2014 corrections goes, as it often does, to the NYTimes. I won’t repeat the correction here, but I love that it combined Kimye, butts, and a radio station with the supposed call letters of WGYN. Wow! Can’t believe all the editors who check copy didn’t catch that. Oh, wait, maybe the Times has joined the rest of the world and fired all the copy editors.

There’s also a big hint in the runner up correction from the British Sun about how London Bridge is falling down. Anyone who knows Arizona would be alerted that turning the area into a “centre for drug tourism” is not going to happen. If the bridge resided in Colorado, Washington, or even California, then the error might have been harder to spot.

A few of my favorites from Silverman’s favorites, chosen because one is left wondering about the rest of the article.

  • From the WaPo: “An earlier version of this story erroneously said that Joaquín Guzmán was found in bed with his secretary. He was found with his wife. This version has been corrected.”
  • From Slate: “This post originally quoted photographer Tom Sanders as saying it takes him five years to get on the dance floor. It takes him five beers.”
  • From NPR: “An earlier version of this story said that the methane emissions associated with livestock come from their farts. In fact, most of those methane emissions come from belches.”

Sunday Routine


The Metro Section of the NYTimes runs a “Sunday Routine” column in which it describes how some artist, politician, or sports figure spends the day. Here is my Sunday Routine.

Arise at 8 a.m. or so and go to Stop & Shop for the Times. I used to walk but don’t like the lack of sidewalk and shoulder on the last hill. If there’s a need, I’ll buy odds and ends and sometimes pick up a breakfast treat: nova to go with bagels, or a bialy. Rarely do I engage in serious shopping.

Back home, I’ll put in a load of laundry and make coffee. Sit with the paper until 10 a.m. and then turn on Car Talk reruns, munch on breakfast, and do the daily Sudoku puzzle. During the two hours of Car Talk and Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, I’ll finish up any chores that didn’t get done on Saturday.

If the weather is good, I’ll take my walk and then read more of the paper, chat on the phone with friends, write a letter or two. Yes, I still use snail mail.

Depending on what’s in the refrigerator, I’ll cook something. Last week it was Gumbo Z’Herbes, which is the vegetarian gumbo normally eaten on Good Friday but which tastes excellent any time of year. With the chopping and roux stirring, that process took up most of the afternoon.

Unless there’s something pressing, I’ll engage in my hobby, chasing down information about a friend’s family or adding to my own genealogy.

Usually around 4 p.m. as I’m listening to podcasts – This American Life, On the Media, The Moth, or TED Radio, I’ll start to organize the week, figure out what emails need sending, what writing projects need more work. If I haven’t walked, then I’ll get on the exercise bike and do some stretches afterward.

Except for a treat for breakfast, meals are pickup: soup or a veggie burger for lunch, followed by fruit and cheese. Dinner will be whatever I cooked or a selection from the stash in the freezer, maybe with fruit afterward.

Evening usually brings more NYTimes. I try to read at least the sections devoted to business, real estate, “Review,” main news, and “local” (which features one measly restaurant review and one art or theater review for Connecticut.) I succeed about half the time.

Often Sunday night includes a chat with my cousin Anna in Colorado and sometimes with my friend Betsy in Ohio. It’s still a night when I feel depressed so I’ll cheer myself before bed by reading something thoroughly engaging. Right now I’m about to start re-reading Jane Austen to enjoy truly great writing.

Fission at TNR

A big event in the world of magazines erupted last month. The New Republic, which has been a part of my life since I was about sixteen, looks to be undergoing a sort of nuclear fission. Chris Hughes of Facebook fame bought the publication last year. He and his management decided he wanted a “vertically integrated digital media company.” The terminology does not bode well for a formerly serious publication that would have taken apart exactly what he meant, had the phrase been applied to another magazine.

Politico called the change “rebranding.” After Hughes kicked out two of the lead people, most of the rest of the top staff resigned.

According to Poynter, Hughes admires Vox, which today had stories carnitas shortages at Chipotle and “Here’s what it looks like when a lab-grown muscle flexes.”

Poynter reports that the people who quit or were forced out are working at respected publications such as The Atlantic and Slate.

May the rest find places where their insights and terrific writing will continue to keep readers enlightened.

Interesting: When I tried to upload a photo, I had to go back to an old cover. The current logo doesn’t translate.