Areas of Unrest
8 September 1999 - Michael Jackson, the City of Los Angeles and Me
QOTD: "... W. L. Duckworth once exuberantly exclaimed that if Neanderthal Man entered a bar in modern dress the majority would not notice him. One marvels at the sort of person Duckworth drank with." - R. Miller, The Piltdown Man
Reading: Francis Spufford, I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination.
Listening to: The Oxford Concert Party, Oblivion. (The U.K.'s only baroque and tango orchestra!)
And the Jeopardy question is: Whose birthday was September 4th? Hence, the minor redesign.
Since I last wrote, I went to Alaska and turned 41. I satisfied one obsession as I've now been to every state, but the weather was not entirely cooperative and I still have not seen the aurora borealis. I do have a backup plan to work on (a trip to Churchill, Manitoba in October or November 2000, which will offer the added bonus of polar bears) so it's just a minor disappointment. The weather did get much better on Sunday during the day, when I was taking the train from Fairbanks to Anchorage. Which means that I had wonderful views of Denali (a.k.a. Mt. McKinley) and, I hope, some good photos. I also saw a bear from the train, which was an added thrill. Brown bears aren't quite as high up on my personal animal hierarchy as polar bears, but they are still magnificent. Other highlights included The Ice Museum in Fairbanks (they display ice sculptures to give you a feeling of what the Ice Art Festival they hold in March is like), walking the Chester Creek and Coastal Trails in Anchorage, and eating a lot of halibut.
My new travel obsessions include the aurora borealis (still), every Canadian province, every country in Central and South America (I've already been to every country in North America, not that that's hard), every American possession, and every territory still in the British empire. Actually, the logical obsession is to try for every country in the world, but that isn't feasible for obvious reasons. I may be compulsive but I have no desire to get my throat slit just so I can say "I can check off Algeria" with my dying breath.
Anyway, I have a few odds and ends I had intended to write about but didn't get around to before I left. One is this great news story I heard. Rudy Giuliani, the mayor of New York City, got tapped for jury duty. And got on a jury. I'm pretty surprised that neither of the lawyers dismissed him, but I think this is absolutely wonderful. There's no reason why the mayor should be treated any differently than an ordinary person and here's proof that at least one major city recognizes that. Fiorello LaGuardia must be cheering from his grave.
On a more frivolous note, I have to crow about having pulled off a perfect gag gift. Lance decided to leave our group and go back to the Software Engineering Division and his going away luncheon was Thursday (just before I left). He is the world's most conservative person about food and has reacted with anything from simple squeamishness to outright horror to our restaurant suggestions in Boulder. When we went out for dim sum, the only thing he would eat was one bit of roast duck and some broccoli. So I carefully searched the cookbook aisles at local bookstores - and turned up Man Eating Bugs, full of graphic pictures of people eating crickets, potato bugs, mealworms, tarantulas, etc.. To top it off, I found a huge and disgusting blue rubber fly at another store. It was just too perfect. [Insert evil cackle.]
As usual, I have a couple of business trips coming up (both to Colorado Springs) so it's worth noting that I managed to avoid a real horror from our travel people. Our contract with one of our preferred airlines expired September 1st. The result was that some people who were leaving before then and coming back after were given one-way tickets. Fortunately, I have sane upper management and they cleared it up for the people who were affected, but it was still amusing for the rest of us.
Finally, I am thoroughly annoyed at the U.N.'s behavior with respect to East Timor. I thought that the reason the U.N. was there in the first place was to guarantee that the will of the people (as shown in the elections) would be followed, despite the Indonesian military. So it seems pretty bloody obvious to me that the international community is, indeed, betraying the Timorese people.
Copyright 1999 Miriam H. Nadel
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