Archive for Personal/Family – Page 3

Celebrating Journalists…

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the mob assault on the US Capitol. That its nature and provenance remain subjects of debate is a symptom of the deep division in the American electorate. That President Trump empowered the mob by refusing to accept the results of the election and perpetrating the lie that the election was stolen speaks to his character and the loyalty and gullibility of his followers.
 
The antidote to this Big Lie is education, accountability, and rigorous investigative reporting. Thanks to a fearless, on the spot, dedicated group of journalists and photographers we were able to see the events unfold. Americans saw live coverage of that violent assault. We watched as the mob knocked down barriers, rushed up the steps, broke windows and doors, stormed into the House and Senate chambers, ransacked offices, erected a gallows, threatened to kill Vice-President Pence, and injured more than 140 law enforcement personnel. Nevertheless, there are those who, to this day, are trying to convince us that what we saw was not what we saw.
 
Despite a lack of cooperation from Republicans, a bipartisan Congressional investigation is underway into its origins. Trump partisans continue their widespread effort to keep those responsible from being held accountable. If not for the words and pictures of the Fourth Estate, we might never have known the magnitude, carnage, and sequence of that violent attack.
 
But this story is more about journalism than the events described above, although those events exemplify the importance of journalism and the courage and integrity of its practitioners. Every day, reporters and photographers roam the world and report back to us on everything from climate change and genocide to financial corruption and drug cartels. The world is a dangerous place, and journalists put themselves at risk to tell us about it. According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), 45 journalists were killed while doing their jobs in 2021 – 50% more than in the previous year. read more

Six Years and Counting…

The end of the year, the winter solstice and family birthdays always remind me that we’re at the end of something and the beginning of something else – a convergence of old and new. Normally, it’s a time to review the passing year and prepare for the next. But the last six years have been unlike any that went before. How should we think of them? Our world has changed. The emotional, political, geographic, even the biological tectonic plates we relied on have shifted.

Climate change has brought floods where floods were rare (Western Europe and Arizona), multi-year droughts have depleted our reservoirs (Shasta, Powell, Lake Mead), raging wildfires have destroyed unimaginable amounts of forests and taken out whole residential communities (California and Australia), catastrophic tornados have attached themselves to the ground for never before lengths and devastated everything they touched (Kentucky), shootings have come to neighborhoods never before touched by violence (mine), our nation’s capital was attacked by domestic terrorists (January 6, 2021) because the outgoing US president was determined to retain power by overturning a legitimate election (Trump). Police continued to shoot black citizens while a 17-year-old white vigilante armed with an illegally purchased AR-15 gunned down three protesters before being acquitted of all charges and celebrated by right-wing groups as a “patriot” and “hero” (Kyle Rittenhouse). Worst of all, a lethal virus was loosed on the world, killing 800,000 Americans, while its eradication was effectively prevented due to its politicization by right-wing media and anti-vaccers. read more

Some of it’s Magic…

Yes, today’s the day, and I’ve been getting happy birthday emails, text messages, phone calls and cards from all over the world. I’m grateful to have shared time with so many interesting people over the years. We’ve enjoyed books, music, good food, long runs, wooded walks, powder turns, bike trips, sunny beaches, funny stories, and much, much more over the years. It feels great to have such good friends and memories.

I’m happy to be alive and well, even though the world is a mess and smart people who should know better are bickering over insignificant things while the planet is melting down, burning up, and blowing away under the pressure of climate change, Covid-19 is ravaging its population, billionaires are flaunting their wealth in space, grinding poverty is endemic, and there are tribal wars, insurrectionists, and racists in mainstream politics. In 2016 I characterized myself as an optimist. Today, I’m less sure. I worry for for my children and grandchildren. What kind of a world will they have? read more

Baseball Memories…

When I was a kid, cameras had become common and affordable. Brownie box cameras were the rage. My parents bought one, but rarely took pictures. There are a few of me as a baby, a gap of a few years, and a few more from my elementary school days.
 
When my mother died, I inherited the scuffed leather photo albums, pictures yellowing under acetate, that had been gathering dust in her bookcase. Now, they’re in a box under my desk along with more personal history – journals, notebooks, old letters, and other memorabilia.
 
As an only child, I’m always alone in those early pictures. Most were taken behind our house on Capitol Hill and might be seen as a posed series because of their similarity – all taken against the hedge backdrop in a corner of our backyard.
 
In one photo I’m dressed as a cowboy with chaps and sheepskin vest, six-guns, boots, and a cowboy hat. In another I’m a soldier with a helmet and rifle and yet another shows me in a baseball uniform with long socks and a choked-up bat. read more

Leaving the Comfort Zone…

The A/C and ceiling fan at 95D Nguyen Van Thu Street are white noise and always there, but the clock alarm’s frequency is different and pulls me back from a deep slumber. I hit snooze and wrap the sheet tighter, hoping to catch another minute of sleep. The oppressive heat of the Saigon night has diminished. At 5:15 a.m. the street outside is quiet except for an occasional motorbike.

I peel back the covers and sit on the edge of the bed. The walls are sweating and there’s a faint hint of mold. Heavy condensation on the front window makes the streetlight a yellowish blur. I step onto the cool tile floor, turn on the computer and link to the Seattle NPR station. There are tornados in Oklahoma, floods in Texas. In Seattle, it’s the usual November rain. read more