I didn’t take many photos – too much else to deal with.
Ruth asked if I wanted to speak and I supposed I did, but wasn’t sure what I was going to say. I work best to deadlines, so I pulled a few notes together in the car on the way to the crematorium. What’s below is more or less what I remember of what I said, but I’d welcome corrections from anyone who was there and remembers more than I do.
My Eulogy for My Dad
Every life has a million stories, and we all see those stories from different angles.
Dad was a great storyteller, and not one to let too much truth get in the way of a good story.
We’ll surely be sharing lots of those today.
I was born in 1962, when my dad was only 23 years old – barely an adult himself. In some ways he never grew up.
But today I want to concentrate on the good things I learned or inherited from him. A lot could be said about nature vs nurture, but I had plenty of both from Dad. He was the one fixed point in nearly 49 years of my turbulent life.
My dad had a strong sense of justice. Both of my parents were active in America’s Civil Rights movement – crosses burned on our lawn – which, in a way, culminated in the election of President Obama. I worked a little on Obama’s campaign for that reason.
This sense of justice came from his love of people, and his belief that everyone in this world should have equal rights. We’ve already heard that Dad loved musicals, and this brings to mind a line from the great American musical Oklahoma!, expressing a very American attitude: “I don’t say I’m no better than anybody else, but I’ll be damned if I ain’t just as good.”
He believed that everyone had a right to equal treatment, health, wealth, and the pursuit of happiness, and he worked towards that in many parts of the world. Although I’ve spent most of my career in the corporate world, some of that has rubbed off on me in the way I approach my job and the people I work with.
Another trait of Dad’s was that he knew Storytelling, and the uses of it. This has definitely carried over to me, including, as those closest to me know, the idea that any story worth telling once is worth telling again. 😉
Dad had great courage, including the courage to live an unconventional life, which he did so thoroughly that he left me as a teenager with nothing to rebel against. I had to retreat into bourgeois respectability for 20 years. But I’m recovering.
Perhaps he paid for it all, he certainly put us through it. But I think he would have said, with the great songwriter Kris Kristofferson: “The going up was worth the coming down.”
…then we all went home and drank a lot.
“He’s a walking contradiction, partly truth, and mostly fiction…”
I haven’t been good at long-form personal communication in the last few years, partly for lack of leisure, partly because, well, these years have been rough on many fronts (outline here). But this seems like a time when telling everybody everything at once will be more efficient, and perhaps easier on me.
My father, Al Straughan, had long been ill – although, as he often emphasized, not with anything that was likely to kill him soon. In spite of 50 years of smoking, no exercise, and a lifetime of being overweight, he had a healthy heart, and there’s no family history of cancer. The lungs… not so good. In the last three years he was in the hospital just about every month with a lung infection, and the doctors seemed unable to find a root cause, except a general diagnosis of COPD.
Several years ago they did a bronchoscopy to examine an obstruction in his lung, and found a pea that Dad must have accidentally aspirated some time before. If you’re a fan of House, you may recall an episode in which a patient coughed up part of a lung for exactly this reason. Dad’s bronchi were weakened or damaged as a result, so a stent was put in at that time. (I may be getting the details wrong because I was usually not geographically close, and such a lot happened that it was hard to keep track.)
Dad had been living in the UK for at least 15 years with his third wife, Ruth, who is British. They met in Jakarta around 1987 or ’88 – he was there on a contract job, she was working for the Hilton hotel chain as a trainer (Ruth, forgive me if I get these details wrong, too). They met at a party when Dad walked up to her and said: “For once, I’d like to dance with a woman I can look in the eye.” Ruth is 6′ tall, Dad was 6’3″.
They came together to my wedding to Enrico in 1989, and soon thereafter moved to Texas, then the Maldives, then “home” to the UK (though Ruth had been away as much as there: she’d lived in Hong Kong for 15 years, then Bali…). As it turned out, the UK, with its National Health System, was the best possible place for them. Though Dad never became a citizen nor even had time to contribute much to the national coffers, the NHS took excellent and expensive care of him. There were a few procedures they chose to pay for privately to shorten wait time when Dad was in pain, but the NHS did most of it, and bore most of the cost. I am deeply grateful for this, and wish we had a national health system here in the US – it’s a matter of social justice.
Dad’s other area of health troubles was arthritis. Being overweight and never having exercised routinely contributed to the degeneration of his bones and joints such as we all suffer as we get older. He had his first knee surgery to clean up damaged cartilage in 1982, and his first knee replacement far earlier than doctors usually like to do them: the artificial joint wears out and will eventually need to be replaced again, and this is major surgery. Over the years they replaced the other knee, had to do repair work on one or both at least once, and one of these surgeries resulted in Dad being in intensive care. He had other surgeries to try to alleviate pain that was being “referred” from his deteriorating spinal column all over his body. Recently they tried implanting electrodes in his spinal cord which he could activate using a device outside his body, to interrupt the pain signals before they reached his brain. Apparently these devices are hard to tune; it was never wholly successful in stopping the pain, which was at times so severe as to keep him confined to bed. He had been effectively disabled by pain for over 10 years.
For most of this time, I was living relatively nearby in Italy, and could get over for visits fairly often, especially once the era of low-cost airlines began (I am grateful to them, too). Those of us who have internationally-scattered families know the pains of being far away when a loved one needs us. There was one week in which my mother, in Iowa, was having a large tumor removed from her ovary, and Dad, in the UK, was having yet another major operation that could have landed him in intensive care again. I chose to stay in Europe in case Dad needed me. Mom was attended by her sister, and her tumor turned out to be benign, but she never forgave me for not being with her – one of the causes of our eventual estrangement.
In 2008 I moved to the US, and visits to Dad and Ruth became fewer. I stopped by on my way to India on my last major trip for Sun Microsystems in March, 2010, then did not travel overseas for over a year. I was finally able to see them again this June, when Joyent sent me to Italy, so I extended the trip a bit and popped up to the UK for a weekend.
I can’t say that the deterioration I saw in June was shocking; I had known most of what was going on with him (I assume), and could observe some for myself in the many phone calls during which he was coughing, quickly out of breath, or simply too tired for sustained conversation. But I was deeply saddened. Caring for him had become a full-time job for him and Ruth both. His world had shrunk to their small home, sometimes just the bedroom, and the TV. This seemed cruel for a man who had lived large, hard, and adventurously all over the world in his 72 years.
I was also concerned for Ruth, who had been his only caregiver in all this time. There was little I could do to help from Italy. Again, international divides complicate everything: neither Dad nor I was living in our passport country, and by the time I moved back to the US, he was uninsurable here and could not risk even a visit to his beloved birthplace, New Orleans. This is why I give very short shrift to the brainwashed Americans who shriek: “Socialized medicine is evil! It’s not the American way!” Justice for all? Yeah. Tell me how it is right that my father could not afford to visit his native country before he died. Then go fuck yourselves.
We all knew that this June’s visit might be the last time I would see my father. I didn’t (and still don’t) understand what all was going on, but he was clearly going downhill, and he even stated baldly that, whenever he did go, there likely wouldn’t be time for me to arrive at his bedside. But he also told me that one of his doctors had said there was no reason he couldn’t live another 15 years. Then, at another moment, he mentioned that he had looked into assisted suicide in Switzerland, but could not afford it. This was all confusing, though understandable. I can’t know for sure how I would react in his situation, and I shudder to think of becoming as reduced and confined as he was. I thought of my aunt Rosie, who told me in January of 2006 that she had had enough (after 10 years of severe health problems) and was ready to go. I had replied: “I will miss you terribly, but if you feel it’s time, you should go.” She died in late March of that year.
Last weekend I was in Austin to catch up with an old school friend who was visiting mutual friends, and for my daughter Rossella’s birthday. My brother Ian also lives in Austin.
I received email from Ruth letting me know that Dad was in hospital again, with what seemed to be yet another by-now-routine lung infection. Ruth and I spoke on Sunday; he was wearing an oxygen mask and unable to talk on the phone. The doctors were not happy with his oxygen levels, and could not get them up.
That evening (would have been the deep of night in the UK), Ruth called again. He was hemorrhaging from his lungs for unknown reasons (they suspected the stent may have got misplaced) and not expected to live til morning.
I called Ross and Ian, we sat together and talked and drank for a while, but there wasn’t anything we could do, even for each other. I guess I slept a bit that night, probably not much.
The next day Ruth reported that he had regained consciousness sufficiently to let her and the doctors know that he wanted to fight for his life. We should have expected that, I suppose – going gently was just not in his character. Later that day he was transferred by ambulance to a lung hospital some distance away. He survived the trip, and another night passed in observation (and no sleep for anybody).
Tuesday he was “well” enough for an exploratory bronchoscopy. They found that the stent had indeed moved, in a way that would require surgery under general anesthesia to fix. His other lung was also “compromised”. His condition was such that he might not survive anesthesia and, even if he did, would be on a respirator. It was kinder to opt for palliative treatment and let him slip quietly away, which he did Tuesday evening, with Ruth beside him.
Ross, Ian and I will be flying over in the next week for a funeral with our English family and friends. Sometime later in the year, we will arrange a jazz funeral and burial of his ashes in New Orleans, I hope in St Roch cemetery where his parents are. It should be one hell of a party. We hope all those who knew and loved Al will be able to join us.
My eternal gratitude goes to Ruth, who (besides being a wonderful person whom I’d love anyway) did so much for him, for so long. Not out of any spirit of self-sacrifice, but because she loved him. We could all count ourselves fortunate to be loved so well. I hope that now the rest of us will have a chance to do some things for her.
billblum @DeirdreS Seriously, I’ve wound up using it so often, it’s as if #Dtrace provides all the insight I never knew I always needed. #
nmar @deirdres ottimo, grazie! #
hdibani RT @DeirdreS Seriously, I’ve wound up using it so often, it’s as if #Dtrace provides all the insight I never knew I always needed. #
DeirdreS video itself is evolving from a passive entertainment medium to a powerful, global teaching tool http://huff.to/gucmiC #
DeirdreS Whoever coded this wiki software: if you were here now, you’d be sharing my pain – AND THEN SOME. #
fitzage @DeirdreS Isn’t that true of all wiki software? #
DeirdreS RT @fitzage: @DeirdreS Isn’t that true of all wiki software? – YES. Maybe someday there will be a truly usable wiki. Not holding my breath. #
DeirdreS Guess what we’ve got? Watch for an opportunity to win a rare, pre-print copy of the DTrace book! Â #
openpoesia @DeirdreS already bought it ,thanks indeed for the opportunities #
DeirdreS Anyone at Joyent care to comment on Linux has strace… http://bit.ly/ebB8va @brendangregg@bcantrill – Unleash the hounds! #
ben @DeirdreS@brendangregg@bcantrill D comes before S, so Dtrace has got to be better… #
DeirdreS get up close & personal with cloud analytics: hi-res screencast of Brendan’s preso at node.js Community Event Mar 1 – Â #
DeirdreS At last! #
billblum RT @deirdres: Tonight’s SFOSUG meeting live on USTREAM from 6 pm PT: http://bit.ly/f6diBt – Join for a chance to win a pre-print copy of… #
brendangregg pre-print copies: RT @DeirdreS: At last! http://yfrog.com/h6e8yodj #
morphs That is one BIG book.. cannot wait to carry that round to and from work : ) (@DeirdreS)http://yfrog.com/h6e8yodj #
DeirdreS @morphs E-versions avaliable from http://bit.ly/gZPR5O and http://bit.ly/i83hqc , I imagine in other formats as well (checking w publisher) #
craigmorgan @DeirdreS hurrah, tell him to stop reading it and starting packing/shipping them 😉 gonna kill the postie tho! #
DeirdreS .@mmcallen Be nice if we could grow past thinknig that it’s an F bomb in this day and age. #transparacyworks #
DeirdreS Geoff gets his Italian on Â #
DeirdreS @deeharvey I had hoped not, but… #
DeirdreS This is more kinds of beautiful than I can describe… colorapi#
DeirdreS http://amzn.com/k/2DJTIR8B63IJV #Kindle #
DeirdreS @hudsonette Reminds me chillingly of a Heinlein story from the Cold War era. #
DeirdreS .@onfaith Beck is utterly predictable, what’s worrying is the people who actually believe his crap. A merciful god would strike HIM down. #
DeirdreS Sun.com and its subdomains eg blogs.sun.com was one of the greatest repositories of technical knowledge on the web. I’ll mourn it. #
DeirdreS @ryancnelson weird cat behavior: if in isn’t on YouTube, it didn’t happen. #
DeirdreS @nonstick And the Oracle classic people by their envious stares at the Macs? 😉 #
stewarttownsend RT @DeirdreS: Sun.com and its subdomains eg blogs.sun.com was one of the greatest repositories of technical knowledge on the web. < sad day #
DeirdreS Happy I’m going to see my kid today. #
nonstick @DeirdreS There’s one guy here with an Apple sticker over the Dell logo on his laptop. Gave him a hard time about it. #
DeirdreS @planspark it will be worth the wait #
DeirdreS @monkchipsDr Melvyn Bert – I recommend him heartily. #
TomRaftery Hey @DeirdreS@monkchips asked me to say thanks very much – he just left to go to the doctor you recommended #
DeirdreS @TomRaftery Cool. I adore Dr Bert, great with patients, worldwide#
bubbva @DeirdreS blogs.sun.com is migrating, all content. Old urls will probably be busted 🙁 #
NomdeB @DeirdreS – Silly me. Forgot to @ you on that last tweet. #
DeirdreS I don’t know why the sound of people chewing and crunching food irritates me extremely. Unless I’m also eating, I guess. #
riccardo_iommi @DeirdreS no no, it irritates me even while I’m eating. It’s something you cannot bear. #
mentalmosaic @DeirdreS I like watching animals eat, though. My own species – not so much. #
DeirdreS http://t.co/QKRGgjx #
pborenstein @DeirdreS Pretty. But I still don’t get cupcakes. #
DeirdreS @NomdeB Heh. I’d already sent her a link about that. #
DeirdreS @pborenstein To me, it’s a devil’s food cake without the commitment #
pborenstein @DeirdreS I think it’s because I don’t like frosting. So much of it on cupcakes. #
DeirdreS If AT&T is going to cut me off at 150 Gb / month, would be helpful to know how much I’m using now. Anyone know if there’s a way to see? #
lowbit @DeirdreS They are apparently going to be adding tools to monitor usage once the change is official. #
DeirdreS @NomdeB That’s wireless, talking about home internet #
billblum @deirdres AT&T is supposedly going to have a tool available for DSL customers— I’ve got a Netgear router with usage stats built in. #
DeirdreS @billblum good point – I may be able to find that out on my own router #
NomdeB @DeirdreS Can see data use on Cox Communications website too. Think our limit is 200GB/month, but we can bump up to bigger if needed. #
billblum @deirdres We’re being force upgraded to UVerse, so that gives me some headroom on the bandwidth cap. #
DeirdreS Baby cruising around the arrivals area on all fours. I remember when airports were exciting #
DeirdreS It is no longer possible to guess where anyone embarked based on ethnicity, language, dress… #
bubbva @DeirdreS I think our parents drilled ‘silent eating’ into us; therefor, others are annoying 🙂 #
bubbva @DeirdreS I think ther’s am app for that? #
pborenstein @DeirdreS Hitchens et al strike me not as atheists but as a(specifictheism)ists. They worry a lot about the afterlife they don’t believe in. #
DeirdreS @pborenstein Seems to me they worry about others’ belief in that afterlife, and how that affects their behavior in this world #
pborenstein @DeirdreS True. I wasn’t fond of James Watts’ idea that conservation wasn’t necessary because the rapture was just around the corner. #
DeirdreS Enter to win 1 of 2 Canon 60D camera bodies & 1 yr @SmugMug Pro membership. Please RT. Info at: http://bit.ly/hDiOdy #
pborenstein @DeirdreS Prof atheists tend to be specific about the god they don’t believe in. Like sec. Jews: The synagogue they don’t go to is orthodox. #
johnnysunshine @pborenstein@DeirdreS I don’t think that’s entirely true, I’ve met plenty that equally point out Hindu bullshit as JudeoChristian bullshit #
pborenstein @johnnysunshine Maybe I just keep hearing and reading the same Hitchens, Pullman, Dawkin clips 🙂@deirdres#
mentalmosaic @DeirdreS Good point, although on my last flight to NYC, the New Yorkers wore much more black, I noticed, than the tourists. #
DeirdreS Had to come to the AT&T store to reactivate ross’ phone. Been here 40 mins. This is absurd. #
DeirdreS The AT&T people on the phone are holding us up over process with their own store people. Hello, you work for the same company! #
DeirdreS Capturing minds [Mark Cavage and Aaron Slettehaugh of Joyent] Â #
DeirdreS @edsai get a white noise appfor your iphone. Works wonders #
edsai @DeirdreS you are my hero. I had no idea there was an app for that. #
DeirdreS @edsai I used to travel with a separaet white noise machine, now no longer necessary #
edsai @DeirdreS will my alarm still go off? What app do you use? #
DeirdreS @edsai Yes, AFAIK. I use WhiteNoise by TMSoft, I think it was free #
jhk24 @edsai@DeirdreS love whitenoise! sleep tight! #
shawnferry @DeirdreS@edsai I use the same. I don’t recall any alarm issues #
scriptavolant The Fabio Masetti Daily is out! http://bit.ly/b2hwKX Top stories today via @stefanomizzella@deirdres#
edsai @shawnferry@deirdres my heroes. was able to get some sleep but running on fumes from yesterday #
DeirdreS RT @bleepster: hallelujiah! http://bit.ly/gAWeMC – wait til you see the new ones coming out with the book! #
DeirdreS @TomRaftery Realpolitik is often ugly. <sigh> #Libya #
johnkt09 @DeirdreS Funny how often realpolitik turns out to be geldpolitik, isn’t it? #
DeirdreS @johnkt09 Yup. After all, what’s realer than money? (Don’t answer that!) #
DeirdreS Argh. Sneezy, Dopey, Grumpy, Sleepy… also Headachy and Runny. Damn cold everyone else has had finally caught up with me. #
DeirdreS <sigh> I would really, really prefer not to be on the phone with AT&T right now over yet another screw up. #
mentalmosaic @DeirdreS You, too? This is the 3rd month in a row for me with the same AT&T billing screw up. Love my phone, though. #
DeirdreS 12 mins on phone with rep only to be told I have to pass you to customer care, this line only deals with customers <30 days old WTF? #
dltq @DeirdreS hahaha, sounds like that service rep needs a spanking #
a_random_claire @DeirdreS Did you explain you were well over 30 days old? 😉 #
DeirdreS @a_random_claire I’m not a human being here, just an account. Gah! #
DeirdreS I would gladly pay more money to any company that doesn’t put me through billing hell, for whatever service. Does such a thing exist? #
fitzage @DeirdreS Doubtful. #
fitzage @DeirdreS Actually, when it comes to cell phone companies, T-Mobile was always top notch at customer service. #
DeirdreS Dear corporations: get customer service right. The company that accomplishes this – in any sector – will rule the world. #
NomdeB @DeirdreS Isn’t this day 2 of your AT&T saga? Ouch. 🙁 We’re Verizon. Know people have complaints, but we’ve always had great service. #
riccardo_iommi @DeirdreS they won’t understand this simple thing #
DeirdreS ps I did front-line customer service for years, and I did it well. I KNOW it ain’t rocket science. #
riccardo_iommi @DeirdreS you are ranting like a machine gun, sorry to hear that 😉 #
DeirdreS @riccardo_iommi I’m supposed to be resting at home with a nasty cold. Phone hell is not making me feel any better. #
riccardo_iommi @DeirdreS u have my simpathy, I understand #
DeirdreS ok, unlimited data plan for iphone restored – I had specifically asked at the store y’day not to touch that, hence went spare when they did #
urbanturbanguy @DeirdreS that unlimited plan is useless. I have had it for 3 years now. #
urbanturbanguy @DeirdreS Wanted to get the personal Hotspot activated – They said not with the unlimited plan. They were happy to milk us till now. #
pborenstein @DeirdreS You might try @FancyHands for that kind of thing. #
riccardo_iommi @DeirdreS glad to hear that #
DeirdreS @pborenstein I don’t think they’re allowed to take personal data such as they wd need to manage an account #
DeirdreS This was sent to me in response to my rants earlier today: Saturday Night Live: Ernestine http://bit.ly/gNS2SX #
TopTv_Shows RT @DeirdreS – This was sent to me in response to my rants earlier today: Saturday Night Live: Ernestine http://bit.ly/gNS2SX #
socialtagger RT @DeirdreS – This was sent to me in response to my rants earlier today: Saturday Night Live: Ernestine http://bit.ly/gNS2SX #
DeirdreS companies subscribing to statistical insignificance in customer care will become companies that used to exist. http://bit.ly/eSlbMk #
DeirdreS ‘hipster’ (e.g., people who call themselves ‘nerds’) – Huh? Is that the definition? Or is it just rolled-up jeans and ‘tude? #
DeirdreS WTF? there is nothing to prove that students are allegedly influenced by the presence of the crucifix in classrooms#
DeirdreS @rob_ellis Sure you’re not in marketing? 😉 #joyent #
DeirdreS Some days your colleagues are a lot better off NOT seeing you at the office. For me, this is one of those days. #
riccardo_iommi @DeirdreS a healthy #FF to you #
DeirdreS American protesters should ponder the fact that the government they propose 2nd amendment resistance to is not in fact shooting at them. #
willbldrco @DeirdreS Re hipsters: I thought his was funny: RT @petapixel Hipster traps in NYC use Holgas as bait: http://j.mp/fv6fjG #
DeirdreS @willbldrco I’m dismayed that smoking is hip again. I had to live through that the first time. #
DeirdreS @bcantrill tornado warning for areas including… Redwood City… – moving in on the Emerald City? Surrender, Dorothy! #
willbldrco @DeirdreS +1! After enjoying the heavy-handed anti-smoking laws at home in CO, I was shocked every time I bellied up to the bar in FL! Ugh! #
DeirdreS .@slashdot@pbeyssac Sun.com is worth more than 1 million, if its Google karma transfers. It has huge SEO weight. #
DeirdreS At the same time, like all parents, sometimes I just want a pause button. Â #
NomdeB Don’t have children (by choice), but still found this parenting piece utterly delightful: http://bit.ly/fNRSIa HT @DeirdreS#
DeirdreS @acarvin Sigh. No one is meant to die easily. But somehow many do. Condolences. #
DeirdreS How can you make love stay? Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules…#
DeirdreS R tried out Bikram yoga yesterday. Said it was smelly. #
DeirdreS @acarvin In which aspects of it do you think training is needed? For the A/V – tech, lots of info/tutorials out there. #
DeirdreS There’s never been truth-telling that I know of that had that kind of immediate effect#
DeirdreS most bloggers have no institutional credibility, so must build it by linking transparently#
DeirdreS @lskrocki We will not be seeing it from here – rain, rain and more rain! #
DeirdreS I rarely get the common cold/flu – had forgotten how miserable it is. #
edsai @DeirdreS argh. hope you feel better… #
DeirdreS @natashabadhwar I’m told that Nehru’s nieces ended up at Woodstock School because all of the older generation of the family were in jail. #
DeirdreS @edsai Thanks. It’s the fault of all our colleagues. That’s what I get for working in an office. 😉 #
natashabadhwar @DeirdreS I just read your bio. It is incredible, so much love, loss, moving on. Sending you love and the warmth of Delhi on the eve of Holi #
DeirdreS A Brazilian asking for info on the origins of his Italian family names – can anyone help? Â #
jasonh @aaronheckmann@bigfleet yes ping me. We have @sh1mmer and @DeirdreS working on such things @joyent#
DeirdreS .@jasonh@aaronheckmann@bigfleet Yes, @sh1mmer has training ready to go, don’t know of specific plans for Portland. #
DeirdreS Another trove of material I’d sorta forgotten about, must move to new blog… India Vlog 2005#
DeirdreS added a few updates and a new photo to my Autobiography#
DeirdreS 7 years ago today: Holiday Treats Italian Seasonal Goodies#
DeirdreS not much has changed since this post ~5 years ago: Talking Back to Politicians: A Lesson in Modern Italian#
edsai @DeirdreS uhm. why do you not have the pink hair anymore. it r0cked. #
DeirdreS 3 yrs ago: I’ve tried for 17 years to achieve this in Italy. made progress on my chosen road but it’s getting harder#
DeirdreS @edsai I liked it, but I’ve been scared off with stories of conservative Asian customers. Plus hard to get it done well. #
DeirdreS The DTrace book final version is now available for download purchase, with a different free sample chapterÂ #
lskrocki @DeirdreS Bummer. Going to try snapping some pics — may be cloudy here too. #
DeirdreS Losing my voice. Which doesn’t matter on Twitter. #
DeirdreS Hmm, intriguing. Now just need to get all my friends to use it. Voxer#
DeirdreS Deja vu. Didn’t we bomb Tripoli a while back? Like, 1986? #
ryancnelson RT @DeirdreS: Deja vu. Didn’t we bomb Tripoli a while back? Like, 1986? //whoever lives in the Halls of Montezuma is nervous right now. #
DeirdreS Dear new followers: I am not likely ever to own real estate again in my life. What made you think otherwise? #
DeirdreS Enter to win 1 of 2 Canon 60D camera bodies & 1 yr @SmugMug Pro membership. Please RT. Info at: http://bit.ly/hDiOdy #
DeirdreS Dislike what I just did. But could really use a new camera… #
DeirdreS Either Mucinex works really fast, or I had already coughed out everything I was gonna. Still feel like the top of my head came off. #
webmink @DeirdreS That’s what one has a second account for 😉 #
bdha @ryancnelson@deirdres Nice. #
DeirdreS memoir: The (Previous) Bombing of Tripoli#
PCOWandre @DeirdreS You should check his 5D Mk. II giveaway thing too. Far more fun lurking in a 5D2! #
DeirdreS @PCOWandre Thanks, I think I signed up for both. #
PCOWandre @DeirdreS Well, hope you win! #
DeirdreS Woke up to a patch of blue sky. Will it last? #
DeirdreS A lot can be said with a little the mundane and the extraordinary. Philosophers were kings of the aphorism. Â #
DeirdreS @arekdreyer I’d never seen it – I like the song better than the store! #
DeirdreS Brief bout of sunshine definitively over. #
rattay @DeirdreS Somehow I knew we would have to some payback for that 80 degree stint in January. #
DeirdreS Hmm, I lied. Blue sky is back, at least temporarily. #
DeirdreS R: Does this look stupid? Do I look like a Canadian? (multiple patterned sweaters) #
DeirdreS @rattay Yeah, I wish we had that good weather now while my daughter is visiting #
DeirdreS Rather than waiting to help financial consumers, Warren has been trying to help them now. Can you believe the nerve?#
Reading the news today that US forces are bombing Tripoli brought on a quirky memory, almost completely unrelated to today’s events.
Last time the US bombed Tripoli, in 1986, I was on a study abroad year in Benares, India. I had chosen to live in Vijayanagaram Bhavan, the headquarters of the College Year in India program, so knew about all the students’ comings and goings. I also kept an eye on what was going in the world (a habit picked up from my dad the newshound). I owned a shortwave radio, and used it to listen to the Voice of America, BBC World Service, and Radio Moscow (whose announcers all sounded as if they had been raised in Nebraska).
I wrote up daily news summaries and posted them on the center’s bulletin board for my fellow students, a service they seemed to appreciate. So it was I who informed them about the US attack, which was not well received by the world community, nor by many Americans. There were fears of retaliatory attacks on American citizens worldwide. I heaved a sigh and got on with my life – been there, been threatened with death by the Islamic Jihad. We also imagined, I don’t know how realistically, the possibility of full-scale war, complete with Vietnam-style conscription of US youth.
A few days later, an American showed up at the Bhavan with a list of student names he wanted to check. His wife was a consular officer with the US Embassy in Delhi, so it was her duty to keep track of US citizens in the region in case there should be a need to whisk us all to safety. I was pleased that, having put my life in danger, my government was at least proposing to get me out of it again, and was happy to give the man the information he needed. Meanwhile, my classmates were at the other end of the verandah, muttering among themselves about the stranger and what his business might be.
As the man and I were finishing, one of the students – J, a painfully politically correct young man – came bustling up.
“Sir,” he said officiously, “I would like to lodge a complaint about the actions of the US government in Libya – ” He didn’t get to finish.
The man looked him straight in the eye and barked: “I am here to inform you that all US males over the age of 18 are being drafted into the army, and you have two days to report to the nearest recruiting center!”
J’s jaw dropped, he turned white as a sheet, and for once had nothing to say.
The man smiled sweetly, and went about his business.
Retweet of Mathieu Simon (MathSimon) Joyent Cloud Analytics, Recorded on USTREAM. http://bit.ly/ho8T6s Â – Â A must – see, the end shows how these nerds introduce also fun in work : – ) – 1/20/11 10:15