January 16, 2009

MLK weekend plans and reflections

Tiny bits for Friday evening:

  • If he were alive, Martin Luther King, Jr., would have turned 80 years old yesterday. He was born in the year that a decade-long agricultural slump turned into the Great Depression. One hundred sixty years ago, or twice his birthday from today, the United States was absorbing the Mexican territories it had won in war, but the compromise of 1850 (and the Fugitive Slave Act) was more than a year away. How far we have come in two (long) lifetimes.
  • My spouse is rousting her Girl Scout troop tomorrow morning to clean up a camp. In return, they get to stay overnight without the usual charge. The temperatures tomorrow night are close to freezing. I bought a copious number of handwarmers. We'll see if they still camp or if they go home at the end of the cleanup. My service? I will put my life on the line this weekend to save my fellow human. Don't worry about me: I'm just donating blood. But if you can, you should, too.
  • I feel like I've been drinking from a firehose the last two weeks: the semester has started, I'm getting demands to deal with a whole host of issues, and the pace is not letting up. Nonetheless, I'm doing a reasonable job of cutting down the number of times a day I check e-mail. The college's e-mail server will be changing Monday afternoon, and the sysadmin promises that the new server will have better options for autoresponders. 
  • Today's hero was no accident: Chesley Sullenberg did not save the lives of his passengers and crew and the residents of the greater New York City area by seat-of-the-pants improvising: he planned and practiced the skills he needed for years, and he's been teaching others to plan for catastrophes.
  • Yo-Yo Ma had me grinning from ear-to-ear in a segment on NPR today. He had recorded himself playing Dona Nobis Pacem and in December had publicly invited listeners to mix themselves in and submit the result to a contest (a sort of "open source" musical collaboration). The winners he picked: a handbell choir and a heavy-metal band. 
  • As promised/threatened earlier this week, I have been writing my own letter to Barack Obama. I will be using an interesting venue to publish it (I hope by the end of the month), but I'll let you read the first sentence now: "Dear President Obama, I am one of the 67 million Americans who hired you for this job...." It's not as original as Jose Vilson's letter, but it's not as predictable as at least one of the NPR-commissioned inaugural poems.
  • I think the coldest morning I ever walked outside was January 20, 1985. It was also Reagan's second inauguration, which is why I remember the exact date. Though my dorm had a dining room, I decided to bundle up and walk through the -30 wind chill to see friends in another dining room. I don't know what I must have been thinking, but I bundled up well enough to survive without serious mishap.

My regards to everyone who is freezing (or at least cursingly cold) right now. Take care, get warm, drink lots of hot tea/coffee/lemonade/cocoa, and I promise you that in six months, we Floridians will envy you. Oh, yes, and try adding a sprinkle of chipotle to the cocoa.

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Tags: Barack Obama, Chesley Sullenberg, chipotle, Girl Scouts, Martin Luther King, Yo-Yo Ma
Posted in Out of Left Field Friday on January 16, 2009 11:14 PM |