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Saturday, October 13, 2001
6:50 PM      

Maybe it has to do with proximity. Even when we think we've had enough, photos from the WTC attack draw us back in. Denise and I ate brunch in SoHo today, then walked up Prince Street. We came across the Here is New York exhibit at 116 Prince Street. These are powerful photos taken by amateurs and pros alike. All are for sale, and the proceeds benefit the relief efforts.

[ link | e-me ]

Friday, October 12, 2001
11:56 AM      

New York Like I pictured it, more or less
For the last few days, as I exited the train at Bowling Green, there's been an MTA staffer announcing "PLEASE EXIT THROUGH THE SERVICE GATE...PLEASE EXIT THROUGH THE SERVICE GATE..." The metrocard turnstiles are set to show a red bar and the words "No Exit." This morning, I watched nearly a dozen people go through those gates anyway. It would have been entertaining to see those gates set so that they wouldn't reverse. When you hit one of those bars and it doesn't move, you buckle forward at the waist. Been there, done that.

Just beyond the turnstiles, I heard two blaze-orange-vested transit workers discussing an altercation between two women. One bumped into or crowded the other, and the fur flew. Sounds like somebody had to peel the two of them apart. Guess we're back to thinking mostly of ourselves.


Not for ten million bucks...
Before it's all over, this may turn out to be a major diplomatic scandal. Couldn't that Saudi prince have just made his contribution, without adding another two cents on US policy? Wasn't Washington the proper place to offer such advice?

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz Alsaud, of Saudi Arabia, gave the mayor a $10 million check for the Twin Towers Fund, a charity set up by Mr. Giuliani primarily for survivors of uniformed workers who died. Attatched to the check was a letter of condolence, and a separate press release, which suggested a connection between the attacks and US policy in the Middle East.

The Prince also went on "Moneyline" with Lou Dobbs, and had this to say: "Favoritism to Israel is not helping a lot, because you have to understand that those Arab people who watch Palestinians every day being slaughtered in the tents, and they believe truly that the United States is the main backer of Israel."

Accounts say that the Mayor's Office consulted the State Department about what to do with the check, but the State Department didn't offer any official ruling, because it wasn't a US Government matter. A New York Times report cites an annonymous source who said "In terms of remarks linking the attacks to our policy, we object to Prince Alwaleed's remarks and find them highly inappropriate."

The Mayor's response: "There is no moral equivalent for this act...The people who did it lost any right to ask for justification for it when they slaughtered 4,000 or 5,000 innocent people. And to suggest that there's a justification for it only invites this happening in the future. It is highly irresponsible and very, very dangerous."


Denise and I went to dinner in SoHo last night at a nice little Italian place called l'Ulivio. Dinner was very nice. There wasn't much of a crowd, even at peak time. I suspect business in the area is still a bit depressed. None of the restaurants seemed to be doing much business last night. They comped us on a big piece of Tiramisu. Around the time the coffee came, the wind picked up, and smelled strongly of smoke. It was definitely coming from Ground Zero. The smoke smells more woody now, not that eery electical fire smell of the early days. The smell hung over us like a ghost all the way to the subway station.


Denise just called a couple of minutes ago. The first words out of her mouth were "I'm still alive." "Huh?" I said. She said "I shouldn't joke about this... there are reports that they found a case of antrhax in Rockefeller Center..." I'll post more when I find out more.

[ link | e-me ]

1:56 PM      

It's confirmed. An NBC staffer has a skin-based version of anthrax. She's responding well to treatment. (ABC News report)

I just found a very interesting site: Usermagnet's Vigil on Terrorism. The site bills itself as "Continuous, constantly updated, dynamic coverage of emerging news from thousands of online sources around the world." They claim to have an automated system to harvest information from more than 7500 sources.

[ link | e-me ]

3:12 PM      

The end of an era? Polaroid filed Chapter 11 today. Key dates

... and the beginning of a new one... It's cheaper than surgery, less taxing than a workout. What is it? The wonderbum. [ehem - have another look]

The product promises ``a perfectly peachy, pert bottom,'' according to makers DuPont Lycra. Here's the full scoop on this uplifting technology.

[ link | e-me ]

4:19 PM      

Sometimes, an insinuation can be as scary as weapon fire. I heard today that a suspicious package arrived at a building associated with one of the stock markets nearby, and the whole building was evacuated.

In the elevator this afternoon, I saw a man with two boxes about the size of a Kleenex box, labeled "Alpine." I commented on the boxes, and he told me that they're latex gloves-- They want the mail room people to wear them to reduce the risk of contacting something ... Of course, gloves alone won't do much if they're dealing with contaminants.

[ link | e-me ]

Thursday, October 11, 2001
3:31 PM      

Today, they took down the temporary cell phone tower on Broad Street. I think its sibling unit on Water Street was taken down a couple of days ago, but a competitor's temporary cell site is still up. How do I know? The antennas are a different shape from the ones that just came down.

The health club has also taken down its signs offering relief workers free massages and a place to shower/sleep/change. The large flag that shredded on its marquee has been replaced with a smaller one, which has been hung in what appears to be a less damage-prone location. The signs of praise and support from school children have also been removed. Life goes on.


Ever wonder how a cruise missle works? You can find out at HowStuffWorks.


The more things change...
the more they stay the same. I was young when Woodstock happened. I have friends who were on campus the day the National Guard opened fire on students at Kent State University. There was a sentiment of protest about our prolonged involvement in the Viet Nam war. At that time, the press had been very effective in illustrating what was not working about our policies in Southeast Asia, and the tide had turned. This time, the press is very much in favor of the war effort, and perhaps that's the appropriate response.

Still, the fact remains that we're all human. As Prince wrote, "cut you, cut me - both the blood is red." You would think that some day, we might evolve beyond the cycle of domination, escalation, warfare, and holy crusades... I didn't really understand or appreciate this song when it was new, but it means something to me now:


Well, I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, 'Tell where are you going?'
This he told me
Said, 'I'm going down to Yasgur's Farm,
Gonna join in a rock and roll band.
Got to get back to the land and set my soul free.'
We are stardust, we are golden,
We are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

'Well, then can I walk beside you?
I have come to lose the smog,
And I feel like I'm a cog in something turning.
And maybe it's the time of year,
Yes and maybe it's the time of man.
And I don't know who I am,
But life is for learning.'
We are stardust, we are golden,
We are billion year old carbon.
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.
We are stardust, we are golden,
We are billion year old carbon.
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

By the time we got to Woodstock,
We were half a million strong
And everywhere was a song and a celebration.
And I dreamed I saw the bomber death planes
Riding shotgun in the sky,
Turning into butterflies
Above our nation.
We are stardust, we are golden,
We are caught in the devil's bargain,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

- JONI MITCHELL (c)1966-69 Siquomb Publishing Co. BMI

[ link | e-me ]

5:11 PM      

A while back, I posted an entry about art and humor. Dave Winer uncovers how it's not the first time that guy's been in trouble....

[ link | e-me ]

5:22 PM      

Looks like other folks are watching "Enterprise", too. Here's an interesting insight on potential future story lines.

[ link | e-me ]

5:29 PM      

Today was my 2-year anniversary at work. One of my bosses just handed me a bigger box of Godiva. I still think it's a better deal than roses. Fortunately, I'm not too concerned about my weight or my teeth.

[ link | e-me ]

Wednesday, October 10, 2001
10:30 PM      

Are you a storyteller? If you write, you are. I just found out about a site called storyXchange -- an online marketplace for stories. There's also {fray}, which is all about stories.


Today, I exchanged "Where were you when?" stories with Kenny and Stuart. Stuart works on an inside office in my building-- he's got no windows. The first he knew anything was happening, was when his wife called him to make sure he was OK. By the time he walked out of his office, much of the building was already evacuating. It seemed as if no one was left on his floor. He walked into a window office, and looked at the first tower, engulfed in smoke. He left the office, and ran down the hall. As he ran, he heard the boom of the second plane.

Kenny said that some of the people with window offices actually felt a shudder when the planes hit. He and Stuart were in the lobby when the first tower collapsed. He talked about how it was suddenly pitch black out there. Kenny said "They turned it from morning to midnight in a few seconds." One of the women from Human resources had a radio, and was listening to what was going on through earphones. Kenny said she looked up and said "it's gone." People were asking what she was talking about - they couldn't fathom at first. She said again "the tower came down - it's gone." Tears were trickling from her eyes.

Shortly after that, Mario came in through the revolving doors. Kenny saw him come in. He said people were thinking Mario might be hurt, because he was completely covered in ash, and walking slowly. The security people were concerned that his physical condition was scaring people. They quickly took him downstairs to get him cleaned-up.


The New York City Marathon is coming soon (11/4). The race passes quite close to our apartment. We'll be there to check it out. It's an amazing spectacle.

This year, it's "dedicated to the victims of the tragic events of September 11 and to the rescuers who have inspired the world with their dedication." (more) There is one thing I need to warn you about this site- it suffers from microfontosis: that annoying phenomenon of using really small fonts that don't resize. I ended up copying the text into SimpleText, just to be able to read it. What a drag.


Episode 3 of "Enterprise" was sufficiently dramatic. The tension was good. I really thought there were creatures in the rocks. The story line wasn't overly predictable, and the characters seem to have more psychological depth than previous "generations" of Star Trek. I hope this keeps up.

[ link | e-me ]

Tuesday, October 09, 2001
10:36 AM      

Just about this time, 4 weeks ago, the second World Trade Center tower collapsed.

[ link | e-me ]

1:22 PM      

Today was the first day of school for the students of Stuyvesant High, since September 11. It's located at the top of the Battery Park City area. The headlines of the New York Post today scream "Anthrax Epidemic." I heard two more stories of September 11 from people I know yesterday.


I looked up to see Robert standing next to me. He had recognized me through the window of a coffee shop as he passed by yesterday. We exchanged a warm greeting and started to get caught-up. The last time I'd seen him was months ago in Brooklyn Heights. Suddenly it hit me: "You lived in Battery Park City, didn't you?" I said. "I live there", he said. Yesterday was the first time he's been back. He spent most of the last four weeks living out of his office in New Jersey.

He said." ... I was standing on the balcony of my condo, looking right at it when the first tower collapsed. My feet went like this..." He took a posture with his feet parallel, about shoulder width apart, knees locked, hands bracing himself as if holding a rail. His face went slack-jawed. This was a clear demonstration of sense memory. His entire body will never forget that moment. He was acting out the moment, not just telling it.

After that, he grabbed some stuff, opened his folding bike, and left the area. He pedaled across the Brooklyn Bridge, and spent the first night with friends. I asked him about his apartment. "Horrible," he said "... dust everywhere this high." He made a gesture with his hand - it looked like there was about 10 inches of dust. I think he'd had enough of talking about it after that. He quickly excused himself, and disappeared down the street.


Mario is a nice guy who works in the IS department. He could see the towers on fire from the train, as they crossed the bridge into Manhattan from Brooklyn. The conductor had told the passengers that a plane had crashed into the tower. I think everyone thought it was a small plane at that point. When Mario got off the train, he realized that the fire was serious. He said he felt the earth shake, and then there was a hot wind. He mentioned how hot it was a couple of times. He didn't mention running or screaming, or dust. When I asked him if he got covered in dust, he said "oh, yes."

He made his way down to the office, where dozens of people were herded into the basement gym. They stayed there for several hours, watching events unfold on the large screen TVs that were mounted all over the room. Mario said everyone looked dazed. Eventually, everyone was told that they couldn't stay there; that if they could get home, they should go. There was no food available, so they'd have to leave the building at the least.

He told me that when he came back out of the building there had been about 4 inches of ash and paper everywhere. I think he said it looked like a war zone. I know he referred to September 11 as the day the war started.


Headed home after a long shift. This recovery worker said that they're reducing the shifts to 8 hours. Besides the koala bear, his gear included the obligatory dust mask, heavy work gloves and a backpack - apparently full of dirty clothes.

[ link | e-me ]

3:11 PM      

A little while ago, we got an e-mail detailing how to evacuate the building. When I was in first and second grade, we had air raid drills. These precautions have that kind of feeling about them. Despite the speeches in the early days since September 11, our way of life and our consciousness have been altered forever.


Troubling thoughts keep coming back to me: It takes something to enrage a people so much that they spend five years plotting massive carnage. For years, we weren't told the truth about Viet Nam. bin Laden has been cast as a madman, but what would drive him so mad? In short, what's wrong with this picture? Here is some some insight from The Guardian


Conventional wisdom says "When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping." Or do they?

[ link | e-me ]

9:51 PM      

According to reports, it took a million dollars to clean up Stuyvesant high school alone.

John Lennon was born 61 years ago today.

[ link | e-me ]

Monday, October 08, 2001
1:22 AM      

It's late, but I couldn't resist making an entry... Minutes after President Bush had made the announcement, I found out that we'd begun shooting over in Afghanistan.

Part of my afternoon was spent with about a half-dozen people, many of us recounting our experince of first finding out about the September 11 attack.

We watched some of the CNN coverage. Someone went to a lot of trouble to get the closed captioning turned-on so that we didn't have to worry about the volume. At some point we noticed how badly garbled some of the captions got, because the people typing them couldn't keep up with the dialog. Good thing we weren't actually relying on those captions...

We all watched carefully as the video of Bin Laden played. I have my doubts about whether the message had been recorded earlier in the day. I also took his threats as anything but idle. Some of his words were blood-chilling.

The animated graphics depicting the ordinance being used looked like they came straight out of a video game. They cost about a million bucks a pop, and we probably popped 50 or so today. In all the talk of the destructive power of these weapons, the commentators mentioned destroying buildings for the most part. At one point, someone was talking about how you can put a cluster bomb warhead on one of the cruise missiles, for those situations where you're targeting personnel... "Personnnel" is people. It doesn't seem as though Bin Laden's talk of killing is so sanitized.

This evening, I came home via Union Square. It's the first time I've been by since the nightly vigils began there. My friend Warren has been there several times, and he commented on how different the gathering and the display is, now.

Someone was playing guitar, and a separate circle of people seemed to be having an agitated discussion about military action versus nonviolence. An amateur camera man and his boom-mike-wielding assistant were on hand to film the whole thing.

There was a long banner sponsored by a radio station - I think they're from Indiana - draped around a fence. It's still odd to me when commercial ventures get into the philanthropy business. The radio station logos looked garish in this context. They diminished the sentiment expressed in the handwritten messages on the banner.

As we left Union Square, Warren commented that the name of the park never seemed more appropriate. Our unity is being tested.

The other thing I did on the way home tonight, was pick up a copy of the New York Times. The headline read "Bush Says Time is Running Out..." The headline was out of date, by the time many Sunday Times readers were finishing their brunch.

[ link | e-me ]

12:12 PM      

Emmy: No, Columbus: Yes
We continue to struggle with what constitutes "appropriate behavior" in these times. On the west coast, the television industry has become self-conscious, and has cancelled the ceremony that was postponed and redesigned a few weeks ago. Closer to Ground Zero, the parade is almost an act of defiance. For years, Columbus Day has been increasingly marginalized. I wonder what the impact will be on this years event.

Last year, Denise and I went to see "Cabaret". As it sinks in just how long this conflict might go on, complete with the 100% probability of further terrorist strikes right in our "back yards", I begin to see parallels between the way we're living now, and what life must have been like in Paris, Berlin, and London in the early '40s. Rudy Giuliani has been on TV, talking about "heightened alert," and many of my friends are wondering aloud what that means.

When I got on the bus this morning, the driver had an open newspaper in his lap. I think he snuck a look every time he stopped for a light, or had to wait for passengers to board. The paper was open to a page-high picture of Bin Laden. I wonder if Hitler was depicted as often.

Flashing back to yesterday, I recall watching CNN. A General was the talking head of the moment, and he was seated in front of a map. A lage label on the map pointed to a city named "Herat." For a moment, the label looked to me as if it read "Heart." My thought was: they're striking back at the heart of the Taliban.

Further back to Saturday: Denise and I were in a seminar on home buying. An insurance specialist was the speaker, and he provided some interesting information related to the September 11 attacks:

  • He'd just gotten phone service back on Friday. His, and many others' cell phone bills for this month will be astronomical. Many people were unprepared for this
  • Most of the residents of Battery Park City didn't have homeowner's insurance - that would have covered things like getting new work clothes, paying for a place to stay until they could move back in, and dealing with clean-up and replacement of the things taken from their ransacked apartments
  • Because it was a warm day, many residents left their windows open that day. They returned home to find the place covered with dust - that dust will probably need to be removed by hazardous materials specialists

Other battle news
Remember the big story about the mega corporation that abused its monopoly power, accorting to two courts? Microsoft is back in the news, after about a 3-week hiatus. Still no settlement in sight. Both sides have lawyered-up further. As I rode the bus this morning, I heard two men speaking in Spanish, who seemed to be very engrossed in conversation. I probably know a dozen or so Spanish words, so I didn't expect to understand their conversation. As they talked, though, very recognizable words and phrases in English peppered their discussion: "hackers"..."Bill Gates"..."hacker"..."Apple"..."graphic user interface"...

The new spy game
I grew up on James Bond. For most of the series, the bread-and-butter of the story line has revolved around the cold war and its fallout. In "The World is Not Enough", the writers updated the plot lines and villainy to include international oil interests and terrorism, a fitting parallel to what's really going on now. There is even one dramatic desert battle scene. Through it all, James rises to the occasion, and foils the sinister plot. Too bad our real spy organizations didn't update as well as James.

Take this, for example: on August 11, the FBI arrested a man named Zacarias Moussaoui, 34, a French Moroccan who wanted to learn how to steer a jetliner, but not how to land or take off... He offered $8,000 in cash for the instruction.

Somewhere around Sept. 1, French intelligence cabled the US, indicating that Moussaoui was linked to "radical Islamic extremists" and that he had recently spent two months in Pakistan... which is a common route taken by people on their way to be trained at terrorist camps in Afghanistan.

Agents couldn't search this guy's home or get wiretaps because laws and policies put in place to compensate for the abuses of the Nixon era prevented it.

Read more about this:
Star Telegram
Star Tribune

The rockets' red glare
CNN's site includes maps and a "missile gallery," in case you want to know exactly what kind of rocks they're throwing, and where. As the WTC attack made clear, we're all involved, whether we like the idea or not; still I am uncomfortable with the phrases like "America fights back" being used in the media. For now, I still prefer to speak of the military personnel doing the actual fighting as "they," instead of "we." I think it's one of the few ways that I can maintain a degree of detachment. I slip into "we" from time to time, though.

[ link | e-me ]

3:12 PM      

Remember the Kursk? It's going home now.

We just got the announcement about Ivy's daughter Yvette. They found her remains at the World Trade Center. There will be a visiting period at the funeral home tomorrow. It pretty much goes without saying that this will be a closed-casket event.

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