Reading for the Day: William Langewiesche on Birds and Aircraft

When Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River a few months ago, he became an instant folk hero.  The following is from an article about Sullenberger in the June 2009 issue of Vanity Fair:

From 1990 through 2007 in the United States alone, civil aircraft struck birds on several hundred thousand occasions, often killing multiples at a time.  The toll leveled around 2002, apparently because of the decline in air traffice following the September 11 attacks, but this proved to be a temporary retrieve.  By 2007 the slaughter had soared to record levels, and with it had come a tendency to blame the victims and persecute them on the ground.  There are some six billion birds in the United States, every one of them an easy target.  Persecuting them on the ground is known as “mitigation.”

What have we wrought?  The answer, again from Langewiesche:

State wildlife agencies “captured breeding pairs of an endangered but super-size subspecies known as the giant Canada goose, and by clipping their wings forced them to settle permanently into authorized nesting grounds along the Eastern Seabord and elsewhere in the United States.  The offspring of these clipped-wing geese imprinted to the new locations, and, having lost the collective memory of migration, became full-time resident populations.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Summer Reading: “Faith, Love, Time, and Dr. Lazaro”

Last night, while The Man and self were having dinner in front of the TV, we heard on the news that a second Bay Area resident has died from the A(H1N1) virus, this one a middle-aged man who had no prior history of susceptibility.  And yet, here we are, still going about, still watching movies, still driving here and there, and the news makes no difference.

Only, it is difficult to sleep.

Dearest Mum is wherever she is, self doesn’t bother to call anymore.

On self’s lap is a big, heavy book, with the story “Faith, Love, Time and Dr. Lazaro.”  The author is Greg C. Brillantes.  He, like self, like self’s father, like her three brothers and husband, was an Atenista.

The story is about a doctor in some un-named provincial town (There is mention of a San Miguel Bridge —  where would that be?).  The doctor has to make a night call, so his teen-aged son offers to drive.  And while they are driving, the doctor thinks of “light-years, black space, infinite distances; in the unmeasured universe, man’s life flared briefly and was gone, traceless in the void.”

Self thinks these are extremely heavy thoughts.

And no wonder.  A few paragraphs on, an image comes to the doctor’s mind:  “slashed wrists, part of the future dead in a boarding house room,” the doctor’s other son.

Brillantes writes:  “Sorrow lay in ambush among the years.”

What. a. beautiful. sentence.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Most Inspiring Memory of the Weekend

Aside from what was on son’s mortarboard:

Sign that son put on his mortarboard with blue tape, the night before the Cal Poly Commencement

Sign that son put on his mortarboard with blue tape, the night before the Cal Poly Commencement

Aside from this message on Kramer’s T-shirt:

Kramer's T-shirt (He runs cross-country at Harvey Mudd)

Kramer's T-shirt (He runs cross-country at Harvey Mudd)

The most inspiring memory was something self doesn’t have a picture of.  When the graduating seniors were headed to their respective departments, after the main ceremony in Spanos Stadium, self saw a young man walking quickly along the sidewalk.  He was tousle-haired and tan, and he was wearing shorts.  He had a prosthetic arm and two prosthetic legs.  The legs connected mid-thigh.  The arm connected above the elbow.  Self gaped.  She looked at the young man’s face.  He was smiling to himself.  He walked quickly along, and no one so much as turned their heads.  Self tugged urgently at hubby’s arm:  “Look!” she said.  “Look!  See him?  The one in the grey t-shirt?”  Hubby looked.  But the young man was walking so fast that he was almost out of sight.

Self will never forget it, dear blog readers.  Never.

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