Saturday, September 13, 2008


(This first part is influenced by my first few pages of reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

What might cause people/nations/worlds to change their calendric system? Probably a cataclysm of some kind. A date upon which to base all past and future dates. Perhaps we might have done that with the first "Date which will Live in Infamy?" But we didn't. And now we've gone through (at least) one more since then, but we didn't change then either. So, I guess we won't. But if we did, it would make keeping accurate records and descriptions of historical events harder to describe and keep track of. Of course, if you are going through the trouble of setting your entire world view around a single date, then everything else gets skewed and complicated anyway, right? (And yes, some of you might be thinking that this also applies to religious beliefs as well and I won't deny that the logic is the same.

But, yes, another anniversary came and went a few days ago. The day before I almost made a snarky comment about the appropriate colors to wear on that date would be Red, White, Black, and Blue. But I didn't say it out loud and I have come to be glad that I did not. I admit that part of my snarky reaction is based on my biased opinions about the POTUS, but that should not extend to the normal people that have every right to note this date with reverence, honor, and sadness.

Perhaps part of it the overlarge flag that is draped over the building during this Week of Remembrance. At least I don't work on that side of the office anymore, therefore hearing the WHAP, WHAP of the metal grommets and rope that hold the overlarge flag in place. At least my sunlight does not have a patriotic hue as it comes in through the windows on my (non-public) side of the corporate workplace.

But anyway, on That Date, I got to work early in the morning (since it was my week to leave early for the school pickup). The out-of-order traffic light above Polaris Pkwy. should have given me a clue, but I was surprised to discover that power was out in the office That Day. Not many people had yet arrived, but I climbed the stairs to the fourth floor (exercise . . . NOT elevator avoidance) and set my stuff down. I knew I had Page Proofs to review, so I didn't worry about my non-functional computer and gathered up my chapters, my red pen, and my iPod full of podcasts. I sat down on the buildings northwesterly corner and used the morning sunlight to illuminate my tasks. As I went through my chapters, people began arriving around me, but they generally left me alone. As I worked I heard an intercom announcement that the power was projected to return in another hour or so. Workers were authorized to leave the building for coffee and breakfast elsewhere in the meantime.

I finished my work and found a few friends who wanted to walk to the neighboring Starbucks for the morning coffee. We left the building, crossed the parking lot and decided our route would be through the empty parking area of the now-empty music amphitheater. We had to cross the feeder road, walk along a small overpass, and walked down the slight defile to the parking. Unaccustomary as this type of pedestrian activity is to us, it felt a bit odd. Naturally, I chose to make some appropriately purile jokes to Shirtless about Armageddon, Apocalypse, and zombie attack as we walked. (I even picked up a four-foot-long wooden marker stake left over from some construction project as our roving bands only "weapon.")

I was joking of course, but there was a small part of me that mentally connected the power outage to the previous events of That Day. Remember how for a few weeks after Then we looked a bit more carefully when planes flew overhead? So, yeah, a bit of my brain went There and Did That.

In the end, we didn't make it to Starbucks. We met another band of rovers coming toward us from that direction. Their reconnaissance was that Starbucks was powerless as well. Presumably the be-aproned Baristas were told to defend their milk frothers to the death.

So, we turned around and our band of travelers split up. I went back inside and climbed up the stairs to my cubicle in the sky. Others got in their cars and drove to a nearby restaurant for coffee. When I got back in the building I saw that lights were on and so I got upstairs, plugged in my laptop and switched everything one. Probably everyone who was in the building at that time also decided to activate at that time because five minutes after I started everything, the power went out again. This time the blackout only lasted for about ten minutes and then the rest of the workday was normal.

But, this wasn't a normal day. Or at least it had not once been normal. I stopped worrying about the possible dangers hidden in that mornings disruptions and went about my day, but later that night, when I got home and got the kids to bed I switched on the History Channel and saw that they were playing 102 Minutes That Changed America. I normally don't sit down and watch  these things. I have not seen United 93 or World Trade Center. But I sat and watched. And it made me feel regret for the snarky comment almost said the previous day or the zombie jokes that morning. I was reminded of the simple human dramas that took place That Day as well as the confusion and terror that occurred. 


In other less serious news, several of us had our annual eye exams today. It was confirmed that my right eye cataract had significantly worsened during the past year. According to the optometrist, even with prescription correction, I can't get my right eye vision better than 20/200. So, it isn't very good. The doctor had said last year that he would stick with manual adjustments for as long as possible, but things got so bad since last year that he is willing to go right surgery now. And I am fine with that since I pretty much avoid driving at night right now. If it is raining, it is very difficult to distinguish the streetlights from the headlights and everything has a halo. Adding in the reflections from any rain soaked asphalt just makes everything treacherous.

So, I expect the surgery to occur sometime within the next month or so. Of course, I'll fill everyone in as the time draws closer.


Finally, here is a bit of levity, courtesy of Hannah. Thanks for breaking the mood!

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