Thursday, May 31, 2012

"May I See a Photo ID, Please?"

That is the front range of the Rockies, looming off there in the distance. Can you spot them? It means I'm in the environs of Denver.

I try not to join the growing chorus of complaints about modern travel. The security lines, with the ignominy of clothing removal and pat downs, cramped airplanes, and the obligatory packages of peanuts tossed at one by surly flight attendants. I figure, since 9/11, we can all just suck it up and pretend this is our version of ration books in WW II.

But it has gone on for more than a decade now, and it does make flying very non-fun. However--I still managed to have a good trip to Denver, and my niece's up-coming wedding. It did occur to me as I was pulling out my California Drivers License for the umpteenth time, that those loony jihadists who started this whole thing--ALL HAD VALID IDENTIFICATION! But never mind.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Spring of Two Weddings, and ....

That was RC getting ready for wedding #1. Now she's headed to wedding #2.

December 2009 through March 2010, was a time of grieving for me. Two parents and two funerals, with all the rugged details the loss of loved ones entails. I did have one niece married quietly in between. She missed out a little on the chance to celebrate: with all of us gathering twice in four months for more sorrowful duties.

This year, after time to absorb all this change and feel my spirits gradually lift--this year is my year of two weddings. And happy moments they are. One learns to cherish these rites, knowing they are such important stations of joy along our journey.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day: Letter From the Front

My father and an unidentified soldier in a work shack on Ie Shima. If you look carefully at far left (on the top of the files) there is a lethal-looking bayonette. 

My father and the 1902 Engineer Aviation Batallion arrived off Okinawa on 15 April, 1945. As they circulated through those dangerous waters on board LSTs, General Simon Bolivar Buckner made the decision not to have them land on Okinawa, as planned--since the fighting there remained intense--but to land on nearby Ie Shima, where there were a couple of runways in need of repair.

The battle for Okinawa, that had begun April 1, was still raging and would not end until June. General Buckner would not himself survive.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Surplus Gov't Property? A Moffett Update

Historic Hangar One at former NAS Moffett, now in NASA hands.

Poor old historic airship Hangar One at Sunnyvale, California's Moffett Field. It is being passed around from government agency to government agency like an annoying foster child. First the Navy began to undress the hanger--toxic something-or-others in the skin--and now NASA, the present landlord of the old Navy base, wants the field declared "surplus government property" and handed over those fine Las Vegas party animals at the GSA.

I can understand why NASA doesn't want to deal with all the maintenance on this 1000-acre site. Unfortunately, NASA's decision, right at this time, could foul up negotiations going on between our local congresswoman and Google's founders--who have volunteered to pay $30M (or so) to reskin Hangar One, if they can store a couple of their private jets inside. (Google jets? But of course!)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag?

I have never liked this photo. My marriage had just croaked and someone told me to smile. And I did.  (Mom, Dad, and my cousin Beth Peterson Ratto.)

"One gets over everything," repeated Wimsey firmly. "Particularly if one tells somebody about it."
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928)
Dorothy L. Sayers

One of the problems with living a life in the public eye, is that one's public self begins to take on a life of its own. It may be a life that runs alongside your real life, and (if it travels in a wavy line), it can actually intersect your real life at certain points. But a public life cannot be entirely one's own life as--because of its nature--a public life belongs to the public who created it. Not to you.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Modern Life and Judge Manoukian's Court: A Follow-up And Some Final Thoughts


The son of an Armenian immigrant, Pete was born in Beirut, Lebanon and came to the US when he was two months old. His life is an American success story. 

During my years as a reporter, I covered a number of trials, outcomes of trials, arrests and arraignments, and even decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court. But I had never spent a morning in one courtroom, sitting in on the daily grind of hearings that make up the hard work of one judge.

That is why I decided to visit the courtroom of my childhood friend, Socrates Peter Manoukian. He has been a Superior Court Judge in Santa Clara County for two decades. Seeing the kinds of cases that come before him, day after day, was definitely an eye-opener.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bringing Order to People Behaving Badly: Judge Manoukian's Court on an Average Day

Superior Court Judge Socrates Peter Manoukian in his chambers.

Pete Manoukian was hoping to become a U.S Marine. Instead, he ended up with the far more arduous job of serving as a modern Solomon for people who threaten to: a)  kill those they once loved; b) throw things at their husbands' girlfriends; c) beat up high school chums and put the video on YouTube; and, d) send threatening text message to their landlords. Among other things.

In his courtroom, Superior Court Judge Manoukian is presently presiding over cases of Civil Assault. Here, those who have been uncivil, or have come across those who have not behaved well, can seek (or oppose) Restraining Orders. It is a court devised to resolve simple neighborhood disputes--without the need for attorneys. But the conflicts have become increasingly more violent in recent years.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Writer Phillip Finch RIP and Miss Havisham

A year after Phil and I were married, we solemnized our vows again for his parents in Vermont.

Last week, the death of my ex-husband caused me to re-live a traumatic event in my life, as if it had just happened. For several days, it felt completely normal to me to grieve, deny, get angry, feel sorrow and to mourn, as if the love I felt for him for eight years, and the trauma I experienced when he evaporated one day--was as recent as yesterday.

When I began to come out of it--it all seemed very, very strange to me. I haven't been married to, or hurt by this person for more than two decades!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"Half to Have It" Quits Half (Moon Bay)

Robin being photographed as she photographs a mirror at "Half to Have It."

I told my friend we couldn't visit Half Moon Bay without visiting the truly nutty landmark called "Half to Have It," a fixture full of quirky collectibles on HMB's Main Street for at least twenty years. But when we got there, it was gone!

Using the trusty iPhone we found its new digs near the harbor at Princeton-by-the-Sea, just a few miles north on California's Highway 1.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

In the Ranks For Dad at the Army Reserves: Thinking of My Choices In the Days Ahead ...


351st Civil Affairs Command ceremony, Moffett Field, California, May 6, 2012.

I stood in for Dad today. His old reserve unit, the 351st Civil Affairs Command, Mountain View, California, sent an invitation to my father and mother to attend a Relinquishment of Command Ceremony at Moffett Field.  Since the two of them are now reporting to a Higher Authority,  I asked if I could attend in their place. Brigadier General Gary A. Medvigy, said yes of course. And Hoo-Ah! (They really do say that in the Army these days.)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sherlock (Holmes, that is) Is Back! Thank Goodness He Has Never Left Us

Hey, don't you have a little Sherlock in your house?

I think any woman who can claim she has done a needlepoint of the "Sherlock Holmes" pub sign, owns her own deerstalker cap, and has a little plaque that features the address "221B Baker Street" tucked into a corner of her house, can be dubbed a Sherlockian.

I have loved the tales for years and years--many years (I must say with some pride) before Hollywood and the rest of the world caught up with me. Now that the tales are being retold, the PBS series called "Sherlock" is among the very best: so I'm thrilled to know the second season begins this Sunday night.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Writer Phillip Francis Finch, RIP (1948-2012)

Photo of Phillip F. Finch by Robin Chapman.

I learned tonight that someone I once loved very much died in February. He was the writer Phillip F. Finch. Though we were married for just eight years, and that was many years ago now--those were happy years for me. I expected we would be together for a lifetime.

But it was not to be. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Forgotten Bookmarks: In My Family Library and In a New Book


One of the delightful things about living in what I think of as my father's house, is the library I inherited from him. I sorted through a lot of it when I lost my parents, and gave away what I did not want. But some of the books had meaning for my father and I have kept those for myself.

I know the economic tome by Luwig Von Mises, On Human Action, was important to him, so I've tried to slog through it, to find out what I can learn from it. It is very slow going. The best part, though, are thing things I have found inside the book that Von Mises didn't put there.