October 19, 2014
Last Friday, a perfect fall afternoon in the mid sixties with blue skies, I was walking up Connecticut Avenue on my way to Buck's for a cheeseburger. Heading in the opposite direction a motorcade raced toward the center of DC. There were four giant black SUVs with fully opaque secondary windows, a prowl car on point with siren wailing and light bar flashing its red blue tango, all five vehicles being chased by a doo-wop blaring, maniacally weaving ambulance. In the split second that they passed me a manila envelope flew through the air and smacked into the pavement right at my feet. Curious, I had a look. It was an inter-agency routing envelope, the kind with a pattern of peek-a-boo holes and a string you wind around little cardboard disks to close its flap, that, from its stamp collection, had made more rounds than a hooker at the Mayflower. Inside, the first thing I noticed were red capital letters spelling TOP SECRET at the top and the bottom of each of several pages. I glanced dourly at a cover memo — as Samuel Johnson said of a dog's walking on his hind legs, high bureaucratese is never done well but one is surprised to find it done at all — and then my spine froze stiffer than a Smithsonian fossil when it dawned on me that I was holding the translated transcript of a conversation between Abu Muhammad al-Parisi, the French intelligence officer (a bomb expert) who recently defected from DGSE to al Qaida, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State. Naturally, I later burned both the envelope and its contents. To give the public a ring-side seat, however, and in the hopes of furthering some commonsensical discussion of national security policy options, here are, as I have redacted them, the highlights:
October 15, 2014
My plan is to continue podcasting but it's unlikely, I think, for me to have the necessary time until somewhere in the Spring.
The memorial service for my parents at Westmoreland Church went great. About 60-65 people showed up. One lady flew in from LA. Several came down from NYC. Quite a few from surrounding states. A good mix. All ages. One young lady in her thirties spoke of her friendship with my mom and one of my dad's friends who's ninety five (a doctor) showed up in his wheelchair. Between the live music, poetry readings, personal remembrances, the minister's remarks, the flowers, and refreshment afterward in the church parlor (catered by Balducci's), it was sort of like the parties that my parents used to throw. Everyone enjoyed themselves and I feel like it was a job well done.
I'd put off dealing with a persistent toothache for over a year. Brushing the gum to stimulate blood flow, flossing extra times, swishing with hydrogen peroxide right from the bottle (yuck). It would flare up into considerable discomfort then fade into background noise. There was just too much going on for me to worry about it. But last weekend it started throbbing in agony and wouldn't quit so I knew I had to go to the dentist. Or, actually, I knew I could skip that step and go straight to the endodontist. Probably, I figured, it was a tooth to be pulled and, probably, from how it felt, I thought it was to the back of my mouth. Wrong on both counts. It was tooth number twelve and it needed a root canal. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. And Ouch. But thanks God it's done. Now I've got to decide, since tooth number twelve is fairly visible, do I want a gold tooth or a ceramic one? Not knowing any better, probably gold.