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Sep. 11th, 2014

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9/11: Thirteen Years Ago — Personal Reflections

Exactly thirteen years ago today, terrorists attacked the United States of America. They flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and into the Pentagon near Washington, DC. They most likely would also have flown a plane into the Capitol building but were stopped by the passengers of United 93. Almost 3,000 people died that day.

Because I'm obsessed with exactness, I've made sure for a while now to know the exact times of certain events that took place on 9/11. The bare sequence of events at the World Trade Center was as follows:

8:46:26 AM: North Tower Hit
9:02:54 AM: South Tower Hit
9:59:04 AM: South Tower Collapsed
10:28:31 AM: North Tower Collapsed

I'm a New York City native, born and raised in Queens, and I grew up in a city in which the Towers always stood. On 9/11, I was a teacher at a private school in Newton, Massachusetts. The following comes from my journal, a hand-written one that I was keeping at the time.

"The second [staff] meeting ended early, and I went back to the Science lab to check my e-mail. I idly noted a message...which said that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center.

"I didn't really think much of it and I went back to the Information Center. Shortly after the meeting...began, [a colleague] walked in and asked if we had heard the news. He told us that two planes had hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and he set up the small TV to receive CNN. They showed pictures of two commercial jets crashing into the twin towers...

"I ran to the phone...to call [my younger brother] at work. At 9:35 AM I called and got him. He had just gotten in, and he said that he seen the smoke from the 7 train. I told him to stay in touch, but due to circuits being busy, I wasn't able to reach New York City again for a while.

"The rest of the day passed in a blur of rumors and news. I kept checking webpages; when I couldn't reach cnn.com, checked the New York Post webpage and the Newsday webpage. [I had called Nomi, and she had suggested the second-tier news sites.]

"At 10:15 AM, the...students returned from their physical education class...and...we told them the news...

"When the meeting with the students ended, I collapsed in tears..."

There's more, of course, but to summarize, I spent the day trying to get news of family and friends, making sure they were all safe. The drive home was surreal, knowing that fighter planes and battleships were protecting New York City. Nomi was already home, as her office had sent everyone home early. The rest of my family was safe, but my older brother, an emergency medicine physician, had been called up to report to New York City. Nomi and I took a walk at 5:30 PM, which included browsing at Brookline Booksmith and getting ice cream at JP Licks. Everything on TV was the news; we watched C-SPAN, which was running a feed from the CBC, so we could get the Canadian perspective.

The next few days, the events were fresh in everyone's mind. On Wednesday, I flinched at hearing an airplane in the sky, then remembered that all commercial flights had been grounded, so it had to be one of our military aircraft, protecting us. I bought my regular comic books that day; Adventures of Superman #596 had an eerie panel of the twin towers of Metropolis being repaired. A friend came over that evening after attending a local religious service.

On Thursday, Nomi and I were sick of the news, and Animal Planet had gone back to regular programming. We watched a documentary about moose to help us get our minds off things.

And life went on. Today, I'm no longer teaching, but editing science curricular materials in Boston; my younger brother no longer lives in New York City, but in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and three children; and my older brother is still an emergency medicine physician in the Boston area, specializing in disaster management.

And as all my friends know, there have been other changes in my life. In 2007 I lost my mom. In 2008 I published a book collection of many of my short stories. And in 2009, Nomi and I welcomed two precious and adorable girls into our lives. Being a parent changes your perspective on a lot of things, and 9/11 is no exception. When the attacks happened, I was worried for my mom and my brothers; if something were to happen today, my first priority would be to make sure that my children were safe.

I probably don't need to tell anyone this, but today's a very good day to remind your loved ones, families, and friends how much they mean to you.

Aug. 15th, 2014

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My Week in Facebook, August 10-15, 2014

Let's go through the week! Here are links.

On Sunday, the family attended the Boston Comic Con. We had a blast. I posted a photo album called Boston Comic Con 2014. It includes pictures of Squeaker posing with cosplayers, me and the kids emerging from a TARDIS, me meeting some of my favorite comic creators, and more. Go on and take a look.

We also got a TARDIS and Dalek salt and pepper shaker set.

On Monday night came the news of the death of Robin Williams, and I posted something I call Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society, and My Teaching on Facebook. I decided to post it on LiveJournal as well, and for what it's worth, I got a lot of response to it on Facebook and none (as of this writing) on LJ. Moving on...

Tuesday I linked to a post by David Mack on the need for diversity in science fiction. Here's his post on LJ, as infinitydog.

I also reminded people about the Kickstarter for Chronosphere. Come on, folks, I want to play this game!

And I took these pictures and posted them: Robin Williams Bench, Boston Public Garden, 2014-08-12.

Wednesday night we showed the kids the move Aladdin.

Thursday I ate lunch.

And today I posted a link to our new The Brookline Parent column, Adventuring Through Comic Con. But if you keep up with my LiveJournal, you already know that...




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The Brookline Parent: Adventuring Through Comic Con

In this week's The Brookline Parent column, gnomi writes about us taking Muffin and Squeaker to Boston Comic Con, and all the fun we had. There are lots of pictures of Squeaker with cool cosplayers; check it out!

Adventuring Through Comic Con

Aug. 1st, 2014

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My Week in Facebook, July 27-August 1, 2014

So what was I up to this past week?

On Sunday we took the kids to the Boston Children's Museum, to play there with friends of ours who were visiting from Canada with their own twin daughters (and their baby son). Both of our kids said funny things later on that night.

On Monday I noted the 69th anniversary of the B-25 bomber crashing into the Empire State Building.

On Wednesday I linked to a Boston Globe column about a former professor of mine, Paul Horowitz, and his involvement in the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). I also waxed enthusiastic about Sharknado 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy:

"Guardians of the Galaxy: You'll believe a raccoon can fly."

"Sharknado 2: I don't think a movie has made me this proud to have been born and raised in New York City since Ghostbusters."

And then today I posted a link to our new The Brookline Parent column, "Let It Go, Let It Be," but my guess is you already knew about that.

I guess it was sort of a quiet week on the home front, even if the news from the rest of the world was chaotic and sometimes bleak.

Jul. 11th, 2014

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My Week in Facebook - July 6-11, 2014

In an attempt to try to be more active on my blog, I will start attempting to summarize things I posted about during the past week on Facebook, and to a lesser extent, Twitter. Also, I'll update about life in general. Let's see if this works….

So what was my life like this past week? Well, Muffin and Squeaker were cute all week, but also often obstinate. I've been reading to them at bedtime from "The Patchwork Girl of Oz," and they always insist on another chapter even as they are fighting sleep. This results in them being overtired and then whiny. We're working on it.

On Monday I noted that a new book will be out in the fall, Legendary Locals of Brookline. I might be in it.

Also on Monday I asked people to share the title of one book they happened to be in the middle of, and boy did I get a lot of responses. Now I have a new list of books to track down and read.

On Wednesday, I wished for safety for my friends and family in Israel.

Also on Wednesday, I was excited to see that the superhero Firestorm is coming to the small screen as a character in the new TV show The Flash.

On Thursday, I posted a picture of a hawk from 2008, and Nomi met Chris Colfer.

Also, throughout the week, I posted interesting links, including these:
Writing tips from the CIA's ruthless style manual
Pictures from the Brookline library's Retro Technology Fair
An article about the retired Library Director (hey, I'm quoted!)

As for this upcoming weekend, I will sadly not make it to Readercon, as much as I would like to. But we will be having a birthday party on Sunday for the kids. I can't believe how many years it has been since they were born...

Hope your week went well, and that you're looking forward to the weekend.

Mar. 27th, 2014

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Yesterday's Fire in Boston - Some Thoughts

I work in the Back Bay area of Boston, and as I left work yesterday, I could smell the smoke from the fire at 298 Beacon Street, even though it was a ten-minute walk away. The air was filled with a haze, and the odor stung my eyes, causing them to well up with tears.

Later on, my eyes welled up with tears again, as we heard that two firefighters, Michael R. Kennedy and Edward J. Walsh, Jr., had made the ultimate sacrifice as they tried to stop the fire and save other people's lives.

My friend Andrew Marc Greene (530nm330hz) said the following on Facebook:


I will never understand what gives a person the courage to run into a burning building, to put his own life at risk in the hope of saving others. I can merely be humbled and grateful that others do. Baruch Dayan ha-Emet.


I had been thinking of similar words, from a powerful story. And I want to share them.

After 9/11, some of the major comic book artists and writers contributed to two tribute books, the proceeds of which were donated to charity. One of those writers was Kurt Busiek, who wrote an Astro City story called "Since the Fire." With his permission, I'm going to discuss it and quote it here. I still urge all of you to track it down, as it is much more powerful with Brent Anderson's art.

The story is about a boy named Farrell, who almost died when his family's apartment got set on fire during a fight among super-powered people. Farrell almost died, but a firefighter named Arnie Prentice rescued him and then went back inside the building to save other people. Because Prentice went back in, he lost a leg and now walks on crutches (and presumably can't work as a firefighter any more).

In the story, Farrell's father takes him to meet Prentice for the first time since the fire, so the boy can thank him. And then Farrell asks Prentice why he was willing to risk his life to save him, and why he was willing to go back inside and would do it again, even though it cost him a leg.

Prentice looks somber for a moment, and then says:



Because someone's got to do it. And better that it's someone trained, skilled, and equipped to have the best chance of getting kids like you out.

Take a look around. All these people, they're livin' their lives, and they do what they do, and sleep a little easier because of guys like me and the others back there. The superheroes flying' around, they're okay -- but they can't always be there. We gotta take care of ourselves.

And when you're in a jam, like you were --

-- you want to hear that siren, you want to know someone'll come help. That you're not on your own.

I'd want to know that at least.


And the story ends with Prentice visiting the graves of the two firefighters who got him out.

Anyway, that's what I was thinking about yesterday, and I hugged my kids a little tighter. Kurt, thank you for the words and the permission to quote them.

Mar. 13th, 2014

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Kitty Genovese

Today is the 50th anniversary of the murder of Kitty Genovese.

If you don't know the story, Wikipedia has a pretty good explanation here: Murder of Kitty Genovese. The murder took place in the neighborhood that was pretty much next door to the one I grew up in, and years before I was born. But a few years ago, as I was writing an article about Spider-Man for the book Webslinger, my half-brother took me over to the murder site. Genovese's murder looms large in history and the culture, and it seemed to me it would have loomed large for a the teenage Peter Parker as well.

We took a few pictures of the murder site, and I contemplated solemnly what it all meant.

May she rest in peace.

Sep. 11th, 2013

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9/11: Twelve Years Ago — Personal Reflections

Exactly twelve years ago today, terrorists attacked the United States of America. They flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and into the Pentagon near Washington, DC. They most likely would also have flown a plane into the Capitol building but were stopped by the passengers of United 93. Almost 3,000 people died that day.

Because I'm obsessed with exactness, I've made sure for a while now to know the exact times of certain events that took place on 9/11. The bare sequence of events at the World Trade Center was as follows:

8:46:26 AM: North Tower Hit
9:02:54 AM: South Tower Hit
9:59:04 AM: South Tower Collapsed
10:28:31 AM: North Tower Collapsed

I'm a New York City native, born and raised in Queens, and I grew up in a city in which the Towers always stood. On 9/11, I was a teacher at a private school in Newton, Massachusetts. The following comes from my journal, a hand-written one that I was keeping at the time.

"The second [staff] meeting ended early, and I went back to the Science lab to check my e-mail. I idly noted a message...which said that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center.

"I didn't really think much of it and I went back to the Information Center. Shortly after the meeting...began, [a colleague] walked in and asked if we had heard the news. He told us that two planes had hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and he set up the small TV to receive CNN. They showed pictures of two commercial jets crashing into the twin towers...

"I ran to the phone...to call [my younger brother] at work. At 9:35 AM I called and got him. He had just gotten in, and he said that he seen the smoke from the 7 train. I told him to stay in touch, but due to circuits being busy, I wasn't able to reach New York City again for a while.

"The rest of the day passed in a blur of rumors and news. I kept checking webpages; when I couldn't reach cnn.com, checked the New York Post webpage and the Newsday webpage. [I had called Nomi, and she had suggested the second-tier news sites.]

"At 10:15 AM, the...students returned from their physical education class...and...we told them the news...

"When the meeting with the students ended, I collapsed in tears..."

There's more, of course, but to summarize, I spent the day trying to get news of family and friends, making sure they were all safe. The drive home was surreal, knowing that fighter planes and battleships were protecting New York City. Nomi was already home, as her office had sent everyone home early. The rest of my family was safe, but my older brother, an emergency medicine physician, had been called up to report to New York City. Nomi and I took a walk at 5:30 PM, which included browsing at Brookline Booksmith and getting ice cream at JP Licks. Everything on TV was the news; we watched C-SPAN, which was running a feed from the CBC, so we could get the Canadian perspective.

The next few days, the events were fresh in everyone's mind. On Wednesday, I flinched at hearing an airplane in the sky, then remembered that all commercial flights had been grounded, so it had to be one of our military aircraft, protecting us. I bought my regular comic books that day; Adventures of Superman #596 had an eerie panel of the twin towers of Metropolis being repaired. A friend came over that evening after attending a local religious service.

On Thursday, Nomi and I were sick of the news, and Animal Planet had gone back to regular programming. We watched a documentary about moose to help us get our minds off things.

And life went on. Today, I'm no longer teaching, but editing textbooks in Boston; my younger brother no longer lives in New York City, but in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and three children; and my older brother is still an emergency medicine physician in the Boston area, specializing in disaster management.

And as all my friends know, there have been other changes in my life. In 2007 I lost my mom. In 2008 I published a book collection of many of my short stories. And in 2009, Nomi and I welcomed two precious and adorable girls into our lives. Being a parent changes your perspective on a lot of things, and 9/11 is no exception. When the attacks happened, I was worried for my mom and my brothers; if something were to happen today, my first priority would be to make sure that my children were safe.

I probably don't need to tell anyone this, but today's a very good day to remind your loved ones, families, and friends how much they mean to you.

Jul. 24th, 2013

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Apex Blog: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

As you all know (I presume), I've been a fan of Superman since I was four years old. Last month, I was very excited to see Man of Steel, and I've been thinking about it a lot ever since.

I think I've finally managed to arrange my thoughts about the concerns I have with the film in a coherent form.

See my latest post on the Apex Blog, linked to below.

Apex Blog: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

Wayback Machine Archive: Apex Blog: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

Sep. 11th, 2012

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9/11: Eleven Years Ago — Personal Reflections

Exactly eleven years ago today, terrorists attacked the United States of America. They flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and into the Pentagon near Washington, DC. They most likely would also have flown a plane into the Capitol building but were stopped by the passengers of United 93. Almost 3,000 people died that day.

Because I'm obsessed with exactness, I've made sure for a while now to know the exact times of certain events that took place on 9/11. The bare sequence of events at the World Trade Center was as follows:

8:46:26 AM: North Tower Hit
9:02:54 AM: South Tower Hit
9:59:04 AM: South Tower Collapsed
10:28:31 AM: North Tower Collapsed

I'm a New York City native, born and raised in Queens, and I grew up in a city in which the Towers always stood. On 9/11, I was a teacher at a private school in Newton, Massachusetts. The following comes from my journal, a hand-written one that I was keeping at the time.

"The second [staff] meeting ended early, and I went back to the Science lab to check my e-mail. I idly noted a message...which said that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center.

"I didn't really think much of it and I went back to the Information Center. Shortly after the meeting...began, [a colleague] walked in and asked if we had heard the news. He told us that two planes had hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and he set up the small TV to receive CNN. They showed pictures of two commercial jets crashing into the twin towers...

"I ran to the phone...to call [my younger brother] at work. At 9:35 AM I called and got him. He had just gotten in, and he said that he seen the smoke from the 7 train. I told him to stay in touch, but due to circuits being busy, I wasn't able to reach New York City again for a while.

"The rest of the day passed in a blur of rumors and news. I kept checking webpages; when I couldn't reach cnn.com, checked the New York Post webpage and the Newsday webpage. [I had called Nomi, and she had suggested the second-tier news sites.]

"At 10:15 AM, the...students returned from their physical education class...and...we told them the news...

"When the meeting with the students ended, I collapsed in tears..."

There's more, of course, but to summarize, I spent the day trying to get news of family and friends, making sure they were all safe. The drive home was surreal, knowing that fighter planes and battleships were protecting New York City. Nomi was already home, as her office had sent everyone home early. The rest of my family was safe, but my older brother, an emergency medicine physician, had been called up to report to New York City. Nomi and I took a walk at 5:30 PM, which included browsing at Brookline Booksmith and getting ice cream at JP Licks. Everything on TV was the news; we watched C-SPAN, which was running a feed from the CBC, so we could get the Canadian perspective.

The next few days, the events were fresh in everyone's mind. On Wednesday, I flinched at hearing an airplane in the sky, then remembered that all commercial flights had been grounded, so it had to be one of our military aircraft, protecting us. I bought my regular comic books that day; Adventures of Superman #596 had an eerie panel of the twin towers of Metropolis being repaired. A friend came over that evening after attending a local religious service.

On Thursday, Nomi and I were sick of the news, and Animal Planet had gone back to regular programming. We watched a documentary about moose to help us get our minds off things.

And life went on. Today, I'm no longer teaching, but editing textbooks in Boston; my younger brother no longer lives in New York City, but in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and three children; and my older brother is still an emergency medicine physician in the Boston area, specializing in disaster management.

And as all my friends know, there have been other changes in my life. In 2007 I lost my mom. In 2008 I published a book collection of many of my short stories. And in 2009, Nomi and I welcomed two precious and adorable girls into our lives. Being a parent changes your perspective on a lot of things, and 9/11 is no exception. When the attacks happened, I was worried for my mom and my brothers; if something were to happen today, my first priority would be to make sure that my children were safe.

I probably don't need to tell anyone this, but today's probably a very good day to remind your loved ones, families, and friends how much they mean to you.

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