September 11th, 2008

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9/11: Seven Years Ago

Exactly seven years ago today, terrorrists attacked the United States of America. They flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and into the Pentagon in 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 at my teaching job 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, I checked the New York Post webpage and the Newsday webpage. I called Nomi...

"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.

Ever since 9/11, Nomi and I check in with each other every morning when we get to work. I'm very grateful that she's around to be a part of my life. I probably don't need to tell anyone this, but today's probably a very good day to remind your loved ones, familes, and friends how much they mean to you.
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Doris Fisher

Back in June I noted that my cousin Douglas Fisher had died at the age of 62.

Sadly, two days ago Douglas's mother Doris Fisher also passed away.

To put this in context again, Doris was the wife of my cousin Ernie Fisher. Ernie, who celebrated his 85th birthday last year, and I share the ancestor Iudel Sokolovsky. Iudel was my great-great-grandfather, and was Ernie's great-grandfather.

Mom always kept us in touch with Ernie & Doris and their large family until Mom died in 2007. Although Nomi and I don't see the Fishers all that often, we're arranging to work from home tomorrow so we can attend Doris's funeral and let Ernie know we're there for him.
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[PSA] US Presidents Blog

Ian Randal Strock, who among other things is the author of the upcoming Random House book The Presidental Book of Lists: From Most to Least, Elected to Rejected, Worst to Cursed—Fascinating Facts About Our Chief Executives, has started a blog devoted to a discussion of US Presidents, Vice Presidents, their families, elections, and things relating to them.

gnomi and I are fascinated by presidential trivia and history, and the blog looks like it's going to be a lot of fun.

Check it out at http://uspresidents.livejournal.com (or uspresidents).