Petraeus

What a great, tragic name.  I guessed it was Greek but in fact his father was “Sixtus Petraeus, a sea captain from Franeker, Netherlands.”

Two stories, first from Wikipedia:

Upon promotion to lieutenant colonel, Petraeus moved … to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he commanded the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)’s 3rd Battalion 187th Infantry Regiment, known as the “Iron Rakkasans”, from 1991–1993. During this period, he suffered one of the more dramatic incidents in his career; in 1991 he was accidentally shot in the chest with an M-16assault rifle during a live-fire exercise when a soldier tripped and his rifle discharged. He was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center,Nashville, Tennessee, where he was operated on by future U.S. SenatorBill Frist. The hospital released him early after he did fifty push-ups without resting, just a few days after the accident.

The other one I heard Rick Atkinson tell on NPR: Apparently Petraeus got into a joking interaction with a private on a dock in Kuwait City in 1991.  Petraeus challenged the soldier to a push-up contrast.  The private tapped out at 27.  Petraeus did 20 more, and then told the private he could write that off on his tax returns, because it was an education.


Airplane Travel

Mural painted by Allen Tupper True in 1937 for The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver.  Not sure if it’s still there, somebody in Denver have a look!


Mark Helprin

from The Paris Review:

INTERVIEWER

Why don’t you like to give interviews?

MARK HELPRIN

When I was young it was impossible to stop me from talking about myself, but I now find it difficult to start. As an adolescent (which stage in life took me to about the age of thirty) I had a facile tongue, a prodigious memory, and an all-consuming fear of sociality (a fear and distaste that is, if anything, stronger now than it ever was, but now I am disciplined enough just to suffer through it and, quite frankly, I’m tired of trying to keep back a sea of discomfort with the flood of my own words).

The source of my aversion is partly hereditary, in that my father and many of my relatives were much the same, and partly an acquisition that I owe to my early upbringing. When this was far more serious a matter than it is now, I was born two months prematurely, with malformations of the spine (spina bifida) and lungs, and what was later diagnosed as “hyperconvulsive neurological syndrome.” Whatever that is, it was sufficient to have kept me out of the United States Army, though not the Israeli infantry and air force or the British Merchant Navy.

To make a rather long story extremely short, I spent many weeks in an incubator, came home as damaged goods, and spent much of my early life in the throes of respiratory diseases that kept me out of school and apart from others. As a small child, I once ran a fever for, literally, a year. I had pneumonia half a dozen times, double pneumonia, whooping cough—all because of the circumstances of my birth.

Now, combine that, and all that you can imagine might flow from it, with the place in which I was raised—Ossining, New York. Culturally, the character of the area was formed during the Revolutionary War, when it was a no-man’s-land between the Americans and the British, and every criminal, deserter, and malcontent for hundreds of miles found his way there and left his genes. When I was a child, I would always look at people’s hands, to see if they had six fingers, and sometimes they did.

My draft board, I am told (although it may be myth), had, of all draft boards in the United States, the highest proportion of men killed in Vietnam—where, incidentally, my godfather, the photographer Robert Capa, was the first American to die, though he was a Hungarian and had nothing to do with the Hudson. The area was salted with military institutions—West Point, military academies, veterans’ hospitals—and old soldiers, including even, when I was young, some from the Civil War. The play of the boys was guerilla warfare in the extensive woods. Every stranger was a threat, an enemy. Indeed, there were a lot of bad apples around—escaped convicts from Sing Sing (twice as I remember), standard criminals, gangs in the fifties, child molesters (a beautiful little girl was taken from my third-grade schoolyard and raped and beaten over a period of many hours), and hoboes (not Shakespearian woodwinds) on the rail line that was the geographical locus of my childhood. I ran wild through all this, protected by my paranoia, by my sharply-honed guerilla skills, and by a rather extensive arsenal. Had you turned me upside down and shaken me, the floor would have looked like a military museum after an earthquake.

INTERVIEWER

I was asking about your dislike of being interviewed.

(photo found here, by Jim Harrison for Harvard Magazine)


Rocks, California


The North Court, UC Los Angeles (Ansel Adams, November 1966)

 

SFGate tells us:

In 1964, University of California President Clark Kerr hired Ansel Adams to photograph the UC system. What the visionary Kerr had in mind was an elegant and oversize table book to celebrate the centennial of the university, in ‘68.

 You can see them here, ht Sadie Stein and these guys


California Legless Lizard

The California Legless Lizard (Anniella pulchra) is a limbless, burrowing lizard often mistaken for a snake.

Says Wikipedia:

Young lizards resemble their parents except look like smaller versions of them.


Near McKittrick, California