Saturday, June 30, 2012

Torah Thoughts Written By Leslie Bergson

In this week’s Parshah, Chukkat, Moses is going through a really hard time.  The people settle in the wilderness in Kadesh.  While they are in Kadesh, Miriam dies.  From the time of Moses’ birth, when Miriam stood and watched Pharoah’s daughter take her baby brother out of his basket of bulrushes in the river, he could always count upon his sister, and now she is no more. 

One might expect that the people would rally around Moses and try to comfort him.  However the Israelites have no water, and they treat him to yet another chorus of their whining about how good life was in Egypt and how miserable they are in the wilderness.  God tells Moses and Aaron to talk to the rock and get water from it.  Instead, Moses strikes the rock, saying, “Listen now, you rebels, shall we get water for you from this rock?”

For this act, God tells Moses that he will not be able to enter the promised land.  Some commentators say that it is for the sin of disobedience in not following God’s command.  Others believe that it is the word “we”; that Moses is implying that it is he and Aaron, not God, who is providing the water.  Still others believe that, as the leader of the people, he should not have shown his anger in public, and God realized that it was time to pass on the leadership to another.  My own theory is that he is in deep grief for his beloved sister, and not acting as he usually does.

Modern Jewish mourning customs make provisions for the loved ones of the departed.  They are visited, fed and cared for by the community.  It’s a shame that they weren’t yet in place when Moses needed comforting. - Rabbi Leslie Bergson

Another Delay For Amelia

Seventy-five years ago today Amelia Earhart had hoped to be on her way to Howland Island.  We know that she will not make that final take off for three more days.  In But This Is Different she has no way to communicate these delays to the woman who waits for her on the island of Nani.  In the photograph Amelia stands on the wing of her Electra on a dark night in Lae, New Guiena, and surely looks toward that invisible speck of land knowing that Pilapan also gazes into the night searching for the most famous face in the world.

Friday, June 29, 2012

One More Take Off To Go

On this date seventy-five years ago Amelia Earhart flew from Darwin, Australia, to Lae, New Guinea.  She has traveled twenty-two thousand miles since leaving Oakland headed east. In her public life she will one final time pull the Lockheed Electra off the ground and into the air.  In But This Is Different we know she has one spectacular landing as pilot in command of the aircraft and many more adventures left to go.  However, never again will crowds such as those in the photograph gather around the most famous woman in that world and her most famous airplane.
In her own words written from Lae, New Guinea:  My Electra now rests on the shores of the Pacific. ... Not much more than a month ago I was on the other shore of the Pacific, looking westward. This evening, I looked eastward over the Pacific. In those fast-moving days which have intervened, the whole width of the would has passed behind us - except this broad ocean. I shall be glad when we have the hazards of its navigation behind us. - Amelia Earhart
And soon, of course, she will indeed leave those hazards behind her.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

With Five Days To Go She Has No Parachute

In her own words Amelia describes their stay in Darwin, Australia: “The airport is good and very easy to find. We were pounced upon by a doctor as we rolled to a stop, and thereupon were examined thoroughly for tropical diseases. No one could approach us or the airplane until we had passed muster. If this work is done at all it should be thorough, and I approved the methods, although the formalities delayed refueling operations. The customs officials had to clear the Electra as if she wee an ocean-going vessel, but that was done with much dispatch. Inasmuch as we had little in the plane but spare parts, fuel and oil, the process was simplified. At Darwin, by the way, we left the parachutes we had carried that far, to be shipped home. A parachute would not help over the Pacific.” —Amelia Earhart
In But This Is Different Amelia will put the plane's spare parts t good use on the island of Nani.
The photograph shows the Electra at Darwin, Australia on June 28, 1937.

Who needs ghosts when you've got this place?

Michaele Lockhart's new novel, Hoarding Lies, Keeping Secrets (Steel Cut Press, 2012) had several profound effects on me:

First, I will never again allow more than a few days worth of newspapers to stack up in our house. Same goes for magazines, including my treasured trunk full of ... well, I'm not sayin'.

Second, I'm getting rid of all the old half-full cans of paint that I've kept in our garage, just for touch-up paint jobs around the house that never get done. Also into the dumpster: the moldering cardboard boxes I've kept, in case we move someday. (Probably, we never will.)

And third, I will never have a house with a basement.

Lockhart's novel takes us inside the world of a once-prominent Texas family now reduced to a decrepit mansion filled with a hoarder's dusty, rat- and insect-infested treasures. The story of a grotesquely dysfunctional family, it is also a keenly observed psychological study, and a novel where the secrets keep on coming, even after you think nothing worse could be hidden.

Hoarding Lies, Keeping Secrets is both spellbinding and gritty, in a way that will leave you wanting to take a long shower afterwards. I recommend it strongly -- the book, then the shower.

-- Tom Walker, co-author, Contrary Creek.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Six Days Left For Amelia

Amelia describes their stay in Timor:  "The appearance of Timor itself is vastly different from that of Java. The climate is very dry, the trees and vegetation sparse. There was little or no cultivation in the open spaces around the airport. The surface of which was grass, long, dry and undulating in a strong wind when we arrived. The field, surrounded by a stout stone fence to keep out roaming wild pigs, we found to be a very good natural landing place. There were no facilities except a little shed for storing fuel. Consequently we had to stake down our Electra and bundle it up for the night with engine and propeller covers. That is an all-important job carefully done; no pilot could sleep peacefully without knowing that his plane was well cared for. Our work much amused the natives from a near-by village. When we had to turn the craft's nose into the wind, all the men willingly and noisily helped us push it as desired."
In But This Is Different natives are also working willingly to help prepare for the woman who will drop out of the sky to become their star of the sea.
The photograph shows the Lockheed Electra in 1937 on its way to Nani.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Seven Days To Go

On this date seventy-five years ago Amelia Earhart will finally leave Indonesia.  She had hoped to make it to Port Darwin on the northern coast of Australia.
"But the penalty for flying east is losing hours.  Depending on the distance covered, each day is shortened and one has to be careful to keep the corrected sunset time in mind so as not to be caught out after dark." -- Amelia Earhart
She was further delayed by strong headwinds which forced her to land at a tiny airstrip at Koepang on the island of Timor.
In the photograph, taken just days before their public disappearance both pilot and navigator show the toll the journey has taken and both know that in But This Is Different their journey will not end in Oakland.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Eight Days Left and She Does The Most Difficult Thing Imaginable

With only eight days to go the last thing Amelia wants to do is turn back but that is exactly what she has to do.  On yesterday's date seventy-five years ago she tried to leave Bandoeng.  She tells the story in her own words: 

“In the air, and afterward, we found that our mechanical troubles had not been cured. Certain further adjustments of faulty long-distance flying instruments were necessary, and so I had to do one of the most difficult things I had ever done in aviation. Instead of keeping on I turned back the next day to Bandoeng. With good weather ahead, the Electra herself working perfectly, the pilot and navigator eager to go, it was especially hard to have to be “sensible.” However, lack of essential instruments in working order would increase unduly the hazards ahead. — Amelia Earhart
With the world watching her every move, Amelia could easily contact anyone to alert them of this delay except for the one person who mattered most waiting on the almost invisible island called Nani in But This Is Different
In her own hand writing (seen below) Amelia acknowledges the risks involved in what she may later remember as 'a completely mad cap adventure'.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nine Days Left

Amelia Earhart has only a few days left before she disappears from public view but never from public imagination and speculation.  On this date seventy-five years ago she remains in Bandoeng while the mechanics continue servicing her airplane by now almost but not quite as famous as she.  In But This Is Different Amelia knows exactly where she is going as does the woman who waits for her and both know she will never land on the tiny speck called Howland Island.  Neither woman knows that forty years later Amelia must decide whether or not to resume that unfinished flight to Oakland and beyond.
Below is the maintenance report on the even now very famous Lockheed Electra.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Susan Singer - Photographer

Check out the dates and stop by to see an amazing photography exhibit.

Almost At The End Of The Countdown

In a little over a week seventy-five years ago today, Amelia Earhart will disappear allegedly on her way to Howland Island.  For now, she waits in Bandoeng while the Lockheed is serviced.  In But This Is Different another woman also waits for the countdown to end.  In the photograph the Lockheed Electra undergoes maintenance in Bandoeng.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Korach Couldn't Compromise

Parashat Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32) tells the story of a rebellion against the leadership of Moses and Aaron.  Korach, the great grandson of Levi, persuades at least 250 others to join him with the challenge that 'All the people are holy.  Why, then do you raise yourselves above God's congregation?' Moses, stunned by Korach's words, instructs Korach and crew to bring fire pans and incense to the sanctuary the next day so that 'God will make known who is holy and who is not.'  Moses then asks Korach why, since he has been given special duties in the sanctuary and opportunities for leadership, he is now seeking the priesthood that God has given to Aaron.' The next morning Korach, who has by then rallied most of the community to his cause, meets Moses and Aaron in front of the sanctuary.  As instructed, all carry a fire pan with hot coals and incense.  Moses announces that if the earth opens and swallows Korach it will mean that God has 'sent me (Moses) to lead you'.  And, as we now know, the earth opens and swallows not only Korach but also his family and all those who took up his cause and their families and even their possessions.
Seen as a metaphor instead of an accurate reciting of an historic event, we might observe that Moses tried to cross the aisle of challenge and disagreement to encourage Korach to see his own value to the community and to perhaps even compromise.  Korach, already swallowed by his own dogma, could not hear the attempt by Moses to negotiate some sort of solution to Korach's challenge.  And what might this mean to us today?  It is unbelievably easy to be consumed by our own needs for recognition or by our own beliefs to the extent that we become unable to even acknowledge that others may be trying to help us or meet us half way.  Ultimately, then, we can be swallowed up by our own quests and challenges and lose not only ourselves but also all that is meaningful and precious to us.  The ripple effect of all of this may be that our families, our communities, even all that we have accumulated in our lives may also be lost. We avoid this 'losing' by listening and harkening to those around us who reach out to help us slow down, compromise, and rediscover who we are.  By so doing we safeguard not only our communities but also our families and ourselves.
Shabbat Shalom.

Amelia And The Volcano

On this date seventy-five years ago Amelia Earhart - still in Bandoeng - took time out while the Lockheed got an oil change to look into a volcano.  In her own words -- “I went for an inspection trip myself. My first objective was an active volcano, to the crater rim of which one can drive in half an hour up a beautiful mountain road. At 5,000 feet the trees began to dwarf and the vegetation became less dense. At 6,500, only scrub trees persisted. I could smell sulfur fumes for some time before rounding the last curve leading to the lower edge of the pit. Hundreds of feet below, emerald water had collected in a pool at the bottom. Here and there jets of yellow-white steam issued from crevices….” —Amelia Earhart
She may want these sight seeing tours because in But This Is Different she intends to never leave the island of Nani.
In the photograph Amelia and Fred Noonan pose with a representative of the Dutch East Indies.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Barrels Were Always There Waiting For Her

On this date seventy-five years ago Amelia Earhart flew from Singapore to Bandoeng, Java.  Waiting for her there were the steel drums of aviation fuel each stamped with her name.  She took both comfort and delight in those drums.  "We wanted the keys of no city so long as the hangar doors were open and the ground crew ready. Always they were and it was. And always we found my usual calling cards, fifty-gallon drums of gasoline, each with my name printed large upon it in white or red lettering. The exact quantity of fuel, all as arranged months before, waited at each stopping place and additionally at many which changed schedules or leap-frogging eliminated. The first thing we were apt to see as we rolled into any hangar from Caripito to Port Darwin was an orderly group of these "Amelia Earhart" drums, their contents waiting to be consumed by the thirsty Electra. The metal barrels, empty, were left behind as souvenirs." - Amelia Earhart
On the island of Nani in But This Is Different the fuel for a boat made from parts never intended to float will not be as common a sight for the woman who will soon wait for forty years.
In the photograph are the steel drums of aviation gasoline waiting for Amelia at Bandoeng, Java.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rangoon To Singapore And On To Nani

On the island of Nani in But This Is Different a woman named Mere will keep a journal for over forty years.  Doubtless her descriptions of the land and the weather will be very similar to those of Amelia Earhart.  Mere, even at age eighty, will write only memories of times when she once held the controls of a variety of airplanes including, perhaps, a very famous Lockheed Electra.
On June 20, 1937, Amelia Earhart flew the Electra from Rangoon to Bangkok and then on to Singapore.  In her own words --
“Moist clouds were our companions as we left Rangoon the next morning, bound for Bangkok, Siam. First, we crossed the upper reaches of the Gulf of Martaban,  flying over Moulmein. A great range of mountains extends north and south along the western border of Siam, separating it from the long arm of Burma that reaches down into the Malay Peninsula. Through squally weather we climbed to 8,000 feet and more, topping this mountain barrier. On its eastern flanks the clouds broke and there stretched before us a dark green forest splashed with patches of bright color, cheerful even in the eyes of a pilot who recognized in all the limitless view no landing place. The country fell away gradually to the east, the hills flattening out into heavy jungle. Then we crossed the Mei Khlaung River, with little villages scattered along its banks, the wide expanses of irrigated land burdened with rice crops.
Bangkok itself lies in a vast plain with mountains in the distant background. After refueling at Bangkok (the airport was one of the best we encountered) we started for Singapore, more than 900 miles away. Though we did not sight them, there were two transport planes that day on the same route which we flew. The Imperial Airways machine left Rangoon first and the K.L.M. Douglas at daybreak. Our Lockheed left fifteen minutes later. All stopped at Bangkok, then followed different courses to Singapore. We arrived there first, at 5:25 P.M. local time, because we cut straight and did not stop along the way.”
In the photograph we see Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Electra 10E, NR16020, being serviced at Singapore, Straits Settlements on June 20, 1937. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


June 19, 1937 -  In her own words:  “The next day, June 19, we started again from Akyab, with the hope of getting through to Bangkok, Siam, monsoons permitting. But they did not permit, so the flight ended at Rangoon, only 400 miles away. This short hop produced even worse weather than that which turned us back on the previous day. Then we had tried unsuccessfully to sneak underneath the monsoon. Those tactics again failing, this time we pulled up to 8,000 feet to be sure of missing the mountain ridges, and barged through. After two hours of flying blind in soupy atmosphere we let down and the bright green plains beside the Irrawaddy River smiled up at us. Then we dodged about for fifty miles….The first sight at Rangoon was the sun touching the Shwe Dagon Pagoda. This great structure stands on a considerable prominence and could be seen for miles while the city was still but a shadow on the horizon, its covering of pure gold a burnished beacon for wayfarers of the air. Shortly after our landing, rain poured down so heavily that it was hazardous to take off for Bankok, so we decided to stay where we were for a time at least.” —Amelia Earhart
These delays in her plan must have been unbearable for the Amelia in But This Is Different because every forward moment gets her closer to the island of Nani and its promises.
The photograph shows the Lockheed Electra being serviced at Rangoon, Burma.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Two Hours And Six Minutes Of Going Nowhere - Fred Noonan

On this date seventy-five years ago Amelia Earhart left Calcutta, India, headed for Rangoon, Burma.  After a fuel stop at Akyab, she and Fred took off but were forced back by monsoon rains.
In her own words -- “When we reached the airport at dawn nocturnal rains had soaked it. The ground was thoroughly wet, precarious for a take-off. But meteorologists advised that more rain was coming and that likely we could dodge through the intermittent deluges of the day but that if we remained the field might become waterlogged beyond use. That take-off was precarious, perhaps as risky as any we had. The plane clung for what seemed like ages to the heavy sticky soil before the wheels finally lifted, and we cleared with nothing at all to spare the fringe of trees at the airdrome’s edge. Once in the air the elements grew progressively hostile. The wind, dead ahead, began to whip furiously. Relentless rain pelted us. Everything was obliterated in the deluge, so savage that it beat off patches of paint along the leading edge of my plane’s wings.  After trying to get through for a couple of hours we give up, forced to retreat to Akyab. Back-tracking, we headed out to sea, flying just off the surface of the water. We were afraid to come low over land on account of the hills. When it’s impossible to see a few hundred yards ahead through the driving moisture the prospect of suddenly encountering hilltops is not a pleasant one. By uncanny powers, Fred Noonan managed to navigate us back to the airport, without being able to see anything but the waves beneath our plane. His comment was, ‘Two hours and six minutes of going nowhere.’ For my part, I was glad that our landing gear was retractable, lest it be scraped on trees or waves….” —Amelia Earhart
In But This Is Different going back for any reason was the last thing Amelia wanted to do because someone waited for her on a very small, almost invisible island in the South Pacific.
In the photograph Amelia and Fred wait for possibly another opportunity to leave Akyab and resume their improbable journey.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Karachi to Calcutta

On this date seventy-five years ago Amelia Earhart flew 1,390 miles from Karachi to Calcutta.  In the first photograph, Amelia and Fred stand in front of the Lockheed shortly after landing in Calcutta.  Doubtless Amelia was aware that on this same date in 1928 she became the first woman to cross the Atlantic by air.  No, she wasn't the pilot on that flight.  Instead, she was a passenger aboard a Fokker plane named Friendship.  The plane left Trepassey Harbor, Newfoundland, and 20 hours 40 minutes later landed at Burry Port, Wales. The second photograph shows Amelia celebrating that first. In But This Is Different Amelia hopes to soon celebrate a different kind of 'first'.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Amelia Takes Time To Ride A Camel

June 16, 1937 -  After flying almost two thousand miles yesterday, Amelia and Fred spend a day in Karachi.  On this day off, Amelia decided to ride a camel.
"On my first morning in India I had a small adventure riding a camel. I saw one with particularly gay trappings along the airport road, obviously for hire. His master's costume was in keeping. Over very full trousers he wore a shiny black alpaca coat, pleated to the waist at the back. From under this the tail of his shirt protruded. He had on a rather high turban, and hid most of his facial expressions behind a bushy beard. The owner explained that his camel was a naughty one. I wanted to tell him I should be naughty, too, if I had two leather plugs in my nose to which guiding reins were attached, but I could not get that idea across. Apparently bits are never used.
Whatever his disposition, my hired steed knelt down and I climbed into the saddle swung between his two humps. It was a startling take-off as we rose. A camel unhinges himself in most extraordinary fashion. As his hind legs unfold you are threatened with a nose-dive forward. Then with a lurch that can unhorse (I mean uncamel) the unwary, the animal's center section, so to speak, hoists into the air. It is reminiscent of the first symptoms of a flat spin. Camels should have shock absorbers.
'Better wear your parachute,' Fred shouted."
Fred's cautionary advise was rhetorical, as he well knew.  To make room for more fuel, nothing considered unnecessary was packed into the Electra.  This included parachutes.
In But This Is Different Amelia knew there would be no need for parachutes.
In the photograph we seek the Lockheed Electra inside a hanger at Karachi undergoing maintenance.  Amelia - always involved in its maintenance - is at the nose of the airplane.

Friday, June 15, 2012

In Forty Years She Will Carry A Different Kind Of Letter

On this date seventy-five years ago Amelia Earhart piloted the Lockheed Electra from Assab to Karachi, Pakistan.  She and her navigator, Fred Noonan, left early in the morning and flew 1,920 miles in thirteen hours and ten minutes.
IN HER OWN WORDS -- "In no part of southern Arabia is a forced landing desirable. The waterless, treeless desert geography is in itself pretty hopeless, a further negative factor being the probable attitude of the sparse nomadic population, if, as, and when encountered. In some districts the Arab tribesmen might not be hospitable to strange interlopers, especially a woman. Or perhaps under special circumstances too hospitable. I know the officials concerned did not relish such possibilities, however remote. Indeed, neither did we. But the Electra never had failed me, and I felt the engines would carry on so long as fuel lasted. Anyway, as a special precaution we carried a letter written in Arabic, presumably addressed "To whom It May Concern" and bespeaking for us those things which should be bespoken. At least I think so. We had it translated by two people in New York. One linguist, allegedly familiar with things Arabic, said it would be just too bad for us if such an introduction was presented to the wrong local faction. His counsel left me a trifle confused. We carried the document anyway, tucked beside me in the cockpit, ready for emergency. We carried, too, a pretty generous supply of water in canteens, concentrated foods, a small land compass, and very heavy walking shoes. fortunately we did not have to walk!"
Forty years after the alleged tragic ending of this flight, Amelia Earhart will carry another letter on a very different kind of flight in But This Is Different
The photographs shows the Lockheed Electra being serviced at Karachi.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Torah Portion Shelach Lecha

In this week's portion, Shelach Lecha, (Numbers 13:1-15:41) Moses sends out twelve spies, one from each tribe, to scout out the land of Canaan.  When they return, the report is at first reasonable – it is a good land but well-defended, and the inhabitants are strong and it will require an effort to overcome them.  But as they speak, ten of the twelve lose faith and begin to exaggerate the situation.  “They were so big, we looked like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and so we must have looked to them”, they report.  The people panic, and the two good spies, Joshua and Caleb, cannot convince them to give up their fear and go about the task that God has given them.   A midrash examines the situation.  God says to the evil spies, “You looked like grasshoppers in your own eyes; that I can forgive.  But how do you know how you looked in their eyes?  Perhaps I made you appear like angels to them!”

Our lives present many challenges, and sometimes we don't feel up to the task.  But don't ever forget that even when you feel small, someone else may be counting on you, and in their eyes, you may appear far greater than you feel.

Shabbat Shalom!

The First Of Anxious Times

On this date seventy-five years ago Amelia Earhart flew from Massawa, Ethiopia, down the coast of the Red Sea to Assab, Eritrea, where she had the Lockheed serviced and fueled in preparation "... for the long flight along the Arabian coast to India.  Assab ... offered better take-off facilities as well as a greater supply of 87 Octane gasoline."  Amelia also notes that her departure from Massawa was announced to the world as a take off for Karachi instead of Assab.  "When we became long overdue at that Indian destination naturally there was anxiety regarding us. And all the while we were sitting at Assab."  The world now knows that this anxiety would be nothing compared to that of just a few weeks and a few thousand miles away.  In But This Is Different we know that even now things are going exactly according to plan.  However, seventy-five years ago tomorrow Amelia will say good-bye to " ... everything that was green and approach a land terribly barren beyond description.
The Lockheed Electra is photographed inside the hanger at Assab, Eritrea, as workers fill the gasoline tanks.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

No Direct Flights Today

This is the sixteenth leg of her almost around the world flight.  On this day seventy-five years ago Amelia flew 300 miles from El Fasher, Sudan, to Khartoum, Sudan, refueled there and then on to Massawa, Ethiopia.  Amelia describes a long day of land-markless desert flying and "...the rough going over the mountains, the low trip down..." and feeling famished because, "As usual I had forgotten to eat."  When an English speaking officer asked her if she was hungry, she replied, "As hollow as a bamboo horse."
On the island of Nani in But This Is Different Amelia will for forty years feel a different kind of hunger.
The photograph shows the Lockheed Electra at Khartoum, Sudan.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Amelia Flew Over A No Man's Land Of Eternal Want

On this date seventy-five years ago, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan flew from Fort Lamy in French Equatorial Africa, to El Fasher, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, a distance of approximately 700 miles. According to the Atchison Daily Globe (June 12, 1937), “She got a late start this morning, due to the necessity of adjusting the shock absorbers on her plane. They were damaged when she landed at Fort Lamy.
In her logs and journals made during the flight Amelia makes no mention of the damage to the plane but, instead, marvels at the landscape.
"On this day's flying to Lamy and the next, we crossed stretches of country barren beyond words, a no-man's land of eternal want, where the natives cling tenaciously to an existence almost incomprehensible to westerners." -- Amelia Earhart
In the photograph we see the Lockheed Electra on the tarmac at El Fasher.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Today She's Further Into Africa

On this date seventy-five years ago Amelia flew the Lockheed Electra from Gao to Fort Lamy in French Equatorial Africa.  In her own words:  "
“As usual, our arising at Gao was before dawn, a start made notable by a marvelous breakfast, whose chief d’oeuvre was a mushroom omelet supplemented with cups of fine French chocolate. Thence our revised route took us to Fort Lamy about a thousand miles away. On this day’s flying to Lamy and the next, we crossed stretches of country barren beyond words, a no-man’s land of eternal want, where the natives cling tenaciously to an existence almost incomprehensible to westerners….”  —Amelia Earhart
With every leg of her trip she gets closer to Nani and the woman who waits in But This Is Different
And in the photograph we see the Electra in Africa possibly in Fort Lamy.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Beware Uneventful Moments

 On this date seventy-five years ago just before six in the morning Amelia Earhart left Dakar, Senegal, and flew seven hours and fifty minutes to Gao, Mali in the French Sudan.  According to her writings, the flight was uneventful.  In But This Is Different we suspect that Amelia's focus is far away from the African continent and, in fact, may be getting a little worried that things may not work out as planned.
"In my life I had come to realize that when things were going very well indeed it was just the time to anticipate trouble. And, conversely, I learned from pleasant experience that at the most despairing crisis, when all looked sour beyond words, some delightful "break" was apt to lurk just around the corner." - Amelia Earhart

The photograph shows the Lockheed Electra at Gao, French Sudan.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Still In Senegal

"Tomorrow, if all goes well, we start the long air route across Africa. Exactly what course we will fly will be determined as we progress. Extremely hot weather is creating unfavorable conditions in the interior. I am warned of tornadoes to the south and sandstorms to the north. So I must try to squeeze between." -- from the writings of Amelia Earhart
Tomorrow the journey continues while on a small island called Nani in But This Is Different another woman waits.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Today She Didn't Go Far

On this day seventy-five years ago Amelia Earhart flew only 163 miles from Saint Louis, Senegal, to Dakar, Senegal.  She will not leave Dakar until June 10.  From her log book we learn that " ... the chief reason I decided to lay over a day at Dakar instead of proceeding east was because my fuel meter gave out two hours after we left Natal. The very efficient chief mechanic at Dakar discovered that a piece of the shaft was broken. While he worked on that - a difficult job to manage from a blueprint printed in English, which he did not understand, in an aeroplane he did not know - I had a forty-hour check of the engines, probably all they  would need until we reached Karachi."  Pictured below is a section of the flight plan for Dakar.  Historic gossip speculates that Amelia's going left when her navigator said to go right might offer a clue to the alleged disappearance.  But This Is Different proposes that Amelia wasn't being stubborn when she refused to follow Fred's directions.  She just had other plans.

The Cloud

This week's Torah portion is Beha'alotecha, Numbers 8:1-12:16.  One of the singular features of this portion is the description of the clouds of glory which signaled God's presence in the Tabernacle, found in Chapter 9, verses 15 through 23.

According to our text, Moses would raise the Tabernacle when the Israelites encamped, and as soon as it was complete, the cloud would come to rest upon it, with the appearance of a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  When it was time for the tribes to move on, the cloud would move, they would pack up the tabernacle and move.  When it remained, they stayed, whether it was for one day, one week, or one year.  The Israelites, so recently enslaved in Egypt, were saved from having to make the decision of where to go while waiting to enter the Promised Land.  They simply trusted in God and followed the pillar of cloud where it would lead them.
These days, we have a cloud in cyberspace that organizes our music, pictures, documents and movies, and distributes them among our many iToys.  The Israelites in the wilderness had one that was even more miraculous. As long as they trusted God's judgment, they were cared for.  When they start to doubt it - well, that's a story for next week's Torah portion.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Oh, The Virtue Of Clear Communication

Had a simple miscommunication turn into a whole, big "thing" at Trader Joe's on the way home... Apparently, when the checker said, "Strip down, facing me," she was referring to my debit card.

Off The Wagon And Into The Plane

Seventy-five years ago this date Amelia Earhart left South America at 3:15 AM and headed east to Africa.  Unable - because of weather - to use the longer, lighted runway, she was forced to take off in darkness from a shorter, grassy strip.  The early morning was so dark, she reports, that she and Fred had difficulty even finding it.  And so we " ... tramped its length with flashlights to learn what we could and establish something in the way of guiding landmarks, however shadowy."  To further complicate matters, indications are Fred Noonan started drinking heavily with his old Pan Am buddies and observers at Natal sensed a growing tension between pilot and navigator.  They flew across the Atlantic in rains described by Amelia as " ... the heaviest rain I ever saw.  Tons of water descended, a buffeting weight bearing so heavily on the ship I could almost feel it."  They reached the coast of West Africa in thick haze and were unable to visually determine their location.  Perhaps as a sign of the growing tension or distrust between them, when the navigator said they should go right Amelia went left.  Already about 80 miles north of their destination, Amelia's decision sent them further off course and a half hour later they landed at St. Louis, Senegal -- not their intended destination.  After flying for thirteen hours and twelve minutes, Amelia decided to stay where she was even though it wasn't where she intended to be.
Before she left South America, Amelia made this entry in her log:  "As I write this, looking out the window I can see two children playing in the sand.  I would like to play too, or at least sun bake beside them."  In But This Is Different, Amelia will have forty years to play with the children on Nani while she waits to keep a promise.

June 7, 1937

Natal, Brazil, June 7 -- Amelia Earhart headed over the South Atlantic in a light rain today for Daka, Senegal, her goal on the African continent in her intended flight around the world.
She left here on the 1,900 mile flight at 12:16 a. m. Central Standard Time and radioed more than four hours later that "everything is going fine." -- from the Atchison Daily Globe

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

She's Admiring A Different Kind Of Boat

While in Fortaleza, Brazil, Amelia admired the skill of the fishermen in handling their frail boats -- small, oddly shaped catamarans made of what appeared to be odds and ends lashed together with large, three-cornered sails overhead.  In But This Is Different Amelia will marvel that another boat made from parts never intended to float will some how do just that.  This date she left Fortaleza at 4:50 in the morning and flew only 270 miles to land at 6:55 AM in Natal, Brazil.  She had hoped to leave Natal that evening for her South Atlantic crossing.  Bad weather delayed that take off until the next day.
While in Fortaleza, Amelia 'turned tourist' and took more pictures including this of the small boats she so admired.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

This Day Seventy-Five Years Ago Amelia Does Her Laundry

So impressed was Amelia with the airport at Fortaleza that she decided to make her final preparations there for the flight across the South Atlantic.  Thus, on June 5, 1937, Amelia Earhart took the day off to do her laundry, clean up the Electra, and make sure the plane was 'ship shape' for the next leg of her almost around the world flight.  After surveying the condition of plane and crew she concluded that she and Noonan needed the most attention.  "Looking the way we did after only a week on the way, I hesitated to visualize what disgraceful tramps we'd be before the journey's end. ... Laundering for ourselves seemed as important as for the plane.  I was on my last shirt and had abandoned hope that the appearance of my slacks, or my shoes, ever again would be respectable."  As for the Lockheed, there was a small leak where a gauge let 'flow a few drops of gasoline, though from a harmless source.'  She did, however, schedule a complete inspection of the airplane including an oil change, greasing, check of landing gear, and a thorough scrubbing.' Amelia goes on to say that she packed one suitcase for this entire flight.  "My wardrobe included five shirts, two pairs of slacks, a change of shoes, a light working coverall, a raincoat, and the minimum of toilet articles."  She adds that she used to fly the Atlantic with no personal equipment save a toothbrush.
Apparently, if recent discoveries prove to be accurate, the minimum of toilet articles must have included freckle cream.  The Amelia of But This Is Different would not have even considered freckle cream.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Amelia Is In Brazil


June 4, 1937
Paramaribo, Dutch Guinea, June 4 -- Amelia Earhart took off from here at 5:10 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, today on the fourth leg of her round-the-world flight.
Pan American airways, over whose route she has been flying since leaving Miami, Fla., reported that Miss Earhart was headed for Belem, in Brazil at the mouth of the Amazon river, a distance of about 820 miles from here.
The airways report added that she might try to reach Fortaleza, Brazil today for a hop of 1,628 miles. She will fly more than 900 miles over water crossing the mouth of the Amazon. -- from the Atchison Daily Globe.
And in her own words:  " ... we left too early to receive weather reports so what lay in store for us was largely a matter of conjecture.  Under such conditions in a strange country one must be prepared to turn back if and when it looks like bad visibility at the destination -- assuming the way back can be found and a landing made wherever 'back' may be. (And) today I crossed the equator for the first time."
In But This Is Different ( we come to understand that turning back is one thing Amelia and the woman the call Pilapan can never do.

The first photograph was taken of Amelia in Fortaleza, Brazil.  The second photograph was taken by Amelia as she flew into Fortaleza, Brazil.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Prom Season

It's prom season in Southern California, and I see stretch limos driving around as I am on my way home from work, no doubt preparing to convey a bunch of high school boys and girls dressed in the latest fashion to their big night.  The other day, I was waiting for a light beside a gargantuan Hummer, not unlike the one pictured above.  It was so very long and so very gold-flake yellow that at first glance, I thought it was a school bus.  Imagine, here you are, going to your prom in what is supposed to be the height of sophisticated transport, and you've got a vehicle that looks like a school bus.  Oh well, maybe the kids will have a good time laughing at it - there's certainly room for plenty of them in there.  And anyway, anything that keeps drunk kids from driving themselves around on prom night can only be a good thing.

Pushing Through To Surinam

On this date seventy-five years ago Amelia Earhart flew from Caripito, Venezuela, to Paramario in Dutch Guiana or Surinam.  In her words we hear Amelia's sense of optimism which will hold her for forty years on the island of Nani in But This Is Different
"Rain clouds hung thick about Caripito as we left on the morning of June third. We flew over jungles to the coast, and then played hide-and-seek with showers until I decided I had better forgo the scenery, such as it was, and climb up through the clouds into fair weather. An altitude of 5,000 feet topped all but the highest woolly pinnacles.
In such a maneuver lies a recurrent delight of flying. Often one can find the weather wanted, at one level or another. As on this and many other days, the pilot sees the rain slant against the land below. Horizontally, distant views are blotted out; vertically, clouds droop to shroud the shoulders of mountains, or weep upon the jungled plain. but how many of the earthbound realize the relative nearness of sunlight above the cloud-covering? how many know that perhaps only three thousand feet above the gray dank world my plane, if I will it, may emerge into sunlight over a billowy sea of clouds stretching away into blue infinity.  Sometimes the climb is greater, sometimes the airplane cannot top the towering formation of a storm. But no matter whether separated by ice or snow or rain or cold gray mist, the pilot knows the wall-card motto is meteorologically true, "Behind the clouds the sun's still shining.""
The photograph shows the Lockheed Electra leaving Caripito for Paramario.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Time To Push Through, Amelia

Leaving San Juan in her own words --
"From San Juan I had hoped perhaps to be able to fly through in one day to Paramaribo in Dutch Guiana. but that did not work out and instead we spent the night at Caripito in Venezuela. While the air courses of the Caribbean and along the coasts of South America are well traveled by the ships of Pan American Airways, which have established a notably successful record with their southern service, it must be remembered that P.A.A. flies seaplanes so that all the way they have a watery landing strip beneath them where they may alight. For a land plane, however, especially a rather large one requiring considerable space on alighting, this territory is more difficult. -- I rolled out of bed at a quarter of four in the morning, hoping to make a dawn take-off from San Juan, but actually the Electra did not lift her wheels from the runway until nearly seven o'clock, with the sun well above the horizon. Incidentally, construction work at the field shortened the available take-off distance, making a heavy fuel load a bit difficult, and adding a further factor in the final decision not to try to push through the thousand miles to Paramaribo.  (She battled head winds of at least 30 miles per hour all the way from San Juan to  Caripito) "Push through." I find myself writing those words almost resentfully. We're always pushing through, hurrying on our long way, trying to get to some other place instead of enjoying the place we'd already got to. A situation, alas, about which there was no use complaining. I'd made my schedule and had to abide by it. After all, this was not a voyage of sight-seeing. Only there were so many sights I wanted to see."

 In But This Is Different, Amelia will have forty years to see the sights on the island of Nani while she waits to keep a promise.  How long would you wait?  Visit for more on Nani and a woman they called Mere.
In the photograph we see Amelia and the Electra at Caripito, Venezuela.

 And in this photograph Amelia is greeted as she climbs out of the Electra.

An Understandable Confusion

More From The Mind Of Michael Walker - I know I might seem a bit paranoid, but the aforementioned emo-dude Starbucks barista, with whom I share a history of passive-aggressiveness, just said, “Here you go, Chief” when he handed me my iced-tea,, which would seem cordial enough to the casual observer. But, he continues to “accidentally” misspell my name:

Friday, June 1, 2012

It Officially Began Today - In Her Own Words

These are the words of Amelia Earhart describing this day seventy-five years ago provided by cable and telephone and notes mailed along her way.  She also mailed log books as they filled with notes written in pencil from the cockpit as she piloted the Lockheed over four continents.

"On June 1, at 5.56 in the morning, NR 16020 left Municipal Airport at Miami with Fred Noonan aboard as navigator and I as pilot, bound for California by about the longest route we could contrive. At the very last there was a delay while Bo McKneely, my mechanic, re-soldered a broken thermocouple lead which supplied the cylinder head temperatures of the left engine. While this went on, all warmed up and plenty of places to go, we sat for a last breathing spell on the concrete apron beside the hangar watching the rising sun brush back the silver gray of dawn. The tinkering job completed, back in place went the cowling.
"Okeh," said Bo. Fred climbed in the cockpit and my husband, standing alongside on the wing centre-section, leaned in and bade me good-by. I closed and fastened the hatch. The gathering crowd safely distant from the propeller blades, ground attendants signalled "All clear."  ... Then I started the motors. The engines had already been well warmed so now after appraising for a moment their full-throated smooth song, I signalled to have the wheel chocks removed and we taxied to the end of the runway in the far southeast corner of the field.  thirty seconds later, with comforting ease, we were in the air and on our way.
After the take-off for thirteen minutes we climbed slowly, swinging on our course toward Puerto Rico.
Shortly after six o'clock two ships were visible. It was then, with them beneath us, when everything in the cockpit was properly set and working smoothly, I tuned in on Miami's radio station WQAM, which was broadcasting every hour a summary of weather conditions which lay before us, as prepared by Pan American's efficient meteorologists. My own schedule called for a broadcast every thirty minutes at a quarter past and a quarter to the hour. I was delayed a little with my first broadcast because just then the radio station was sending out a description of my own take-off, which to me was quite too entertaining to miss. The masterpiece was evidently transcribed from a description made by an announcer at the field. The actual take-off hour being too early for most civilized stay-a-bed Miamians, the record was now being played on the air again for their delectation while they ate their breakfasts and we winged southward.
So, a hundred miles from the field, the announcer held me in cruel suspense as to whether or not I actually was going to get off safely! it was diverting to hear that third-person story. In the manner radio-talk sometimes have, the account of the very normal departure had become breathlessly exciting. ... 
At about noon Navigator Noonan told me we were too far south and I changed my course as directed. At the moment there was nothing to see but indistinguishable sea and sky. And then suddenly through a haze we sighted Puerto Rico. That was just after noon....
Following along the shoreline we came soon to the airport, close beside the colourful city of San Juan."
visit to enter a different Amelia reality.
In the photograph Amelia and Fred Noonan prepare to leave San Juan.