Thursday, October 10, 2013

Nuclear Annihilation, and Cold Weather

I had all kinds of library excitement yesterday -- the student who initially tried to hand in the wrong computer charger finally showed up with the correct device, and another guy turned in three long-overdue books (including one that had already been marked as lost). I love it when stray property comes back to the fold! These are big events in my world. Don't laugh.

I also ordered for the library Eric Schlosser's newest book about humanity's frightening lack of control over our nuclear weapons. That should be an eye-opener. Did you know that for a few minutes in January 1995, Boris Yeltsin's finger was poised on the button because the Norwegians launched a weather rocket that looked suspicious on Russian radar? Apparently there have been many moments like this throughout our nuclear era. It's incredible that we're all still here.

I remember being very conscious of the risk of nuclear annihilation while growing up in the '70s. I cried about it at least once, and my mom told me we just had to live each day rather than worry about the future. Can you imagine? It really seemed that we were poised on a knife edge. Maybe now things are safer, or maybe we're just more oblivious. Do kids today worry much about the risk of nuclear weaponry? I suspect they're not hammered with the dangers and possibilities as we were in the eras of duck-and-cover (which was before my time) and the Cold War.

Oh well. Life goes on, at least for now!

At the moment I'm reading Rachel Johnson's book "Notting Hell," which takes place exactly in our neighborhood and basically mocks all the rich people who occupy the elegant houses surrounding our government-built apartment development. Rachel, you may remember, is the mayor's sister and the one whose ceiling collapsed as a result of the Notting Hill Carnival. Allegedly.

It was 47º F when I walked Olga this morning, and according to, it felt like 42º. We had a cold front sweep through last night, and the temperature plunged. The leaves are beginning to fall, rustling and rattling along the sidewalk, and Olga is curled up with her head in my lap, unhappy about the chill on her nose.

(Photos: Itsu is a chain of sushi restaurants. I shot this one on Tuesday in central London. Also, another banana sticker for the online collection.)


  1. Great picture!

    I remember the era of bomb drills, duck and cover, and bomb shelters, etc. Good fucking lord. I might have to read that book.

    It is satisfying when anything presumed lost suddenly appears. I see it as auspicious. Of course I would - so I am not laughing.

    It's chilly in DC too. Feels that fall has settled in for the duration. I welcome it.

  2. duck and cover. yep. it was very scary growing up during the cold war. I too am surprised we weren't all blown to smithereens.

  3. I've been hearing that author of that book on NPR. Yes, I do remember. I lived in Florida during the entire Cuban thing and it was scary as hell. It continued to be scary. It's still scary.

  4. I remember "duck & cover" and I also have some vivid memories of seeing a demonstration of a bomb shelter at our local (back in Illinois) shopping center. Someone had to live in it for 60 days to demonstrate that it was livable. We do appear to be safer today but, I shudder to think of what could happen if some of these extreme groups got a hold of a nuclear weapon.

  5. Your photographs are so crisp! I love that photo. And I wouldn't laugh about your pleasure in stray objects returning home. I think it is a gift to find joy in such things. The simpler the things that give us joy, the more joy we get to experience throughout a day. So yeah. I love it.

  6. Duck & cover was before my time too - but I used to have nightmares about it. But the dreams were too much like Red Dawn, so I guess my nightmares started after that movie came out. Sad that I can't remember! I do remember that we all dove under our desks & that everyone but me was annihilated - and I could hear the boots of the enemy coming down the hall as I tried to figure out where to hide. Sheesh!

  7. First off-- LOVE that photo!

    I do remember being scared to death of the Cuban missile crisis since we were living in Florida then. It seems like there is always some sort of conflict, doesn't it?

  8. I don't know. I just can't worry about nuclear war, too. I just can't. And if I do, I try to think about Peter Sellars and Dr. Strangelove. That cheers me up.