The past month has been so full of bad news that we are almost afraid to
open the newspaper or a newsmagazine.
Time magazine has a sense of humor, however -- very rare right now. A
recent cover showed a "little old lady" on roller skates (one of my
neighbors said it looked like me) delivering a tray of fast food
burgers and sodas to a couple of kids in a car. The heading, "Will you
ever retire?" Millions of Americans asked themselves that question, as
the stock market went south - way south.
But that was only part of the bad news. Nine miners were trapped in a
coal mine 240 feet underground in Pennsylvania. Forest fires roared
across the west. Post menopausal women who had been taking hormone
supplements suddenly were told that they had been damaging their future
But the past week there are shafts of light in the news.
The stock market has started back up in spurts. The people who are
probably hit the hardest are those approaching 65, who had hoped to hit
the golf course this year. But most Americans are fairly calm and know
that the market will go back up if they can wait long enough. Those of
us who are, as my doctor puts it, chronologically gifted remember all
too well what happened in 1929. That year the market took a fall that
makes this one look like a blip. There was a period when the Dow
dropped from 381 (no zeroes after that) to 50. But it came back and it
will this time, but some people may have to postpone their Tee Time
And the miners were all rescued with no serious injuries. With a
corned beef sandwich and two bottles of soda water, those men spent
three days in water, sustained by an air system that had never been
tried before. This is beyond my understanding, but rescuers pumped 640
cubic feet of heated air per minute down a pipe to give the men some
warmth and the oxygen they needed while raising the air pressure just
enough to push back the underground flood. How did they know how much
air to pump? This was modern technology with a human face. Rescuers
fought equipment breakdowns but never quit trying.
While that was a story about the power of the human spirit another of
my favorite stories of the week involved the power of the animal
spirit. A fisherman found a Humboldt penguin in Alaska, of all
places. Now Humboldt penguins are southerners. They reside mostly
off the coasts of Peru and Chile and they breed in these locations as
well. They aren't migratory and they can't fly, although they are
excellent swimmers. A very non-scientific estimate with my atlas and a
ruler shows roughly 8400 miles from Santiago to Anchorage as the crow
flies. But this little guy is not a crow. D. Boesma, professor of
zoology at the University of Washington admits that she has absolutely
no idea how he got there. If he swam he must be one very tired little
penguin. If he hitch-hiked why didn't anybody see him? You figure it
One interesting piece of news is that men and women think differently.
It must have been a man that discovered that one. We've known it for
Katie Couric was surprised to hear that James Traficant, who was
expelled from Congress, had to remove his hairpiece when he was booked
into the county jail in Ohio. She said she had thought it was a small
Another bright spot in the news; a Senate panel recommended ratifying
the 22 year old international treaty aimed at promoting equality for
women around the globe. The Bush administration wants to delay it to
give them more time to review it. Another 22 years should do it.
And finally, Happy 90th Birthday to Julia Child.