Fire Inside: Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City Memorial, Survivor Tree and Reflecting Pool from site of former Murrah Building

Oklahoma City Memorial, Survivor Tree and Reflecting Pool from site of former Murrah Building

I’m reading The Fire Inside by Steve Delsohn after reading about it in an AskMe that was recently linked in Meta Talk.  I have no interest in becoming a firefighter, but it got me thinking. I knew it was somewhat dated as it didn’t cover 9/11, but it was only when I went to add it to my LibraryThing that I realized it dated to the mid 90s. Unsurprisingly, there was significant attention paid to Oklahoma City.

I was recently thinking about OKC, again when I found the postcard I bought that I was, sadly, using as a bookmark. 2014 was definitely a year of dark tourism for me, which I briefly touched on as it related to Charleston. I subsequently visited the 9/11 Museum before it opened to the public and followed both of those with a visit to the Oklahoma City Memorial during a visit to that city in July.

I haven’t yet read the books I mentioned after the Charleston trip (Kindle versions, people!) but I’m going to read  Marita Sturken’s Tourists of History:Memory, Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero when I’m done with the Fire Inside. Clearly OKC is still lurking within my brain.

From ground zero in New York and Katrina’s destructive force in New Orleans to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland and the Killing Fields in Cambodia, witnessing places where horrific deaths have occurred has for many become an integral part of experiencing a destination. ~ Michelle Baran

That was true for me, although it took five? visits to OKC before we went downtown. During my first visits in the late 90s, the Memorial wasn’t open. My friend’s husband, stationed at Tinker, told me of being rostered down there for clean up. By the time I went back in 2003, the Memorial was open, but I wasn’t ready. This year, I was. Like the 9/11 Museum, I like that the OKC Memorial is free while the Museum provides additional information/education for those who choose/are able to pay. We spent about 2-3 hours at the Memorial and Museum and it was eye opening. It felt like a pilgrimage.

I cannot believe it has been 20 years. When 9/11 happened, I was an adult and living on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. I’d never been to Oklahoma City but Terror in the Heartland stuck with me both as a high school student when it happened and 19 years later when I finally made it to the Museum.

Oddly I feel different about the 9/11 Museum and OKC then I do about Auschwitz and Charleston. I wonder if that’s a matter of them being within my lifetime?

It’s this impact that draws us to dark tourism. It is this impact that leads us to the realization of the sad reality that exists around the world. And it is through this impact that we feel compassion for our fellow human beings. ~ “Dark” Travel as a Way to Pay Tribute

Further Reading:

book’em messy shelves






AKA two friends’ organized shelves make me feel guilty. I really don’t read dead tree books all that often and I had some that I’ve long since replaced with e-books.  Speaking of books, I’ve upped the ante on the A-Z challenge. I’m going to try for two loops through the alphabet. With 11 books read (and 9 unfinished) so far, I think that’s doable.

#GoTheDist 2015: January totals

my final January totals are:

  • 285,009 steps
  • 117.62 miles walked
  • 81.54 miles biked

I’m most proud of the biking goal because it represents a return to the gym which was something I really wanted to do. 13 gym visits. Also ahead of pace to get my gym reimbursement.

Re: steps, to hit the 3.4m goal, I need 283,333.333 steps month and am glad for that slight excess as I’ll be short in Feb. The math just doesn’t work for a 28 day month. I’m a bit off pace for mileage, but I think I can make that up in Qs 2 and 3. I may have some issues due to a long-haul train trip in May but I’ll try to get back ahead in April to get ahead of that.

I think the only change I’m going to make for my 2015 goals is revise bike goal up to 500 miles. I’m going to leave Qs 2/3/4 mini goals at 100 as I likely won’t go to the gym as much in nice weather. So February monthly goal is 75 miles and Q2 is 200.

Time to do this.

sometimes I should try that listening thing

“Why are you beating yourself up? You know you always bounce back.” ~ @FatGirlvsWorld, #GotheDist fearless leader

This was the end of a two-day freak out during which I was worrying about not hitting my January 2015 #GoTheDist steps goal due to the impending  Juno-pocalypse. After a slow start to January with some sub 5K step days, I was bouncing back, and then snowpocalypse. Snowed in. Office closed. MTA down. A “pocalypse” of first world problems indeed.

And then Juno missed NYC while walloping New England and I ended up with almost 9K steps on a walk through the frozen tundra that made up Central Park. My handy spreadsheet tells me I need 42,280 steps (not yet counting today’s) the next four days to hit that goal and 44,280 to hit mine. Doable? I think/hope so but I’m not going to be able to bank any for February where 283/285K is a mathematical impossibility. Pooey.

But January wasn’t all bad. On the #GoTheDist front I:

  • switched to RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal (from MapMyFitness and LoseIt, respectively) and am so happy with both. Much better apps. The “Map” family didn’t age well into the mobile era and the “new” os8 LoseIt was just awful. I was tired of paying for Fitbit integration and didn’t care much for the challenges or fora
  • I have been to the gym 12x for a total of 76.56 miles on the bike. My goal was only 33! so I’ll be revising that for Q1 this weekend.
  • My Jan 2014 (Jawbone) totals were 185,545 steps/80.3 miles walked/69.3 miles walked and I’ve beat those. For me that’s what #GoTheDist is about so I’m happy.

On a reading front I:

  • Have read 8 books for the A-Z Challenge and six of the eight are non-fiction. Also, 8 books in January is a good start to the year.

So maybe I should stop freaking out. FGvW probably is right.

Review: Bleachers

After Rake left they named it after him. Neely was gone by then, of course, long gone with no plans to return. Why he was returning now wasn’t completely clear, but deep in his soul he’d always known this day would come, the day somewhere out there in the future when he was called back. He’d always known that Rake would eventually die, and of course there would be a funeral with hundreds of former players packed around the casket, all wearing their Spartan green, all mourning the loss of a legend they loved and hate.

Over the course of the last few years I’ve come to the realization that I mostly don’t review fiction titles. They rarely stick with me in the way non-fiction titles do. However, this one is one of the few exceptions.

One of John Grisham’s non “Southern law” titles, Bleachers (like Calico Joe) is set in the world of sports. Unlike all or mostly all of his titles, it wasn’t clear whether this was set in the south. If not for his multiple Packers’ references, I’d have assumed it was.

Neely Crenshaw, all American everything. A promising football career cut short by an injury in college. Eddie Rake, local hero football coach. Hero to everyone but Neely Crenshaw, yet it’s the news of Rake’s impending death that brings Crenshaw back to Messina for the first time in 15 years.

Paul. Nat. Rabbit. The Screamer. Silo. Hubcap. Jesse.<

Small town heroes. Small town issues.

In light of the news of the last few years, it’s impossible not to see Joe Paterno in Eddie Rake. Due to the Sandusky scandal taking place during the time that Paterno’s health failed vs.the time that has passed since Rake caused Scotty Reardon’s death, time hadn’t healed as many wounds. That mostly happened this year with the NCAA restoring “Joe Pa”‘s wins. State College wasn’t small town Messina, but it was the kind of school Rake might want to send his boys too.

Rake’s Boys. They came home for him,they listened to a broadcast of the ’87 Championship Game while waiting for the news. Rabbit maintains Rake Field and lights serve as a vigil. They’ll always be Rake’s Boys and it will always be Rake Field. I think the same will ultimately be true of Joe Paterno in Penn State.

A quick, one day read that served as a nice change up between reads. Some authors can’t diversify from their primary topic (thinking Patterson and romance), but Grisham handles sports well.

It wasn’t my original “B” book, but it work and it’s title #7 in the 2015 Alphabet Challenge. 7 books in January is not bad at all.

Steven A. Shaw vs. Food

This originally started as a review of his first book Turning the Tables, which I realized two-thirds of the way in that I had indeed read it. My LibraryThing confirmed it.  Oh well, it was still a good and quick re-read and I needed the “T” for the challenge. And then I read Asian Dining Rules in two days after and decided to combine the two.

As I noted from re-reading my review, the book was dated in 2010 and is even more so now. Neither being “the Internet food guy” nor experiencing high end dining is that unique. The Time Warner Center isn’t new and the “famous” chefs have lost media ground to the latest crop of “famous” chefs due to the growth of Food Network and its cousins. In fact, some of Shaw’s subjects and favorites are no more:

  • Gray Kunz is back in exile ala his time after Lespinasse with the closing of Cafe Gray (discussed in the book) and Grayz, which followed
  • His eagerly anticipated Time Warner restaurants struggled
  • Tabla was a victim of the recession
  • Starwich closed following a bankruptcy

In fact, Shaw himself is gone. He passed away in April 2014 and was mourned by some of those he wrote of in Turning the Table.

While some of that was exacerbated by the recession of 2007-10, some also has to do with NYC’s changing dining culture. Shaw’s eGullet lives on despite a state of the 90s web design, but the internet has drastically changed food writing just as technology changed food availability.

A central tenet of both of his books (2005, 2008) discussed the theory that each restaurant is two: one for the public and the other for the regulars. And I agree with him that  “There are few things more comforting in life than hearing a waiter say, “The usual?”” but I think he overestimates the wow factor of that now. 

I enjoy Shaw’s writing style, he feels like someone I would have enjoyed having a meal with even though I’m not a fine dining person.


Asian Dining Rules  was written three years after Table and as with his previous one, it’s dedicated to getting an inside view. While its chapter on Japan was a nice complement to my recent sushi reading, I think the book came from a point of Mr. Know it All. Some of what he hated in Zagat (which formed a chapter of his book, nearly verbatim) came through in his analysis of the restaurants. Ditto with his dislike of critics.

That said, he added some additional info to that which is typically known of “ethnic” food. In fact, he has some interesting thoughts on what American diners really mean when they say “ethnic”.

Indian restaurant owners have told me that, time and again, their non-Indian customers order mostly the same five dishes. Thai restaurants seem to sell more pad Thai than everything else put together; sushi restaurants serve up an alarming number of California rolls; and many Americans assume that Korean cuisine equals and is limited to Korean barbecue—if they’ve even had Korean cuisine.

That was true when he was researching the book and is, with broad generalizations, still true in 2015. With eGullet full steam by the time he wrote this, some of the chapters are available online in condensed versions, but this was still a good read with them well-edited together.

Some other funny moments/interesting takeaways:

  •  Just as Masa was in the news while he researched these two titles, it is again at the time of this reading with the opening of Kappo Masa. The latter of which has broken the Internet.
  • “Chances are, your friend who doesn’t eat Japanese food will at least enjoy tempura. When cooked properly, tempura is the lightest, least greasy fried food imaginable. Unfortunately, most tempura served in Japanese restaurants in North America isn’t particularly good.” Sadly still true.
  • I really enjoyed his insight on off the beaten path places like Indochine in North Carolina. Truly shows the impact of  immigrants, but his comments on the lack of Filipino restaurants are sad.

An enjoyable if light read. Shaw’s beloved Empire Szechwan is still there on the UWS. Maybe I should go in honor of him.

Review: Kid Me Not

Now, listen—if you put a baby in front of me, rest assured: that baby is gonna get cuddled, spoiled and adored. But even as I’m loving on that beautiful infant, I know in my heart: This is not my destiny. It never was

KID ME NOT: An anthology by child-free women of the ’60s now in their 60s grabbed me by the title and then further grabbed me by that intro from Elizabeth GIlbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame. In less than one day of reading time, it became my 3rd book of 2015 and “K” in the A to Z challenge. So far I’m not doing well with reading the planned books. Oh well.

I’m 35. I’ve been hearing about having children for 20 years and I’m sure I’ll be hearing about it for at least another ten years. I love being an aunt and a godmother because I can give them back. Oh, and I don’t do diapers. I really like that this short anthology was given context by not only the women’s own stories of their lives but also chapter introductions that set the historical context for the year(s) in which the women were writing.

Born in 1979 I have no context of a life without the birth control pill and my entire life, let alone my reproductive years, is in the post Roe vs. Wade era. While the free love of the 60s wasn’t my life, nor was the AIDS crisis of the early 1980s.  It’s almost as if the not quite Gen X, not quite Millennials live in an era of safe sex which, in the context of this book, made the question of whether to have children a different one. It’s a choice (mostly), not a social issue or political statement or fear of a communicable disease.

God forbid, I should grow up to be an old maid. Yet as an adult, my experiences as aunt to my brother’s three children, a junior high teacher, and a witness to the dubious behavior of most of my friends’ children, made me grateful for my freedom. I found little appealing in the prospect of making an 18-year commitment, as they had, to a life I regarded as tumultuous.

It’s not that my life is tumultuous, but this is what hits closest to my personal decision as to why I don’t want or have children. I can’t make a long term commitment to a relationship, a city or an apartment, I can’t imagine 18 years to another human being. Plenty of woman eager to be a mother? Me? I’ll take being an aunt.

And Kathleen who closed the book? Yeah, she’s me to a tee.

Old enough to know better, young enough to do it anyway

Review: The Story of Sushi

The author has no affiliation with the California Sushi Academy. He paid for all sushi consumed in the course of his research

This book made me crave sushi for the entire week that I was reading it. I’m a sushi fiend so this isn’t surprising, but it was a little odd when I was reading at 8 AM. This had been on my wish list for a long time. According to my Library Thing I got a copy in 2009, but I have no recollection of owning it. I know I didn’t read it. So I was happy to find a copy on Amazon for .99 and it also hits “Z” on the ABC Challenge.

As much as I enjoyed the info that I learned about sushi through Zoran, Kate, Marcos, Toshi and the others, I enjoyed the people. Although this was a work of documentary non-fiction, it read like a novel at times and the central figures were key. Toshi, the pioneer of American sushi; Kate the unsettled student; Zoran the teacher who is disappeared back to Australia midway through the semester; Takumi the former JPop singer.

Luckily for this sushi fiend, little beyond the author’s explanation of mold’s role in miso and sushi rice made me think twice about the food I devour. I fell in love with sushi at the tale end of my first stint in Japan but never really had a huge interest in its creation. I don’t think I’ve made sushi since a friend’s obon party in August… 2002! This book made me curious about some of the behind the scenes and probably made me a more educated consumer at the sushi bar.

Disease isn’t the only problem. Humans like to eat yellowtail, but yellowtail also like to eat yellowtail.

Of the author’s comments on fish that’s the one I loved the most. I’m picturing carnivorous yellowtail on the sushi bar. I really enjoyed the background on the rice as its status in the US is so different to its standing in Japan.

I’m glad to see the Toshi’s California Sushi Academy is still going (despite an awful website) and to “see” Kate and company on Corson’s site.

GoTheDist: 2015 week 1

I hate you Mother Nature. I’m probably not going to get 285K steps this month due to the polar vortices/Alberta clippers/whatever you want to call it. I’m OK with that because:

  • I’ve been to the gym 4x this year including 3x while sick and am en route to obliterating my bike goals
  • I’ll get as close to 285K as I can and make it up later in the warmer months
  • I brought lunch 4x this week. OK, that slightly contributed to steps fall off. I wasn’t walking to get lunch and it was too cold to go out just for a walk. But, yay not spending $9/day on lunch.
  • I’m onto my 3rd book. all of which have been non fiction.

A good start (minus the cold) to what will be a good year.

Review: 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived

On the one hand, I’m thrilled that I’m finished with one book and actually reviewing it less than two days  in to 2015. On the other hand, I’m tempted to call this book at least 91 people too long, although that’s probably not fair.
I once overheard  someone I work with say that a website designed by a committee is a camel. I think the same can be said for a book about a subjective matter written by this many people. The more I think about it, I think “influential” might be the wrong word. To me, influence means they inspire people to act like them? Did some have an impact? Yes. But does anyone actually want to *be* Godzilla?
The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived by Allan Lazar, Dan Karlan, Jeremy Salter. A library book I started eagerly on December 31, 2014 and I finished today at the gym. Normally when I’m adding time to a workout it means I’m hooked into the book and want to finish it. This time I just wanted to finish it.

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