So, how have you been the past two months? It's hard to believe that my last post was a pre-election summary of ballot initiatives. I suppose following any election comes a bit of a let-down. Either my candidates lost, and that - of course - is depressing. Or, as happened recently, my candidates won, and given what they've got to work with, they can only disappoint and embarrass me. And that - of course - is depressing as well.
But November also brought news of exciting changes to come, and that is a large part of what has distracted me from my usual social media participation. After a long interview process and much discussion, I have been offered, and have accepted, the position of executive director at a local, Santa Cruz County nonprofit agency, effective January 3, 2011.
It is a wonderful agency, with excellent professional staff, a great board, and an incredible contingent of volunteers, and I am very much looking forward to getting started. Of course, it is also a bit bittersweet in that I will be giving up my consulting practice and "independent contractor" status.
The next distraction from blogging was, of course, the Thanksgiving holiday, around which time I was contacted by an old friend who said, "How about Pearl Harbor Day in Pearl Harbor?" I replied that he was crazy, it was barely two weeks out, and there was no time to plan, etc. He said he'd found some deals on airfare and hotels and I ran out of objections. So, on December 6, I took off for a week's vacation in Oahu.
It was quite moving, being at Pearl Harbor on December 7th - the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. There was, of course, much ceremony, both in memory of the nearly three thousand soldiers and civilians who died in the attacks, and in honoring the more than 100 survivors who were present (average ages 86-97). They were also dedicating the opening of the new visitors' center.
It was good to see so many people turn out, when for many of us it's not even a memory, but something we learned from history. For our generation, it's 9/11 that marked us the way Pearl Harbor did for that previous generation. And the shadow of 9/11 was present, as the new visitors' center was momentarily evacuated due to a "suspicious package."
We returned again on December 8th - the 30th anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon - to continue our tour with smaller crowds. The coincidence of the anniversaries did not strike us until we were there, honoring those who died at the start of WWII, and remembering an artist who's message was that war is over, if we want it.
For more of my thoughts on these Pearl Harbor visits, and the dual anniversaries, please play the podcast embedded below (...video posted here...):
I'd been to Hawaii twice before, each time with my wife, and we'd stayed on Maui and Kauai, so this was my first time spending any time on Oahu, other than stopping over at the airport. The cities of Honolulu and Waikiki were not like the Hawaii I'd known before. I kept commenting that they seemed a strange mix of Hawaii and San Diego.
That's not necessarily bad. I like San Diego; I just don't need a five hour cross-ocean flight to get there. But in terms of it being a busy, metropolitan area, with a large military presence, lots of traffic, tall buildings, etc., it's like San Diego. But with volcanoes in the background. Wonderful, but a bit odd. Next time, it's back to Maui, or maybe the big island.
I started this post with a remark about politics, it turned to the topic of bittersweet changes, and touched on history. I'll finish with a bit of news that hits all three; the demise of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
It's a bittersweet and historic victory, that gay and lesbian Americans can now openly enlist in our armed forces, and ironic that those of us civilians who fought the hardest for this this change, are also - largely - those who are most opposed to our current wars.
The end of DADT is a wonderful moment for the advance of civil rights. But, somehow, I don't feel much like celebrating. Or, maybe it's just the rain speaking.