Tuesday Oct. 6, 2015


Nailing a Dock Together

The dock is done, pulled out in the lake. How I love
Putting my wet foot
On the boards I sawed myself!
It is a ladder stretching back to land…

So many secrets are still hidden.
A walker digs up a tin box with secrets
And then joyfully buries it again
So that the night and day will remain fresh.

The horse stands penned, but is also free.
It is a horse whose neck human
Beings have longed to touch for centuries.
He stands in a stable of invisible wood.

“Nailing a Dock Together” by Robert Bly from Like the New Moon, I Will Live My Life. © White Pine Press, 2015. Reprinted with permission.  (buy now)

Today is the birthday of spy novelist Joseph Finder (1958) (books by this author). He was born in Chicago, but spent his childhood living in a variety of locations all over the world. His first language was Farsi, which he learned as a small boy in Kabul, Afghanistan. His family eventually settled outside Albany, New York, and Finder went to Yale, where he majored in Russian studies and graduated summa cum laude. The CIA recruited him after he completed graduate school at Harvard. After a while, he decided he preferred writing to espionage, and his first book, Red Carpet — a nonfiction exposé of ties between the Kremlin and many powerful American businessmen — was published in 1983. His first novel, The Moscow Club, followed in 1991, and he's since gained a reputation for writing spy thrillers set in the corporate world. He is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers and the Council on Foreign Relations, and writes on the subject of espionage and international affairs. He lives in Boston with his wife, daughter, and dog, Mia, whom he describes as a dropout from Seeing Eye-dog school.

On this date in 1945, Greek tavern-owner William "Billy Goat" Sianis was ejected from Chicago's Wrigley Field for attempting to bring a goat to the World Series. The details of the story vary, but the tavern's version goes something like this: The Cubs were up two games to one over the Detroit Tigers, and they were about to play Game Four. Sianis, whose tavern was across the street from Wrigley Field, hoped to bring his team luck, so he bought two tickets: one for him, and one for his pet goat, Murphy. The ushers wouldn't let him bring the animal inside, ticket or no. Sianis appealed his case all the way up to the team's owner, P.K. Wrigley, who said the man was welcome but the goat was not, because "the goat stinks." According to the legend, Billy then cursed the team, saying, "The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field." The Cubs went on to lose the next three games of the World Series to the Tigers, and Billy promptly sent Wrigley a telegram that read, "Who stinks now?" In spite of multiple attempts to placate the ghosts of Billy and Murphy in recent years, the Cubs haven't won — or even appeared in — the Fall Classic since.

It was on this date in 2007 that Jason Lewis and the Expedition 360 team completed the first entirely human-powered trip around the world. Steve Smith first had the idea while sitting in his office in Paris, so he invited Lewis, a college friend, to accompany him. They had a pedal boat built, which they called the Moksha, a Sanskrit word that means "liberation." They set off from the Meridian Line in Greenwich, England, on July 12, 1994. They headed southeast, pedaled their boat across the English Channel, and cycled through France, Spain, and Portugal before embarking on their crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean crossing took 111 days, and they landed in Miami, Florida. They biked and skated across the continental United States. Steve Smith left the project in Hawaii to write a book about the first leg of the journey.

The team had to stop from time to time to raise money to fund the trip; Lewis took odd jobs at cattle ranches and funeral homes. About a year into the expedition, his journey very nearly ended altogether. He was rollerblading along the side of a Colorado road when he was run over by an 82-year-old drunk driver. Both of Lewis's legs were broken, and he narrowly missed having one of them amputated. He spent six weeks in the hospital and a further nine months recovering before he could resume his journey. There were other low points, like being arrested in Egypt as a suspected spy, contracting malaria, having two hernia operations, and being robbed at machete-point. He only returned home once during his journey, to visit his ailing father, before resuming the trip from where he left off. He crossed the Meridian Line on this date in 2007, more than 13 years after he left it.

Lewis followed the definition of circumnavigation set forth by Explorer's Web: he started and finished at the same point; he crossed two diametrically opposite points on the globe; he crossed the equator at least twice; he passed through all longitudes; and he traveled at least 40,000 miles. He was assisted by a team of volunteers after Smith left, but the entire journey was made on human power alone, with no help from motors, animals, or even sails to capture the wind.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

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