Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chance Encounters

Murder is the result of chance encounters involving transportation in Alfred Hitchcock's world. Fortunately the same is not true in my world!

Just a little over a month ago I boarded a Delta Airlines flight leaving Atlanta, Georgia for Johannesburg, South Africa. As a member of the last group to be called for boarding and having witnessed the amount of carry-on luggage that preceded my walk down the gangway, I immediately started scouting overhead storage space once I got onboard. It is my experience that most air travelers treat the overhead space the same way lots of homeowners treat trash pick-up. That it, once its on the curb, it is someone else's problem. Similarly air passengers simply strive to get their bag stored; in most cases without regard to efficiency or economy. This, despite the constant reminders by the flight attendants to put wheeled bags in wheels first. I would eventually score a space for my bag across the aisle from my seat after a significant amount of shifting and juggling of another passenger's luggage.

After finally dropping into my seat, admittedly a bit cranky from reaching and tugging luggage, a woman across the aisle smiled, said "Have a sweetie," and handed me a lovely caramel candy. We chatted for the remainder of the boarding process. I learned during our conversation that Rona, a Johannesburg resident, had just spent six weeks visiting her only child, a daughter, doing post-doctoral work in South Bend, Indiana. I laughed and told her that South Bend was a mere two and half hours from my home in Zionsville, Indiana. I shared that I  too had just left my only child, also a daughter, at university in New York City, and that I was going to South Africa to work with the Legal Resources Centre. Rona was quite concerned that I knew no one in Johannesburg. At the end of the flight, we scrambled to find paper and pen so she could give me her phone number. She urged me to call her if I needed anything or wanted to get together.

As I traveler, I never turn down a chance encounter. Last summer my family struck up a conversation with a gentlemen on a bus in Dublin. He got off at our stop, escorted us through a lovely city park. All the time we walked through the park he explained the various statutes and sculptures and shared stories with us. Eventually he would leave us on the doorstep of the not-so-famous off-the-beaten track museum we were trying to locate and continue on his way to his office. My traveler motto is "Adventure is just one conversation away!"

So last week I called Rona to inquire if she would like to meet for lunch or drinks. In the end, Rona and her husband, Alan, invited me to their home for a late lunch. We met at a filing station near the Gold Reef Casino so I wouldn't have to work out how to find their home in Chrisville, a modest suburb on the southwest side of Johannesburg. I spent a long afternoon with them. We sat on the front veranda enjoying the sun, the breeze, and the distant view of the city centre. They told me the names of the plants in their garden, showed me pictures of their daughter and her academic awards, told me family stories, and introduced me to their cats, Fred and KitKat (previously feral, now rescued and loved).

When we moved into the kitchen for lunch, the conversation wound this way and that as we talked about South Africa, its history, and their thoughts on its future. Rona and Alan are of modest means; both were retrenched (laid off) in recent years due to company closures. Despite being near or at retirement age, they retain their entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic as they continue to investigate employment options.

As the day started to fade, I was hugged and walked to my car. I was also reminded to lock the car doors, keep the windows up, avoid hitchhikers, and to call when I got home. On the drive home, I marveled at the fragility of life's experiences. If Rona hadn't offered a candy to a frustrated fellow traveler and if I hadn't accepted the offer I would have missed out on a wonderful experience.  I'll see them again in the coming months as I've offered to carry holiday packages to their daughter when I go home for the Christmas and New Year holidays. The opportunity to spend time with Rona and Alan enriched my understanding of South Africa in a way that no amount of news or reading ever could and I look forward to our next meeting.

Travel provides us with so many venues to meet new people. Yet today's airports, Amtrak stations, bus terminals, and even the planes, trains, and busses, themselves, are filled with people looking at a screen instead of looking outward. What would happen If we disconnected from our devices and opened ourselves up to possibilities of human interaction more often? My guess is that if we take the time to talk and connect with someone we would soon learn
 that the world is a small shared space waiting to be discovered just beyond the screen in our hand.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Library DNA

This way to your local library!
Those of us that love and support libraries, particularly public libraries, have the ability to find the trail to a public library regardless of the circumstances. It doesn't matter how challenging the driving experience! 

Last week I was waiting at a stoplight on a step upgrade. I was intently watching the stoplight and anxiously anticipating that one moment I would have to release the parking brake, engage the gas pedal, and get moving before I suffered the ire of the South African taxi drivers for not moving fast enough. And I saw it, well worn and standing a little crooked, but there it was -- the universal sign that is welcomed by all library junkies!  

Despite an already long day, I turned and followed the library directional sign. Unable to find the library after crisscrossing back and forth across a number of blocks, I finally headed home and engaged Google. After learning that the Linden Library is now located just a few blocks from my guesthouse on 6th street I stopped by last Saturday to get my library fix. 

The exterior of the library is a bit forbidding. An 8 foot high metal fence encircles the library and the small parking lot. In addition, every entrance and window is layered with security bars to prevent theft and vandalism. At first glance it seems a bit much. However, the parking lot attendant/security guard's plastic yard chair was stolen when I was there last week. So who am I to question the library's security measures.

Ignore the fortress!
The parking lot attendant ensures that only library patrons park in the parking lot. So don't even think about combining a visit to the cafe next door with your library visit. The attendant and sign reminded me of my Galesburg Public Library days and suggests that insufficient patron parking appears to be a universal problem for urban public libraries.   

If you ignore the security features and focus on the mural and the garden, it is a pleasant entrance to the library. 

I spent a fair bit of time engaging with the used book sale in the library lobby. The fare was the usual popular fiction and non-fiction, especially biographies. American authors, including the likes of James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Tom ClancyTami Hoag, and Nicholas Sparks, were prevalent. I found a few of my favorite British authors scattered in the mix as well. The unusual feature was the inclusion of used jigsaw puzzles in the sale. With "negotiable" prices ranging from $1 to $3 US I couldn't resist adding a murder mystery to my growing bedside table collection. 

The Library Director was very friendly and we spent some talking about general library issues. She was having a particularly frustrating day with the SIRSI ILS. As a result, we spent 1/2 hour talking about the Evergreen ILS and other open source possibilities. Given how little the libraries were demanding from the SIRSI ILS, it might have been more about the overtaxed and underdeveloped South African internet service provider than SIRSI. But that didn't stop me from spreading the Evergreen word! I completed the library card application, which required a copy of my passport, guest house registration, and international driver's license. 

The Linden Library packs a lot of activity in a small space. The one floor library includes three good-size study table areas, two comfortable seating areas, and a children's area. The central service area includes both reference and circulation. The library does not provide public access computers. A project the library would like to take on as funding and connectivity issues resolve. 

The library's collection is predominantly print; providing materials in both English and
Afrikaans. The non-print collection includes children's VHS movies and a few adult materials in the form of music cds and VHS movies. DVD and audio books (CD) items were minimal.

In the children's area I found an Afrikaans translation of If I Was You, by Richard Hamilton, illustrated by Babette Cole, one of my favorite illustrators.

Babette Cole's unmistakable illustrative style.

This morning the library was humming with activity when I stopped by to pick up my new library card. My library card enables me to check out four books, one puzzle, and one audio-visual item. If I want to take six books at a time I will need to leave a cash deposit. I limited myself to Jeremy Gordin's biography of South Africa's President Zuma and two novels by South African author Christopher Hope. Given the early nightfall and my technologically challenged relationship with the television, I may give serious consideration to checking out a puzzle next time.

Since I had just signed an agreement to follow the library's rules, I moved my car from the library lot to nearby street parking to check-out the arts & craft vendors and the very clever coffee bar across the street.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Page 1: NELSON MANDELA will state:-

The first lesson you learn while working in South Africa is "to never put off until tomorrow what you can do today." Underlying this advice is a recognition of a fragile, and often failing, infrastructure. For example, traffic lights rarely work two days in a row, city buses may or may not complete the entire scheduled route, ATMs may have cash, postal workers may deliver the mail, and so on. 

Thursday the LRC offices were without phone service; and today we worked without either phone service or internet access. Ironically, the office atmosphere was almost festive. To accomplish any work you had to walk down the hallway to an office and have an actual face-to-face conversation about a matter. As a result, there was much talking and movement that enlivened the halls. 

Instead of planned software trials, LRC's law librarian and I continued our sorting and organizing of the law library's collection. At one point, she opened her locked desk drawer and handed me this document to look at.  

It was a legal size document about 3/4 inch in depth, covered with a light blue cover and held together with three tarnishing staples. I noted the name George Bizos in the upper right corner. I thought she was showing it to me because I had enjoyed my Thursday lunch in the office "tea room" while in conversation with George Bizos about everything from US politics to growing avocados.

George Bizos

George Bizos is Nelson Mandela's attorney and an internationally renowned and respected human rights lawyer. On Monday the Marikana miners won legal funding for their case (a major legal matter in which he is involved) and on Wednesday he was named one of the 21 Icons of South Africa. Lunch conversation with a few office colleagues in the "tea room" on Thursday was just what he needed to round out his week. But I digress.

I gently opened the document. My first glance took in what looked to be the work of a manual typewriter on slightly graying bond style typewriter paper. Anyone over the age of 50 will remember that slightly slick paper on which we typed our college papers. The first words would stun me with their historical significance.

Just last night I had read these same words in Nelson Mandela's book, Long Walk to Freedom. I came to realize that I was looking at a typewritten draft of his statement to the court. He was the first defense witness at the 1964 "treason" trial. As I cautiously turned the pages, I noted Nelson Mandela's handwritten comments and marveled at his eloquence and passion. Less than two months later, at the age of 46, he would be sentenced to life in prison.

I had read these words the night before and been touched. Yet the ability to touch and marvel at this historical document made it so much more real.This draft of the statement is 60 pages long and includes original signatures. The statement concludes with this iconic passage. George Bizos is credited with adding the phrase "if need be." As noted in the 21 Icons of South Africa  photo caption, many believe it is these three words that resulted in the imposition of life sentences rather than the death penalty.
During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die. 
This document and many other of LRC's historical documents have been digitized and preserved in the archives at the University of Witwatersrand (WITS) in Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sleeping with the Ghosts of Automobiles

Each work day I see this scaffolding sculpture in my rear view mirror as I back into my parking space on the roof of my office building.  

Chrysler House

Built in 1936-1939, the Chrysler House, at 16 floors, was the fourth tallest building in Johannesburg. Occupying an entire city block, this pre-World War II skyscraper was a fanciful place filled with stainless-steel Bauhaus-style chairs and ashtray stands. The ground-floor showcased the newest US automobiles while state-of-the-art car lifts moved the cars to the upper floors for servicing (from Blue Plaques of South Africa). 

Unfortunately time took a toll on this elegant lady and she remained boarded up and unoccupied (at least by legal occupants).

The lack of affordable housing is a major issue here. Government solutions extend from building new settlements to simply ignoring illegal occupants in empty buildings. The efforts by property developers appear to be more successful in providing the desperately needed affordable safe housing in the city. Chrysler House is such an example. The property was purchased by Affordable Housing Company (Afhco) and is now being rescued and converted into 1000 apartments. Approximately 500 of the units will targeted toward individuals with income levels of less than R 4500 monthly (US $450).  

A first read of the post-renovation description of the units will likely challenge most Americans. However spend a few minutes on the streets of Johannesburg or in the Legal Resources Centre's case files that deal with the eviction of occupiers in abandoned buildings and you will quickly come to understand why someone would choose to live and pay rent in a building that features small apartments that include communal kitchens and bathrooms. Sleeping with the ghosts of automobiles is much safer than illegally occupying a building or sleeping on the streets.

The property is scheduled to open this fall. I can't wait to see the results; especially since the developer has saved the original inlaid marble floors on the ground floor and other architectural details. 

I look out over this scene while I'm waiting for the water to boil in the "tea room" at work. This building is another example of a reclaimed office building that has been converted into residential housing. The colorful laundry on lines on the rooftop brought back lots of childhood memories. 

J'burg Reclaimed Office to Residence Building

This residential apartment building stands next to the shell of a historic army barracks that suffered a fire over ten years ago. The 12-storey high Jozi banner hangs just two blocks from the burnt out barracks. 

All three, the apartment residence, burnt out barracks, and the sign are all easily framed in one photograph. The juxtaposition of all three in one photograph is an accurate portrayal of life here in J'burg.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Photographs in an Antique Store

I've been tasked with reorganizing and modernizing the LRC library. Before I can do such work, I have to find the library under all the random (one indoor tennis table) and other miscellaneous materials that have come to rest in the library. In addition, hundreds of case files from the closure of one LRC office, the relocation of the LRC National Office last year, and the normal offloading whenever an attorney leaves the practice group have ended up in the library. I don't ask "why." I simply suggest that this material is too important to be haphazardly shelved on any available empty library shelf and attack the problem. Since we can't reorganize the library without getting the case files boxed and sent to storage, I spent the last few days organizing case files.

Although a quick read is all that is necessary to dispose of duplicate materials and confirm the file contents are where they should be, it is impossible to remain unaffected. These case files are unlike any that I ever encountered in my law practice. Reading the case files gave me a glimpse into the lives of just a few of the victims of apartheid and its residual effects.

In the last few days, I have read the stories of farm workers who have worked the land and grazed cattle for decades only to be evicted at the whim of the current or new owner; the stories of those who have suffered from acts of violence simply because of their race; and the stories of those who waited years for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission amnesty hearing to learn the fate of a loved one.

Personal affidavits of illegally displaced and evicted farm workers are powerful stories that detail their historical and generational ties to the land in order to establish a right to continue to stay on the land.Truth and Reconciliation Commission files include transcripts of the painful and horrific confessions of the aggressors and the relieved, pragmatic, and often soulful forgiving statements of the aggrieved. Some files reflect the frustration of the LRC attorney who is unable to obtain justice for his or her client. In the end, all the files contain ghosts of one kind or another.

Finally, the stories are encapsulated into organized files that are closed, stacked and waiting to be bundled into boxes.

Organized, closed, awaiting bundling.

Last they are bundled into boxes, labeled, and moved to a storage room filed with hundreds of identical boxes.

In one of these boxes is the story of a young black university lecturer who was brutally shot and killed by the police in 1995. The LRC represented his family in its quest to discover what really happened. In 2001, the family was finally informed that the Magistrate had ruled that the police were not liable and that there was no wrong doing. In the same file you will find an expression of frustration by the LRC attorney to the family for his inability to obtain justice for them.

There is a danger when stories move into folders and into boxes in a storage room. In boxes, the stories lose the ability to evoke emotions and inspire others to continue the fight for justice. They become those bins of black and white photographs in antique stores that we fingertip through but walk away from easily. Unfortunately, South Africa is in deep need of the inspiration and motivation of these stories. The Constitution of South Africa is less than 20 years old and everyone here admits there is still a very long way to go. Unfortunately, the current leadership seems more interested in building palatial mansions and engaging in other scandals, than in moving the country forward.

Many South Africans appear to have forgotten Nelson Mandela's words:

I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried 
not to falter; I have made missteps along the way.
But I have discovered the secret that 
after climbing a great hill, one only finds 
that there are many more hills to climb.
I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view
of the glorious vista that surrounds me, 
to look back on the distance that I have come. 
But I can rest only for a moment, 
for with freedom come responsibilities, 
and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Caveat: this is a blatant advertisement for Columbia Sportswear Company

I wore my Columbia shirt during the five or so hours I spent driving to, around in, and from the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve. I also spent a good portion of time not using the air conditioner. Reasons vary. One, I had my window at the approved position - open to 33% - to view the scenery and animals. Seems rather silly to run the air conditioner with the windows open. Two, the winds are amazing here, even in the city. They possess the warmth and smell of the coming summer. I wanted to feel and smell them in the openness of the rural areas. (I admit I did stick my full head out of the window in the non-predator area. Imagine the happiest dog you have seen riding in a car with her head out the window -- that was me.) last, closed car windows are a status symbol here; even more so if they are tinted. Closed car windows means you can afford air conditioning. Further, tinted windows allow you to leave your briefcase or handbag out in the open. Although I tuck my bag under my seat when driving, I try and drive without the air conditioner on and the window cracked to hear the sounds of the city. But I digress.

Back to the Columbia Sportwear advertisement. I got this "Titanium" shirt for a trip to Egypt with Fadel Gad (Joy International Travel) a few years ago. Since then its been hanging around in the back of my closet as I take in all the sun I can get in Indiana to make it through the long dark winters. I am so glad I threw it into the bag for this adventure. The long sleeves provided great sun protection without being too hot. That being said, it was a quite smelly after arriving home from the reserve.  
They really work.

Okay, here is the first advertisement. I rinsed the shirt out in the sink using these cute little TravelOn laundry soap sheets I purchased at Brenner Luggage in Indy. I am not usually much for gimmicks, but these soap sheets are quite the thing. They don't weigh anything and the dispenser is only about 2 inches by 1 inch by 1/2 inch thick. Even if you don't like math story problems, you can guess that the dispenser fits easily into the palm of your hand

The real advertisement is that the Columbia shirt goes from this,
Those garden stakes I got at the hardware store are getting quite a workout.

to this;

all in 20 minutes. Those lovely African winds have yet another admirable trait (laundry drying)!

It takes a quiet mind.

A dear friend noted that my difficulty in writing stems from my inability to "quiet my mind" and focus on one thing at a time. I am most often guilty of trying to say to many things in a limited word count. I am thankful every day for editors - especially my personal editors, my colleague Hannah Alcasid, and my husband Brian, and the AALL Spectrum editorial staff. Unlike this blog, my professional pieces reflect collaboration with my editors. You are now nodding and saying, "well that explains a lot."

Technology further challenges those of us with unquiet minds. We constantly anticipate how the words we write will be shared -- because in the world of academia, knowledge has to become information for tenure and other purposes. Clicks, citations, and re-tweets are counted and measured.

Yesterday I gave my unquiet mind a break. It is easy to do here in South Africa. Nature and cities nestle together, often with some uneasiness, but nestle they do. A mere 47 minutes (per Google maps) from my guesthouse, and a mere 35 minutes past a MacDonalds, is the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve. I spent three hours roaming the roads of the preserve.

I get the "road less traveled" gene from my Father.

I am not a photographer. I leave documenting the world and its glories to my talented friends and family, Anita Healy, Catherine G, and my husband. Accepting my lack of photography skill takes a lot of pressure off of me. I got to enjoy the scenery and animals without being too concerned about framing and creating the best photograph. In addition, preserve rules 3, 4, 5, and 6 tend to limit even the most talented photographers:

  • 3. Visitors may not alight from their vehicles or leave the doors open.
  • 4. Windows are not to be opened more than 33%.
  • 5. Do not linger when within 25 metres of the lions and other predators.
  • 6. Keep your vehicle idling at all times and ensure that you can accelerate immediately and quickly.
Despite this, I took a few photographs. As evidence of my unquiet mind, the animals and scenery share the spotlight. I found the African landscape overwhelmingly beautiful.

South African Landscape
South African Landscape

South African Landscape

And of course, a few animal pictures to round out the post.

Sable Antelope

Buffet Time. Salt blocks and grass (dolomite soil doesn't provide all the necessary nutrients).
White Lions napping after lunch. Apparently they like to attack and eat spare wheel covers!

Eland - almost a unicorn.

He was rather intrigued by Sophia.

The impala look so fragile until they start to run.

Mistress of the Universe.
The animal life was diverse--hippos, rhinos, and more. I spent a long time talking with a park ranger.  Among other fascinating things, I learned the reserve is testing a rhino poaching prevention project. The reserve lost a rhino to poachers in 2010. The rhino's horn is now painted with a medical compound that is not harmful to the rhino, but causes nasty side effects in humans. Of course, the law requires the reserve post notice of this toxic danger to humans. What is interesting is that the compound remains visible to detection even if the horn is ground into powder. This should enable airport security checkpoints to detect the transport of the rhino horns.

An ice cream ended my "safari" and Sophie and I head for home. Only one wrong turn meant we made it in 52 minutes!
Her 4-cyclinder engine deserves a rest after today's work out!

Friday, October 4, 2013

'Hey mister, can you spare a dumpster?'

My work here with the LRC reminds me each day how much we take for granted in the United States. The LRC is located in a sixteen-floor office building in downtown Johannesburg. The entire building is serviced by 6 rolling dumpsters that are randomly emptied by the vendor. There is no building-wide recycling of paper and other materials.

Dumpster #12
All week we have been playing dumpster roulette with the building's dumpster vendor. That is Meryl Federl, LRC's law librarian, and I have been taking turns trekking down to the parking garage to see if any dumpsters have been emptied. If yes, we nab them and fill them with library discards. If dumpsters had been available, we could have filled twice the even dozen that we did fill this week!

All our efforts to expedite the process with the service vendor have failed. Neither of us finds palatable what appears to be the only other available option--to hire one of the street car guards to use a dolly to move the paper stacks a few city blocks to a larger dumpster. I guess we could go the Jonathan Swift route and use the whole process as a library fundraiser -- buy a chance to guess how many trips it will take to get all the discards to the big dumpster. In the meantime I'll keep trekking to the parking garage. It is becoming a matter of honor -- how many dumpsters can I score each day!

So Meryl and I continue to stack the discards and occasionally use them as furniture. Its good to have a partner in the process that has a good sense of humor!

Alternative Use for South Africa's Gazettes

The stacks keep growing!
I started weeding the library's collection of US legal materials. The first pass weeded out-of-date case books and secondary materials from the 80's and 90's. Not sure why the collection included case books--especially the ones that came complete with yellow highlighting and extensive margin notes. Reminds me the library needs a gift/donation policy! 

The library could use a current constitutional, environmental, and human rights horn book or treatise. Let me know If you have a current edition you can spare and would like to donate. We can figure out how best to get them here.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Yes Virginia, you can make an omelet in a microwave

Although my home, Liana Suite in Linden Place, for the next six months may be just a glorified hotel room in a guest house in Linden, it comes with a sweet little courtyard of my own that has stable wifi. On the downside, the kitchen area only includes a sink, refrigerator, and microwave.  

When I got home from work I decided I wanted something cooked, not warmed up. My refrigerator keepings were a bit meager, but I did have milk, eggs, a fresh vegetable medley and something I never leave home without, stone ground brown mustard. 

Omelet Ingredients
Organic and all versions of "natural" foods are available here. I have already been to one outstanding vegan/vegetarian restaurant.

If you can't make a salad without a bag of pre-washed, ready-to-eat, sealed greens, don't worry, you can easily get them here. I've been experimenting with the different greens -- rocket (arugula-esqe), watercress, and the usual reds and greens we get in the US. As an aside, I was hoping I wouldn't see all the packaging that is in the US, but I guess the South Africans have thrown their lot in the same global warming basket as the rest of us. 

A six-pack of free range brown eggs costs SA Rand 22.99 (or about $2.30 US) and the vegetable pack costs SA Rand 31.95 (or about $3.20 US). My whole grain ground brown mustard was SA Rand 29.95 (or about $3 US). The prices are comparable to US prices, at least if shopping at Woolworths. I haven't made it to the Pick & Pay or the Spar. Headliner for you: the shops, including grocery stores and chemists, close at 6:00 pm! Woolworths, the anomaly, is open until 8:00 pm. 

The key to making an omelet in the microwave appears to be medium heat for a short time. I checked it a couple of times and it puffed up nicely and wasn't rubbery. I put a little stone ground mustard on it and dumped the vegetable medley on top.

 Viva Microwave!

Accompanied by a local brew, Windhoek, my omelet made a lovely dinner in my courtyard.  Windhoek is a fine vintage, sold by the bottle for SA Rand 1100, that also goes well with most technology. 

Windhoek Beer


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lest we forget the purpose of paper

I spent the day weeding the LRC library. The library moved from a much larger space to its current location. Space considerations as well as a need to move to online resources to serve its multiple locations requires some ruthless weeding. Not all that different than the issues most U.S. law libraries are addressing. 

I hauled shelf after shelf (15+ years) of South African Government Gazettes to the dumpster. The resource, think of it as a combination of our Code of Federal Regulation, United States Code, Federal Register, and other general government notices, is now online in full text. 

Despite today's fanatical pitching of paper, this photograph served to remind me of the purpose of the printed word. I am of the age where I turned to print on paper for education, inspiration, and encouragement. The printed word, whether fiction, non-fiction, or textbook, are intertwined with the hopes, dreams, accomplishments, and disappointments of my life.  

This sculpture is in the Anthropologie in Chelsea Market, New York City. The number of tourists and shoppers that stopped to look and to comment, even if for just a moment, is evidence of the power of the printed word to evoke emotions and thoughts.  

Anthropologie, Chelsea Market, NYC, NY 2013

My suitcase for this adventure weighed in at 59 pounds, likely because of the books in it. Despite all the technology in my briefcase (iPad, smartphone, and laptop), I carried six books in print and it was well worth the $75 baggage fee: 

  • The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa, Michael Kimmelman
  • Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela
  • Human Rights at the Crossroads
  • Law Firm Librarianship, Issues, practice, and direction, John Azzolini
  • Effective Knowledge Management for Law Firms, Matthew Parsons
  • The Lonely Planet Guide to South Africa 

I carried these works in print simply because at the of a day spent at a keyboard, I prefer to regenerate by curling up in a chair with paper. I've always admired and envied those that could assemble words to form a poem, an essay, a story or a novel. That admiration and envy for those who can challenge, educate, inspire, motivate, and encourage with words will not change even when I evolve to read it on a screen.