way cooler than the concorde

Last night Laura and I were talking about Wired’s front-page article about hybrid cars.  I was kidding with her about hybrid boats and planes.  Then, today I stumbled upon this:


Boeing’s "dreamliner" has a fantastic informational website with a whole page on efficiency and it’s "eco-friendly"capabilities.  Internet and Email, big windows, for someone who’s stomach turns at the thought of flying, this website got me excited.

I disagreed with the pope.

I disagree with the Catholic Church.

But, I found myself watching his downfall thinking of the recent passing of my Grandmother. The last weeks of his life, as the media reported his tracheotomy, his infections, the last time we saw him at his window trying to croak and hiss with no voice, I couldn’t help reliving many of the seemingly identical failings of a person so near death.  Granted the pope had Parkinson’s Disease and was not dying of Emphysema (as my Grandmother was), but as far as the reports went, it was as my family heard it for the past year or so.

El Papi’s “term” began when I was a few days old in 1978. It was only in seeing the retrospective coverage of late, had I seen him as he was. I’d only known him as a very old, frail man in costume, whom I disagree with at nearly every turn. But, I did find something unexpected to respect.  For a person of influence, nothing frightens me more than an insular, sheltered life.  You can certainly describe the papacy as I heard it put best: “a bird in a gilded cage”; and as I learned about the “room of tears” where the newly elected pope first dresses in his robe and likely weeps before facing the public – as property of the church, I saw a certain sad beauty in the tradition and sacrifice.  This pope did not twiddle away the days on his golden perch, it is estimated that his travels are the equivalent of circling the Earth 20 times. All in all, he spent nearly the equivalent of 3 years out of the Vatican. This was unprecedented and helps me better understand the rock star status that had me baffled and transfixed as millions of young people flooded St. Peters before the world knew for sure that he’d died.

And, now, nearly a week has passed. I still find myself intrigued by the images and the footage. The past few days, again, I thought of my Grandmother. I had a very hard time nearly three years ago when my Grandfather died. One week I was building a fence with him and chatting with my Grandmother at the kitchen table I knew so well…the next week she was in the hospital with bronchitis (and due to be released in a few days).  Quite suddenly my Grandfather was dead and she was in critical condition. As we planned and attended the funeral, her future became very uncertain. If she was to survive, she’d “wake up” with her husband’s funeral in the past.  We worried about her sense of closure and decided to take photographs at the funeral. I was really torn by the idea of a “post mortem” photograph. I knew this was not unheard of, and in fact, the taboo itself was a more recent ideal. And then a few months ago, two and a half years after photographs were taken of my Grandfather, a decision was made to do the same with his wife, and this time, there was not the same pre-text.

This has haunted me in a small way, but in a way that I also find solemn and without taboo and proscribed morality.  The past few days you could not avoid the visage of a corpse.  The body of the pope has been photographed from all angles and without question, shown to the world.  And, now I also know that there is a relationship, other than Hallmark, between Christmas and Santa Claus.

i misread cnn today to read "vaticam" instead of vatican. with the "pope mobile" who would really question "vaticam"?