inside a lifelong friendship

1955. Jasper lives on the farm up the hill behind our house. We start school on the same day. I get told off for talking to him in class. The nun tells Jasper he’s a good boy, that it’s not his fault. It is going to be like this for a long time; me, unsettled, on the outside, him, effortless charm, cool before they call it that, getting away with murder

1965. Now that my father is dead, I am dispatched to boarding school. Jasper persuades his mother to have me at their place for lunch Sundays. His father is…


in the vanguard of a Trump flotilla

The NIST-F2 is a cesium-fountain atomic clock located in Boulder, Colorado. It is the nation’s primary time and frequency standard, used among other things for military-grade sat nav systems. It fires atoms through a microwave chamber, and then witchcraft and wizardry are used to ensure it maintains extreme accuracy. So accurate is it that, in the next 300 million years, it will neither gain nor lose a single second.

Compared to the good doctor though, it’s unreliable.

So when he called last summer and suggested he would pick up the Queen Mother and me at 11am for a trip out…


It’s true what they say; God really is in the details

For a long time, years maybe, I regarded Jim as everybody else does. As the law. Someone with the potential to slow you down.

He’s managed the Transfer Station out here on the island of Georgetown, Maine, for more than 15 years. If it’s Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday the place is open, which means you must leave the bay on a dump run, and since the bay is beautiful, always, you hate to leave it even for a moment, so when you do, you bundle all the errands together and get after it. Summer days are precious commodities in Maine…


behind every life is a story

ki te tuohu koe, me he maunga teitei / if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain

There is no such thing as an ordinary life. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy and a tragedy.

Mark Twain

If you are born in New Zealand you are born blessed, for the closest river to your place of birth becomes your river, the closest mountain, your mountain. The pull of your mountain, your maunga, is powerful, and hard to resist. But when you grow up fatherless at the end of the railroad you grow up wondering what lies at the other end of the line. So one night when still a boy I gathered…


AS IF TO DEMONSTRATE AN ECLIPSE
by Billy Collins

I pick an orange from a wicker basket
and place it on the table
to represent the sun.
Then down at the other end
a blue and white marble
becomes the earth
and nearby I lay the little moon of an aspirin.

I get a glass from a cabinet,
open a bottle of wine,
then I sit in a ladder-back chair,
a benevolent god presiding
over a miniature creation myth,

and I begin to sing
a homemade canticle of thanks
for this perfect little arrangement,
for not making the earth too…


and you thought the America’s Cup was about sailing?

Photo courtesy Shutterstock

Warning: Violent and Gratuitous Allegory Ahead:

New Zealand sent several artillery batteries to help out during the Vietnam War. Some culturally-insensitive brute at the Pentagon decided that since New Zealand looked pretty close to Australia on a map, they must be friendly neighbors. So it came to be that the New Zealand howitzers were positioned to provide protection to patrolling Aussies. To this day the New Zealand commander swears that the weather was so foul on the first night they went into action that radio transmissions were garbled and occasionally impossible to decipher through the static. When the Aussies called…


What will the real legacy be?

This morning a poem popped into my head. I have not read it for years, since college, maybe.

It’s just an old sonnet by Shelley.

It seemed so timely, so relevant, that I decided to share it.

No further comment…

OZYMANDIAS

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The…


Democrats just lost big. It’s time for Democratic Party 2.0. It’s time for a re-brand

image courtesy Shutterstock

Once I drank too much with a group of important clients. Somewhat over-refreshed, I staggered to my hotel room, threw off my clothes and collapsed on the bed. At 3am I was awakened by an urgent need to pee. I staggered to the bathroom door, opened it and as it clicked shut behind me, I realized it was not the bathroom door at all, but the door to my hotel room. Slowly the extent of my predicament dawned on me. I was standing stark naked in a hotel hallway, bathed in the brightest light, no ID, no room key, no…


A mere win is not enough. We need repudiation. Only a Biden landslide will get us out of this mess

I’m writing this the weekend before election day. Over 90 million citizens have already voted. I see now that Biden is going to win the presidency. Trump is doomed. When your popularity rating is down around 43%, millions of people are not voting early on your behalf. Besides, no-one who held their nose and voted for Hillary is going to vote for him now — new voters will be additive to that tally, and enough to put Biden over the top.

At this point last time around, support for Hillary in key midwestern states was crumbling so fast the polls…


It’s one thing to climb the mountain. It’s quite another to live up there.

Image courtesy Emerald Media

It’s a fact. In the end, most companies die. If you don’t believe me, look at the top 50 companies 25 years ago , and then look at the list from last year. Sure, product life cycles come and go, mergers and acquisitions happen all the time, but there’s no natural or market rationale for business extinction. Rather, companies do themselves in. Blinkered by their own success, with cultures characterized by hubris and self-certainty, they succumb to new competition or changing market dynamics that everybody else but them can see.

Take daily newspapers for example. For 50 years the holding…

Peter Winter

Kiwi, born under the mountain, adopted by the USA. I tell my stories here at Life of Fiction, mouth off on the media biz at blastofwinter.com, then I go sailing

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