I Have Been to the Mountaintop

Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and the Three Sisters with clouds overbreaking

I have to say, I was quite pleased with how this shot came about, as well as how it looks. I was flying south out of Portland on Friday morning and about twenty minutes into the flight I had a great view of a snow-capped mountain outside my window. Like the TSA-obedient traveler that I am, however, I had “turned off, not just placed in airplane mode” all of my electronic devices, and that view was rapidly sliding away as I waited for my iPhone to start up. I got off a couple of quick shots of the mountain almost broadside, then sort of leaned forward to shoot back and get one last shot as we passed. I managed to get South Sister (in the foreground), with the peaks of the shorter Middle and North Sisters just poking through the clouds breaking over the Cascades, Mt. Jefferson in mid-range, and Mt. Hood just visible on the horizon.

June 11, 2001

Margaret Baker, 1918-2001

As always, a few words from my cousin Roxana about our grandmother, who was murdered nine years ago today:

I have spent many years in a volunteer capacity working against domestic violence, so I was shocked when my grandmother was shot and killed June 11 in the White Salmon area. My grandmother was bedridden, blind, and has suffered many strokes over the years. I did not expect her to die in this manner.

She died because her caregiver, Toni Stencil, was the target of an angry man.

There is not room to write all the details Toni has given me, and Toni has her own story to tell. I am not a legal expert, or an expert in domestic violence. I am simply a granddaughter asking questions and looking for answers on why my grandmother had to die so violently.

Through my questions, I have found out that the state of Washington has a Mandatory Arrest Law, as does Wisconsin, where I now live. This law does vary from state to state, and I’m not clear on the stipulations in your law. What I have been told by Toni is that she called 9-1-1 on the Thursday evening prior to the (Monday) shooting because this man had bound her and held her against her will for over three hours. She talked her way out of this dangerous situation and did call 9-1-1.

I wonder why he was not arrested on that evening. Certainly this will be determined, and police in White Salmon have declined to answer my questions concerning this issue at present.

Why should you care about this law? Remember that my grandmother was an innocent victim of a dispute between two people that she had absolutely nothing to do with. This was a dangerous man. Are the laws you have in place working for you? If not, why?

These are the questions running through my head that keep me up at night. There is another state law that interests me as well that I’m checking into concerning self-help information that is to be given to victims of domestic 9-1-1 calls. Three days passed between Toni’s initial call for help and the shooting; she needed professional help. I have found out that you have the Programs For Peaceful Living. This program could have offered Toni some very needed support in a number of ways.

I pose these questions and tell this story because it is my way of helping and healing. On my own, I cannot look into your laws and check into the rapport between your police force and your programs in place to help people. You need to be concerned because you care about the health of your community. I believe domestic violence issues are so important, because the health of a whole community starts in the home.

Please support your local law enforcement and program such as Programs For Peaceful Living in working together against domestic violence.

That Special Glow

Cherenkov radiation in the Reed College nuclear reactor

I always thought that the words “licensed nuclear reactor operator” would be a neat addition to the baccalaureate in English Literature, but not surprisingly, the training program to operate the reactor at Reed College is no cakewalk. So I never even went into the reactor when I was a student, despite having taken an after-school class in third grade taught by a retired Civil Defense chief who taught us to use Geiger counters and calculate the biological effects of our long-term radiation exposure in a nuclear holocaust. But they were giving tours during last weekend’s reunion activities and I got the shot of Cherenkov radiation above with my iPhone, standing practically over the reactor.


Tomer Berda at Event #5 of the 2010 World Series of Poker (photo from official WSOP site)

Tomer Berda at the WSOP, photo via wsop.com

Back in the day, one of the great sources for Director Xtras was DirectXtras, and the man behind it was Tomer Berda. Tomer had a suite of custom transition Xtras, a fast image manipulation Xtra, tools for FTP and email, communication Xtras that could talk to USB, serial, and parallel ports, even an SMS messaging Xtra. He was always a helpful voice on forums but I haven’t had any correspondence with him for a number of years.

But I did a double-take when I was reading some of the news coming out of the World Series of Poker, which started last weekend. In the recap of one of the early events, a No-Limit Hold’em tournament with a $1,500 buy-in that drew more than 2,000 entrants, there was a list of big-name players who went out in places from 51st to 216th. But the name in fifth place, winning $117,416, was: Tomer Berda. According to PokerPages, the Tomer who won the WSOP event lives in Menlo Park, California, which is where DirectXtras is based. How many Tomer Berdas can there be in Menlo Park?

Either way, Tomer deserves praise for all he did with DirectXtras in the past. And the Tomer who did incredibly well at poker? He deserves praise even if he’s not the same guy. But I’m going to believe he is, either way. [UPDATE] I emailed DirectXtras Tomer to conditionally congratulate him and he confirmed that he is, indeed, Poker Tomer.