Tina K. Russell

January 2, 2009

You might say it’s potable water

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 12:09 pm

Each year, The New York Times Magazine does a beautiful obituary issue on people who’ve passed on this year that you may or may not have heard of, but all have amazing stories. Here’s one:

Ron Rivera – b. 1948 – Solution in a Pot – NYTimes.com
Early on, Ron Rivera was a left-leaning, power-to-the-people sort of young man, full of vague ideas about social justice and eradicating poverty. Fresh out of college in Puerto Rico, he joined the Peace Corps and spent six years moving between the poorest parts of Ecuador and Panama, engaged in noble but sometimes futile-seeming community-development work. But then, during a stay in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in 1972, he met an older male potter who took him in as an apprentice. And as if by magic, the vagueness and futility dissipated, replaced by possibility. Why? Because Ron Rivera was now a left-leaning, power-to-the-people potter.

The man goes on to teach high-class craftsmanship and marketing techniques to rural potters in the developing world, and finally to invent a clay water filter that anyone can make, with the potential to save millions of lives. As I do whenever I find someone who upends conventional wisdom and saves untold lives in the process, combining realism and idealism into an unstoppable force for absolute good, I wrote a limerick. Enjoy.

Ron Rivera was anguished one day
“How can I fight disease?” he did say
The answer was watery
So he took up pottery
And where there’s a wheel, there’s a way.

UPDATE: I can’t help myself. Here’s another.

Ron saw the world was off kilter
When so many got water unfiltered
He spun a solution
For disease’s dilution
And thousands say proudly, “Ron built ’er.”

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December 30, 2008

“Kicking the Bucket,” by Harold Pinter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 8:39 pm

Harold Pinter, Playwright of the Anxious Pause, Dies at 78 – Obituary (Obit) – NYTimes.com

I saw a few Pinter plays when I was a kid. My crazy art teacher in high school (whom I hated, and I imagined that, it I took over the school, my first decision would be to fire her; and if you’re reading this, no, I’m talking about another crazy art teacher at my high school) took us to a round of avant-garde plays a few times, and I found them excruciatingly awful. The Pinter plays we saw, supposedly emblematic of his work, were the worst. Let me repeat the experience for you:

This is a blog.

I am writing a blog.

You are reading a blog.

Why are you reading a blog?

The other day, I was reading a blog.

It was called, “Mittens.”

I have more lines.

So, I’m not shedding too many tears. But, I think it’s only proper to honor his passing with a moment of racuous noise.

(I’m sincere in that I believe his plays to be awful. I’m sick of art that’s so painfully bad, so devoid of even the most insipid content, that it must be brilliant.)

August 30, 2008

Respects to Abie Nathan

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 12:46 am

The problem with The New York Times‘s wonderful obituaries is that often it’s the first place I find out about remarkable people, right when they’ve passed away. Take this man, Israel’s Abie Nathan.

Abie Nathan, Israeli Peace Champion, Dies at 81 – Obituary (Obit) – NYTimes.com
Abie Nathan, a maverick Israeli peace pioneer, an entrepreneur and a one-man humanitarian-aid organization, who went from playboy to intrepid “peace pilot,” died Wednesday in Tel Aviv. He was 81.

A Royal Air Force-trained pilot, he crashed into the national consciousness and the quagmire of the Middle East conflict with a dramatic solo flight from Israel to Egypt in an old rented biplane in 1966. A self-appointed ambassador, he wanted to talk to President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt about making peace.

At first Mr. Nathan was seen as “a curiosity” in Israel, said Eitan Haber, a veteran Israeli journalist and former senior aide of the late prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin. “But then it turned out he was ahead of his time,” he said.

Rest easy, my friend. You’ve done your country–and the world–proud.

An epicure, he was always ready to pay a personal price for his principles, embarking on numerous hunger strikes; he also served two terms in jail, in 1989 and 1991, for breaking a law against meeting with Yasir Arafat and other officials of the Palestine Liberation Organization, then banned in Israel as a terrorist group.

After receiving his six-month sentence in 1989, he issued a typical explanation of his person-to-person mission: “Violence will only increase and it will be impossible to heal the wounds, whether among the Arabs or the Jews, unless we decide to sit with each other. Our bullets alone cannot solve the problem.”

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