Life at the Lake

a diary of living at a small lowland lake


Early moonrise over Lake Ketchum

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Not Kermit the Frog, a lovable character, but Phil Condit, recently fired CEO of Boeing, and widely hated hereabouts



A bit of local news, with national implications:

At Boeing Phil Condit is out, former McDonnell-Douglas exec, Harry Stonecipher is in. He is a tough manager, without much vision, or so it is reported. Well, la-de-da, as Annie Hall might say. And, so what?

We are surrounded, here in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere in America, with corporate scandal. Call it corruption. Not to mention at the University of Washington, where the former president was asked to leave because, purportedly, of poor leadership and an affair with a still-unnamed high-ranking employee. Woman, I guess.

So they are looking for a new president and have given themselves another year in which to find him. Or her, as the case might be.

Not to mention the Feds fining the School of Medicine for ethical and financial irregularities, and requiring one administrator to negotiate some out-of-jail time with public service, since he was a brain surgeon. Overcharging Medicare patients was the big problem, and of course the Fed pays. Think of the ethics involved, and the shame for the university. I do.

Why not Condit as U prexy? He has headed an organization even larger than the UW, is out of work, has the time and perhaps the inclination. The newly boosted salary of the new president is around half a million per year, plus perks. About a third of what he used to make, but, hey, a job's a job.

Another Boeing worker who has lost his job recently. Brings the total to, oh, 50,001.

Condit would be just great in the role. He is used to dealing with some degree of weaseling all around him and making under-the-counter deals with the government, namely, leased vs. bought aircraft tankers. He would be expected to bring in even more government contracts to UW than he did at Boeing, and his compensation and continued employment could nicely be hinged to doing that. I like the idea more and more.

Imagine a large university governed by Kermit the Frog.

Only trouble is, he might move the university to . . . Illinois!

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Pacific Northwest Winter (only today the sun is shining)


Somewhere along the way I've missed out on reading the poetry of William Stafford, an important Pacific Northwest poet and—hell—an important poet anywhere in the world.

He is wonderful to read at length and writes a taut, resonant line. And he wrote a lot. Here is a middle stanza from his fine poem, "Wovoka's Witness." (Wovoka, I take it, is a legendary Indian figure. If not, someone please inform me.)

I take the unconscionable liberty of quoting Stanza 3 and not starting with the beginning. But hang on there, in a future blog I'll go back to the beginning, I promise.

The stanzas—at least in my opinion— mix and match well, like certain trousers and odd jackets.

My people, now it is time
for us all to shake hands with the rain.
It's a neighbor, lives here all winter.
Talkative, yes. It will tap late
at night on your door and stay there
gossiping. It goes away without a goodby
leaving its gray touch on old wood.
Where the rain's giant shoulders make a silver
robe and shake it, there are wide places.
There are cliffs where the rain leans, and
lakes that give thanks for miles
into the mountains. We owe the rain
a pat on the back--barefoot, it has walked
with us with its silver passport all over the world."

Now, isn't that nice?

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Single Trumpeter Swan, flying low over water

Wednesday morning last rose to a dark dawn suddenly brightened by the sight of four trumpeter swans circling the lake in tight formation. Now, we regularly see them foraging on harvested corn stubble in the fields near Arlington, but rarely (never!) at the lake, either on it or performing a flying-by. So this is a birder's first.

How beautiful they are, when they aren't all muddied up from wet fields. And in flight how slender, long, and graceful.

They are doubtless what the aircraft designer had in mind when that person conceived of the Concorde, another "bird" now on the lengthy extinction list.

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