Thanks for joining me here.
Read some thoughts on issues affecting daily life and life around our world. Read and join in the conversation. What moves you? How do you respond to the issues we face today?

inspired by the Economist, once again

1. "[School Blues] (a novel) reminds readers how ignorant it is to have forgotten what it felt like to have but little knowledge."

2. A heart rending obituary of Vann Nath, witness to the Khmer Rouge's genocide.

going through Love146 files

I came across this quote that had to be shared:
"I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world."
-Mary Oliver

fresh off the press

Here's an email I just received for our Director of Aftercare. If you receive this same story later in a more "produced" format, consider yourself one of the insiders.


I am very happy to inform you that A. has finished her caregiver's course and yesterday it was announced that she passed the government qualifyng exams. She is now a professional caregiver and can be employed in care facilities for children, adults and elderly, as well as hspitals and schools locally and abroad.

She is our first graduate into an employable profession. This is a momentuous event for us after so many hurdles with her, including her giving up several times, her suicide attempts in the beginning, her wanting to go home to work again in the bar to help her starving family, her so many disciplne issues as a result of her past life, our dramas to remold her, our constant processing with her that would last until the wee hours of the morning, etc. But now, all this is behind because a new door is opened for her.

This is no mean feat for her considering a past of exploitation that started at 8 and hard core experiences of exploitation on the streets, different provinces, on the internet, name it. When she was rescued, she was transferred from institution to institution and she gave up hope of ever going back to school again so she went home to work in the bar and on the street again, another of [our rescue partner's] statistic of re-trafficking.

Eventually [our rescue partner] referred her to [us]. We lost no time in putting her in school, a home study program that allowed her to have her own pace. She started in grade 4, age 17. In one year, she finished the 6th grade and at the same time passed the Alternative Learning System that qualified her to pursue college without going to high school.

Initially, she took a 4-year nursing course, but the hurdles were proving the course too long, so many things were happening in her life that could prevent her from finishing. So she opted to shift to a much shorter caregiving course. It still proved to be a Herculean task for her and for us. She stopped a few times at the call of her family and went home against all advice. But our process with her was not over."

Never Forget 9/11? If Only It Were That Easy

Found on the WSJ site . . .

The best days are when I don't think about 9/11 at all. I don't remember where I was. I don't think about how my life changed, how deeply affected my wife was. It doesn't come up in conversation. Those are the good days. Of course, I feel guilty about that.

We're told to "never forget," as if anyone living in New York could avoid the reminders: endless construction at Ground Zero, changes on Wall Street, armed security guards in our buildings and police in the subways.

9/11 swallows the life of anyone who was here before and after. Still, we're told that forgetting it would somehow be emotional treason to the memories of people we knew or didn't know.

It's also inappropriate to feel grateful for the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But I am. 9/11 changed us. It made New Yorkers come together. My wife and I made a commitment to New York. Displaced from our home at Ground Zero, we bought a home in Manhattan a few blocks north. We had our first child in 2002. We named her Grace.

On the day after she was born, I made a video from my wife's hospital room at St. Vincent's Hospital. I panned from our newborn to her mother to the window where there was a clear view of where the World Trade Center stood and of our old apartment. I suppose it's evidence of how 9/11 had become a prime mover in our relationship.

Everyone has a 9/11 story. When the subject comes up with friends or family, sometimes my mind immediately goes somewhere else: baseball, my next deadline and the to-do list around the house. Sometimes, I blurt out my story as if my subconscious has blown a pressure-relief valve. It's stupid, really, because my story is just one of inconvenience.

As a journalist covering Wall Street, I have to acknowledge the anniversary every year. Usually, I call someone whose company was based in the WTC. That's the easiest way to do it. People like Jimmy Dunne, head of Sandler O'Neill + Co., have been talking about their experience for 10 years. My experience is a footnote in my mind. They have more important things to say anyway, and they've had a lot of practice.

My story occupied the middle of the spectrum of experience. We lived close. We were home when the planes hit. I was putting on my tie when I heard the explosion, then the screaming. Outside my north-facing window, a crowd already had gathered at Chambers and Church streets. They were looking up at the towers.

We went up to the roof of our building. The north tower was burning. My wife, a photographer, started taking pictures. It was a reflex, I suppose. When people began jumping she put the camera away and walked down the stairs in tears.

Stunned and uncertain, I went to work. I took the 4 train from City Hall, where zombie-like refugees from the towers were wandering aimlessly.

The phones weren't working. So after the first tower fell, I took a cab from work to Canal Street, where the police barricades were. I tried to cross and was ordered back. I walked to the next block, took advantage of the confusion and just ran through.

At Chambers and West Broadway I was covered in white dust. It was raining paper: memos, analyst reports and charts. I got to my block. Our building was empty. Firemen and police were running everywhere. They didn't seem to know if they should evacuate or rush in.

A fireman handed me a dust mask. I asked him for a cigarette, and we smoked watching helpless rescuers try to figure out what the hell to do. In that moment, I remember thinking: What a beautiful fall day.

There is one wonderful memory I don't mind thinking about. I managed to get back to work. My wife, who had trudged two miles through the streets, arrived at the office, and we hugged in a white, dusty embrace.

In the nomadic weeks that followed, we slept on couches at friends' homes, in a hotel and finally in a tony apartment owned by my father's company. We bought entirely new wardrobes and stood in line at the Red Cross. My wife tried to rebuild her photography business, but all of her equipment was in our Ground Zero apartment.

PBS offered her an office. Occasionally, I took a cab to Canal Street and walked with a National Guard escort to my building. I loaded my wife's computers, cameras and a few belongings onto a luggage cart and pulled it back to the perimeter.

On one of those trips, a city policeman asked me if I had been to the site. I hadn't, I said. He offered to take me there. This was weeks after the attack, but the ruins were still burning. It was night, but remains of the buildings were illuminated from huge floodlights. Rescuers were doing their gruesome work. I had an overwhelming feeling that I wanted to leave.

We moved back home in early November 2001. A hazardous-materials cleaning crew went through the apartment, sucking mountains of dust in high-powered vacuums. Air filters were a fashionable appliance; we had three, which had to be cleaned daily.

Sometimes during dinner or the middle of the night, we were awakened by sirens. Whenever the body of a firefighter or police officer was recovered, there was a motorcade.

In those early weeks, I spent most of my time attending memorial services and trying to write about the impact on Wall Street. I was numb through it all. If I worried about anything, it was my brother in the army, stationed in Korea.

He made it through the first Gulf War. I worried if he would make it through a second one.

Ten years later, I'm happy to report that he survived. My wife restarted her business, and it flourished until we had a second daughter—and then a third. We sold our place in the city and moved to the suburbs. It was economics, not bad memories, though living farther away does make it a little easier to forget.

I think less and less about 9/11 with every passing year. I'm grateful to be more consumed about the issues I cover on the job, my kids' first day of school and whether we'll have water in the basement after all this rain.

Yet I still hate to throw out any of those clothes I bought in the days after 9/11. And there are six contacts in my address book belonging to people who died that day. They were regular or semiregular sources. I just can't delete them.

Courtesy Michael Quackenbush

Chris Quackenbush, a victim of 9/11, is pictured in an undated photo with his children.

One of those names is Chris Quackenbush. He was an investment banker for Sandler and one of the handful of bankers with whom I had built a friendship. I remember that Mr. Quackenbush talked about his family a lot.

"Do you have kids?" he asked me back then.

"No," I said.

"Oh, you're missing all the fun," he laughed.

I think about that conversation every time I scroll through my address book and hit the "Qs." Chris is the only "Q" that I have.

It's not hard to understand why 9/11 has become an industry or why people from across the globe come to visit Ground Zero. 9/11 was a turning point in this corner of the world for a way of life that seemed innocent.

But I'd be lying if I suggested that this 10th anniversary of the attack and the planned memorials are meaningful to me. I've spent the last decade trying to move on.

If it makes any difference to Chris, you'd be happy to know that I'm not missing the fun anymore.

Write to David Weidner at

(future) home sweet home

Here's the listing for our future home in St. Louis (& a good reason you should come visit us):

Finally! You can go ahead and skip all those other obviously haunted places you were thinking about renting. This badboy is guaranteed free of any ghosts, leprechauns (too often overlooked) and infamously prank-hungry angels. Plus it has a balcony. AND a deck. You can pretty much sit outside in whatever direction you want. No directional constraints!

So you're a fan of stained glass and all wood floors? Good, we have those too. Also, a fenced backyard, full basement and enough space to have a small 90's rave (please note that the lease strongly prohibits all 90's related activity).

Do your clothes complain of being thrashed around in the washing machine or suffer public humiliation at the local laundromat? Well, save all your Sacagaweas and your long underwear's pride - there's a front loading high efficiency washer and dryer residing in the basement along with other useful items like a hot water heater and furnace.

Warning: Do NOT run the central air while blazing up the fire place. They're complete opposites and literally hate each other. If you do accidentally have them going at the same time, please use the awesome vintage kitchen to clean up the resulting created weather system. And by the way, when I say "vintage" I don't mean "vintagely out of date and crappy". I mean, awesome original metal cabinetry along with modern amenities like disposal, dishwasher and the like.

Feel free to brag to your friends about your new neighborhood too. Not only does Tower Grove South make it easy to get to places you want to be (South Grand restaurants, THE Tower Grove Park, Morganford strip, etc...), but it makes other neighborhoods look like the bad parts of Canada. Never been to Canada? Good. Lots of bad parts.

If you aren't asking yourself why you wouldn't want to live in this place, you obviously aren't looking for a beautiful three bedroom home to share with your family, roommates or political allies. If you are, you'd probably want some deets.... Ok then:

Type: 3 Bedroom / 1 bath single family home.

Rent: $1,500/month (conveniently divisible by 3. wink.)

Security Deposit: $1,000

Availability: Sept 1st

Underrated Saved By The Bell Character: Tori

Please email with any questions or to schedule a formal tour (that's where we show you the house in evening wear). We do regular tours too.

Also will consider Rent to Own or straight up sell if you feel like receiving high fives.