How can it possibly be fifteen years ago for something that to many of feels like it happened yesterday?

Exactly fifteen years ago today, terrorists attacked the United States of America. They flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and into the Pentagon near Washington, DC. They most likely would also have flown a plane into the Capitol building but were stopped by the passengers of United 93. Almost 3,000 people died that day.

Because I'm obsessed with exactness, I've made sure for a while now to know the exact times of certain events that took place on 9/11. The bare sequence of events at the World Trade Center was as follows:

8:46:26 AM: North Tower Hit
9:02:54 AM: South Tower Hit
9:59:04 AM: South Tower Collapsed
10:28:31 AM: North Tower Collapsed

I'm a New York City native, born and raised in Queens, and I grew up in a city in which the Towers always stood. On 9/11, I was a teacher at a private school in Newton, Massachusetts. The following comes from my journal, a hand-written one that I was keeping at the time.

"The second [staff] meeting ended early, and I went back to the Science lab to check my e-mail. I idly noted a message...which said that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center.

"I didn't really think much of it and I went back to the Information Center. Shortly after the meeting...began, [a colleague] walked in and asked if we had heard the news. He told us that two planes had hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and he set up the small TV to receive CNN. They showed pictures of two commercial jets crashing into the twin towers...

"I ran to the phone...to call [my younger brother Joshua] at work. At 9:35 AM I called and got him. He had just gotten in, and he said that he seen the smoke from the 7 train. I told him to stay in touch, but due to circuits being busy, I wasn't able to reach New York City again for a while.

"The rest of the day passed in a blur of rumors and news. I kept checking webpages; when I couldn't reach CNN, checked the New York Post webpage and the Newsday webpage. [I had called Nomi, and she had suggested the second-tier news sites.]

"At 10:15 AM, the...students returned from their physical education class...and...we told them the news...

"When the meeting with the students ended, I collapsed in tears..."

There's more, of course, but to summarize, I spent the day trying to get news of family and friends, making sure they were all safe. They were.

I was scheduled to help teach a kindergarten class that afternoon. They were doing a unit on bears and I had a very large Folkmanis brown bear puppet with me that day. The school had deliberately kept the kindergarten students unaware of the day's events, so when I walked into that classroom, they were all smiles and laughter as they played with the bear puppet I was holding.

The drive home was surreal, knowing that fighter planes and battleships were protecting New York City. Nomi was already home, as her office had sent everyone home early. The rest of my family was safe, but my older brother, an emergency medicine physician, had been called up to report to New York City. Nomi and I took a walk at 5:30 PM, which included browsing at Brookline Booksmith and getting ice cream at JP Licks. Everything on TV was the news; we watched C-SPAN, which was running a feed from the CBC, so we could get the Canadian perspective.

The next few days, the events were fresh in everyone's mind. On Wednesday, I flinched at hearing an airplane in the sky, then remembered that all commercial flights had been grounded, so it had to be one of our military aircraft, protecting us. I bought my regular comic books that day; Adventures of Superman #596 had an eerie panel of the twin towers of Metropolis being repaired. A friend came over that evening after attending a local religious service.

On Thursday, Nomi and I were sick of the news, and Animal Planet had gone back to regular programming. We watched a documentary about moose to help us get our minds off things.

And life went on. Today, I'm no longer teaching, but editing science curricular materials in Boston; my younger brother no longer lives in New York City, but in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and three children; and my older brother is still an emergency medicine physician in the Boston area, specializing in disaster management.

And as all my friends know, there have been other changes in my life. In 2007 I lost my mom. In 2008 I published a book collection of many of my short stories. And in 2009, Nomi and I welcomed two precious and adorable girls into our lives. Being a parent changes your perspective on a lot of things, and 9/11 is no exception. When the attacks happened, I was worried for my mom and my brothers; if something were to happen today, my first priority would be to make sure that my children were safe.

I probably don't need to tell anyone this, but today's a very good day to remind your loved ones, families, and friends how much they mean to you.

Thirteen years ago today was the Great Blackout of 2003, which hit much of the northeast United States and parts of Canada.

Read more... )
Friends:

I'm delighted to announce that I'm running for re-election to the Board of Library Trustees of the Public Library of Brookline. This would be my fifth term if I am re-elected.

As it turns out, though, I'm facing a contested race this year (yes, again). Two challengers have chosen to run along with the four incumbents (including me) who are running for re-election.

Having been on the Board longer than anyone else running this year, and as I am currently serving as chair of the Board (and have been for almost two years), I have the experience our town needs. You can find out more about my experience and accomplishments on the Burstein for Brookline website.

And, as much as I hate to say this, political campaigns cost money. I am once again actively fundraising. If you are so inclined, please visit the Burstein for Brookline Contributions page to find out how to donate. You can mail us a check or use PayPal. Either way, no donation is too small, and all donations help in getting me re-elected to the Board.

Exactly fourteen years ago today, terrorists attacked the United States of America. They flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and into the Pentagon near Washington, DC. They most likely would also have flown a plane into the Capitol building but were stopped by the passengers of United 93. Almost 3,000 people died that day.

Because I'm obsessed with exactness, I've made sure for a while now to know the exact times of certain events that took place on 9/11. The bare sequence of events at the World Trade Center was as follows:

8:46:26 AM: North Tower Hit
9:02:54 AM: South Tower Hit
9:59:04 AM: South Tower Collapsed
10:28:31 AM: North Tower Collapsed

I'm a New York City native, born and raised in Queens, and I grew up in a city in which the Towers always stood. On 9/11, I was a teacher at a private school in Newton, Massachusetts. The following comes from my journal, a hand-written one that I was keeping at the time.

"The second [staff] meeting ended early, and I went back to the Science lab to check my e-mail. I idly noted a message...which said that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center.

"I didn't really think much of it and I went back to the Information Center. Shortly after the meeting...began, [a colleague] walked in and asked if we had heard the news. He told us that two planes had hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and he set up the small TV to receive CNN. They showed pictures of two commercial jets crashing into the twin towers...

"I ran to the phone...to call [my younger brother] at work. At 9:35 AM I called and got him. He had just gotten in, and he said that he seen the smoke from the 7 train. I told him to stay in touch, but due to circuits being busy, I wasn't able to reach New York City again for a while.

"The rest of the day passed in a blur of rumors and news. I kept checking webpages; when I couldn't reach cnn.com, checked the New York Post webpage and the Newsday webpage. [I had called Nomi, and she had suggested the second-tier news sites.]

"At 10:15 AM, the...students returned from their physical education class...and...we told them the news...

"When the meeting with the students ended, I collapsed in tears..."

There's more, of course, but to summarize, I spent the day trying to get news of family and friends, making sure they were all safe. The drive home was surreal, knowing that fighter planes and battleships were protecting New York City. Nomi was already home, as her office had sent everyone home early. The rest of my family was safe, but my older brother, an emergency medicine physician, had been called up to report to New York City. Nomi and I took a walk at 5:30 PM, which included browsing at Brookline Booksmith and getting ice cream at JP Licks. Everything on TV was the news; we watched C-SPAN, which was running a feed from the CBC, so we could get the Canadian perspective.

The next few days, the events were fresh in everyone's mind. On Wednesday, I flinched at hearing an airplane in the sky, then remembered that all commercial flights had been grounded, so it had to be one of our military aircraft, protecting us. I bought my regular comic books that day; Adventures of Superman #596 had an eerie panel of the twin towers of Metropolis being repaired. A friend came over that evening after attending a local religious service.

On Thursday, Nomi and I were sick of the news, and Animal Planet had gone back to regular programming. We watched a documentary about moose to help us get our minds off things.

And life went on. Today, I'm no longer teaching, but editing science curricular materials in Boston; my younger brother no longer lives in New York City, but in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and three children; and my older brother is still an emergency medicine physician in the Boston area, specializing in disaster management.

And as all my friends know, there have been other changes in my life. In 2007 I lost my mom. In 2008 I published a book collection of many of my short stories. And in 2009, Nomi and I welcomed two precious and adorable girls into our lives. Being a parent changes your perspective on a lot of things, and 9/11 is no exception. When the attacks happened, I was worried for my mom and my brothers; if something were to happen today, my first priority would be to make sure that my children were safe.

I probably don't need to tell anyone this, but today's a very good day to remind your loved ones, families, and friends how much they mean to you.
To quote [livejournal.com profile] gnomi:

New holiday-themed The Brookline Parent column up! Read about how Muffin and Squeaker celebrate Sukkot!
Exactly thirteen years ago today, terrorists attacked the United States of America. They flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and into the Pentagon near Washington, DC. They most likely would also have flown a plane into the Capitol building but were stopped by the passengers of United 93. Almost 3,000 people died that day.

Because I'm obsessed with exactness, I've made sure for a while now to know the exact times of certain events that took place on 9/11. The bare sequence of events at the World Trade Center was as follows:

8:46:26 AM: North Tower Hit
9:02:54 AM: South Tower Hit
9:59:04 AM: South Tower Collapsed
10:28:31 AM: North Tower Collapsed

I'm a New York City native, born and raised in Queens, and I grew up in a city in which the Towers always stood. On 9/11, I was a teacher at a private school in Newton, Massachusetts. The following comes from my journal, a hand-written one that I was keeping at the time.

"The second [staff] meeting ended early, and I went back to the Science lab to check my e-mail. I idly noted a message...which said that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center.

"I didn't really think much of it and I went back to the Information Center. Shortly after the meeting...began, [a colleague] walked in and asked if we had heard the news. He told us that two planes had hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and he set up the small TV to receive CNN. They showed pictures of two commercial jets crashing into the twin towers...

"I ran to the phone...to call [my younger brother] at work. At 9:35 AM I called and got him. He had just gotten in, and he said that he seen the smoke from the 7 train. I told him to stay in touch, but due to circuits being busy, I wasn't able to reach New York City again for a while.

"The rest of the day passed in a blur of rumors and news. I kept checking webpages; when I couldn't reach cnn.com, checked the New York Post webpage and the Newsday webpage. [I had called Nomi, and she had suggested the second-tier news sites.]

"At 10:15 AM, the...students returned from their physical education class...and...we told them the news...

"When the meeting with the students ended, I collapsed in tears..."

There's more, of course, but to summarize, I spent the day trying to get news of family and friends, making sure they were all safe. The drive home was surreal, knowing that fighter planes and battleships were protecting New York City. Nomi was already home, as her office had sent everyone home early. The rest of my family was safe, but my older brother, an emergency medicine physician, had been called up to report to New York City. Nomi and I took a walk at 5:30 PM, which included browsing at Brookline Booksmith and getting ice cream at JP Licks. Everything on TV was the news; we watched C-SPAN, which was running a feed from the CBC, so we could get the Canadian perspective.

The next few days, the events were fresh in everyone's mind. On Wednesday, I flinched at hearing an airplane in the sky, then remembered that all commercial flights had been grounded, so it had to be one of our military aircraft, protecting us. I bought my regular comic books that day; Adventures of Superman #596 had an eerie panel of the twin towers of Metropolis being repaired. A friend came over that evening after attending a local religious service.

On Thursday, Nomi and I were sick of the news, and Animal Planet had gone back to regular programming. We watched a documentary about moose to help us get our minds off things.

And life went on. Today, I'm no longer teaching, but editing science curricular materials in Boston; my younger brother no longer lives in New York City, but in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and three children; and my older brother is still an emergency medicine physician in the Boston area, specializing in disaster management.

And as all my friends know, there have been other changes in my life. In 2007 I lost my mom. In 2008 I published a book collection of many of my short stories. And in 2009, Nomi and I welcomed two precious and adorable girls into our lives. Being a parent changes your perspective on a lot of things, and 9/11 is no exception. When the attacks happened, I was worried for my mom and my brothers; if something were to happen today, my first priority would be to make sure that my children were safe.

I probably don't need to tell anyone this, but today's a very good day to remind your loved ones, families, and friends how much they mean to you.
Eleven years ago today was the Great Blackout of 2003, which hit much of the northeast United States and parts of Canada. Where were you?

I was at home (in Brookline, Massachusetts, which did not lose power) on the computer when the phone rang at 4:33 PM. It was my younger brother, Josh, in New York City, calling to ask me if I knew what was going on. As I had left the TV news on in the living room, and the TiVo was recording its buffer, I was able to start describing the news to him and I learned of the blackout as I told him what was going on.

I served as the point person for my younger brother, my sister-in-law, and my mother for the next few hours. Josh had to sleep overnight in Manhattan. Rachel had to care for their new baby daughter, and I gave her information on New York City emergency lines and hospitals. And Mom stayed home.

I recorded NBC Nightly News that evening and the Today show the next day, and a few months later I gave the VHS tape to Josh so he could see what he missed.

As I mentioned above, Massachusetts (and pretty much most of New England) didn't lose power. After one of the major blackouts a few decades before, the people in charge in New England had decided to set up a series of switches that could be opened should there be a power surge that might lead to a shutdown. Thanks to their foresight, I was able to help out my family as I described.

In an attempt to try to be more active on my blog, I will start attempting to summarize things I posted about during the past week on Facebook, and to a lesser extent, Twitter. Also, I'll update about life in general. Let's see if this works….

So what was my life like this past week? Well, Muffin and Squeaker were cute all week, but also often obstinate. I've been reading to them at bedtime from "The Patchwork Girl of Oz," and they always insist on another chapter even as they are fighting sleep. This results in them being overtired and then whiny. We're working on it.

On Monday I noted that a new book will be out in the fall, Legendary Locals of Brookline. I might be in it.

Also on Monday I asked people to share the title of one book they happened to be in the middle of, and boy did I get a lot of responses. Now I have a new list of books to track down and read.

On Wednesday, I wished for safety for my friends and family in Israel.

Also on Wednesday, I was excited to see that the superhero Firestorm is coming to the small screen as a character in the new TV show The Flash.

On Thursday, I posted a picture of a hawk from 2008, and Nomi met Chris Colfer.

Also, throughout the week, I posted interesting links, including these:
Writing tips from the CIA's ruthless style manual
Pictures from the Brookline library's Retro Technology Fair
An article about the retired Library Director (hey, I'm quoted!)

As for this upcoming weekend, I will sadly not make it to Readercon, as much as I would like to. But we will be having a birthday party on Sunday for the kids. I can't believe how many years it has been since they were born...

Hope your week went well, and that you're looking forward to the weekend.

Our latest The Brookline Parent column, Rights and Wrongs, is a little…political. I tackle the question of what the McCullen v. Coakley decision means to me, and to Brookline.
I made a bittersweet phone call this morning. Today is the last work day for Chuck Flaherty, the retiring Library Director of The Public Library of Brookline. It seemed to me as the chair of the Trustees, and therefore the de facto representative of Chuck's supervisors, I should call him and wish him well. It is true that there have been quite a few farewell events for Chuck this month, but when he walks out the door of the main library this afternoon the reins will be finally passed to the new director.

I've said many nice things about Chuck at his farewell events. He will be missed a great deal by all of us connected in any way to the Brookline library.
In other news...

The Public Library of Brookline now has a TARDIS in the teen room!

File 770 has an article here: Brookline's Awesome Box, which is about both TARDISes, the smaller one installed as an Awesome Box and the newer, bigger one, that now sits in the teen room. Here's a link to the teen librarian's Tumblr post about the new TARDIS.

And here's a picture of me, emerging from the TARDIS. As chair of the Library Trustees, I am quite pleased. (Photo credit: R. Brenner, 2014)

Michael Emerges from the TARDIS
Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

This morning, I woke up in Brookline, Massachusetts, the town where Kennedy was born. [livejournal.com profile] gnomi and I took the T to work as usual, but what wasn't usual was Nomi's Boston Globe newspaper. The editors had decided to publish a wraparound cover facsimile of the Globe from November 23, 1963, reporting on the Kennedy assassination. I took two pictures of Nomi reading the paper.

Boston Globe Kennedy Assassination Wraparound Front Cover

Boston Globe Kennedy Assassination Wraparound Back Cover

It felt oddly like time travel. Which ties into another anniversary, that of the TV show Doctor Who, which premiered the day after the assassination and is still going strong. For years, I remember reading retrospectives of the broadcast of that first episode, and they almost always noted that enthusiasm for the premiere was dampened by the recent news. After the show went off the air, I never expected was that on this anniversary I would be both living in the town where Kennedy was born and expecting to watch a 50th anniversary special episode of Doctor Who.

Penguin Doctors

(All photos and the entry copyright ©Michael A. Burstein.)
Exactly twelve years ago today, terrorists attacked the United States of America. They flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and into the Pentagon near Washington, DC. They most likely would also have flown a plane into the Capitol building but were stopped by the passengers of United 93. Almost 3,000 people died that day.

Because I'm obsessed with exactness, I've made sure for a while now to know the exact times of certain events that took place on 9/11. The bare sequence of events at the World Trade Center was as follows:

8:46:26 AM: North Tower Hit
9:02:54 AM: South Tower Hit
9:59:04 AM: South Tower Collapsed
10:28:31 AM: North Tower Collapsed

I'm a New York City native, born and raised in Queens, and I grew up in a city in which the Towers always stood. On 9/11, I was a teacher at a private school in Newton, Massachusetts. The following comes from my journal, a hand-written one that I was keeping at the time.

"The second [staff] meeting ended early, and I went back to the Science lab to check my e-mail. I idly noted a message...which said that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center.

"I didn't really think much of it and I went back to the Information Center. Shortly after the meeting...began, [a colleague] walked in and asked if we had heard the news. He told us that two planes had hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and he set up the small TV to receive CNN. They showed pictures of two commercial jets crashing into the twin towers...

"I ran to the phone...to call [my younger brother] at work. At 9:35 AM I called and got him. He had just gotten in, and he said that he seen the smoke from the 7 train. I told him to stay in touch, but due to circuits being busy, I wasn't able to reach New York City again for a while.

"The rest of the day passed in a blur of rumors and news. I kept checking webpages; when I couldn't reach cnn.com, checked the New York Post webpage and the Newsday webpage. [I had called Nomi, and she had suggested the second-tier news sites.]

"At 10:15 AM, the...students returned from their physical education class...and...we told them the news...

"When the meeting with the students ended, I collapsed in tears..."

There's more, of course, but to summarize, I spent the day trying to get news of family and friends, making sure they were all safe. The drive home was surreal, knowing that fighter planes and battleships were protecting New York City. Nomi was already home, as her office had sent everyone home early. The rest of my family was safe, but my older brother, an emergency medicine physician, had been called up to report to New York City. Nomi and I took a walk at 5:30 PM, which included browsing at Brookline Booksmith and getting ice cream at JP Licks. Everything on TV was the news; we watched C-SPAN, which was running a feed from the CBC, so we could get the Canadian perspective.

The next few days, the events were fresh in everyone's mind. On Wednesday, I flinched at hearing an airplane in the sky, then remembered that all commercial flights had been grounded, so it had to be one of our military aircraft, protecting us. I bought my regular comic books that day; Adventures of Superman #596 had an eerie panel of the twin towers of Metropolis being repaired. A friend came over that evening after attending a local religious service.

On Thursday, Nomi and I were sick of the news, and Animal Planet had gone back to regular programming. We watched a documentary about moose to help us get our minds off things.

And life went on. Today, I'm no longer teaching, but editing textbooks in Boston; my younger brother no longer lives in New York City, but in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and three children; and my older brother is still an emergency medicine physician in the Boston area, specializing in disaster management.

And as all my friends know, there have been other changes in my life. In 2007 I lost my mom. In 2008 I published a book collection of many of my short stories. And in 2009, Nomi and I welcomed two precious and adorable girls into our lives. Being a parent changes your perspective on a lot of things, and 9/11 is no exception. When the attacks happened, I was worried for my mom and my brothers; if something were to happen today, my first priority would be to make sure that my children were safe.

I probably don't need to tell anyone this, but today's a very good day to remind your loved ones, families, and friends how much they mean to you.
Ten years ago today was the Great Blackout of 2003, which hit much of the northeast United States and parts of Canada. Where were you?

I was at home (in Brookline, Massachusetts, which did not lose power) on the computer when the phone rang at 4:33 PM. It was my younger brother, Josh, in New York City, calling to ask me if I knew what was going on. As I had left the TV news on in the living room, and the TiVo was recording its buffer, I was able to start describing the news to him and I learned of the blackout as I told him what was going on.

I served as the point person for my younger brother, my sister-in-law, and my mother for the next few hours. Josh had to sleep overnight in Manhattan. Rachel had to care for their new baby daughter, and I gave her information on New York City emergency lines and hospitals. And Mom stayed home.

I recorded NBC Nightly News that evening and the Today show the next day, and a few months later I gave the VHS tape to Josh so he could see what he missed.

As I mentioned above, Massachusetts (and pretty much most of New England) didn't lose power. After one of the major blackouts a few decades before, the people in charge in New England had decided to set up a series of switches that could be opened should there be a power surge that might lead to a shutdown. Thanks to their foresight, I was able to help out my family as I described.
For those who want to know or need to know, I am checking in. I am fine. I was not at the office today, so I am nowhere near the explosions. We are home safe, reporting in at 3:10 pm EDT. — with [personal profile] gnomi.
It’s been two weeks since our last The Brookline Parent column, “The Mommy Blogging Question,” was published, and we’re sad to have to tell our friends and fans that it’ll probably be the last column for a while. Brookline Patch has decided to go in a new direction, one that doesn’t include our bi-weekly parenting column.

We’d like to thank Neal Simpson, Grahame Turner, and Nate Homan, the three Brookline Patch editors with whom we worked, for their stewardship of our work. We’d particularly like to thank Neal, for suggesting the column in the first place all the way back in 2010 and giving us a chance to try our hand at it. Although we’re both writers and editors, writing a parenting column wasn’t something either of us had tried before. We’d like to think that it was a success, and from everything our readers have told us, it was.

We’d also like to remind our readers that our 60 columns, covering two years in the lives of Muffin and Squeaker, are still published on the Brookline Patch site for the world to enjoy. From time to time, if something reminds us of a column we wrote, we’ll be sure to link to it.

We are hoping that this won’t be the final parenting column that we write. At the moment, we’ve been exploring other options for our column, looking for a paying media outlet interested in our ruminations as the parents of twins. (And we’ve been thinking of writing a book.) That said, if you know of any newspaper or website interesting in running a column by us on raising twins, feel free to point them in our direction.
As I've been reading more and more articles and blogs where people talk about their kids, I've also been thinking more and more about the issue of privacy. There was that recent article where a mother discussed the psychological issues her son has, and it triggered both a wave of sympathy for her and a backlash against her, as she was in essence branding her son with a label that might follow him whenever anyone does an Internet search.

It's a dilemma that [livejournal.com profile] gnomi and I have faced as we have written our The Brookline Parent column for Brookline Patch. Although we're not blogging publicly about our kids all that often, we do share a window into their lives with the entire world. (A somewhat more private window exists through our occasional private status updates on Facebook.)

Anyway, this week I decided to tackle the question head-on. The column, The Mommy Blogging Question, is somewhat meta, as Nomi puts it, but it will give you a window into some of the concerns we've had every other week as we write our column.
In this week's The Brookline Parent column at Brookline Patch, [livejournal.com profile] gnomi looks back at how things have changed for our kids since the beginning of 2012. Muffin and Squeaker have grown and matured in a variety of ways, and some of those ways might not be what you'd expect.

Go read My, How We've Grown to see, well, how they've grown.
In the wake of last week's news out of Newtown, CT, [livejournal.com profile] gnomi and I use this week's The Brookline Parent column at Brookline Patch to write an open letter to our daughters.

Click to read Dear Muffin and Squeaker.

December 2016

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