Grapes from Thorns

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Cash free

I'm on the road, sort of. After a one-night stay at the condo on High Ridge following my two weeks in Austin, my trusted AAUP executive director delivered me to CVG on Sunday. While the flight was uneventful there was one more wrinkle before I could get out of town. I had a beer and sandwich at Moe's in concourse A. I intended to pay with my debit card. The waitress slammed the card through the register and broke off a corner of it - taking with it part of the magnetic strip.

Ordinarily, this would only be annoying. In this case, however, it meant that I was leaving for four months in Europe within the hour and my main source of funds had just been destroyed. I quickly tried it in a PNC bank machine to confirm it would no longer work and then got on the phone to the bank. They can only send the card to my home address. I'm having my mail forwarded to the college so I'm trusting that one of my dear colleagues at Ray's Place will watch my mail and forward to me in Germany my new debit card.

Fortunately, I have enough Euros with me to pay the rent and survive for several weeks but after that ...

I'm currently at Eddleston Manor, which is what we've dubbed my relatives' house in England. It is not far west of London, near Reading. Today, we are planning a drive down to the south coast, perhaps Portsmouth, or toward Salisbury. We'll see.

I leave for Deutschland on Thursday.

Monday, August 21, 2006

About the title of my blog:"Grapes from Thorns" is the name of a collection of essays by Dean Acheson, prominent cold warrior and secretary of state from the Truman administration. I liked the implication in the concept of "grapes from thorns" that something good can be taken from something bad or unpleasant. Kind of a metaphor for many life experiences. Despite the harsh criticism I've made of Acheson, he was also correct when he said these words to live by:"One must be true to the things by which one lives. The counsels of discretion and cowardice are appealing. The safe course is to avoid situations which are disagreeable and dangerous. Such a course might get one by the issue of the moment, but it has bitter and evil consequences. In the long days and years which stretch beyond that moment of decision, one must live with one’s self; and the consequences of living with a decision which one knows has sprung from timidity and cowardice go to the roots of one’s life. It is not merely a question of peace of mind, although that is vital; it is a matter of integrity of character."