Nov 12

Righting 89 wrongs

A few days ago, I got together with my brothers, uncle and aunt to hold a 90th birthday party for  HBirthday my dad (My dad is on the right).

It was a great night, replete with remembrances, surprises and the requisite number of hugs and kisses. My dad was tickled pink. He pulled me aside afterwards and said, "You did a nice job pulling this together. Did you know this was my very first birthday party?" I was stunned. I distinctly remembered giving him gifts over the years, but figured he must have been given a party by his parents at some point in his life. Not so.

In fact, a more in-depth discussion revealed that my dad was the only one of his five siblings to have not been given a birthday party in his youth. As the middle child, he'd been consistently overlooked by his parents. I felt really bad for him. But, the story got worse. When he was 12, my dad's parents 'forgot' to give him a Christmas present! He sat around the tree that long-ago Christmas morning and watched speechlessly as his brothers and sister unwrapped their presents and shrieked with joy. Can you imagine? I asked him why he hadn't spoken up. He said he was too embarrassed. Plus, as he put it: 'In those days, children were seen and not heard.'

I'm really glad my brothers, uncle and aunt had an opportunity to right 89 wrongs. As for my grandparents, shame on them.

Jan 02

Big Cats Trump Champagne This New Year’s

Guest blog written by Maggie O’Neill.

Spending New Year’s Eve in San Francisco this year the buzz on the streets and around cocktail tables wasZoo_sam_and_tiger
not about resolutions and champagne, but rather on big cats and a bizarre Christmas Day tiger attack.  The story had gripped the city, and cities beyond the Bay as well, I am sure. Even my friends in Rome, perusing the cover stories of the International Herald Tribune, read about Tatiana, the Siberian tiger who had escaped her enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo and mauled three young men (one to death) before being shot and killed by the SFPD.

Counter women at Macy’s, Starbuck’s baristas and everyone I spoke to could not help but take a stand for one side or an other. The Bhutto assassination, presidential primaries and Jamie Lynn Spears all took a back seat to Tatiana and the fateful incident at the San Francisco Zoo.

What we know happened this Christmas afternoon is that a young Siberian tiger escaped from its open habitat and mauled three young men.  But one week later, the facts for the most part stop there. You see, no one who should be talking is talking.  Crisis management plans, SF Zoo leadership and cooperation with authorities by the victims are nonexistent.  However, speculation based on a few clues has everyone else coming forward to craft their own story.  PR nightmare, tabloid dream.

Disgruntled employees are claiming they and the animals were treated badly by the Zoo Director, Manuel Mollinedo.  They have told tales about overlooked issues – specifically the fact that Tatiana’s enclosure was almost four feet under regulation height for a Big Cat sanctuary.  Mollinedo has remained relatively silent except for some finger pointing.

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