I'm taking off to visit the family for a belated Christmas gathering, which means I won't be near a computer again until late Thursday.
My dad and my sister live in Vermont, about half-an-hour north of St. Johnsbury. Yes, the same St. J. that posted a record low temperature Saturday of 27 below. My brother-in-law is a very nice guy, but if my sister had married someone from, say, Florida instead, I might be looking forward to this trip a little more.
In the absence of new posts here, I direction your attention to the fine reading available in the blogs to the right. You might particularly want to spend some quality time over at Wampum, where Dwight Meredith has posted the nominees for the second annual Koufax Awards.
Dwight deserves some kind of award himself for putting this together, and for striking such a hospitable and collegial tone with the process. The "awards" factor is less important than the service the Sandys provide of collecting, all in one place, so many links to so very much good stuff. Every category of nominees offers plenty of links to wonderful stuff — much of which I hadn't previously seen. (I'll be updating and expanding the links list to the right to include many of the sites I've discovered by browsing through the Koufax lists.)
I'm pleased and honored to be included in some of these lists, but I'm even more pleased with the fact of these lists themselves. They're like a lefty-blog version of those annual "Best Short Stories" anthologies. Consider just a single category — the nominees for best post. Everything there is worth reading (and worth reading again if it's something you've already seen) — and there's probably enough there to keep you happily surfing for at least the next five days.
Please come on back on Friday and join me in following the further adventures of Rayford Steele and Buck Williams as their plane finally touches down in post-Rapture Chicago.
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Before I go, a few quick items from the paper of record for the Diamond State.
1. The featured house on the cover of this week's Sunday real estate section offers "Exceptional Country Living in the City":
Discriminating consumers typically have a checklist of must-haves when embarking on the process of buying their dream home. Some of the key issues at the top of any buyer's list often include location, ambience [sic] and other extras that make a home stand out.
The spectacular offering at 2307 Grant Avenue in the prestigious Forty Acres area bounded by Kentmere Parkway and minutes from picturesque Rockford Park, fits the bill perfectly. Its location in the heart of the city belies the tranquility of its setting.
(Note: This section is edited by the folks in marketing.)
So how much does your typically exceptional consumer need to purchase this house that offers the qualities that sometimes often are always sought in a home? $609,900.
2. They've found the weapons of mass destruction! It turns out, they're in Indiana and may be headed for New Jersey:
Millions of pounds of treated waste from a deadly nerve agent could soon pass through a DuPont Co. complex at the foot of the Delaware Memorial Bridge in New Jersey. The proposed project is part of a federal program to reduce the nation's chemical-weapons stockpiles.
The Army is scheduled to decide later this month whether to approve a plan to ship the wastes from Indiana to DuPont's Chambers Works plant in Deepwater, N.J., for final treatment. The prospect has drawn questions from environmental groups in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Some of the groups contend DuPont's treatment plan poses potential risks to the Delaware River, a waterway that state officials believe has a toxic pollution problem.
DuPont already is conducting treatment trials on wastes from the deadly nerve agent VX at the company's Chambers Works Secure Environmental Treatment unit, along the Delaware.
3. Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, Mexico's former envoy to the U.N., was forced to step down after he made the controversial statement that the U.S. treats Mexico like "its back yard."
Zinser's statement was clearly absurd. Nobody would dump 20 railcars of deadly toxins in their own back yard:
The federal government plans to ship to Mexico up to 20 railcars of chemicals from an abandoned factory near Delaware City, hoping to trim taxpayer-funded cleanup costs that could top $100 million.
Four tank cars of chlorinated benzenes already have left the former Metachem Products factory, bound for a plant in El Carmen, Mexico, near Mexico City. Details of the shipment were unavailable late Friday, although officials confirmed that the abandoned chemicals — potentially a hazardous waste in Delaware — were declared a product for purposes of the export.
So if you live near the railroad tracks between Delaware City and El Carmen, you might want to hold your breath and cross your fingers for the next few days.