February 12th, 2007


Holocaust Memorial

It has been a busy weekend! Fortunately I seem to be (basically) over the flu that knocked me out last week. Dinner and dancing on friday, dinner and dessert on saturday, then a museum sunday.

Today (sunday) F and I did something that we have been discussing doing for quite some time. We visited the Holocaust Center in Farmington Hills. While it was certainly not a "happy" visit, and I'm not even sure if it could be described as "good".... I absolutely consider it worthwhile.

I recommend visiting this museum to everyone even remotely nearby. It was very moving, and very well-done.

Initially we had been planning on going yesterday, but we were (at first) surprised to discover it was closed. Closed on a saturday? Then it clicked in and I said "Of course... it's the sabbath." Sunday turned out to be the perfect day to go though. It turns out that they offer free guided tours, and on sunday every tour culminates in a meeting with a Holocaust survivor.

The whole museum was painful but stirring. I read that Dwight Eisenhower, upon discovering the atrocities Germany was creating in the concentration camps, insisted that as much as possible be documented, photographed, and videoed. So that by remembering, we could keep such a thing from ever happening again. The memorial center is an attempt to help us do just that.

We went on a guided tour, which concluded with a presentation by a Mr. Weiss -- I believe his first name was William? Regardless, he was not just a amazing man with an amazing story, but a truly incredible speaker. He spoke with honesty and passion, and even though you could tell he had practiced and said all of these things hundreds of times before, it remained brutally real and engaging. He was 17 years old when he and most of his entire village in Czechoslovakia were sent to Auschwitz. When he finally returned home, there were only three people accompanying him. Neither of his parents made it.

One part that struck me was when he was talking about a factory he was supposed to work in, one that manufactured gasoline. It kept getting bombed, and he said they build that factory four times but never produced a cup of gasoline.

He said the second time it was bombed, "Inside working were some of my fellow... I keep getting myself in trouble here with words, because I keep wanting to say my fellow 'prisoners'. But these were innocent people! Here we were in camps, what we were doing here? Being treated like.... animals? If today you treat an animal like these human beings were treated, you would be put in jail."

He said a lot more, and only touched the edges of his story of course. When he was through, some people asked questions. One person asked him if he thought something like the holocaust could happen again. He said, "When I first started talking to people, many years ago, if you would ask me that, I would say 'no'. But today? Now I would say it could happen, yes. This is why I speak to you."

Somebody also asked him how he felt that some people today are trying to claim the holocaust did not really happen. This provoked the most impassioned part of his tale, and brought me to tears. After all, how could he feel? He was there. He lived through it, and he watched as many many people did not.

I can't even do a decent job of summarizing his words, nor bringing you there. All I can say is that it was stirring, incredibly painful, and I'm glad I went. I'm honored that I was able to listen to and meet this man.

They said (and I may have the numbers wrong, but I think the ballpark is correct), that there are about 1300 survivors still here in the Detroit area. And only about 40 of them are willing, or able, to talk about their experiences. As time goes by, I expect that number can only shrink. These stories are worth hearing.


Just Keep Racing

A coworker of mine died this morning. That is, a previous coworker -- she left the company about two years ago to pursue other opportunities. She lived in Cleveland, but I met her a few times. She worked with us for many years, so a lot of people have kept in touch. She was a very sweet woman, only maybe ten years older than me... I'm not sure. She had a teenage daughter.

When I knew her, I was not even aware that she was a breast cancer "survivor". I have to put that in quotes, because it came back just a couple of months ago. This time she didn't survive; it had metastasized into more body parts and was incurable. They only gave her 5 weeks or so, and today her fight ended. It's not fair, because I believe that she was cancer-free for enough years that everyone thought (hoped) it was gone forever.

Although I didn't know her well, this news makes me so sad. Not to mention angry and fearful. This disease should be fixed! Medicine has made so many advances, and the prognosis is positive for so many women -- I forget sometimes that not everybody makes it. More accurately, I think I choose to forget, until it is shoved in my face again.

It's also frustrating because I feel so helpless. Aside from continuing to contribute and raise money, there is nothing I can do. Well, I can also continue hoping and praying. That none of my family, friends, loved ones, will be taken. That no more women will have to suffer. That a permanent cure will be found.

Book Four

The Toynbee Convector, by Ray Bradbury

This book may be out of print; I had trouble finding a link for it on Amazon. It's a re-read -- a book of very short stories that I've owned forever. F picked it up off my shelf originally because he likes short stories. I started reading it since it was nearby, and short stories are handy for reading before bed.

The stories are short enough that many of them are under 10 pages. They are quick and easy to read. Some supernatural, some science fiction, and some hard-to-classify stories about, well, just regular people. Some of the stories were excellent: a couple of ghost stories made me laugh out loud while my skin crawled at the end. A few were interesting, written in Bradbury's ethereal style that confuses while it intrigues me. A few of the stories were somewhere inbetween boring and annoying -- but fortunately those were in the minority.