I’m perched on a little peak, found in the footprint of several larger ones, when a biker I passed a while back emerges from the trees. Conversation comes easy: The empty trailhead parking lot, highlights of our ascents, gorgeous scene before us.
I pause from taking photos, and he plops down on a rock to eat some fish from a tin. Our talk drifts to goings on in central Oregon and what brought him west. He’s a backcountry skier and all-around outdoor guru with a Sprinter van and pretty serious mountain biking chops. (He climbed 2,200 feet over 4-1/2 miles just prior, mind you.)
My cousins own a brewery in town, I say at some point, mentioning the establishment by name. He’s a regular there, he replies, asking if my cousins are the new owners. He often stops by on Tuesdays — locals day.
We touch on kayaks, Craigslist and playing pond hockey. Turns out you can find a frozen lake fit for skating there when the weather’s right.
I turn to leave, and we shake hands, exchanging only first names we’ve both since forgotten.
But I’m struck by the charm of our chance mountaintop meeting and the fleeting connection found there.
Eventually, there is a diagnosis: Rayna has a particular strain of bacterial meningitis called meningococcal meningitis, which strikes about 3,000 Americans every year. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that it is responsible for 300 deaths a year, and five to 15 of those who die are college students living in dormitories.
The sun rises, and there is still no news about Rayna’s condition. Around 11 a.m., a doctor walks into the waiting room. His face is like chiseled stone.
Right now, it does not look good, he says. Rayna is in a coma. Her brain is swelling, and her kidneys have failed. Her other organs are beginning to shut down. You need to prepare yourself for the possibility that she might die.
— The Baltimore Sun, on a college basketball player’s fight against meningitis (2004)
In an era obsessed with celebrity, Harper Lee has done the unexpected. She has chosen a life apart: apart from the trappings of her literary stature, apart from the increasing “Mockingbird” tourism here, apart even from the public-speaking and talk-show pulpit she would surely command if she so desired.
— The Chicago Tribune, on Harper Lee (in 2002)
In the days following Melo’s murder, Aaron’s mug shot glowered from downtown windows under the words
ARMED AND DANGEROUS. It was an eerie counterpart to that long-ago yearbook photo: Now his face was hard, the light in his eyes dim. To the town, he was the bogeyman.
— California Sunday, on a manhunt for a murder suspect
She has a maturity and wisdom that belies her age, and on a recent spring day, as other 14-year-olds were finishing their final year of middle school and making summer plans, Jerika told her mother she was ready to die.
— The Appleton Post-Crescent, on a teen with an incurable genetic disease who has made the decision to die
This story isn’t for children.
It’s about a type of business that’s operating behind everyday storefronts, mostly in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, next to dentists, restaurants and dollar stores. They’re known as Asian massage parlors, and some sell more than massages.
— The Virginian-Pilot, on a hidden sex industry
Who was Genny? he asked himself. Where were her relatives? How does an old woman who did the New York Times crosswords and spoke like a professor wind up dying on the streets?
Surely, he thought, she once had someone who loved her.
— The Sacramento Bee, on the death of a homeless woman
— The New Yorker, on a man’s goal of solving his brother’s murder
— The New York Times, on a season with a Bronx high school basketball team
I reread “The Great Gatsby,” which was, of course, even better the second time around.
You should listen to the FiveThirtyEight Elections Podcast, which has been my favorite source for 2016 elections news and punditry.
I recently reported about a man pulling a gun near a crowd of hundreds during a Don’t Shoot PDX protest and a Washington man who has ties to a white supremacist group allegedly shooting four people, killing three of them.
As always, thanks for reading.