Friday, September 18, 2009

Oral Surgey - It's Not For Everyone

The above picture pretty much sums up my mood after having all four of my wisdom teeth removed early this morning. Kudos to my surgeon and his staff for making the experience as "enjoyable" as possible. Plus, you have to respect a surgeon that does his own IV's. Thank God for sedation.

Friday, September 11, 2009

2996 Project: My Tribute to James M. Gartenberg

James M. Gartenberg was one of many who worked in the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001 and was murdered. But rather then focus on the act, I want to focus on the man and the life that he lived.

Jim Gartenberg was a husband to Jill, a father to Nicole, a resident of Manhattan, an alumnus of the University of Michigan who loved to travel to the Big House in Ann Arbor to cheer on his beloved Wolverines.

Gartenberg was a commercial real estate broker with Julien J. Studley Inc. He worked on the 86th floor of the north tower.

A Manhattan native, Gartenberg graduated from Michigan in 1987 with a degree in economics. For 12 years, he served as chapter president of a local alumni club. Jim’s two passions were the University of Michigan and his daughter of 2, Nicole. He had taught Nicole to yell “Go Blue” whenever the Wolverines were on television.

Jim spent his last moments calmly describing the scene to ABC-TV from the 86th floor. Jim leaves behind his wife Jill, his daughter Nicole and another child who was born after his death. I can not summarize the man and his life any better then his friends and family. I have included some of their words below.

Some of my most vivid and wonderful memories of my childhood include time spent with Jimmy, whether at each other's houses, in the neighborhood or at school ... Rest in peace, Jimmy. Thank you for bringing so much happiness to my life. “ Allison Horn, childhood friend

"When I first met him, he was running the University of Michigan Alumni Club meeting. He was president of the New York City chapter. I was impressed with his leadership skills, how well he was organized, his intelligence, his presence, his ability to negotiate in difficult situations when there was conflict. I said to myself, 'I want to marry him.' " Jill Gartenberg

The University of Michigan has established the James M. Gartenberg Memorial Scholarship Fund in Jim’s name and has a golf outing each year to raise money for the scholarship fund. The website is

9/11: My Remberance by Todd D. Miller

The day we know as 9/11 started as just another pleasant fall day in Chicago where I was living at the time. My wife and I had been blessed by the arrival of our son in February and life was generally very good. I was working for a small software integrator and since I had a 10am installation meeting in nearby Skokie I had chosen to go directly from our house on the north side near Wrigley Field rather then fight rush-hour traffic from Hillside.

At about 8:00 CST my service tech called me to let me know that he might be late for our meeting at 10am. I told him that traffic could not possibly be that bad this morning and I was sure he would make the meeting on time. He said to me, “You’re kidding right? Have you seen the news?” I quickly replied that I had not since he had woken me from a dead sleep. He told me that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers and the building was on fire. I turned on the television and flipped to CNN just in time to witness the second plane hit the south tower live. I told him I would call him back but we should plan to keep the meeting unless the client canceled or the office called with different instructions.

I hung up my cell phone and dropped to my knees as I watched flame and smoke pour from the towers as if someone had opened the gates of Hell. I sat on the floor in front of the television for about ten minutes struggling to comprehend what I had just witnessed. In retrospect, I can only imagine that my initial reaction was similar to that of the civilian populace that witnessed the attacks on Pearl Harbor at the onset of World War II. I went to awake my wife and she stared at me dumbfounded as I told her that two planes had hit the WTC Towers and that the news was already reporting it as an act of terrorism. She turned on the television in the bedroom and we silently sat and watched for a few minutes. I remember thinking that this must be a dream, we were Americans damn it and this does not happen on our soil. My feelings flowed from anger to disbelief to betrayal back to anger.

My cell phone rang again and it was my supervisor calling. She had been told that the company was going to try to operate as normally as possible but that the client had canceled my meeting at 10am so I should just come into the office to “do whatever” as she bluntly put it. I got dressed quickly and told my wife that once things settled down that it might not be a bad idea to head to her Mom’s house in the west suburbs. She disagreed but agreed to keep me up to date since I did not have a television or radio at my desk, the internet was going to have to be my only information source once I got to the office.

As I drove to the office, I scanned the news talk stations for more information. The first building collapsed as I pulled into the parking lot of our building and I just felt an overwhelming sense of sadness. The original estimates called for almost 10,000 dead and it was clear that morning that no one had a handle on what kind of damage had been inflicted. The President had closed American airspace and the sky became eerily empty of contrails from the many planes coming and going from Chicago. That action was even more apparent for us in the office as we were only a few miles from O’Hare airport and sat directly beneath one of the landing patterns. We sat there in our cubes just numb from the early morning’s events as we desperately tried to get the latest information off various internet news sites.

The news of a plane striking the Pentagon came as a swift kick to the gut. Again, I could not help but wonder how this could be happening to our country. At the time, I was only involved in politics and world events on the same scale as most of America. I paid attention to state and local news and only paid attention to politics when it was time to choose a president. You could say that I was blissfully ignorant of the threats that had been gathering against the United States. As I traded phone calls with my wife and exchanged information, there was a radio or television report that another plane was missing and possibly headed for Chicago. An immediate chill ran down my spine as I was flooded by a feeling of helplessness. I told my wife that she should at least go downstairs to her Grandmother’s apartment if she would not drive to her Mother’s house.

As the day progressed, the rumors gave way to truth and a small sense of security returned to those of us in the Chicago area even as rescue and recovery efforts began in earnest on the east coast. The entire day was surreal as we tried to busy ourselves with work that no longer seemed important or necessary. That evening I spent every moment I could glued to the television for the latest news. In the short span of hours everything we had known changed and I for one was left wondering what was next.

Over the next few days as we learned more about the attacks and why they happen, I kept coming back to a feeling of overwhelming sadness. Not sadness because we were attacked nor sadness at the fact that it appeared our government could not protect us. My sadness was for the innocent civilians that had been murdered, the heroic police and firefighters that had unselfishly charged to the rescue, and most of all for the families and friends that were left behind to question why. It still to this day brings me to the verge of tears when I ponder the enormous loss of potential that all of the victims held. Could there have been a Nobel Prize winner among the dead, a future president, perhaps the doctor or scientist that could have cured cancer or aids, we will never know.

I think the saddest part for me personally is the fact that so many children will not grow up with the love and guidance of a parent due to the selfish act of 19 misguided men who were led astray by a little-minded man hell-bent on creating glory for himself while perverting a religion of the world. There was a recent poll that said about 70% of Americans think about 9/11 at least once a week. I think about it everyday and maybe for me it has turned into an inspiration to lead a better life and follow the American dream as a personal tribute to our most honored dead. I fear that over time this day of national remembrance will fade as many such days in our history have. I challenge each and every American to hold the memories of these slain close to your heart and remember their sacrifice and heed the wake-up call we have been served. We are locked in a battle of epic proportions between good and evil and the day will come when those who in their hearts are riding the fence will have to make a choice.

I hope that the sadness I feel associated with this date and its events will fade over time but I fear that if we are to learn anything from the brutal attacks we will have to carry that pain of loss awhile longer. Remember this could have been prevented. Let us work together as the people of this nation did after Pearl Harbor to make sure it never happens again.