Alumni Notes: July / August 2014

We have lots of news for these notes and for our magazine-like website, www.yale62.org, but from too few people. Particularly at our age, classmates want to know how their peers are doing, whether still at work, actively relaxing, or just coping. The classmates who replied to our spring survey on class communications suggested more website stories on "personal experiences," "coping with retirement," classmates' bucket lists, George Akerlof's views on the economy and his wife's work at the Fed, and "Yale nostalgia." Along that line, class Secretary David Honneus has promised a recounting of the "stolen caribou," and is encouraging you to write reminiscences "that have nothing to do with academic achievement or getting Seven-Sisters girls naked." 'Nuff said?

We are a webby group these days, according to other results from that survey. The 99 respondents represented a good cross-section of the "loyal core" of the class. Their answers were discussed at the April Class Council meeting at the Yale club and via conference call. We have about 801 living classmates, 20 of whom churlishly withhold their postal addresses; we have 603 email addresses. (If you haven't, please send us yours.) Including e-mail time, 98 percent of the responders say they spend at least three hours a week on the web, with 28 percent spending 12 to 20 hours and 19 percent more than that. The same 96 percent also say they read the website at least occasionally, usually spending between 10 and 30 minutes on an issue; five percent spend more than 30 minutes. We will implement several constructive suggestions about reaching zoned-out readers who said they regretted missing interesting items.

Mini-reunions drew at least some interest from 67 percent of the survey responders. For US sites convenient to many, Boston, New York and San Francisco are under consideration. If you can help, call Dave Honneus. A knot of members showed strong interest in Singapore, a venue made tempting by its role as site of the new Yale-National University of Singapore liberal arts college and by the enthusiastic proposals of resident cicerone Bill Stork and his wife, a hotelier.

Council attendees included Steve Sussman, David Finkle, Dan Koenigsberg, John Stewart, Alex Garvin, Bill Weeden, and by phone, Roman Weil (calling from a cruise ship "not far from McMurdo" Sound in Antarctica), Jim Wechsler, Bob Connery, Al Chambers and Tappy Wilder. Among the excuses proffered by non-attending members, Larry Lipsher was on a 50-mile bike ride, Lance Liebman was in Taipei, and Peter Saccio was lecturing at the Globe Theater in London.

Have you put your house on stilts yet? You've probably heard the forecast of more-severe storms and flooding that came from this spring's big federal report on global warming. Willie Toal, as I recall, has stilts under a house on the South Carolina shore, and Paul Bschorr has had his shoreline house in Greenwich, Connecticut on stilts for several years. As hurricane season looms on the East Coast, take a tip from Paul: When hurricane Sandy struck, he just moved his cars out of the first floor and despite three inches of water there, says "the house was fine." Do you live above it all? Are financing options improving? What about the rumors of elevated septic systems? Send us your stilt stories and photos and we'll do a website report.

Jack Williams, senior counsel to the New York office of Alston & Bird LLP, dished up travel gold in his holiday letter, buried 'til now (apologies) under an e-pile. He and his wife, Gail, pedaled along the Erie Canal, went to Kentucky Dam Village in western Kentucky for a family reunion, and, with Yale Educational Travel, went to Myanmar (once known as Burma). The gold? "Somewhere between six and 20 tons of gold leaf," he reports, encase the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon (Rangoon). They flew thence to a Mandalay-based riverboat which took them on "excursions to wonderful Buddhist religious sites, pagodas and temples, Burmese villages and markets." We'll have photos on the web.

John Stewart was a major player in a 100th anniversary reunion of the Spizzwinks singing group. He is writing a piece for our website about singing at Yale. Steve Buck drew lessons from his 39 year State Department career at eight posts throughout the Arab world when he addressed students at New York University this spring. Particularly in the Gulf, he observed, it's all about families. At one dinner in Kuwait, "the guests included an official from the palace, the foreign minister's office, the defense minister's office and the university, plus an anarchist, a businessman, a poet, a sheikh, and a member of parliament. What did they have in in common? They, and two others, were husbands of 11 sisters! "Our biggest challenge in the Arab world today," he added, is that our disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past 10 years have made us a pariah in much of the Muslim world, leading to the construction of fortress embassies and diplomats going out with two dozen armed guards in armored vehicles. We have gone from optimism and belief that we were doing something good in the world to fear and focusing on disaster, a very poor way to interrelate with people." We have had a number of comments on our special website edition about "America's Role in the World."

Necrology (Full obituaries on www.Yale62.org in due course): Peter Bell, Fred Hemphill.