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Back in New York

JFK was still operating normally this afternoon as my flight from Heathrow came in. Bizarrely enough, the checked baggage arrived so quickly that it was waiting for us after we cleared passport control and, though the descent was a bit bumpy as the pilot struggled with the winds that are already picking up a few hundred feet over the ground, there was very little sign of the weathermageddon everyone says is coming our way.

The subways are closing at 7 and the busses stop at 9, so I was reasonably content that my dinner date for tonight canceled. There will be plenty of time for trips to Manhattan once things are back to normal.

In Jackson Heights, a neighborhood high enough in the hills that no conceivable storm surge can threaten us, life was almost normal tonight. The grocery stores had long lines; I circumvented that by stopping by a Walgrens where the grocery aisle was still well stocked; there was even some milk and bread. With soup if the gas stays on, jerky, nuts and bread if it doesn’t, and plenty of water and other stores, life should go on at the stately Mead manor even as the winds howl and the sea swells.

Meanwhile, the trip to the UK was time well spent. The sessions at Chatham House were useful, the university talks at London, Cambridge and Oxford were useful to me and I hope to the audiences, and the flying visit to Belfast allowed me to check in on a part of the world I hadn’t seen in almost ten years. Talking to people on both sides of the divide, I was impressed once again with how hard it was to make peace there — and how much the effort to keep the peace still engages the attention of policy makers and community leaders. Almost everything in Northern Ireland is still shaped by the legacy of the past; like people in other parts of Britain, the residents of Northern Ireland have warmed to American style Halloweens. There is no shortage of ghosts and other, darker creatures of the night in Belfast — even as the old wounds slowly mend.

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