Building a road by hand in a driving cold rain in northernmost Pakistan was Anne Codrington's reward.
First, though, Codrington, 22, of Los Angeles, had to pass a series of grueling physical and mental exams. Then "they fed us weird things like dog biscuits and made us skin a rabbit, just to see if we could deal with situations as they came up." Finally, having met Operation Raleigh's standards, Codrington had to raise $5,500 for expenses, through fund appeals, petitions, work. Then she was ready.
For three months, Codrington, a June graduate of Wesleyan University, measured herself against the elements, fatigue and a foreign culture as part of one of Raleigh's international youth leadership expeditions. Conclusion: "I loved it!"
"Building the road was the most challenging," Codrington said, who also collected reptiles and dug for rubies as part of the scientific/cultural exchange. "We were picking and shoveling and lifting huge rocks--the most menial things, but the most useful for the area.
"No Pakistani women do physical labor--they're Muslims, of course--and I was something of a curiosity. I'd get pinched and prodded and laughed at, but in the end, I was accepted and probably even admired. The important thing was that in spite of the rainfall and landslides, the road got built."
In what was "a totally unfamiliar environment," Codrington, along with contributing to mutual understanding between cultures, "learned a lot about myself too." Mainly, she learned that she could hack it.
Next project? "I'm right now filling out my Peace Corps application. . . ."
Meeks Enjoy Christmas; Adoptions Chief Reverses Decision
Jim and Cindy Meek of Bakersfield have a date in Kern County Superior Court on Jan. 15, at which time they expect to finalize the adoption of their 6-year-old foster child, Joseph Turner. It should be the happy ending to a story that began in August, 1984, when they fled with the child rather than continue what they feared was a losing fight for custody.
For 14 months, they were fugitives from the law, moving from state to state and living under assumed names. Through an apparent snafu, the warrant charging them with felony child stealing was never served. Finally, the Meeks decided to return home and renew their battle for Joey through legal channels. A year later, having persuaded the court that they were the child's "psychological parents," they were made his legal guardians.
Everything seemed to point to a clear road to adoption and, in a View story in May, the Meeks spoke of their hope that it would become final in June.
But the months dragged on and in October, Cindy said, the adoptions branch of the state Department of Social Services notified them that it was recommending against the adoption on the basis of their having taken the law into their own hands in running away with the blond, brown-eyed child, who is a dependent of the Juvenile Court.
Cindy Meek wasn't giving him up without a fight. She wrote to the adoptions department, explaining why they had to do what they did and asked whether Joey, whose natural mother had legally relinquished custody, was doomed to "live his life in limbo." She contacted state Sen. Don Rogers (R-Bakersfield), who sent a letter of support. In November, she said, word came from James W. Brown, chief of adoptions in Sacramento, advising the Meeks that with "a significant measure of reluctance," he had reversed the recommendation. (Brown told The Times he is forbidden by law to comment on an adoption case.)
It was a happy Christmas for the Meeks. Now, Cindy said, "Joey's looking forward to finally being adopted. He's waited a long time."
May the 'Z-Force' Be With Scott Piazza
In the best tradition of the PR man, Scott Piazza did what he had to do.
It was back in May, the Grand Opening of the "Z-Force" ride, Six Flags Magic Mountain's newest attraction. To publicize the occasion, Piazza had invited members of the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy's elite group of stunting fighter pilots, to ride and comment. The tie-in was the open, Navy-plane-type fuselage that rocks back and forth on a huge pendulum and finally dangles puce-faced riders upside down: "Scarier than my first mission," one Blue Angel was induced to testify.
Traditional at such openings too is the presentation of mementoes to the motley VIPs and press who cherish such freebies. In something of a rush, Piazza came through, hustling up hundreds of two-foot blow-up fighter planes duly sporting the insignia "Z-Force" under the cockpit and "U.S. Navy" over the wing.
Last week, a nostalgic ex-gob who unaccountably had kept the blow-up plane on his desk noticed a slight wrinkling under the insignia. Curious, he began to peel. Under "Z-Force" was a stylized eagle. Worse, under the wing logo was the unmistakable legend: "U.S. Air Force."
(P.S. "I'm innocent," said Magic Mountain PR person Courtney Brown. "It was before my time. Scott Piazza isn't with us any more." Did Courtney know where he was? "He left to start his own company," she said. "I think it's called Piazza Creative Services." It figures.)
Peace Activist Katya Komisaruk--Waiting for a Verdict
In November, Katya Komisaruk was convicted in Federal Court of destroying government property--specifically, of breaking into a building and destroying a million-dollar mainframe IBM 3031 computer at Vandenberg Air Force base with a crowbar, bolt cutter, cordless drill and other implements. When she gave herself up, she said she believed the computer to be an active part of a system that would provide the United States with first-strike capability in a nuclear attack. The crime carries a maximum penalty of 10 years.
Komisaruk, who is scheduled to be sentenced Monday by U.S. District Court Judge William J. Rea in Los Angeles, is in the Bay Area now, staying at the collective she shares with friends who share her principles, preparing a statement to read at her sentencing--and nursing a cold.
"I find myself thinking of 'The Emperor's New Clothes' with respect to this judge," she said. "The whole trial went with people saying, 'This is justice,' and maintaining a facade as if it were a legal and logical process. It had no more to do with a fair trial than one you would have in the Soviet Union. I wish a child had stood up and said, 'The emperor has no clothes.' "
In addition to writing her statement, she said, she has been seeing her parents and friends, investigating law school, "staring with dismay at a huge pile of mail," and gearing up for more fund raising, to pay her lawyers and get ready for the appeal.
By the time her lawyers file the appeal, she said, she will probably be in prison. In addition to trial lawyers, she now has an entertainment lawyer to deal with what she refers to as "the sensationalism" of her case. There have been numerous approaches regarding a screenplay, and, she said, one script is being written, "with my blessing, but with no formal agreement."