Our industry has been in the news again, and while there is plenty I could say on the subjects of pyro safety and virtual orchestras, I'm leaving that to folks who are closer to the subject than myself. Rusty Strauss, technical director of the Peking Acrobats, sounds off on the safety responsibilities of both the touring show and the venue in the wake of the nightclub tragedy in Rhode Island (page 24). And Garth Hemphill, resident sound designer of the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, makes a spirited defense of live music and the absurdity of its canned counterpart on the Great White Way in the wake of the recent walkout by musicians on Broadway musicals (page 30).

While those are important issues for our industry, there are clearly bigger concerns for the world at large these days. I write this on a flight to Minneapolis to attend USITT. When I told my three-year-old that I had to take a business trip to Minnesota, she repeated, “Oh, you're going on a business to soda. Be careful!” You be careful too, I told her, and gave her a very, very big hug.

It's a mere hours before time runs out on Saddam Hussein. The country is under Orange Alert. I've never been so worried at the prospect of leaving my family at home in New York; oddly enough, being on an airplane suddenly feels safer than being on the ground.

I will do my job during USITT; I will meet with exhibitors and attendees to find out what new projects are on the horizon, I will look for young, gifted designers and technicians to keep an eye on, I will talk with old friends and attend sessions and check out new products. But like many others, I'm sure, my thoughts will be elsewhere.

So I'm going to try and focus on one very important topic: the circus. Ringling Bros. is coming to town next week, and all I can think about are those two hours when we can take our daughter to Madison Square Garden and forget all about a war halfway across the world. That's one of the great things about our industry; in times like these, it's our job to keep the troubles outside the door. It may not seem like much, but it can be an amazing tonic, whether you have a loved one in the armed forces, or you're just going on a business to soda.