Monday, November 7, 2011
Last week, I agreed to meet with a Cardozo Law School student and serve as a career guide. However, the young man’s career has apparently been derailed somewhere on New York’s extensive subway system because he never showed up and has been unheard from ever since. Today, in response to a letter from K.C., a 2003 graduate of Stuyvesant High School, now at Brooklyn Law School, we met at lunch and discussed (the dismal) employment prospects in the New York legal market. It was convenient that he is Chinese and was pleased with my choice of New Mandarin Court, 61 Mott Street, for lunch. My advice was commonsensical (or so I hope). Talk to everyone; keep close to faculty you like and admire; build on alumni, ethnic, language, avocational, political connections; remember that the difference at first is between working and not working, not pay or status.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Today, Election Day, while lacking the drama of a presidential, gubernatorial or mayoral election, is a holiday for the court system. That allowed me to visit the consulate of the People’s Happy Land of Vietnam to secure a visa for our planned visit. The staff were friendly and cooperative. I had no need to show them my Gene McCarthy button.
I walked from home, 69th Street on the West Side, to the consulate, 49th Street & First Avenue, on this very pleasant day. On the way, I passed two Brooks Brothers’ stores and was surprised to see that, by November 8th, they were decorated for Christmas. That is quite aggressive, I thought, for a store noted for its conservative style. It reminded me of London, where I’ve seen Oxford Street, one of the main shopping streets, loaded with Christmas decorations in October. Of course, the English never earned Thanksgiving so they don’t know when it’s appropriate to start the mad holiday retail assault. We, at least, have been trained to wait for the Macy’s parade to unleash our wallets.
This evening, Stanley Feingold gave a talk at CCNY on college teaching, that drew a good crowd of his old students and current undergraduates. His major theme was that college "professors" are overpaid, even unneeded to do the job at hand, that is, synthesize and analyze the course subject matter and engage the students in developing their own understanding of material. Parents of undergraduate college students should not be making large tuition payments to underwrite research efforts that do not manifest themselves in the classroom. Great research and great teaching do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. College teaching is not singular among the professions, or many jobs in general, in requiring the practitioner to keep current on developments in the field. A secondary theme was the role of personal bias in teaching and the distorting effects of large outside consulting fees for many academics. Afterwards, we old students had time to speak with current students about our paths from CCNY onward.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Lunch was with the Feingold crowd, many of whom had attended the talk last night. As if we couldn’t get enough of each other, more than a dozen of us attended the CCNY alumni association dinner at the Hilton Hotel, where Joe Forstadt, one of our stalwarts was receiving an award. Joe deserves the award for so many professional and civic accomplishments, but I have also benefitted from his personal encouragement and support at critical junctures in my career. He deserves at least two medals.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Our dear friends Bonnie and Gil Glotzer’s first grandson is having his bris at 7 AM, at a synagogue in New Jersey. There’s just too much packed into that sentence that interferes with our ability to celebrate with them. So, mazel tov to parents and grandparents.
I went to work, as usual, and walked into Kuai Le Hand Pull Noodles Restaurant, 28 Forsyth Street, thinking it was my first visit. However, I had been there before (July 1, 2011), but the big illustrated menu on the wall was gone, the most memorable aspect of my former meal. I ordered ox tail hand pulled noodles ($5). It turned out to be a soup, just as the other noodle dishes were, not what I wanted on this mild day. The broth was good, but the ox probably enjoyed the tail more than I did.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Another state holiday, Veteran’s Day, which we knew as Armistice Day. In the spirit of armistice, I returned to the Vietnamese consulate, again walking across town on this bright, crisp, clear day. Here is what Central Park looked like at midday.
I picked up our visas and some Communist propaganda. For instance, the Prime Minister (admit it, none of us know his name) recently said: "Take collective efforts to prevent an economic downturn, maintain growth and ensure social welfare." That shows you the difference between those Godless socialists and us God-fearing freedom-lovers. In the good old USA, our individual efforts have caused an economic downturn, stopped growth and threatened social welfare. Is this a great country, or what?
I want to end this week on a patriotic note, since we just had Election Day and Veteran's Day close to each other. After all the attention to macarons, Mitt Romney's favorite cookie, let's go back to our roots and bite into an all-American macaroon, à la http://www.dannymacaroons.com/. Make his father happy.