Friday, November 9, 2012

Mitt Liberty and Justice For All

Monday, November 5, 2012
I’m sorry. I just don't know how I could have gotten it wrong. Really, I’m embarrassed by my announcement that Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan ran the 2012 New York City Marathon in 3 hours 2 minutes and 17 seconds. We all know that this was impossible, because I finished right behind him in 4 hours 27 minutes and 9 seconds. What was I thinking?

I returned to work today with most subway lines running again and electricity restored downtown. That did not mean things were entirely normal at the courthouse, however. As the temperature dropped into the low 40s, there was no heat until the afternoon, and only the barest amount then. That was more than we got out of the telephone system, which was dead all day.

Chinatown, on the other hand, seemed to be fully operational. I did not see any damage or obvious sign of business disruption, although I covered only a few streets. I aimed for Chen’s Watch Repair & Change Any Part, a business conducted under a beach umbrella set up on the sidewalk closest to 46 Mott Street, to get my watch battery replaced quickly and economically. I then went into Wonton Noodle Garden, 56 Mott Street (September 12, 2011) for a hot bowl of Shanghai Big Wontons w. Noodles ($5.50), a proper antidote for the cold air. The Shanghai Big Wontons had thin wrappers and contained shrimp as well as ground meat, noticeably differing from the typical Cantonese won tons with their thick skin. The noodles were thick, hefty lo mein, and the soup, which was almost crowded out by the won tons and noodles, was good and warmed me for the first time since I left the house this morning.

When I walked back after the lunch, I saw that a double-decker tour bus had hit a bicyclist at the corner of Centre Street and Worth Street, doing far more damage to the smaller of the two. A fire truck, an EMT ambulance and a police car were all at the scene, and the bicyclist, with his head bandaged, was strapped onto a board for removal. No one on the street admitted to seeing the accident, when a cop asked around. Given the location surrounded by courthouses, I was surprised that the victim was not covered by business cards tossed by passing attorneys.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Most public employees have Election Day off. Still, I could not manage to sleep late, so I saw America’s Favorite Epidemiologist off to work. She, too, could have treated today as a holiday, but she is quite dedicated to her job. Even last week, when her office in Brooklyn was unreachable from Palazzo di Gotthelf, she spent much of her waking hours reading, writing, editing and consulting with her staff by telephone about reports and proposals. The only difference in work style for her last week over the normal was her less formal wardrobe and makeup. Otherwise, science marched on.

Today started strong. On only one cup of coffee, I finished the Saturday crossword puzzle, which sat more than a quarter undone since the weekend. Then, I went to the gym in the basement, the second time this week, and the third time this year. After cleaning up, I ventured forth to further the democratic process and insert another brick in the wall of freedom. Well, I wasn’t the only bricklayer in the neighborhood; there were more people waiting in line than I’ve ever seen at this polling place. This is particularly interesting considering the lack of competitive balance in this area. We have one of the most predictably left-wing constituencies outside of North Korea.

The good collectivists of the upper West Side did not limit their public spirit to voting alone. I carried a shopping bag of men’s jerseys (cotton, long sleeve, XL and XXL) that I no longer wear or risk being voted off the runway if I wore. I gathered this bundle as I assembled a presidential election outfit this morning. I wasn’t necessarily being charitable; I was looking to make space in the closet. When I walked into the JCC, on Amsterdam Avenue at 75th Street, they were turning away donations – clothing, household goods, food. They had been trucking these items to areas hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, and had, at least for now, filled perceived needs. I was directed to the Goodwill store on 79th Street, which was directly on my path to Zabar’s. In the words of George W. Bush, Mission Accomplished and I don’t mind having my desire for closet space mistaken for philanthropy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Grandpa Alan awoke this morning happy. Happy, but very tired. While the results of most major election races were known by 11:30 last night, I decided to stay up to hear the resulting speeches for historical purposes. For some reason, Mitt Romney waited until 1 AM to appear before his supporters in Boston and make his concession speech. There was a rumor that the delay was caused by his attempt to outsource the speechwriting to China, hedged by a futures contract on the Renminbi secured by a credit default swap on the collateralization of future royalties on his yet unwritten autobiography "Don't Judge A Man By His Underwear." In any case, I sat playing Sudoko on my smartyphone until Romney appeared. After his brief and gracious remarks, I was extremely fatigued and, when the President failed to pop right up, I went to sleep about 1:30 AM and got up at 6:30 AM.

Winners and losers alike around here later experienced miserable weather as a Nor’easter arrived with rain, sleet and snow. Now, I don’t know anyone who uses the word Nor’easter in conversation. Personally, it only presents me with 180 degree opposite alternatives, because I don’t know whether nor’east is the origin of the storm or its destination. So, use of this strange label only eliminates a path to or from the southwest.

Thursday, November 8, 2012
I went for my annual physical examination today, so I traveled no further south than East 38th Street. Normally, my doctor is situated at the NYU Medical Center on First Avenue at 32nd Street, but that facility was completely knocked out of commission by Hurricane Sandy, or, more exactly, the effects of extraordinary wind and water on an old building retrofitted periodically to meet the demands of modern medical practice. Dr. Michael Perskin did his usual fine job in excusing all my excesses and pronouncing me fit to cross streets unaccompanied.

Friday, November 9, 2012
As I began with a correction, I end with a clarification. When I went to Shanghai Gourmet, 23 Pell Street, a couple of weeks ago, I raved about their scallion pancake, just the best ever at a mere $2.25.  I noted though that the total experience was compromised by having a delicious bowl of hot and sour soup first, which numbed some of my taste buds. Therefore, I could not taste the sweet and salty ginger/soy/rice wine vinegar dipping sauce that typically accompanies a scallion pancake. However, today I took precautions and ordered the scallion pancake first so that no other flavors interfered. But, I discovered that the sauce itself was not up to the task. It was weak and would have been overcome by almost any other spice, aroma or flavor. Each table holds bottles and jars of condiments which could properly pick up the slack, if you can find the right combination.  But, I had so eagerly dug into the scallion pancake, that I could not pause to goose up the sauce. It was still a great scallion pancake.     

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