Friday, February 15, 2013

Schvere Arbiter

Monday, February 11, 2013
Colorful confetti was all over the street and sidewalks of Chinatown today, in the aftermath of the weekend’s New Year’s celebrations.  The year of the snake officially began yesterday.  “Those born in the Year of the Snake are said to be intelligent and quick thinking, but they can also be dishonest and prone to show off,” quoting the National Geographic News.  To see if this applies to you, take the difference between your birth year (treating February 1 as the delimiter) and 2013 and divide by 12.  If the result is a whole number, no leftovers, you were born in the Year of the Snake, one of 12 possibilities.  I am a product of the Year of the Horse.  One web site claims that “[i]f you are born in the Year of the Horse then you are amazingly hard working and very independent.  Although you are intelligent and friendly, you can sometimes be a bit selfish. Careerwise you would make a good scientist or poet.”  I prefer an alternate description, from a different web site: “Horse people are active and energetic.  They got plenty of sex-appeal and know how to dress.  Horses love to be in the crowd, maybe that is why they can usually be seen in such occasions like concerts, theaters, meetings, sporting occasions, and of course, parties.”  It pays to shop around.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Traditional Lincoln’s Birthday, which means a day off for state workers.  I spent much of the day coughing and sneezing, unfortunately some of the time in the presence of Rebecca Heller, a masters degree candidate at Columbia University.  At the behest of her father Jeff, a distinguished fighter for human rights, I agreed to be interviewed by Rebecca for her class in abnormal psychology or arrested devolpment or something like that.  We began a bit after 9:30 in the morning, and by 1 in the afternoon, I managed to describe, leaving her to analyze, how I got from there to here.  I began before my Brooklyn boyhood, because I could not resist throwing in some of the genealogical background dug up by Ittai Hershman and tales of the lower East Side that I heard from my mother and her older sister Sophie.  So, it took quite a long time to get me into adulthood and I had to abbreviate my accounts of the last 40 years or so.  In any case, Rebecca seemed satisfied, maybe exhausted, by my autobiographical musings.        

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
I returned to work, red of nose and sore of throat.  Last night, I had to divide my time between the State of the Union address and the Rangers/Bruins hockey game.  In summation, the Good Guys won both.  Because I prefer the deep thinking that follows a Rangers game to faux political punditry, I missed Marco Rubio’s Republican response and Rand Paul’s uber-Republican response.  According to summaries that I’ve read this morning, I missed little of interest except for the opportunity to compare both senators’ comments to reality.  While Rubio apparently sounded as if he had heard little of Obama’s speech, Paul sounded like he had been listening carefully, but only to his father, Ron Paul, prominent Republican presidential candidate. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013
Valentine’s Day, the Feast of St. Valentine, was discontinued as an observance by the Roman Catholic Church in 1969, but sponsorship was immediately assumed by Hallmark Cards.  The Eastern Orthodox Church, more Catholic than the Pope apparently, celebrates two Valentine’s Days, July 6 and July 30, actually for two different Valentines.  News of this has not yet filtered down to the greeting card industry, but it seems much more natural to me have scantily-clad cherubs flitting around in July than February.  Of course, chocolate might not fare as well in the heat of the summer.  Not an easy choice.

I spent the morning in the hands of Dr. Liebmann, unrelated to the Kosher delicatessen in Riverdale, one of the very few of its type left in New York City.  Once every Jewish neighborhood, which meant every other neighborhood in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx, one in three in Queens and almost none in Staten Island, had a Kosher delicatessen, where hot dogs and knishes sat on a grill in the front window awaiting their fate.  In my Brooklyn boyhood neighborhood, the nearest Kosher delicatessen was slightly over one block away along Pitkin Avenue (one of the few facts that I forgot to mention to Rebecca Heller).  Today, I can think of four Kosher delicatessens in Manhattan (as opposed to Jewish-style delis such as the Carnegie), only one of which, Fine & Schapiro on West 72nd Street, is a true neighborhood joint.  
Dr. Liebmann is a glaucoma specialist and my everyday opthamologist recommended a serious look at my optic nerves.  I spent over three hours looking at bright flashing lights, reading random letters with one eye and then the other, and wiping fluids off my cheeks that was supposed to stay in my eyes.  When I finished, my retinas (retinae) were as big as potato latkes and I could not enjoy the bright sunshine outside.  I never achieved my normal state of myopia until back home, which I delayed in order to buy Safari, A Phototicular Book, for Boaz's birthday, along with his Superman bank, Captain America costume, Knick Knack magic wand, a particularly imaginative name he gave to a flashing light and sound stick, among other tokens of our affection.  Go look at Safari; it would be an appropriate gift even for a well-adjusted adult.  Trust me, I'm not a Republican.
After all our time together, Dr. Liebmann concluded that he could not reach a conclusion.  I skipped work for the rest of the afternoon, still coughing and sneezing.
Friday, February 15, 2013
Having followed the pharmaceutical advice of Alex Rodriguez, I've returned to my normal state of heartiness, more or less, so we set out to Natick, Massachusetts to spend some time spoiling two  little boys.  In sum, I had a two-day work week, the fulfillment of a Marxist fantasy,

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