Friday, February 8, 2013

More Stormy Weather

Monday, February 4, 2013
I don’t know much about growing seasons, and I imagine that everything is growing somewhere in the world.  With modern transportation and global trading, fruits and vegetables are never more than 48 hours from a New York market.  Yet, I was surprised to see the proliferation of Bing cherries in Chinatown on these days with temperature hovering around freezing.  The going price seems to be between 2 pounds for $4 and $5, 2 pounds minimum, no picking, very sweet.  In fact, every fruit on every fruit stand in Chinatown has a cardboard sign saying “Very Sweet” below the price.  
The presence of Bing cherries in Chinatown is particularly appropriate because the breed was supposedly named for Ah Bing, a foreman in an Oregon orchard where the fruit was developed.  His story offers an interesting sidelight on the Home of the Free.  Bing came to the US around 1855 from Manchuria.  He worked for the same family, eventually supervising a large crew of Chinese workers.  He returned to China for a visit after almost 35 years away.  However, he was refused reentry because of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which certainly calls a spade a spade.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
I am about to complete 11 years working for the New York State court system.  The three most interesting years were spent dealing with issues of divorce, child custody, and financial support for children and spouses.  Many lawyers and judges are averse to dealing with these family law issues, and those who do are often looked down upon by their peers.  For whatever reason, I was fascinated by these cases, which often produced stranger-than-fiction tales.  A current case is particularly puzzling, to my mind, and I’d like to run it past you.  

A couple hooked up, as the younger generation might say, in 2010.  He was in his early 50s, a successful business executive.  She was a lawyer with an elite New York firm, in her late 30s.  They did not marry, but wanted to have a child together; both had been previously married.  They used a sperm donor and she gave birth to a boy in July 2012.  In December, however, she took the child and moved out of their residence, after a stay in a psychiatric facility.  On New Year’s Day, she committed suicide.  Now, the man, not having adopted the child, nor even taking early steps to adopt, is asking for custody.  New York law worth knowing: The husband of a woman who gives birth to a child is presumptively that child’s father, even under inconceivable circumstances.  A third-party’s pure biological link to the child does not overcome that presumption where the husband has comported himself as the child’s father.  Here, though, there is neither a marital bond nor a biological link.  The dead mother’s sister, an Illinois resident, is also seeking custody.  You be the judge.

By the way, today the New York Times sent me an e-mail announcing that its weekly feature sections have been redesigned, which I commented on last week.  For some unexplained reason, the changes (much more white space and lines across a page) have not extended to the daily news (certainly not the Daily News).  I’m not sold.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
I was fortunate enough to be joined at lunch today by a group of friendly guys, Tom, Jon, Michael, Mark, Bill, Ken and Cousin Jerry.  We ate at Jing Fong, 20 Elizabeth Street, that giant dim sum dispensary.  The wagon ladies were delighted to see us and serve us.  We must have had shrimp wrapped up at least 8 different ways.  The only missstep occurred when the baby clams in black bean sauce were delivered cold.  They took them back to be heated, but when returned most of the clams stayed behind, leaving us with baby clam shells in black bean sauce.  That’s a minor quibble, however, and all else went down well.  The plates came so fast that it was impossible to keep count; sometimes we were served double portions, recognizing that avaricious glint in our eyes.  Between 20 and 30 dishes is my best guess; $88 with tax, before tip.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013
Nine movies have been nominated as best picture for the Academy Awards.  We have seen only two, Lincoln and Amour, in a burst of cultural immersion over the New Year’s weekend.  Over time, and certainly with the help of streaming video via Netflix and Roku, we’ll catch up with several others.  However, leading my don’t bother list is Django Unchained, another Quentin Tarantino movie that I will ignore without regrets.  It’s sufficient to quote a favorable commentary from the New York Times: “Mr. Tarantino finds inspiration in what are still frequently seen as less reputable genres and styles: Asian martial arts movies, spaghetti westerns, blaxploitation.”  I believe that I have spent barely minutes of my life watching Asian martial arts movies, spaghetti westerns, or blaxploitation films, and I just cannot muster the interest in what they might have inspired.  Watching the Mets play baseball year in and year out provides me with a more than adequate supply of trashy experiences. 

Another movie I don’t think I’ll see is Life of Pi.  I remember when the book came out and even America’s Favorite Epidemiologist read it.  However, I just did not want to read a book about mathematics.  Yes, yes, that’s true.  Until I saw those ads for the movie with a boy in a boat with a tiger, I had no clue what it was about.  Even now, I don’t know which one is Pi.  

Although I was initially disappointed in Nom Wah Tea Parlor, 13 Doyers Street (March 8, 2011), I’ve had greater success on return visits, even proclaiming their egg roll the best in breed (November 20, 2012).  Today, I was only interested in soup, a big bowl of broth with little else, because I think a cold is coming, even as my wife is going.  Nom Wah only offered two kinds of soup, and I chose the House Special soup with dumplings ($5.25), which was very good for the wrong reasons.  The medium-sized bowl was crowded with large won tons, full of shrimp and pork, leaving little room for the soothing broth.  I needed a bigger bowl with more broth, but I enjoyed what I got.  The scallion pancake ($3.50) was excellent, if a few cents too high.  It was as grease-free as possible, crispy, but this side of flaky.  A little trickle of sauce decorated the sliced quarters, and the table held several condiments to concoct a dipping sauce.  I enjoyed my simple meal, although Wilson Tang, the cordial young owner, Mets and Knicks fan, wasn’t on site.  

Friday, February 8, 2012
My wife left town and a blizzard took her place.

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