Friday, June 14, 2013

The Great Experiment

Monday, June 10, 2013
I could coast today and simply paraphrase the article from yesterday's New York Times on newer ethnic neighborhoods in New York City.  However, it is so full of interesting facts and figures (37% of New York’s current population is foreign born), as well as food and restaurant suggestions, that you should read if for yourself.  In fact, the article is worth saving in order to plan interesting road (subway) trips all over the City. 

Of course, I can’t avoid one good quote from the paper, from the society pages, my favorite reading.  In regard to the wedding of AB and JH, we learn that they “met in July 2011 at a dinner party for young venture capitalists in Boston.  Ms. B*** had just left a doctorate program in medieval English literature at the University of Texas to give venture capital a try.”  Now, I can sleep better at night.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013
“Americans want to be protected, but not at the cost of vitiating the values that make us Americans.”  Maureen Dowd, New York Times columnist, 06/08/13.  I don’t believe this. 
See, showing that 56% of Americans believe that the National Security Agency’s program tracking the telephone records of millions of Americans is an acceptable way for the government to investigate terrorism.  Throughout our history, the majority has shown little concern for the civil liberties of minorities of any stripe.  It has generally been the courts that intervened, sometimes late in the game, in issues such as Japanese-American internment, stop-and-frisk, and Jehovah’s Witness flag saluting, where the public-at-large was hostile, if not indifferent.  

Locally, the Metropolitan Transit Authority has been installing surveillance cameras in busses since 2010.  What I find most interesting is the placard in our busses and subways proudly promoting this program, which may comfort good guys and discomfort bad guys.  With the exception of a few folks down at the ACLU, I suspect the motives of many carping left-wingers and right-wingers about the erosion (is there a word for very fast erosion?) of privacy.  The same poll cited above shows that support for NSA surveillance programs under Bush – 75% of Republicans, 37% of Democrats – has a different profile under Obama – 52% of Republicans, 64% of Democrats.  Home of the Free and Land of the Brave?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Yesterday, I had lunch with Irwin Pronin, 1962 CCNY student government president, at Wo Hop, which he said that he had never been to.  That gap has now been successfully filled.  Today, Stony Brook Steve and I had lunch at New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe, 50 Mott Street, pretending that we were three people so that we had three lunch specials, shrimps with lobster sauce, chicken with cashews and orange beef for about $16 before tax and tip.  Good by any measure.

Friday, June 15, 2013
For the second day, I stayed home from work trying to clear my head before we take off for a big trip.  On Sunday, the Upper West Side’s Power Couple are flying to Greece, then proceeding over land to Bulgaria and Macedonia, which for political reasons is internationally designated as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, abbreviated as FYROM.  This trip has a strong historic and cultural bent, so there will be very little exploration of sandy beaches and quiet coves.

The biggest challenge posed by this trip is in my packing. For the first time, I’m going away for more than three days relying only upon carry-on luggage.  In the past, it hasn’t been an excess of caution that bulked up my luggage, but the sheer size of clothing needed to cover my (how might you say?) large frame.  Additionally, I don’t need an excuse to perspire, so my cotton casual wear needs laundering after each use.  Rather than spending my time doing laundry by hand or searching for laundries in foreign settings or tolerating the extraordinary expense of having the hotel do my laundry, I usually packed loads of underwear and shirts to carry me through most, if not all, of my days on the road.  That dictated large luggage, needing to be checked through, risking delays, loss, confusion and, these days, extra fees.  There is another alternative for some folks that I would not use.  They shed clothing as they travel, starting out with usable but worn items that they abandon stop-by-stop.  That eliminates laundry as a concern, and, at least, towards the end of the trip, frees up lots of room in their luggage.  However, my clothing, even underwear and T-shirts, are generally in very good condition, carefully selected in the first place and treated carefully thereafter.  How can you throw them away?

Anticipating this trip, I’ve taken steps to go all carry-on.  First, I bought a wheeled duffel bag, inches shorter than the one I have, and therefore allowed into the passenger cabin.  Next, I purchased underwear and polo shirts made of man-made fibers, less bulky than my cotton goods and easily washed and dried in a hotel bathroom, just the way that ladies have done since the Israelites crossed the Sinai Desert.  That translates into transporting six to eight pieces of clothing instead of 20, and having them available on a rapid turnaround.  Finally, I bought small containers of shaving cream and mousse, the only cosmetic/grooming items that I normally possess in sizes that would be condemned to the garbage by our friends at the Transportation Security Administration.  I have to admit some pain in the purchase of these shrunken containers.  For decades, I cruised the aisles of supermarkets and pharmacies, reading labels, comparing ingredients and prices, choosing the best bang for my buck.  As a result, my pantries and cabinets hold multiple packages of the items that I require to look and feel lovely, usually in large packages reflecting the best value.  Now, instead, I went shopping for package size, rather than unit-price, to fill up my toiletry kit to government standards.  It hurt, at first, but, starting at the check-in at JFK on Sunday, I hope that the benefits of plastic clothing and miniaturization will outweigh the extra initial expense.  Stay tuned.   

1 comment:

  1. Next time purchase a quart size plastic zip top bag filed with bottles of legal size that can be filled from your large containers. These are generally available at any large drug store. Shaving cream, alas, must be purchased in the travel size unless replaced with a bar of shaving soap and brush like the professor uses. Or you could take the T&T approach and choose not to shave during the trip. It is a bit pricey but TravelSmith has wonderful wash and wear clothing and underwear that do not feel like a personal sauna when worn. Also, attractive crushable hats for men and women - an important accessory for me now that I must avoid the hot sun. Safe Travels.