Friday, December 2, 2016

Deli, No Delhi

Monday, November 28, 2016
In case you just came on board, allow me to tell you that my first "real" job was as a computer programmer in 1969.  In the years that followed until I left the field in 1999 to go to law school, I saw an amazing amount of change and innovation.  Therefore, my resistance to driverless cars is not some simple reaction to change, but rather a concern for the overselling of and overconfidence in technology that may not meet the challenge of protecting human lives. 

Here is my anecdote du jour in this regard.  Blessed by the company of America's Loveliest Nephrologist, we decided to go to an Indian restaurant on Sunday evening, specifically Dhaba, 108 Lexington Avenue, a favorite.  Since it gets particularly busy on Sunday evenings, I used Open Table, the handy restaurant reservation web site.  It gave me a choice of a table for three at 6 PM or 8:30 PM and later.  I chose 6 PM and received an acknowledgment: Your Reservation Confirmation for Dhaba.  However, Dhaba was dark when we arrived, with a sign announcing that it was closed for renovations.  Get that. The computer was very deliberate in restricting the choice of reservation times, even though we couldn't get in at any time.  It gets better.  Today, this message came from Open Table: Congrats! You just earned 1,000 points.  Because of not being able to get into Dhaba last night at 6 PM. 

I got up this morning feeling like it was the first day of school.  I have to report to jury duty.  It's been about 10 years since I was last called and then was almost immediately dismissed by the judge who did not want to run the risk of being overridden in private by a punk lawyer.  In fact, I was one of several lawyers summarily dismissed.  While a return to the legal world accounts for part of my excitement, the prospect of daily lunches in Chinatown is certainly a stimulant.  I might be tempted to prolong deliberations so that access to this magical kingdom will be convenient and efficient.

For my lunch today I chose Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street, as if I were visiting the area for the first time to get classic Chinatown Chinese food served in large portions at modest prices.  It's hard to say low prices about anything these days, but Wo Hop certainly stands out on a price/performance basis.  I had beef and shrimp chow fun, delicious at $8.95.  Looking back, I found that on January 26, 2011, a year into this (ad)venture, I first recorded the price of chow fun at Wo Hop at $7.60, which at a 3% rate of inflation brings us to the current price.  I am not sure why it took me a whole year to start reporting prices or why I didn't from the start.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Recognizing the increasing diversity of the American population, the supporters of the president-elect are being offered the choice of black or brown shirts.

Calvin Trillin has joined the discussion on the scariest word originated by this article.  He suggests "Upgrade," which promises a traumatic period at the hands of a computer geek.  

Yesterday afternoon, the judge told us that the trial might run through the end of next week.  I was delighted with this news and started menu planning for the next 10 days, alternating old favorites and new joints that have popped up in Chinatown since I retired.  This morning, I was temporarily relieved to find the courtroom door locked and everyone sitting in the hall even though I arrived almost 20 minutes late.  "The judge is late," someone said, but, as we sat longer and longer, I became worried.  The judge was probably working over the lawyers to find a way to avoid a trial, an expensive, messy affair for all concerned, except a retired attorney who wanted to spend time in Chinatown.  Just as I feared, the defendant accused of selling heroin copped a plea and all the prospective jurors were dismissed, insulated against being called back to jury duty for 6 years.  What a wretched fate.  

The day was partially redeemed by going to the winning Rangers game in the evening with Jerry Saltzman, a fine gentleman.  We ate at Ben's Kosher Delicatessen, 209 West 38th Street, before the game.  Putting aside temporarily my fastidious concern for preserving my figure, I ordered a can of Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Tonic, at 140 calories, the ideal beverage to accompany corned beef, pastrami, brisket or, at least, to pay tribute to your ancestors.  After all, popular brand beers typically have 150 calories, 100 calories for a "light" beer.  

Open Table completed its trinity of errors by asking me today How was Dhaba?  If I were in a driverless car, I think I would just have jumped a curb.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016
I have admitted several times that I am ethnocentric, a bit hyper when my tribe is demeaned, put on the defensive or outright injured.  But, there are some incidents that rise (or descend) to a unique level of insanity as exemplified by this clip from a Russian ice show.  Note that the woman is reportedly the wife of Vladimir Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

A new report, "The Leaky Pipeline for Women Entering the Legal Profession," offers some very interesting statistics about women and law school.  While women are about half of the current law student population, a smaller percentage of women college graduates apply to law school than men; they are less frequently admitted; they tend to enroll at lower ranked law schools.  This eventually seems to account for disparities in hiring and advancement between men and women lawyers.  The report overlooks marital status, a key element in career choices for some women, I believe.  Right now, many American wives willingly or not, more often than not, operate in the wake of their husband's career plans and aspirations.  That may curb their geographic options and limit the quality of their academic choices.  Whether coincidence or not, the recognized elite law schools are concentrated in a few cities and the benefits of attendance thereat may be lost to the wife of a sheepherder.

Put aside political considerations for a moment as you read the following story.   You'd have to go back many presidents to find one demonstrating the basic humanity of Barack Obama, even as we prepare to place him in the rear view mirror. 

Han Dynasty, 215 West 85th Street, is the biggest Chinese restaurant that I can think of, dim sum palaces aside.  It may also be the most attractive, sitting in a high-ceilinged space that must have once been a ballroom.  Only a few tables were occupied there as I enjoyed the company of Margie Schorr and the very spicy food that we shared at lunch. 

We had a large portion of dan dan noodles ($8.95), with the pepper flakes giving an obvious kick to the lo mein-like noodles.  We continued with 2 lunch specials in common, garlic sauce chicken ($9.95) and dry pepper fish ($11.95).  The chicken was undistinguished, but the fried fish fillets were spicy hot and kept us reaching for the hot tea and cold water.  The restaurant is part of a small chain, originating in Philadelphia, with another branch in the East Village.  Its URL is distinctive, but somewhat offputting.

Thursday, December 1, 2016
I joined Stanley and Fumiko Feingold and a handful of other superannuated CCNY graduates for dinner at Ben's Kosher Delicatessen, 209 West 38th Street, just 48 hours after my last visit.  I would not suggest another venue, since the Feingolds now spent their days where one is more likely to meet a Trump voter than a potato knish.  Offering them a good pastrami sandwich might be viewed as the Jewish equivalent of the communion wafer.  

Friday, December 2, 2016
87-year old David Goldfarb was not offended by my suggestion that we have lunch at Old John's Luncheonette, 148 West 67th Street, even though he has a few generations on it.  David is always friendly and stimulating company, while I might be viewed as much more the latter than the former.  

No comments:

Post a Comment