Saturday, March 25, 2017

It's Not You, It's Me

Monday, March 20, 2017
A couple of times in recent weeks, my blog blasts have produced hundreds of error messages, reporting delays in getting the word to many of you.  This has, in the spirit of the times, turned out to be fake news.  In fact, my weekly messages seem to have gone out trouble free hours before the barrage of error messages even began.  If this confusion spilled over and you have been inconvenienced in any way, I apologize.  It's not you, it's me.   

Time Out New York offers a list of the best local vegetarian restaurants.  
It includes B&H Dairy, 127 Second Avenue, a favorite of mine for decades.  I never considered B&H a vegetarian restaurant and I never will and neither should you.  It is a milchigs restaurant, following the ancient and obtuse Jewish proscriptions separating milchigs and fleischigs, dairy and meat products.   

Vegetables play a minor role in milchigs cuisine, which is about eggs, which is about cheese, which is about sour cream, which is about butter.  The premier dish at B&H is French toast, made with thick slices of challah baked in house.  When B&H reopened after being damaged by a fatal gas explosion two doors down, Tom Adcock and I rushed back to eat French toast in celebration and solidarity (September 1, 2015).  A glob of butter, maple syrup (well, they say it's maple syrup), a cup of coffee.  Not a carrot in sight.  Nothing green on the plate.  That's milchigs, not vegetarian.  

Our thrifty president has proposed a budget that's a Republican wet dream.  Except some Republicans are beginning to discover that not every government program is the spawn of Satan.  Even some low-hanging fruit might have firm attachments.

This article lists current artsy fartsy federal funding per capita by state.  And, Alaskans get almost twice as much as New Yorkers and about six times what Californians get.  I don't begrudge underwriting Alaska's cultural efforts, but I think that California needs it more.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Francesca H., a lovely college student, educated me this weekend about the presence of a first-rate Sri Lankan restaurant downtown, Kottu House, 250 Broome Street.  I knew of no Sri Lankan restaurant in New York or anywhere in the US, so, it was a happy revelation.  However, I am not entirely humbled by this information gap, because an Internet search uncovers very few Sri Lankan restaurants anywhere in the country.  

In any case, the Boyz Club rushed off to Kottu House for lunch.  It is a very small place, 3 two tops and 6 knee-high stools plus a ledge with 4 tall stools.  Weekday lunch until 4 PM offers a particularly good deal.  Choice of a chicken, chicken sausage, tofu or vegetable kottu, a "street style dish from Sri Lanka made with godamba roti, freshly chopped and stirfried with a blend of curry, eggs and vegetables," with a side of lentil patties, tuna fritter or South Asian fries (plain or spicy) plus a can of soda for $11.  

We passed around one of everything.  All the other gents opted for the least spiciness in any of the dishes, which resulted in well-prepared, filling, bland food.  I think that a joint should be allowed to present its flavors in relatively authentic fashion, with Tums to the rescue.

It must be catching.  Stony Brook Steve was one of today's fressers and he is widely renowned for his ability to spot the famous, near-famous and once-famous on the streets of New York.  When I went into Fairway for some grocery shopping after he headed home, I recognized Stan Beeman, the FBI agent who lives across the street from the Russian spies on "The Americans."  As far as I could tell, he wasn't being tailed. 

Listening to the Republican opponents of Obamacare, you would think that we face a binary choice -- taxpayers vs. sick people, as if there is no common ground or overlap.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
You have to give Michael Ratner credit.  As I have said in the past, he is the most honest businessman that I have ever met.  But, it was his willingness to go to lunch with me two days in a row that now distinguishes him.  Yesterday, it was Kottu House, today Tri Dim Shanghai, 1378 Third Avenue, a surprisingly good Chinese restaurant in a neighborhood that sorely needs one.  Befitting the area, the space is attractively decorated, with a combination of modern Asian elements against a large exposed brick wall and a reproduction of a Xi'an warrior standing near the front door.  Service is polished and efficient.  With that, prices were still reasonable, uptown reasonable that is.

We ordered two lunch specials at $8.50, tangerine beef and baby shrimp with bean curd.  The lunch specials also included a choice of soup or spring roll and rice, brown for us.  Portions were generous and each tasted good.  Additionally, we shared a scallion pancake ($6), a great example of the art, and chicken soong ($9), diced chicken, water chestnuts, celery, green onions cooked in soy sauce and served on iceberg lettuce leaves.  Count me lucky; I had Michael's company and a high quality lunch.

Thursday, March 23, 2017
The news these days is a torrent of absurdities, tragedies, and malevolence, but one item just made me sad.  The results of the competitive test for admission to New York City's eight special high schools show that 13 African-American students will be admitted to Stuyvesant High School, my alma mater, in the next class of nearly 1,000. 

In 2011, I wrote about Stuyvesant's newly-admitted class of 2015.  It contained 569 Asian-Americans (thought to be mostly Chinese with some Koreans, Japanese and South Asians), 179 whites, 13 Hispanics, and 12 blacks.  That motivated me to examine the yearbook of my 1958 graduating class, where I found 700 white, 13 black, 5 Hispanic, 3 Chinese and 1 Japanese senior(s), relying on memory, facial and name recognition, leaving only a few uncategorized. We were all male and mostly Jewish.  (My memory was good enough after all these years to identify Anthony Kelly as Jewish.  His father escaped the Nazis, came to America and changed his name hoping to avoid future threats.)

Much of this data has been turned on its head over the years, specifically by the introduction of women in 1969 and the influx of Chinese students.  I don't have the details, but I would surely bet that the record of accomplishment of these more recent students far outstrips my contemporaries, measured by Ivy League admissions, academic honors and awards and other fodder of U.S. News & World Report's rankings.  With a moral certainty though, I know that we were funnier.

So, after three generations and the vast changes in this city, this country and the world, one things remains dead constant -- the number of black students admitted to Stuyvesant.   While some top prospects may have been siphoned off by elite prep schools, unlikely in my time, the numbers here are woeful.  Damon Hewitt, author of the essay above, believes that the standardized test is the problem, inherently unfair when viewed by the results.   The test, which always dealt with verbal and mathematical skills, has changed particulars over time, and is being significantly changed this year after a long period of stasis. 

Hewitt recommends a reliance upon "consistently excellent grades, critical analysis skills, leadership and even performance on other state-mandated tests" as substitutes or supplements to the standardized test.  Note that the first and last of these are just other tests.  While I heartily agree with the importance of critical analysis skills, how would that be tested without a test?

Hewitt complains that "the material on the [standardized admissions] test is not taught in the city’s middle school classrooms," as if high school will be no more than an extension of lower grades.  A virtue of one standardized test also allows the slacker a chance to catch up, something some of us should be thankful for.  

Finally, leadership is a vague concept that may allow subjectivity to override merit.  For instance, a bench scientist may be distracted in a group setting, prospering in a quiet corner.  Early in the 20th century, the search for the well-rounded man kept little Jewish boys and all women out of most of the best colleges and universities.  That led to the introduction of the College Board exams, putting merit first.  It's no accident that auditions for our best symphony orchestras are now held behind screens, leaving the music as the determining factor.

There's no one answer to getting more African-American and Latino students into Stuyvesant.  Parents are probably the most vital influence in getting students onto the right track with the help of a concerned teacher or two along the way, while peers and the neighborhood may serve as impediments.  Of course, the burden of racial discrimination, past and present, takes it toll on current generations, and society has a long way to go to level the playing field. However, very few of us not living at the corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue have been given a free ride, a cheap ride or an easy ride.  While a standardized admissions test is probably a daunting challenge to many eighth graders, I support it because it is no more than a peek at what may lie ahead.  

Cheery headline of the day: "Late G.O.P. Proposal Could Mean Plans That Cover Aromatherapy but Not Chemotherapy"

Friday, March 24, 2017
Joe Forstadt died yesterday.  He was my "rabbi."  When my legal career stalled, Joe counseled me, reassured me and, most critically, made a telephone call to someone who knew him to be a trustworthy source.  As a result, I spent my last six working years in a very satisfying position.  I fear what those years would have been like without Joe's assistance, freely given.  You couldn't have a better friend.

Just in: The White House insisted that Paul Ryan stop   Trumpcare from going to a vote in the House of Representatives, because it heard that millions of illegal immigrants snuck into the Republican Congressional delegation.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Real George

Monday, March 13, 2017
I wonder which makes Republicans feel better as they contemplate the repeal of Obamacare, the big tax breaks for the very rich or the removal of health insurance from 24 million Americans? 

It was an odd coincidence yesterday when we saw the matinee performance of "Sunday in the Park With George," one of Stephen Sondheim's masterpieces.  It wasn't the presence of George Stephanopoulos in the audience, although I was surprised to see how small he is.  Rather, it was the presence of Mandy Patinkin, who created the role of George Seurat, the George in the title.  I saw the original cast version, but both Patinkin and Bernadette Peters, the two leads, were absent the night I attended.  Yet, even though I saw two other subsequent  productions, their voices and personas have been ingrained in me by listening to the original cast recording innumerable times.  I can report that Patinkin, seated a few rows ahead of us, applauded the whole cast and his successor vigorously.  In this instance, I imagine that the new guy listened avidly to tapes of the old guy.

Many people in the northeastern US are anticipating the arrival of a blizzard, due to hit the Holy Land at midnight tonight.  As a prophylactic measure, I went to Chinatown for lunch and discovered a great fortune.  Well, the Great Fortune Chinese Restaurant has recently opened at 5 Catherine Street, replacing QJ Restaurant (January 28, 2010).  In classic style, the front of the restaurant is taken up by a couple of men cooking in the window, with roast ducks and barbecued ribs hanging near their heads.  In back are ten 2 tops pushed together in pairs and one round table.  The walls are covered by 9" x 24" ceramic tiles with a wavy surface pattern.  Six rows of white tiles sit over five rows of black tiles, lending a clean, spare feeling to the space.

The menu is enormous, 315 enumerated items, another 34 by weight or piece for takeout, and 15 in Chinese only.   Speaking of Chinese, speaking Chinese is an advantage when ordering here, unless you hold your finger very steady when pointing to the item on the menu you want.  Additionally, a sign in the window for Peking duck buns at $1 each, not found on the menu, held a strong appeal for me, but, since I was unwilling to pull the waiter outside into the very cold air to show him what I want, I went without.

In spite of the number of options on the menu, I kept it simple: Three dumpling soup ($4.25), identified as shrimp, pork and mixed vegetables; "Three Precious Ingredients" ($5.50), roast chicken, roast duck and a fried egg over a mound of rice and boiled cabbage.  The soup was piping hot and aromatic, holding 8 dumplings, whose contents were not easily distinguished, but rather seemed to combine the three different fillings in varying proportions.  The rice dish was hearty, with small, tasty portions of chicken and duck.  It all added up to a filling and reasonably priced winter lunch.  Bring on the storm.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
I recollect that, with the exception of Spiro Agnew, the Nixonians waited to take office before committing crimes.  Today's team showed no such restraint.

When the House Judiciary Committee voted on three articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon on July 27, 29 and 30, 1974, 10 of the 17 Republican members voted No each time.  We now call that Ryan's Courage.  

These historical insights emerged as I sat indoors today, watching the snow fall.  It wasn't pretty.  There were no lacy patterns on the tree branches below our windows as the heavy winds swept them bare.

While almost all prudent New Yorkers stayed home this evening as the city moved slowly back to normal, Mossad Moshe and I ventured forth to see a screening of "American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs," a new documentary, at the Socially Relevant Film Festival.  We promised each other next time to be first in line at the Socially Irrelevant Film Festival.    

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Sorry, Julius.

Unless you are very lonely, you probably resent receiving robocalls, computer-dialled telephone calls with a recorded message about a person, place or thing of no interest to you.  Their technology often outsmarts Do Not Call lists.  The worst part for me is that there is no human being on the line to be remonstrated about the unwelcome intrusion or to be threatened with being tracked to the ends of the Earth.  There is hope, however, as Jon Silverberg instructed me.   

Nomorobo intercepts robocalls on most popular carriers and cuts them off.  You hear one ring and no more.  One step in the sign-up procedure stymied me, but I got Verizon's help.  You may be more educable and sail through the process unassisted.  In any case, it is a joy hearing that one ring followed by silence.

Legitimate automated calls, such as, medical appointment reminders and school closings, are not interfered with.

It got a bit colder today, so too many sidewalk intersections combine snow, slush, ice and very cold water.  I might have stayed home if Stony Brook Steve had not suggested lunch, but a man's got to do what a man's got to do.  So, we bravely headed to Shun Lee Café, 43 West 65th Street, the casual portion of one of the most honored Chinese restaurants in the city.  I don't think that I have been to the main room in about 20 years and I know that I have never been to a dim sum lunch at the café.  That streak continues, since it was not the weather that kept us out, but the calendar.  Shun Lee Café is open for lunch and dim sum only on the weekend.  We settled for an ordinary lunch at an ordinary joint, distinguished by the quality of the conversation and insults.

Thursday, March 16, 2017
It has stayed cold and my car is frozen in place, so I stuck to running (walking actually) local errands.  Since one stop was the theater district, I hied off to Dim Sum Palace, 334 West 46th Street, for lunch, a new destination.  It offers over 40 dim sum items, chosen from an illustrated menu.  There are also a couple of dozen noodle, rice and soup dishes.  

I ordered rather conservatively, steamed shrimp and chive dumplings ($5.25 for 3), shredded roast duck dumplings ($5.25 for 3), chicken shu mai ($4.25 for 4), and pan-fried shrimp and chive dumplings ($5.95 for 3).  Everything was brought within one minute of each other, freshly cooked and piping hot.  The duck dumplings, which should have been the most interesting, were the most innocuous.  Only when I looked at the check did I remember that I ordered them, rather than some miscellaneous meat thing.  The other items were truer to their name.  

There is a bar at the front and about ten tables in a square space.  Then, a long narrow corridor with a single line of tables leads to another boxy room.  The corridor is decorated with an interesting antique-looking Chinese mural, roughly 24 feet by 6 feet, depicting a waterfront village in great detail. Unfortunately, there's just no room to get a perspective on it.  Service was friendly and efficient; when I remarked on the $8 charge for pots of unordinary tea, my waitress suggested ordinary tea at no charge, which hit the spot.

Another errand today took me to the post office, where I bought stamps, an extremely colorful Oscar de la Renta issue, a panel of 8 WPA posters (evoking real American greatness) and, sending a chill down my spine, a John F. Kennedy commemorative on his 100th birthday.  

Friday, March 17, 2017
It won't be pleasant, but I urge you to place yourself among the have-nots of our post-industrial society at a performance of "Sweat," a play by Lynn Nottage, at Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street.

I admit that I am normally insulated from witnessing "the bonds among a group of working-class friends and family [being] frayed to the breaking point by the pressure of an eroding economic future," as you might be as well.  Tonight, it was a small but important step in permeating my college-educated, white collar, financially-solvent bubble.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Old Wine, New Bottles

Monday, March 6, 2017
On Saturday, we went to Brown Sugar Kitchen, 2534 Mandela Parkway, a deservedly esteemed local institution, for a late breakfast.  The one-hour wait made it necessarily late, but, anticipating that, we gave our name at 10:30 and went off for some local sightseeing.  When we sat down, the automatic order was the waffle and chicken ($18), a cornmeal waffle, brown sugar butter, apple cider syrup and two pieces of buttermilk fried chicken.  Fabulous.  The waffle was light and airy, the butter and syrup perfectly matched with it (maple syrup available as an extra, but unneeded).  The chicken approached the epitome of fried chickenhood.  The place stays open only to 3 PM daily and, when we left shortly after noon, it looked like enough people were waiting to keep a full house until then.

Over the weekend I also learned what a "Walk Score" was.  We accompanied our Lovebirds to an open house, since the house they occupy is not available for purchase.  The property that we visited was quite charming in the Craftsman style and the realtor's flier said that it had a walk score of 75.  Qu'est-ce que c'est?

True to its name, the walk score rates a location by its walkability, the degree to which daily errands can be performed without an automobile.  A 75 in Oakland isn't bad, considering how hilly and spread out it is.  The Palazzo di Gotthelf rates a 99, not surprising given its centrality to the progress of Western civilization.  Check your own nest.  

San Francisco Business Times reported on the opening of a new, large Chinese food mall.  The founder "said there's still a 'stigma' around Chinese food for large portions and cheap pricing."  Suggested motto: Small portions, high prices?

The Sunday New York Times made it all the way out to California, so I saw the following headline, which might be read several different ways: "White Dominates Snowboard Event."

Oakland went out with a bang.  Sunday night, for our last dinner, we went to Soi 4 Bangkok Eatery, 5421 College Avenue, an attractive joint holding about 18 tables covered with white table cloths, an unusual sight in the Bay Area.  We shared pan-fried chive cakes (dumplings) and crispy vegetable rolls; I then had chicken satay skewers with a great peanut sauce (and isn't it always)  and Chiang Mai curry noodles with stewed beef.  All the food was very good averaging around A-.

To end the evening, we went to Smitten Ice Cream, 5800 College Avenue, where they churn the ice cream to your order using liquid nitrogen to freeze the concoction in a few moments.  I had a cup of "TCHO 60.5% Chocolate," predominantly a local Berkeley chocolate mixed with some Valrhona cocoa powder, producing maybe the best chocolate ice cream in the once-Free World.

Today, we flew home where the clocks are right and things happen when they are supposed to.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017
The anarchic conduct of some students at Middlebury College has aroused a sudden interest in the First Amendment among some of our Republican friends.  Were they as attentive to the 14th, 15th and, oh yes, the 16th Amendment.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017
In case you don't believe that we are well on the way to making America great again, follow this link.  You will hear with your very own ears Richard Nixon on December 14, 1982 tell his fawning acolyte Henry Kissinger that "the press is the enemy."  

To prove that I had not forgotten how to walk after only one week in California, I chose to traverse the 2 miles to bb.q Chicken a/k/a bb.q Olive Chicken, 25 West 32nd Street, on foot.  I sought bb.q for several reasons; A) this is the first New York outlet of a Korean chain in 57 countries; B) during my explorations downtown, I only encountered three Korean restaurants -- the excellent Kori Tribeca Restaurant, 253 Church Street (May 28, 2013, July 30, 2015), the long shut Jup She, the Korean Plate, 171 Grand Street (December 30, 2010) and Gunbae Tribeca, 67 Murray Street, a hidden gem (December 18, 2015); C) it has a high reputation for fried chicken and the luscious memories of Oakland's Brown Sugar Kitchen were still fresh in mind.   

bb.q was good, but no threat to Brown Sugar.  The very deep joint is self-service.  You pick from a cabinet of hot food and a cabinet of cold food and beverages (coffee sits apart).  The chicken, thighs, drumsticks, breasts and/or wings, is cooked in olive oil plain or with sauce, honey garlic, soy garlic or "Red Hot" garlic.  About a dozen "K-Food" items are also available, such as bibimbap, the traditional Korean rice bowl, and duk-bokki, tube-shaped rice cakes in a spicy sauce.  Asian-appearing customers seemed to prefer the K-Food, while the round eyes went for the chicken.   

I came for the chicken and I had it straight up, 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks, $10.49.  It was nice and crispy, with a subtle spiciness that stayed with me.  Note that the chicken sits boxed waiting to be picked up; if it sits too long, it will cool down and lose its crispiness.  Since it was the heart of lunch hour, I had no problem with the temperature or texture of the chicken.  A man brought food from the dark recesses at the back of the restaurant frequently.   

The space has an industrial feel, exposed pipes and vents against big, exposed brick walls.  bb.q is close to Macy's and Madison Square Garden and it offers a good alternative for casual eating in the vicinity.

While we were obviously delighted by Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland and City View in San Francisco, we failed to realize that Santa Cruz was about the happiest place to be, according to the Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being Survey.  

I am deeply skeptical about (maybe hostile to) this survey, which places the Holy Land (admittedly the Greater Metropolitan Holy Land) at 101, tied with Mobile, Alabama, far behind Syracuse in 69th place.  

Friday, March 10, 2017
So you have an Ivy league degree, even better if you graduated from CCNY.  But, like me, you're just a chump when it comes to what really makes the world go round.  
"Profitable Companies, No Taxes: Here’s How They Did It"

Friday, March 3, 2017

Left Coasting

Monday, February 27, 2017
An article printed yesterday asked people how much "it would take to cancel worry and bankroll their dreams."  The answers often ran to the tens of millions, an extravagant amount to me.  However, many respondents seemingly had dreams that included good works beyond providing for the care and comfort of their nearest and dearest.  

If you skip trying to compete with the Ford Foundation, what's your number?  We quickly (unscientifically and immodestly?) came up with $2 million, founded on dreams of deluxe travel.  Upon reflection though, I realized that we haven't set foot on another continent so far this year, because of lack of time not money.  While I am retired, America's Favorite Epidemiologist willingly continues to push the frontiers of knowledge.  Of course, these days the challenge generally is to stem the advancement of ignorance.  

The newspaper article referred to an academic paper that concluded that wealth tended to lessen sadness in daily life, but not necessarily increase happiness.

If the social psychologists are correct, I have a plan that would actually call for a modest expenditure guaranteed to both lessen sadness and increase happiness.  Purchase and play the following:

A) "The 2000 Year Old Man: The Complete History," from Amazon at $39.95.

B) "The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection," from Amazon at $38.99, includes The Cocoanuts/Animal Crackers/Monkey Business/Horse Feathers/Duck Soup.

C) "The Marx Brothers Collection," from Amazon at $33.98, includes A Night at The Opera/A Day at The Races/A Night in Casablanca/Room Service/At the Circus/Go West/The Big Store.  

D) "The Mel Brooks Collection," from Amazon at $31.49, includes Blazing Saddles/Young Frankenstein/Silent Movie/ Robin Hood: Men in Tights/To Be or Not to Be/History of the World, Part 1/The Twelve Chairs/High Anxiety.  

E) "W.C. Fields Comedy Favorites Collection," from Amazon at $11.82, includes International House/It's A Gift/You're Telling Me/The Old Fashioned Way/Man On The Flying Trapeze/Poppy/You Can't Cheat An Honest Man/My Little Chickadee/The Bank Dick/Never Give A Sucker An Even Break.

If this prescription fails to lessen sadness and increase happiness, take two aspirins and never call me.

Today, we boarded an airplane for a long flight, arriving in the foreign land of California.  Because of the time difference between the coasts, we were able to get to Palo Alto while there was still bright daylight.  Professor Nate then escorted us around the beautiful Stanford University campus.  I found only one flaw with the place; it was a long distance to the nearest subway.

We had dinner at Los Altos Grill, 223 3rd Street, Los Altos, a large, crowded pub.  When I noticed so many male couples with their heads close together, I thought that this was a gay-friendly place.  However, Professor Nate pointed out that here, in the heart of Silicon Valley, these guys were trying to agree on the terms of financing the next killer app.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017
A very busy day.  We had a great breakfast with Professor Nate at Crepevine, 367 University Avenue, Palo Alto.  In addition to enjoying the Petaluma scramble, eggs, slices of chicken apple sausage, mushrooms, spinach, provolone cheese, topped with salsa fresca, I spotted Bill Maher in front of the restaurant.  I mention that in tribute to Stony Brook Steve, who has the remarkable ability to recognize famous, near-famous and once-famous faces when we walk the streets of New York.  

We drove to Santa Cruz to have lunch with my grandnephew Tomas Gonzalez, a sophmore at UC Santa Cruz, and his plus one.  While we did not see the campus, the town offered some interesting contrasts -- a stunning Pacific coastline, a concentrated commercial center, and a lot of what can best be described as hoboes rather than homeless, cf.

For dinner, we met Margarita K. in San Francisco's financial district.  She is a lovely young woman, whom I first met as a four-year old, soon after she arrived in this country from Belarus.  She deftly handled Stuyvesant High School and Harvard University, and now lives and works in San Francisco.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017
I am catching up with the weekend newspapers that I brought along and, somehow, I have managed to find a quibble.  In the book review section, Marjorie Ingall, a respected author, discusses a novel where the teenage protagonist is "a student at a schmancy private school."  I contend that the only proper term would be "fancy schmancy private school."

While I'm sticking with the Mets and I'm sticking with the Rangers, my hometown loyalty was seriously challenged today when we went to City View Restaurant, 662 Commercial Street, San Francisco.  Don't let the name fool you.  It's on the ground floor of a small street between Chinatown and the financial district and it may be the best dim sum joint in what once was the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, including the Holy Land.

It is a bright, airy space with high ceilings, tastefully decorated with large Chinese panels and a mirror approximately 4' by 8'.  There are about 40 tables, small, medium and large.  Food carts move about efficiently, but you can also ask for almost any item from the standard repertoire.  It also offered individual portions of Peking duck and lettuce-wrapped minced chicken, along with its buns and dumplings.

I had baked BBQ pork buns, shrimp dumplings and siu mai to myself, half of the too small best scallion pancake that I have ever had, and pieces of the two different vegetable dumplings and the bean curd stuffed with mushrooms that my young bride chose for herself.  The food cost $32.55 and I paid for it gleefully.  

Jeanne F., Bronx High School of Science '59 and CCNY '63, joined us for dinner in spite of being erroneously listed in the necrology section of the latest City College alumni magazine.  Maybe they thought that living away from New York all these years was the functional equivalent of death.

We ate at Camino, 3917 Grand Avenue, Oakland, a "hot" restaurant that left us cool.  Consistent with its farm-to-table ethos, the room is barn-like, with rough hewn wooden furniture.  The menu, however, would have mystified Ma and Pa Kettle, featuring dishes that you never yearned for, always including one or more unnecessary ingredient.  Camino has no tipping, and social consciousness is further demonstrated by donating several dollars of each special cocktail choice to the LBGTQ cause.  Our waiter (really a waitress, but you don't say that anymore) was stymied by our order which included shared and individual dishes.  Our conviviality prevailed, however.  

Thursday, March 2, 2017
The current administration has added a new qualification to serve as a cabinet member, in addition to personal loyalty and ideological consistency -- the ability to lie under oath.

We caught up with America's Loveliest Nephrologist, the centerpiece of our visit, this morning.  She took us to Aunt Mary's Café, 4640 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland for a late breakfast.  Unlike Camino last night, Aunt Mary was loaded with things that you wanted to eat, such as chicken and waffles and corned beef hash.  I ordered the very interesting sounding "Hangtown fry-ttata" a bacon and spinach omelet, toped with deep-fried oysters and deep-fried fennel.  Aunt Mary would have had a winner had she stopped there.   However, the local tendency to potschke placed the omelet in a pool of Worcestershire sauce that overwhelmed the other flavors wherever they met.   Fortunately, I preceded the omelet with a bowl of grits, which elevated my mood almost to October 2016, averaging out the meal to nearly an acceptable level.

Joined by the Oakland Heartthrob, we went to dinner at Tamarindo Antojeria, 468 8th Street, Oakland, in response to my request for Mexican food.  It was a good choice, much more Mex than Tex-Mex.  We shared guacamole and empanadas de platano (empanadas filled with plantains and black beans); I had two small plates, both particularly good, tacos de camaron (3 small shrimp tacos) and mulitas (2 mini corn tortillas stuffed with grilled steak, melted cheese, guacamole and salsa).  The sangria, however, tasted nearly alcohol-free.   

Friday, March 3, 2017
General Charles de Gaulle allegedly said, "How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?"  This came to mind last night as we relocated to the third bedroom in four nights, each with a radically different television remote control.  I can understand variety in cheese, but why can't we all learn to live together and use the same television remote control?