Technology Upgrade

So, POB (partner of blogger) and I have been dancing around the DVR issue.  (To get a DVR or not to get a DVR?  That is the question.)

Why so resistant?  We didn’t want TLP (our son, the little prince) to become too attached to TV shows, etc.  We want him not to grow into a v-idiot who schedules social interactions around an episode of, let’s say, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

In short, we lost.  “It is only one TV show,” we say to each other as we slide head first down the slippery slope.  And it will make Friday nights around the dinner table with friends and godchildren less stressful if TLP doesn’t have to watch the clock until, as he says, he “must withdraw from society” and watch his program.  (Yes, my son speaks with a dramatic flair that is best left to an adaptation on Masterpiece Theatre.  Nevertheless, his turns of phrase are diverting, if head-scratching.)

I learned that a DVR is not a separate device, but an enhanced computer chip in a cable box.  Who knew?  (Two entire generations knew.)  Our friendly helpdesk person explained that to me and more.  “Sa-ay-yyyy you’ah watching O-O-prah, and you didn’t catch what they said, you can rewind a live broid-cast!!  It’s ama-ayyy-zing.  Not that I watch my programs live, because I am working the night shift here now since I lost my old job 15 months ago, but I’m just say-yin’ it’s possible.”

We chatted some, and I wished her well.  “It was a real pleasuhre talkin’ to you, [POB].”

Did you think I would give my own name?  Besides, the bill comes to POB.

Life as seen by blogger

Maybe you will understand a little more about the inner-working of my psyche after you read the following:

SOB (sister of blogger) and I planned to meet at the gym this evening, where we would silently and companionably exercise on adjacent machines, with me perspiring and her, not so much.  Per the plan, she would hand off some necessary documents to wind up my mother’s estate, thereby completing a highly-charged emotional task in the middle of sweating, grunting people.  Precisely the juxtaposition that would humor Mom z”l.

Then a received a message at the office from my secretary. “[SOB] called.  Nothing urgent.”

I called her back, thinking she was calling to bail on the gym part and set up another rendezvous of the document transfer.

She answered, “Hello?”

I gave my usual “Hellooooooooooooooooooooooooo” response.

Pause. “I’m here with Dad.” Pause.

Already, I am having visions of the ER and heart trauma, because SOB doesn’t just drop by Dad’s in the middle of her ICU work day.  My heart sank.  So this is what she means by nothing urgent?

“He looks ok.  He fell on the street and landed on the right side of his face.  But he’ll be fine.” In fact, my dad at 90.5 years-old is agile and still has some awesome Fred Astaire moves.  But still, he FELL.

She handed the phone to Dad.

“Dad, are you ok? Are you still at the ER?  Did you get stitches?”

“No stitches.  [SOB] thinks I look ok.”

“Dad, give the phone back to [SOB].”

“You mean a real doctor didn’t look at him?” I asked SOB.

“Oh, you mean like a juris doctor, like you?” Ok ok ok ok ok ok.  She had a point.

Dad was checked out and he is fine.  He just has one really bad bruised, swollen eye, made worse by his heart medication that thins the blood.   He fell but he got back up which is the best part.

SOB has a way of sugar-coating things, so as not to unduly alarm people.  But, SOB and I are a team and we need to deal with family issues together.

“Really, don’t come,” SOB continued, “Dad made me take a picture so you would feel like you were here.”

“Wait, Dad wants to tell you something.”

“Yes, Dad?”

“How much do you pay for your eye glasses?”


“Because my $35 glasses didn’t break or cut me and I bet your fancy $400 glasses wouldn’t hold up so well.  Would you like me to pick up a pair at Costco for you?  Just give me your prescription.”

OK, there is nothing wrong with my father.  But I didn’t want to tell him that I spend more than $400 on my frames lest THAT give him a heart attack.

Crisis occurred and resolved in 1 hour.  Priceless.

Later at the gym, SOB whips out her cellphone and shows me a picture of Dad smiling with a huge bruise and swelling around his eye.  “Dad says you’re the family archivist, and this is one ‘for the books,’ so here,” she said.

Dad looked bad — horrible in fact, but he was smiling.  I think he was smiling for a lot of reasons, first among them, he is ok.  Second, he only had to call and help was immediately dispatched (albeit SOB).

But there is more.  He understands that SOB and I have this pact to share the funny, the macabre, the good, and the sad when taking care of our family members.  That way, we stay strong.  And his insisting on the picture was his way of telling us he understands us.  And that he is amused by us, too.

So, bottom line, in two hours, he was fine and glad to be home, resting, with his children nearby.  And we get to archive it, laugh and cry about and, best of all, I get to blog a our it. 

The Groundhog LIED

Puxtawhatever Paul didn’t see his shadow, right? 

So, if I remember my quaint, American lore, that mean an early Spring?

Well, Spring sprang one week ago but we may get snow on Wednesday.  Still, you see, it is Spring? 

I guess it comes down to what your definition of “Spring” is (forgive the oblique reference to a quotable line from our 42nd President).

By my definition, spring ain’t sprung yet.  And fire that stupid groundhog.

Dad and me: a living trust

My father is quite extraordinary.  He lives by himself at near-91 years-old. 

He goes to his sculpture studio, he goes to synagogue, he goes to art classes, and he comes for dinner on Sunday night and sometimes even takes in a museum or movie on a Saturday.  (As long as I can remember, Dad lasts about 20 minutes in a museum.  Same with movies, unless it is a documentary about death and destruction (financial or otherwise).)

He just needs help with the details sometimes.  Wrapping up Mom’s estate is a little too much for him.   With everything automated and on the internet, he is a little behind with his paper and pen ledgers.  And the paper can pile up.

It is a quirky kind of focus issue.  And if his credit card bill is three cents off, he will catch it faster than someone one-quarter his age.   And he doesn’t have OMT (old man tipping) Disease.  He is a solid 20% man.  (I think it goes back to his parents’ having been day laborers.  In our house, “never hold a day laborer’s wage until the morning” was as important as any commandment, including the Big Ten.)

So, I think it is more for his comfort and peace of mind that I’m taking a more active role in his affairs.  I am honored that my father trusts me, as he does all of his children.  I am just the lawyer who lives close by.

I didn’t think about it too much, until yesterday, when we started signing paper work to formalize the arrangement and my eyes started to well up.  I excused myself to get composed and as I was walking back in, I heard Dad telling our lawyer, “All my children are fabulous.  I am the luckiset guy in the world.”  I had to walk out again for another second because those damn tears started coming.  

I am good with this new responsibility, just as long as it doesn’t give Dad license to drift away. . . .

The Vegan and the Hot Dog

Yesterday, I was part of a group of colleagues entertaining an out-of-town colleague’s client who was visiting New York.  The client is vegan, so we tried a highly rated vegan restaurant in Gramercy Park.  Not a piece of bread for the table.  There is nothing non-vegan about bread. The food was tasteless.  There is nothing non-vegan about flavor.  There was not enough food in a serving.  There is nothing non-vegan about healthy-sized servings.  Somehow even the protein sourced from non-animals didn’t fill me up.  There is nothing non-vegan about a few extra pounds around the midsection. Maybe I ordered wrong because all I seemed to eat was grass and shrubbery.

Later in the day we took the client to a basketball game.  There is nothing non-vegan about popcorn, french fries, onion rings, beer, pretzels and peanuts.  Being vegan CAN BE awesome.  Imagine being able to say the following: “Sweetie, I had to eat the fries and rings and roasted peanuts, because there was nothing else.  What could I do?”

But everyone grabbed all the food I had and left me alone, waiting for some miscellaneous things, like wine and mixed drinks that were ordered. And, I was starving.

I looked to my left.  No one I know.  I looked to my right.  No one I know.  I turned around.  Uh oh, a colleague on his cell phone. But, wait, I remembered that he doesn’t have such good far-vision.  So, the coast was clear.  I put on my sunglasses anyway.

I proceeded to order a decidedly, and possibly offensively, un-vegan hot dog and scarfed it down so no one would see. Immediately, I felt terrible about what I had done.  Here I was stuffing sausage derived from mystery meat of inhumanely killed animals and we were entertaining someone who has a conscience.

Then I was sure Karma would boomerang and I would be the Lucille Ball character in a “Here’s Lucy” episode where she was at a gallery opening and she started breaking out in hives.  Lucy excused herself.  Then the spotlights turn on, a curtain is pulled back and there is Lucy behind the prized sculpture, scratching her hives and looking like a deer caught in headlights.

But I wasn’t caught.  Except when I got home, I noticed a mustard stain on my jacket . . . .

Karma IS a boomerang.

Tuesday, the Rabbi ate nothing — almost

A rabbi is coming our house for a visit tonight.

I hadn’t focused on the fact that she might be hungry at 7:30pm, until I got home at 7:15pm.

I have Kosher wine on hand as a general rule.  One thing I learned is that if you have kosher liquor, even religious people’s dietary restriction loosen up some.

I scrounge up un-opened Kosher (and Pareve) hummus, kosher tortilla chips, carrots and grapes (what’s not to be kosher about carrots and grapes?).

Ok, now what to put them in?  The RULE: Glass plates and bowls because one doesn’t have to worry about whether they are dairy or meat dishes because glass doesn’t absorb molecules of food.

And grapes are self contained fruits so we don’t have to worry about a kosher knife.  Phew. Bonus (pronounced “bo-NUS” in a high pitched voice).

But we don’t really have glass plates handy (I do think my Dad gave us a set of 12 that he had lying around but we stored them) and I hate paper plates, so the kosher crackers are ruined by being put on a regular plate.  I have bowls for most things, but POB (partner of blogger) already put crackers on an un-kosher (but lovely) plate.  I look at her and she looks at me with a “Really?” expression.  I say, “we can at least try.” I quickly become Zen about this (because what is done can’t be undone) . . . until . . . the rabbi rings the doorbell.

The minute the rabbi arrives, I offer the Kosher wine.  She responds that she looks forward to having cocktails again once she stops breastfeeding her twins.  Darn.  I ask if she wants anything.  “Water is just great, thanks.”

“Water is just great, thanks.”??????

Kill me with a thousand knife cuts.  She must see the kosher crackers on the non-kosher plate.

Ok, if a rabbi came to my grandmother’s house and only had water, my grandmother would sit in sackcloth and ashes.  There would be wailing and swooning of biblic proportion.  If this happened to my mother, she would be too embarrassed to go to synagogue and make us promise not to tell her mother (the wailer and swooner) of this blemish on our good name.

I am not a wailer and swooner and we don’t go to synagogue all that often, so I am left without tribal guidance on the matter.  And, of course, I can’t ask anyone how to atone and un-besmirch our good name, because then people would know and talk about it and it would be a SHONDAH (embarrassment) for us in our community.

Even Cyrano had a grape.  One lousy grape.

Oh, WAIT!!! She is having a grape!!! The rabbi is eating in our house.  Phew.

We averted a disgrace on generations by a margin of a grape.

Now, that’s stress.


The New Me (In the Test, Day 7-ish)

It is hard to describe how I feel as I watch the events unfold around the world, but let me try:

say you are in a bath (reading a book, sipping red wine in the hypothetical awesomely fabulous Manhattan apartment) and you pull the stopper to let the water drain.  At that exact second, you hear a big BANG from somewhere.  So what do you do?  You put the stopper back in the drain and shiver a little.

Powerless and with shivers of fear.  (FYI:  I don’t live in the hypothetical fabulous apartment, I am drinking an unfortunate Sauvignon Blanc (I don’t even like white wine) and I have no time to expand my intellectual acumen (maybe when my son is 10).)

In truth, I never thought anything was out of my control until TLP (the little prince) was born.  Now, I worry about the world after I am dead because (I hope) he (and his children) will still be alive. THAT makes what we do now even more important.  Because we all know that the harvest reaped in two generations will be directly related to the seeds we sow now.

My mom always believed that if you can’t change the big things, then start with the little things, but you must always, always, strive to repair the world (tikkun olam) — תיקון עולם

Here is the difference between Mom and me.  Mom just did things.  I, first, need a whole new outfit and work-out regimen.

Did you think I could stay so serious and not deflect my fears, hopes and dreams by lapsing into (sometimes, forced) humor?  DO YOU KNOW ME?

Sooo, deflectors are engaged.

One has to have strength to repair the world, no?

Ok, so let’s critique my old gym regimen, also known as, NP2 — “no pain, no pain”:

  • 3 times a week, get on the stationary bike for 30 minutes, but quit after 25 minutes.  Don’t even break a sweat.
  • Think about doing sit-ups. Hyper-ventilate about the anxiety of dealing with my expanding midriff. Suck in my stomach and do something else.
  • Do push-ups because I actually can do them.  And not the girl-y ones, either.
  • Do back muscle exercises because I don’t want to stoop too much in my dotage.
  • Talk to some people, less now that some gym friends have moved to other locations.
  • Notice the time and realize I have to get home.

There was a time when I could suck in my tummy, arch my back a little and my stomach would be flat and my breasts “perky”.  One cannot leave on memories of prior glory.  Starting tomorrow (because I am drinking wine and might hurt myself if I tried it out now):

My new, Spring, regimen, also known as SPB2 — “some pain, but buff”:

  • Buy some new outfits for my new gym state of mind.
  • Do Michelle Obama arm exercises because we all deserve to look like we could go sleeveless on national TV.
  • Do something cardio for 40 minutes. And actually break a “glow” but no sweat because I am becoming more genteel (and eccentric) as I age.
  • Stop watching the TV because next year Oxford English Dictionary will declare “pundit” a synonym of “idiot” and people who watch pundits “vidiots”.

I promise, Mom, in the midst of my self-absorption, I won’t forget about tikkun olam.  For your grandson and your great grandchildren.  For everyone’s children and grandchildren.

תיקון עולם

In the Game

So, SOB (sister of blogger) and HOSOB (husband of SOB) jetted off to Rome today.  They were there two years ago (and Florence and Venice in the two years before that), but got excited about our trip and decided that one can never go to Italy enough. (I believe our family has only grown higher in the esteem of IFOB (Italian friend of blogger).)

So, they are going to a country that, Thank G-d, is just providing bases for the sorties over Libya and not missiles or planes.  So, there is a lesser likelihood that Italy, in general, and Rome, in particular, might be bombed in retaliation.

YES, I have gone through the disaster scenarios and I am comfortable that they are traveling to Italy.

It is a sad, sad, truth that war is only real, if — to quote a business axiom — you have “skin in the game”.   Otherwise, it is a statistical variance on the number of humans in the world.

Our family doesn’t have “skin in this game”.  But some of us now are closer to the “game”.  And it is no longer a GAME.  It is war.

The test: day 4 or 5 or so; Purim

I was at a Purim party at the synagogue.  At Purim, kids (of all ages) dress in costume.  I am not sure why, although in the Story of Esther, King Ahashverosh has a party at which Esther (with the help of Uncle Mordecai) saves the Jews from death at the hands of evil-doer Haman.

It was primarily a kids party with associated adults expected to dress in costume, as well.

The theme of the costume party was “under the sea.”  I put on an old blazer that I used to wear to the office, over a t-shirt, sweater and jeans.  So, I came as a lawyer and lawyers are often referred to as sharks.  So it was a come-as-you-are party for lawyers.  The one time being a lawyer has been an advantage.

One of the rabbis asked, “how goes your month of cheerfulness and optimism?”

Uh oh, CLERGY is reading my blog.  Actually, that may, in a convoluted way, validate my sometimes sanctimonious attitude.

Wow, this month of optimism and cheerfulness is getting really, really awesome.


It has begun

I listened to the news and tears welled up.  Another crisis where the highest casualties will be innocent civilians.




A lethal trifecta.