Notable Quotes

Someone in a mosque once told me about the water behind people's faces.  This water, he said, changed depending on what you did and what you believed and as you got older it began to freeze.  The kind of life you led, whether you heart was full of love or joy or shrewdness or bile, all of this changed the nature of the water and, therefore, the look of your face.  In this way, your face told the story of your life...

Maybe I'd been staring for too long, because she looked up.  "What?"

"You have a very nice pond face."

Syed M. Massood, More Than Just A Pretty Face 


My first 100 days

Dear Vice President Biden, 

I'm not running for President of the United States, and I'm not a paid political consultant (nor do I play one on tv).  I am a voter, and a concern citizen.  I'd like to offer you some suggestions for what would be an amazingly accomplished first 100 days:

  • Tighten up the Hatch Act.  Currently, supervisors are expected to set out consequences for violations and we've seen how well that works.  Make it a law, punishable by a stiff fine.  
  • Enact legislation that ensures that everyone working in the West Wing put their investments in a blind trust or divests completely.  Up until now that's been "best practice" but not enforcable.
  • Ensure that anyone who cannot pass security clearance tests does not get it; the president should be able to override it for an issue or a document, but not so that someone can get a job without it.
  • Work with the DOJ to craft legislation that puts a pause on any criminal action that cannot be prosecuted due to the statue of limitations running out.  If someone flees the jurisdiction or gets elected to office, the clock stops ticking until they can be prosecuted.
  • Rejoin the WHO and other organizations; re-sign the Paris Climate Accord.
  • Spend time - a lot of time - reassuring our allies and alliances that we're still America and we're still reliable.
  • Begin the process of examining the regulations that have been recently discarded.  Maybe some of them don't need to be reenacted, but some probably do.
  • Have a robust hiring office looking for qualified people to restaff the various departments that have seen a huge brain drain.  
  • While you're at it, don't reward large donors or political allies with positions unless they have real world qualifications (for example, the Secretary of Labor should have worked in the corporate world; the Secretary of Education should have been a classroom teacher at some point)
Try working with the leadership of both parties.  Getting bipartisan support for any of this is critical for its success.  

Oh, and another thing.  Don't engage the other campaign.  They're looking for you to make mistakes and to use them in their campaign.  Far more effective would be just ignoring the slings and arrows (and it will drive them nuts).

Good luck,

A Lazy voter


Notable Quotes

According to him, it was not a question of liking or not liking to read, but of finding the book that was meant for you.  Everybody could love reading, as long as they had the right book in their hands, a book that spoke to them, a book they could not bear to part with...

They asked her what those novels were about, and Delphine confessed that, most of the time, she was incapable of summarizing them.  She had not read anything memorable.  Yet she continued to feel excited at the start of each new book.  Because what if it was good?

David Foenkinos, The Mystery of Henri Pick


Too many causes

As at most schools, students at MPOW were quite upset by the George Floyd murder (and the other murders, including Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Aubery) that led up to the current Black Lives Matters protests.  Because of COVID there was a feeling of disconnect and distance from the school forming an official response, and students felt that.  They also felt as though the school had a lotquite a lot—of work to do to be anti-racist and fully accepting of BIPOC in our community.  Yes, they've also started one of those Black@ Instagram accounts.

One of their suggestions/requirements to show that this work was being done was virtually demanding that the school and individual faculty donate to BLM causes (defense funds, etc.).  Now, I'm not against that but... there are a lot of worthy causes out there and I have limited discretionary funds to donate.  

For example, I've donated to organizations that are working to ensure that all students who used to rely on public schools for free meals can get those meals while schools are closed.  I've donated to help artists get funding for basic life things (like food and rent) while they are out of work because theatres and concert stages and other venues are now closed.  Some people may feel donating to medical institutions is critical.  Others may believe that the best way to help is to donate to political organizations and candidates.  

That's not to see these causes are more worth than those causes, or whatever causes you feel are important. It is to say that requiring donations to a specific cause or concern as a token that you care about that case (or "donate or be cancelled") isn't fair.  


Grief and anti-fragility

Many years ago I mentioned that my uncle and aunt studied Mussar.  When my uncle died, my aunt continued to go to her synagogue and participate, and I went along with her.  It became our Tuesday night thing: I'd go down to NYC, we'd do Mussar, Thing One and I would walk her home, then I'd spend the night at Thing One's.  Obviously, when I moved out of New York State that became impossible.

I'm not sure when my aunt mentioned Mussar to C (a converted Jew and one of my father's companions) but with COVID, the group has gone online.  C convinced my father to attend with her, and when he mentioned it to me, I decided it would be a nice way to spend time with my father, aunt and C.  Most weeks there are maybe 20 people, four of whom are related.  I may not be the literal youngest but I certainly look as though I am.

Each week we explore a midot, a trait, and are given reading to do to prepare for the conversation.  Yesterday, it was grief and we were asked to read excerpts from The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief by Francis Weller, specifically the five gates of grief.  At the start of the meeting, we were asked to choose one bullet point from a gate and journal about it. Here was what I chose, and wrote:

Illness is another grief we find at this gate. Any lingering illness can activate a feeling of loss. When a prolonged sickness arises in our life, we lament the life we once knew and enjoyed, the one brimming with vitality. We may feel betrayed by our body, as though we no longer have a foundation beneath us for living fully. Illness dislodges our sense of control and invulnerability. We resist, resent, argue, and protest, attempting to wrestle our lives back from this unwelcome guest.

The illness part really spoke to me because of my years long battle with CFS and now CRION.  I don't remember what it was like to have enough energy, to be able to stay up late and rebound, to not worry how a small thing could create a huge problem.  I mourn the person I was in my teens and 20s, even my early 30s.  It means I may not be the friend that I want to be, or my work may not be at the level I think it should be, because things are a little muted (as they are when people are tired).  I try not to think of myself as a sick person, but years of experience have taught me that I actually *am* one - and that I shouldn't blame myself if I can't live up to my own expectations.

My father, perhaps obviously, wrote about the loss of my mother last year.  Others wrote about illness, depression, the ancestral grief that comes from having family lost in the Holocaust or to slavery,  what's going on in our political world, among other topics (not everyone spoke).  One woman mentioned the term "anti-fragility" and my ears perked up.  

Of course I started to poke around looking for resources, finding mostly a book that seems to apply mainly to businesses.  But then I saw this article that speaks to it from a human, psychological perspective.  And then this article.  Something to ponder as I prepare for next week's midot (praise).


Digital Detritus

Life right now is... interesting.  There's good news, in that I'm feeling healthier than I have in a while.  And there's bad news, in that we have this COVID-19 thing that has led to death and an abrupt end to life as we've known it.  The paradox is that the social distancing of the latter has helped move the former in ways I don't think would have happened had I been going into that germ factor we call a school library and I call MPOW.

It's been over two years since I last did one of these posts and do I have links for you!  So without further ado...


Imponderables (Sunday morning edition)

Today's New York Times has this story: G.E., Which Traces Its Roots to Thomas Edison, Sells Its Lighting Business and a part of my past died.  Sunday mornings used to be filled with commercials like this one for BASF:

For years, I joked the BASF made adjectives and adverbs. I'm still not sure they don't.

And GE used to have customer support for everything, including MRIs and nuclear plants:

Can someone tell me: who will now be bringing good things to light?


Everything Old, etc.

I'm old enough to remember the Automat.  My grandfather and father took me in NYC, and it was So Cool that the food just appeared behind the little window!  And I got to pay for it, just by putting coins in the slot!

You can imagine how excited I was to see something similar when I visited Amsterdam:

Eater just had an article saying that a dumpling shop was considering an automat-like model, given that we're in the Age of COVID.  Please — please! more restaurants and bakeries, do this.  And not just because of COVID, but because it's So Cool.


You can't even get there...

45 years ago, movie goers saw this trailer

And five years later, in 1980....

The best part (or so my college BFFs and I thought) was the tag line:

We changed it slightly and would frequently say things (in a creepy voice) like, "Just when you thought it was safe to go to breakfast... you can't even get there"

Good times.

This past February, which feels as though it was about as long ago as the early 80s, the parents association had it's annual appreciation brunch/lunch for the Upper School faculty.  One of the things they do is have -- in addition to amazing food -- is a raffle set up.  There are a number of tables with different prizes, and in front of each is a glass vase into which we put our tickets (each faculty member gets five).  My first year I won Trader Joes gift cards, and this year I won a $200 gift certificate to a local day spa.

Given my various health issues, I haven't been feeling spa-y but I knew that in March I'd be going off most of the medications (turns out I went off even more, but that's a whole other weird medical story) and maybe, just maybe, I'd be feeling up to it.  Reader, I am.

But COVID-19.

Just when I thought it was safe to get a facial and massage... I can't even get there.