life in and around NYC is insane

Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve playlist

Ever notice how many New Year's Eve songs are nostalgic and melancholy?

Seems to suit my mood today.

Let's start with Barry Manilow:

A little Harry Connick Jr.:

Not specifically a New Year's Eve song, but one that fits the mood:

A classic Scottish tune, sung here by a Scotsman, Rod Stewart:

And let's close it out with ABBA:

Happy new year.  May the coming year bring us health and happiness.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Jones Beach holiday lights

Special holiday light show at Jones Beach. It's meant to be viewed from your car, you see the display on either side of the road.

Christmas trees

Foreign locations


Even planets


Beach scenes

There's a concession stand, of course. Outside you'll find fire pits, and you can buy ingredients for s'mores. Inside is "Santa's Warming area" where I bought hot chocolate.

One of the neatest effects was the tunnel of lights, found at several spots on the route.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Bryant Park, NYC #skywatchfriday


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Christmas Eve

Went out to dinner Christmas Eve, and afterwards we rode around looking at decorations.

This first house was sad.


You can't really tell, but the item next to the word "ditto" is a sad face.

I first saw the ditto house a few years ago, wrote about it Here Last year they even made the local news.

This year they're sad, the house next door was not decorated.

But other houses were:

And don't forget Hanukkah.

Wow, they even coordinate to music:

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Another this and that

Loved, loved, loved The Last Jedi.  Must be seen in IMAX 3D to get the full effect.  So sad to see Carrie Fisher’s last performance, though.  I can’t wait for the next movie, I wonder what they’ll do about Leia.

Right now I’m watching Duchess, she’s sitting on the dresser and looking out the window. She is an indoor cat, but she loves the backyard show, all the squirrels and birds.  She’s outraged that another cat came into her yard, outraged to realize she’s not the only cat in the world, and even more outraged that the other cat slipped under the fence and went to play in another yard before she was done watching him.

It’s Christmas Eve, and I managed a quick trip to the supermarket without getting trampled.  Guess I got my Christmas miracle.

Yeah, I know that was a bit sarcastic, but have you ever seen a Long Island supermarket just before a holiday?  Talk about crazy!

My Christmas plans?  Japanese food tonight, a movie tomorrow morning, kosher deli for dinner tomorrow, and then we’ll settle in for the Dr. Who Christmas episode.  He’s regenerating tonight ...

Still working on New Years Eve...not sure if we’re going out, or if we’re doing an early dinner and ringing in the New Year at Drew’s house.

But I’m sure it will be fun.

I hope you all have a great holiday.

Friday, December 22, 2017

NYC Giant Menorah #skywatchfriday


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Crying today

I am a Jew.  I am a Zionist.  and today I am fearful, I am crying. 

Because today the United States abdicated its role as leader of the free world.  Today it lost the standing to be chief negotiator for peace in the Middle East.

Because today that corrupt politician, who holds his majority in the Knesset by a single seat, got what he wanted, but at a cost that is too high to bear.  I cannot wait for the day the Israelis vote Bibi Netanyahu out of office.

Today the United Nations voted to condemn the United States' plan to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 

Despite Trump's threats to withhld foreign aid, the UN General Assembly voted 128-9, with 35 nations abstaining.  Humiliating, to say the least.

And look whose support we lost: 

Voting in favor:  the United Kingdom.  France.  Germany.  Belgium.  Denmark.  Italy. China.  Russia.

Abstaining:   Canada. Australia. Argentina.  Croatia.  Columbia.  Mexico.

Voting against: United States, Israel, and a handful of small countries fearful of losing American aid.

The Intifada will come now.  The Palestinians will be emboldened by this vote, by the countries who supported this resolution. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wednesday HodgePodge

Joyce has another round of HodgePodge today:

1. Where have you found unexpected magic or delight this holiday season?

Actually, nothing unexpected, but I have seen some wonderful things this holiday season.I always like the Chanukah party we have at my synagogue, and the outpouring of love I see as we collect toys for the hcildren of indigent families. 

 2. What's your favorite type of holiday gathering? Will you/have you gathered in your favorite way this month?

The stereotype fits -- on Christmas morning a group of us will go to the movies.  Later we will have dinner, at a Chinese restaurant or a kosher deli. 

 3. Time has named 'The Silence Breakers' (women who came forward with stories of harassment)  'person of the year' for 2017. Would you agree? If not, who do you think deserves the title?

Totally agree.  It's time to change the culture of this society.  While I fear we will have an overcorrection, eventually we will find the right place.  Thank you, ladies, for speaking out.

 4. How did you spend your time this year? Are you happy about that? Elaborate

I've spent time on political activism, on giving to charity, on self improvement, and hanging out with friends and family.  How could any of that be bad?  I would have liked some time for travel, but...

 5. Bid farewell to 2017 in ten words or less.

Good riddance, bring on the midterm elections.

 6. Insert your own random thought here.

I am worried about family members who are facing a crisis and who seem to be dealing with it by  rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

the more things change....

After writing up this year's NYC christmas adventure, I realized how we do the same thing year after year anfter year....

want the full floavor of NYC at christmas?  read my posts from previous years.

NYC Christmas 2016

NYC Christmas 2015 part 1

NYC Christmas 2015 part 2

NYC Christmas 2014

NYC Christmas 2013

NYC Christmas 2012

NYC christmas 2010

NYC Christmas 2009

NYC Christmas 2017 Part 3

So after Barney's we walked back to 5th Avenue.  And there, right in front of the Plaza Hotel, we saw the giant Menorah.  Yes, it's still Chanukah, but the Menorah wasn't lit.  On Saturday night they don't light the Menorah until 5:30, long after we were gone.

And then, there's the giant snowflake that hangs in front of Tiffany's.

Bergdorf Goodman is across the street from the Plaza.  Their windows were a salute to New York cultural institutions, like the Philharmonic, the Historical Society, the Botanical Gardens, the Museum of the Moving Images....

We headed down 5th, past Trump Tower (no, I didn't take a picture of the protesters) towards Rockefeller Center.

5th Avenue is very crowded between 49th and 51st, with Rockefeller Center on one side of the street, and Saks and the cathedral on the other side.  And if you're there after dark. pedestrian traffic comes to a complete standstill every time the Saks light show begins.  Yes, Saks projects a wonderful show onto the walls of the building.  I didn't record this year's show -- the visuals were the same as last year's, but with different music.  I found it on Youtube, though.

I was a little upset at the Saks' window display.  In previous years, Saks set up ropes in front of the windows, so that there was a sense of order as you viewed each scene.  This year, there was no rope course, and viewing the windows became a free-for-all.  I'm surprised that no one has been injured in the crush.

This year's windows tell the story of Snow White:

And then  -- the tree:

I would have liked ot have seen the angels, and the toy soldiers, but it was far too crowded.  we did, however, get a chance to see the old tree topper.

We walked over to 6th Avenue and headed uptown.  ur destination was a restaurant on 56th and Broadway.  On the way, we passed huge nutcrackers...

Turns out the restaurant we wanted to try requires reservations, something we were lacking.

So we hopped on the subway and went to...

Yeah, we headed ot Mott Street, to our favorite hole-in-the-wall, Wo Hop.  Located in the basement of 17 Mott Street, it's a real no-frills restaurant, open 24/7/365. and they don't take reservations, so during busy times you'll find yourself waiting in line for a table.   We feasted on wonton soup, steamed dumplings, sweet and pungent pork and lo mein.  And hot tea served in a glass, of course.

The long walk back to Canal Street, the subway ride to Herald Square, and then the walk back to Penn Station...and as we were waiting for the train, we both complained of aches and pains and exhaustion.  And no wonder!  Fitbit says we walked 11 miles over the course of the day.

One final photo of the day, while we were in the station waiting for the train.

Yes, those are NYC pigeons.  Inside the station.  It was a cold night, after all...

You can see my whole album here.

Monday, December 18, 2017

NYC Christmas 2017 Part 2

So Drew wanted to see the windows at Bloomingdale's.  Bloomie's is at 59th and Lexington, and in previous years we skipped this store because it's a bit out of the way.   But this year...we walked down 42nd, past Grand Central, and headed up Lexington.

And when we reached 55th Street, we found something interesting. Central Synagogue.   It's one of the oldest synagogues in America, founded by Sephardic Jews in the 19th Century.  Drew is of Sephardic heritage, but he didn't know this synagogue was there.  I'd forgotten this little gem.

The windows at Bloomie's are all about P.T. Barnum, specifically how Barnum is portrayed in the new movie, "The Greatest Showman".  Drew has a real interest in Barnum and circuses, and cannot wait for the new movie.  So I was very glad we made the effort to see these windows.

There's even a fun house mirror:

Next up was Barney's. on 60th and Madison.

These windows are decorated with a purpose.

This holiday season, Barneys New York is proud to announce that our charitable partner for Haas for the Holidays is the Children’s Defense Fund. CDF’s mission is to ensure every child has the chance for a successful, healthy, and safe start in life, and here at Barneys, we’re going to make sure that mission is met.
For every social media post using our holiday campaign hashtag #HAASRULES, between the dates of November 16, 2017, and January 1, 2018, the Barneys New York Foundation will give the Children’s Defense Fund $5. It’s that easy. Share a post using the hashtag (see below for some tips!), and we will give the non-profit child advocacy organization a donation your behalf.

To be continued....

Sunday, December 17, 2017

NYC Christmas 2017 Part 1

So  once again it was time for the annual trek into the City for the Christmas decorations.

It began, as it always does, on the Long Island Railroad.  Interesting view across the aisle:

Yes, the guy was really in the spirit of the holiday, wasn't he?

The LIRR brings you into Penn Station, at 7th Avenue and 33rd Street.  From there we usually walk to whatever sites we plan to see.

Our first stop, of course, is Macy's.  Billed at "the World's Biggest Department Store", Macy's takes up an entire city block, from 7th Avenue to Herald's Square between 34th Street and 35th Street.  Macy's always does two sets of holiday windows.  The 34th Street windows feature scenes from "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus", an animated TV special that Macy's sponsored a few years back.  They used to do scenes from the original "Miracle on 34th Street", and I'd like to see them bring those windows back.

The Herald Square windows have new scenes every year, usually something involving NYC and shopping at Macy's. 

Next up: Lord &Taylor, 5th Avenue at 39th Street.  We headed east, stopping at a pushcart for a hot dog along the way.

Lord & Taylor had an animal theme:

I especially like the small touches. this little guy was climbing the everygreens on the walls of the store:

Up to 42nd Street, and behind the New York Public Library you will find Bryant Park.  Here you will find an entire winter village of shops and restaurants surrounding a small skating rink.  And, of course, a Christmas tree;

One of our favorite shops in the village is Metal Park.

If anyone wants to buy Drew a birthday gift...go there.

(I fell in love with a peacock figurine at Homart NYC, if anyone's interested.)

Another favorite shop is No Chewing Allowed.  French truffles, so rich you just let the chocolate melt in your mouth.  They always give free samples.

Also giving out samples was Mike's Hot Honey.  Sweet honey infused with chilies, a new and interesting idea.  We had to try it.  But no, not something either of us would actually buy,  sorry, Mike.

We also tasted a great cookie at Farm to People. All of their products are handcrafted.  Didn't buy anything because we didn't want to haul it all over the city.  But Drew plans to shop their website.

And, of course, no visit would be complete without seeing Patience and Fortitude:

To be continued...

Friday, December 15, 2017

#skywatchfriday — the first snowfall of the winter

Yes, I know, winter doesn’t technically begin until the solstice next week.  So let’s call it the first snowfall of the season.  It was Saturday, and we stayed cozy and warm inside.

What was the lyric?  Oh, yes.  “It was late in December, the sky turned to snow.  All around the day was going down slow.”

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The bitter and the sweet

So yesterday was the first day of Chanukah, the holiday having begun the previous evening.  (Jewish holidays always begin at sundown.  “It was evening and it was morning, the first day.”  Genesis 1:3)

And, as is my habit, I read my email, Facebook, etc., before I got dressed for work.

And there it was, on Facebook.  A post from my friend N.  Her father had died during the night.

It was not unexpected, N’s father was 98, and had been living in a nursing home for years. Still, you’re never ready for that loss, no matter how old your father was, or how old you are, when it happens.

But to observe your father’s yartzeit — the anniversary of his death — on the first night of Chanukah ...

Last night was the big Chanukah party at synagogue.the party starts in the parking lot, with an outdoor candle lighting, with the Rabbi saying prayers, and the Cantor playing his guitar and singing Chanukah songs.  Our local fire department sends one of its trucks (our fire commissioner is a member of the synagogue), so the kids can see it up close.  Later everyone goes inside for pizza and latkes and jelly donuts.  

During the party you’ll find me taking donations.  We collect toys for local indigent families, and we collect money so that the Rabbi can buy small Legos sets to take to Israeli children who have been hospitalized.

It was a nice party, a pleasant evening.

At the end of the evening I found myself in the sanctuary for evening prayers. The Cantor and his wife were there, saying Kaddish for her father, who died last week.  And my friend B was there to observe her father’s yartzeit.

So much sadness.

And then the Rabbi handed out dreidels, and once again we said the blessings and lit the menorah, and sang Chanukah songs.

From mourning to rejoicing.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wednesday HodgePodge

grab button for From this Side of the Pond

This week's questions from Joyce.

1. 'Hurry less, worry less'...what's your strategy for making that happen this holiday season? How's it going so far?

I'm very laid back about the holidays.  Maybe it's because, being Jewish, I never got caught up in the Christmas hype.

 2. Do you have a list of to-dos that need accomplishing in order to prepare your home and/or property for the winter season? What are some of the jobs on your list? Are you a do-it-yourselfer or do you hire someone to accomplish these tasks?

I got a new snow brush for my car.  Does that count?

 3. According to dietitians surveyed, the most popular health foods for 2018 will be -turmeric, sprouted foods (bean sprouts, breads with sprouted grains, etc), veggies in place of grains, dairy free milk, and pulses (lentils, chickpeas, etc).  What's the first thought that ran through your head when you read this list? Of the foods listed which one might you add to your regular diet? Also, can milk really be dairy free? Is it still milk?

I love all of the foods on that list.  Well, except for the dairy free milk.  I like real dairy products, I have never developed a taste for soy milk or almond milk or the like.  And I am not ready to give up on grains.  Paleo doesn't appeal to me.

 4. The Pantone Color of the Year for 2018 is Ultra Violet. According to the Pantone site 'Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking pointing us to the future.' What say you? Do you like the color purple? Did you see the movie or read the book-ha!?  Is purple a color you wear often? Describe for us one purple item in your home without using the word purple.  If you were in charge of such things what color would you select for 2018?

Purple happens to be my favorite color.  Lots of purple in my wardrobe.  Surprisingly little of it in my home, though. But that can change.  My birthdstone is the amethyst, and I love it.

 5. Favorite book read this year?

The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille.  He always has his pulse on what's happening internationally.

 6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Chag Chanukah Sameach.  Happy Chanukah.  Is it latke time yet?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Another this and that

So...the suicide bombing that  wasn't...Idiot set off a pipe bomb in the subway yesterday, at the station below 8th Avenue and 42nd Street, near Port Authority.  Hurt himself and three other people, but everyone survived, thank G-d.

But with subways bypassing Times Square and street closures....well, poor Becca had a difficult time getting to work that morning.   She lives on West 43rd and she works near Grand Central Station. I can sympathize, I commuted into NYC for many years.  I can remember the first World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.  I was working in Jersey city at the time, across the river from the Twin toers, and when the PATH trains stopped running ...I had to find a bus to Port Authority so I could get home to Drew and the girls. 

It's a scary world, all right.  But I have to get myself out of my funk.

Drew called this afternoon, and confirmed that we have tickets for two movie events next week. 

The first is The MeshugaNutcracker,   To quote the website:

“The MeshugaNutcracker!” is a full-length musical comedy that features the wonderfully silly sensibilities of the folklore of Chelm (a fictional town of fools) underscored by an invigorating Klezmer-ized orchestration of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” including original lyrics that celebrate Chanukah.

And, of course, we will be seeing the new Star Wars movie.  Star Wars: The Last Jedi sounds like a great movie.  But it's a bit sad, too -- it's Carrie Fisher's last performance.

We're going into Manhattan on Saturday to see the Christmas decorations.  We go every year to see the windows at Macy's and Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue, and we love to see the trees at Bryant Park and Rockefeller Center. I'll be sure to take some good photos this year. 

We're still figuring out where to go for dinner Christmas Eve, what movie to see Christmas Day, and how we are going to ring in the new year.  I am enjoying the planning, though.

And if we wind up at Drew's house for New Year's, I think we will have some really great appetizers to munch on.  There's a supermakret here on Long Island called Uncle Giuseppe's. They feature Italian specialties (well, duh), a lot of really interesting prepared foods.  And  they just opened a new store near my office.  Last Friday Drew and I had a feast from their seafood department.

So much to look forward to...

Monday, December 11, 2017

Sad news

You may remember that I wrote about my friend L, the one I visited in the hospital several times?

Wonderful woman, so full of life, so full of love for her music, and her music students, even after her health issues began to dominate her days.

Yesterday I learned that she is in hospice care.

She’s 67 years old.

I am devastated.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


So it snowed yesterday.  Just a few inches, not even enough to warrant using that brand new snow blower Drew bought, but enough of the white stuff to make us decide it was a good day to stay inside and watch DVD’s.  Drew has an extensive collection, including many movies I have never seen.

And late in the evening, Drew told me he had something special to show me.

It was the video of our wedding.  He had it transferred from videotape to a DVD.

Drew and I have a weird history. We dated in college, broke up.  Dated again when I was in law school, broke up. The third time around, we got engaged, got married, had two children, and got a divorce.   And then, about eight years ago, we reconciled.

I guess Drew was feeling nostalgic last summer.  During one of the barbecues in his back yard, he showed everyone our wedding album from 1987.  

And I had to wonder who these two young, hopeful people were.

But the emotional impact of the photos pales in comparison to the impact of that video.  I hadn’t seen the video in decades.

Remember that back in the 80’s, Home video was new, cutting edge technology, and not every bride and groom chose to hire a videographer in addition to a photographer.  But I am so glad we did.

What you see at 27 is so different from what you see at 57.  We we all so much younger then.  

And so many people in that video ...I miss them so much.  There was my father on the dance floor.  Oh how he loved to dance. Drew’s parents.  My grandmother, my aunts.  His aunts and uncles.  Cousins.   Friends who died too soon.  Seeing them laughing, dancing.  Hearing voices I haven’t heard in decades.

I’m a weepy mess today.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Moonlight feels right #skywatchfriday

The full moon, the super moon.

So bright you might think it was day.

Until you see stars.  Faint, but there.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

There are days...

So one of the most serious cases on my diary right now involves the death of a young woman and the alleged negligent acts that caused it. .  A wrongful death suit is an attempt to compensate the family for the loss of a loved one.  Not that money actually fills in the hole left behind by the loved one's death, but our legal system is set up to put a monetary value on the life that was wrongfully taken. So I am delving into this young woman's life, and ... well, she could easily be friends with my daughters -- same age, same interests, same hopes and dreams for the future.    This case is affecting me in ways that most of my cases do not....

Earlier this week a friend posted on Facebook.  Her son had been in a relatively minor accident, she posted a photo of him joking around with the nurses in the ER.   He doesn't drive, so he rides his bike back and forth to work.  He was lawfully biking across the crosswalk when a car made an illegal right on red turn and hit his front tire.  He's ok, but the bike is toast.  The car just kept going -- we hope the red light camera got a good photo of the license plate. 

His accident took place in the same intersection where a young woman was killed last month.  The young woman was in a fender-bender with another car, and both cars pulled over to the side of the road.  But when the young woman got out of her car to talk to the other driver, he decided to drive away, and he hit her with his car.  The police are still looking for him. 

I guess I'm having a "hug your kids" kind of day...

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wednesday HodgePodge

Joyce always has interesting questions.

1. What title would you give this current chapter of your life?

Chaos Reigns

2. December 6 is National Microwave Oven Day. Who knew? Besides popcorn and coffee reheats, what's the most common thing you microwave? Could you get along without a microwave?

I'd go crazy without a microwave.  Popcorn, leftovers, frozen dinners, I love to heat things up in the microwave.  Very conveninet to have one at work at lunchtime.

3. If you could insert yourself into any Christmas carol and experience the lyrics in real life, which Christmas carol lyric would you choose and why?

"Merry New York Christmas".  I love NYC at Christmastime, we always make a trip into Manhattan to see the tree at Rockefeller Center.

4. Describe the most beautiful drive you've ever taken.

Many years ago, before the kids were born, Drew and I took a ride from Long Island to Sturbridge, Massachusetts.  It was October, and the fall foliage was incredible.

5. What's something on your Christmas list this year? (an actual list or figuratively speaking, either one)

Being Jewish, I don't celebrate Christmas.  I love the season, I appreciate the decorations and the music and festivities, but I don't have a "Christmas list".  Yet, as the New Year approaches, I find myself thinking of what I'd like to see in the coming year.  My wishes are not for myself, but for my family.  I'd like to see my children happy in their jobs and happy in their personal relationships.  I want Drew to be restored to health after a grueling year.  I won't share my wishes for other family members, though, but it's been a tough year for us in a lot of ways, and I'd like to see that change.

Now, if you're asking me what I want for Chanukah...I wouldn't say "no" to the Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Every time I walk into The Pit Stop and order the spaghetti squash primavera, I feel like a celebrity, because that's the dish the owner cooked for Guy Fieri on "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives."

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


This morning, as I was reading my email, Facebook, etc., I found a story on the local "Patch" that made me cry.

A young man from my community had died.  I didn't know him, I don't know his family, but I am devastated nevertheless.

His name was Daniel, he was 18 years old, had graduated from high school in June, and was attending a SUNY college upstate. 

He apparently went to some sort of frat party Friday.  Early Saturday morning he was found unresponsive on the couch in an off-campus apartment, and it was later determined that he had alcohol and anti-anxiety medication in his system.

They're holding the wake today.

Heartbreaking.  Tragic. Devastating.

No parent should have to bury a child. 

But that's not the worst of it.

This is the second time those poor parents have had to bury a son. 

The young man who died on Saturday had a twin brother, Justin, who died when the boys were four years old.    It was a freak accident, one that was  actually written up in the New York Times.  The boys, and their older sister, were enrolled at a local day camp -- the same camp where Jen and Becca went to preschool.   One day, a group of kids, including Justin and his older sister, were sitting under a tree, waiting to board the bus that would take them home.    No one knew tha tthe tree was rotted, that insects had been feasting on it.  The tree collapsed unexpectedly, killing Justin and injuring his sister.  

The newspapers never mentioned where Daniel was when the tree collapsed.  Apperntly he was at the scene, also waiting for the bus, but was not physically injured.  I cannot imagine how losing his twin brother must have affected him.

Or how losing both of her brothers will affect their sister's life.


Monday, December 4, 2017

So ... Weight Watchers Freestyle, Day 1

Two years ago, when Weight Watchers rolled out Smart Points, I had a lot of criticisms.  The new program was too restrictive, it demonized sugar and carbs, it was unworkable.

But Weight Watchers has modified Smart Points.  Now it’s called Freestyle.  And it sounded intriguing.

And I’ve been struggling lately and need to shake things up.

So I took the plunge.

Breakfast this morning was a bowl of Special K and a container of Chobani nonfat raspberry yogurt.  And the points value was disconcerting. Reminded me of why I disliked Smart Points.

But then at lunch .... a huge salad, with chickpeas and turkey, both considered “free” foods...very low in Points ...

By the end of the day ... well, I’d used all of my daily points and a few of my weekly points ...

But when I double tracked on My Fitness Pal, I realized that I was way below my calorie budget .

I think that means I need to add more fruit, beans and chicken to my food plan.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Feeling my age

Ever hear of a pop up bar?  It’s a bar that exists just for a season.   My twenty something daughter had to explain that to me.  I think I’ll retire to my rocking chair now.

Seriously...I didn’t really need an explanation from my daughter, but she posted on Instagram how much fun she had at a pop up bar, and it really didn’t sound like fun to me.  I must be getting old.  

Last year a group of us went out on New Year’s Eve to a very loud, very noisy place.  This year we are planning a much quieter celebration.

We had an unusually warm autumn, but winter is coming.  The weather is supposed to get cold later this week.  I find the cold bothers me more now than it used to.  Years ago I swore I’d never consider moving to Florida.  Now the idea has some appeal.

I’m at an age where half the contacts in my phone have the same first name: doctor.  I am reminded of that at least twice a week, when I go to physical therapy for my knee.


Celestial happenings

It’s a full moon tonight.  And it’s a super moon, meaning that the moon is at that part of its orbit that brings it to its closest point to the Earth.  Moonrise tonight should be spectacular.

We get another full moon/ super moon January 1st.

And that means a blue moon in January!

Yes, a second full moon in January. Still a super moon.  And for those on the west coast, a total lunar eclipse as well.

Those of us on the east coast will get a partial lunar eclipse at moon set ... just before dawn.  I’m wondering if it will be worth the effort to get up at that hour...


Friday, December 1, 2017

And some video


And my favorite 

Seen around the neighborhood

It’s definitely the Christmas season.

We love to drive around and see the lights.

The decorations are really cool.

I like this guy.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


From last January, the US Capitol.


Another this and that

So I survived the Thanksgiving drama.  Now November is coming to a close, and we're headed into the holiday season.

It's a busy time. 

Lots of good movies coming out in the next few weeks.  We have to decide which ones we want to see in the theater, and which can wait for the DVD.  We always go to the movies on Christmas Day, and then we go for Chinese food. A stereotype, I know, but one I gladly embrace.

Starting to plan for New Year's Eve, too.  I think a group of us may end up at Drew's house this year, watching the ball drop on TV.  The big decision -- do we go out to dinner early in the evening, or do we order take out?

There's a Hanukkah event at my synagogue.  A big party, with latkes and jelly donuts.  Usually I wind up helping with the toy drive -- we collect toys for children living in poverty.

Hanukkah with the family is usually very low key, but enjoyable.  Lots of latkes involved.

My office Christmas party is set for December 19, lunch at a local Italian restaurant.  It's one of my favorite restaurants, should be a lot of fun.

But before we can celebrate, we have the end-of-year nightmare.  All of our vendors want to be paid by December 31, and so they are calling...and calling...and calling...

Yes, very busy...

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Are All Men Pigs?

This morning, I turned on the Today Show, and instead of seeing Matt Lauer in his usual seat, I saw a tearful Savannah Guthrie and a mournful Hoda Kotbe announce that Lauer had been fired for inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.  Lauer seems like a real nice guy on the air, but a few years ago the stories circulated that he was a real SOB to Ann Curry during her brief tenure as co-anchor.  Yet "sexually inapprpriate conduct"?

And yet ...

Lauer joins the ranks of Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Al Franken, Richard Branson, John Conyers, Kevin Spacey...not to mention guys like Elliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, Bill Cosby...

It's like the floodgates have burst.

As if electing a sexual predator to the highest office in the land, and seeing a pedophile who was banned from a shopping mall because he was preying on teenage  girls make a run for US Senate has created this enormous backlash....

Sex scandals have always been with us.  Sexual harassment has always been with us.  Our culture seems to be accepting of this misconduct. 

There's actually a song in a Broadway show that addresses the issue.  If you've ever seen How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying,  orignially produced in the 1960's, you may recall the production number "A Secretary Is Not A Toy", which cautions the newly-minted executive to keep his hands to himself.  It's a lighthearted dance number, it's full of innuendo, not a serious discussion of the problem. 

And yet...

When I saw the revival on Broadway a few years ago -- with Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette -- that song made me a little uncomfortable. 

But our culture is changing.  victims are coming forward, employers are taking swift action.

And yet...

I fear that this may become a witchhunt of sorts.  The guy who makes crude comments and suggestions cannot be treated the same way as the guy who drugs and rapes young women any more than the kid who steals a candy bar from a grocery store should be treated the same as the armed robber who holds up a bank.  And false allegations can ruin lives.

And yet...

Enough is enough. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017


I'm not an astronomer, I don't own a telescope or any fancy equipment used for stargazing.

But I developed an appreciation for the night sky many years ago.  I was fortunate to attend school in a district that had its own planetarium.  When I was in elementary school, we'd periodically take a bus up to the high school for an astronomy lesson.

It was the age of space exploration, we also watched NASA launch rockets towards the moon.

What I love about the 21st century, my cellphone -- a computer more powerful than the one aboard Apollo 11 -- has many apps that notify my of celestial happenings. Phases of the moon.  The names of constellations.  Location of planets and asteroids.

And one that tells you all about meteor showers.

November is prime time for viewing meteor showers.  But I live in an urbanized area with significant light pollution.  Still, when I think about it, l look up to the sky in hopes of seeing something.

But  too early, too late, too cloudy, too much moonlight, ground light.

And then, last night, I just happened to look up as I was getting out of my car.

And I saw it. If I had blinked I would have missed it.  But I saw it.

A brief streak of orange in the night sky.  It lasted only a moment. 

And then it was gone.

Thursday, November 23, 2017


From August, a last look at summer as we head into the busy holiday season.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving HodgePodge

This week's questions from  Joyce.

1. tightly do you cling to tradition when it comes to holiday gatherings and celebrations? For instance do you always do the cooking, never eat at home, always go to grandma's, never miss the parade, always watch football, never change the menu, always eat at 2 PM, etc.? Have you ever celebrated Christmas or Thanksgiving away from hearth, home, and family? How did that feel?

Family dynamics keep changing, so our holiday is not completely set in stone, but we will dine in the late afternoon/early evening.  My sister always wants to eat at 4 PM, but she's never able to get everything ready by then. And the friends who join us every year always run late...

 2. it easy for you to ask for help or are you a do-it-yourselfer? How is that a good/bad thing?
I'm fairly independent, reluctant to ask for help unless I have tried to handle it myself first. 

 3. Abundance...what is there an abundance of in your kitchen?

Clutter.  Need I say more?

 4. Name...the smallest thing you're thankful for? the biggest?

The big stuff is what we all have, or strive for.  Health, love, family, security. 

The small thing?  A gadget that makes my life so much easier.  It's a hook that latches on to the side of my purse and keeps my keys accessible.  I'm so happy about this hook that I actually blogged about it a few months ago.  Read about it here.

 5. Key...What do you think is the key to living a more grateful life?

Noticing and appreciating the small things, understanding that nothing is promised.

 6. State your own random thought here.

We are headed into another holiday season.  A time to celebrate, to enjoy life, but also a time to reflect on the passing of time and plan for the coming new year.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

And he’s gone

It seemed like all of his fans participated in the death watch.  It started on Saturday, when we heard he was in a hospital in Florida.  The prognosis was not good.  And then we were told that his family rushed to his side.  We were told the “expect the worst”.

He held on for several days.

But it was inevitable.

The announcement came tonight.

Rest In Peace, David Cassidy. We will always remember your smile, your angelic voice, the pleasure of watching you perform.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sad tonight

About 4 1/2 years ago I saw a concert — you can read about it here — that was a dream come true for my 10-year-old self: I saw a David Cassidy concert.

Cassidy toured with Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees and Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits.  It was billed as a “ teen idols” tour.  It was supposed to be Cassidy and Davy Jones, since Jones had helped Cassidy come to term with his teen idol past. But Jones had passed away in 2012.  Still, it was a great concert.

It was actually the second time I’d seen Cassidy live.  The first was when he, his brother Shaun, and Petula Clark appeared together on Broadway, in a show called Blood Brothers.  A fantastic musical with amazing performances, it really showed off Cassidy’s talent as an actor and singer.

Back in February we learned that Cassidy was retiring because of ill health.  I wrote about it here.

And now, some ten months later, he is in a Florida hospital, surrounded by his family, and the prognosis is very, very poor.

I am about to lose another of my teen idols.
This is just too sad ...

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Weight Watchers redux

So I did a bit of research.  I signed into my account at Weight Watchers, and I read their Facebook page.

And a lot of it sounded all too familiar.  Complaints about the technology crashing.  Complaints about customer service issues and problems cancelling an account.  Complaints about Oprah taking over.  Some things never change.

So I know what I’d be getting myself into if I rejoined.  I’d be double tracking anyhow, I have a streak going at My Fitness Pal, so if I couldn’t get into the Weight Watchers app, I’d still be able to track.

I looked at the schedule at my meeting center.  My “7 pm on Tuesdays” meeting is gone, but there’s a 5:30 on Tuesdays, and meetings on Wednesday and Thursday evenings as well.

When last I looked, the company was trying to expand into fitness classes, offering Tai Chi at some meeting centers.  Apparently that didn’t work out.  But I belong to the JCC, and I have access to the gym at work.  

There were some complaints from UK members, they don’t like the new program.  But it’s not the same outrage that I saw two years ago, where there was a mass exodus after the program change.

So...the new program is still a variation on Smart Points, but now lean proteins (chicken, turkey, fish), eggs, and nonfat yogurt are 0 Points.  So when carbs use up a lot of points (my chief complaint when the original program rolled out) you can still find nutritious choices that won’t break the bank.  

So I’m considering it.

Weight Watchers? Well ...

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know that weight is a major issue for me.  I’ve had a serious weight problem since my teens, and throughout my adult life.

And I had many, many attempts to lose weight.  I’d lose a few pounds, fall off the wagon, gain it all back, and more, too.

About 10 years ago I lost 70 pounds.  The euphoria didn’t last. Neither did the weight loss.

The lesson to be learned?  You can’t fix what’s on your plate until you fix what’s in your head.

And then, in March 2015...

My weight was creeping up into a range I’d never seen before, and my health was suffering.  My doctor said I could undo some of the damage if I lost weight.  The surgeon suggested I consider weight loss surgery, he recommended his favorite bariatric procedure, the “gastric sleeve”.

Scary proposition, wasn’t it?

Then another doctor suggested I lose some weight in anticipation of the surgery.

So I did what I had done before:  I joined Weight Watchers.

And I was successful at losing weight.

And then, six months later ... meltdown.

Weight Watchers has an interesting business model.  They revamp the program every two years.  Sometimes the changes are subtle.  Sometimes they completely redesign the program.    Two years ago the company introduced a brand-new version of the program called “Smart Points”.  And at the same time, they redesigned the website and apps.  So we all found ourselves trying to learn new technology — which kept crashing — along with the new program.

The frustration with the software, that I could manage.

The new program?  Not so much. I found it totally unworkable, far too restrictive.

When I was sitting in a meeting in tears, and the leader had nothing useful to say ...

I felt angry.  Betrayed.  I’d been a Weight Watchers member, on and off, for decades.  And what had always worked for me was no longer reliable.

I quit Weight Watchers, and continued to lose weight on my own.

Well, it’s two years later, and I’m floundering a bit.  I’ve gained back a few pounds. I am not happy.  I need to refocus.

And, like clockwork, Weight Watchers is making changes again.

They rolled out the new version in the UK this week.  The US version will be released December 3.

The articles I saw online describe the changes, and I am intrigued.  The modifications seem to address all the problems that made the plan unworkable.

And to tell the truth, I miss going to the meetings.  Online support groups are a pale imitation of the real deal.

I think I will be rejoining Weight Watchers.

Friday, November 17, 2017

#SkywatchFriday -- autumn sunset

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


grab button for From this Side of the Pond

Joyce always poses interesting questions.


1. What takes you out of your comfort zone?

What popped into my head when I saw this was ...athletics.  I’ve been a couch potato most of my life, only recently discovered a real interest in gym-based activity.  I’m not very good at it, but I’m trying.

2. Your least favorite spice?

Actually an herb, dill.  There’s a diner in the neighborhood that uses dill in the tzaziki, and it’s not my choice ...

3. What's a small change you'd like to make?

I’d like to be a bit less distracted and more on point.  Lately I find myself all over the place.

4. Do you enjoy visiting historic homes? If so, of the homes you've visited which one was your favorite? What historic home near you is open to visitors? Have you been? Southern Living rounded up eleven of the best in the southern part of the US and they're as follows-

Monticello (Jefferson's home in Virginia), Nathaniel Russel House (Charleston SC), Swan House (Atlanta), Ernest Hemingway's home (Key West), The Biltmore (Vanderbilt home in Asheville NC), Mount Vernon (Washington's home in Virgina), San Francisco Plantation (Garyville, Louisiana), Windsor Ruins (Port Gibson Mississippi), Longue Vue House and Gardens (New Orleans), Whitehall (Palm Beach FL), and Pebble Hill Plantation (Thomasville GA)

Have you been to any on the list? Of the homes listed which would you most like to visit?

I love history, I love visiting historical sites.  I loved the mansions in Newport, RI.  Of the homes listed here, I’ve seen only one, Mount Vernon.  I’d love to see all the others.  Hemingway’s house is supposed to be interesting.

5. What's something you think will be obsolete in ten years? Does that make you sad or glad?

Cursive writing.  And I won’t miss it.  My own handwriting is awful.   And I’m in a paper-oriented business, where deciphering handwritten materials has not been fun.

A former coworker was born in Egypt and educated in Tel Aviv and London.  He was fluent in Arabic, Hebrew, English and French.    When you looked at his files, you’d have to ask if his handwritten notes were really in English, because his writing looked like Arabic.  When we went to an electronic note taking system, it made a huge difference.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Is it Friday yet?

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