life in and around NYC is insane

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

spirituality, Kabbalah and zen

So last weekend our synagogue continued with its meditation series.  This time we invited our own Rabbi to give a talk and workshop.

Our previous presenters have given us a modern approach, combining Eastern mystic practices, such as meditation and chanting, with Jewish theology.   So we found ourselves sitting quietly through guided meditations, or chanting a phrase over and over again.  One presenter even used a Tibetan singing bowl.

Our Rabbi is more of a traditionalist.  He focused on the mystic quality of Jewish ritual, of Jewish prayer.  The poetry of prayer.

But the message he gave was the same:

Live with purpose and meaning.  Live in the moment.  Observe what is good and beautiful around you.  Feel your connection to the community, and to the universe.  Feel the energy that binds us all together. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

the women's march

A friend sent this to me -- proof I was at the march.

Hidden Figures

The space race.  The civil rights movement.  Two major forces of change in the 1960's.  And they come together in Hidden Figures.

So of course two history buffs had to see it.

I had never known that there were female African-American mathematicians working for NASA in the early days.  Katherine Goble, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn were true pioneers.

Of course the movie has a moral.  The women endure discrimination and disrespect as they perform functions vital to the success of the American space effort.  They break down barriers and change attitudes.

My favorite scenes are the ones with John Glenn interacting with Katherine. While others at NASA see the women as "colored computers", he sees Katherine as a smart, reliable, intelligent mathematician.

There's a message here, about accepting each of us as equals, about working for a common goal as Americans.  A lesson for our times.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Songbird salutes the 70's: Love is all around

The opening credits of the show had her driving her car, waling through the city, hugging her coworkers.  The very last moment of the credits saw her take off her hat and fling it into the air...

After many years of playing a wife and mother on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Tyler Moore had a show of her own.  How innovative it was for her to portray a single woman over 30, a woman pursuing a career in TV journalism.  She was independent, she had "spunk".

From 1970 until 1977, she, along with Ed Asner, Gavin McLeod, Valerie Harper, Ted Knight, Cloris Leachman, and later Georgia Engel and Betty White, gave us TV sitcom at its finest.

We forget now how revolutionary that show really was, dealing with feminism, homosexuality, marital infidelity, divorce, and many other controversial topics, with a comedic touch.

Moore did amazing work in film -- Thoroughly Modern Millie and Ordinary People are examples of her amazing talent.  But to those of us growing up in the 70's, she will always be Mary Richards.

So sad to hear she died yesterday.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Weight isssues -- again

So...most weight loss specialists will tell you that the best way to gauge your progress is to weigh yourself once a week.

I have not been following that advice.  And I've found that my weight fluctuates by as much as three pounds over the course of a week.   And it's making me crazy.  So I'm going to stay off the scale, weigh myself only on Monday mornings. 

I haven't been on target these past few weeks.  I'm doing  Points Plus, the old Weight Watchers program, tracking on iTrackBites.  I'm using too many of my "weekly points" early in the week, which isn't leaving me enough for a weekend splurge.  I think I need to readjust my weekday menus.

I'm readjusting my physical fitness program; it's time to shake things up.    When I first started this process, my "exercise" was limited to taking long walks.  When that wasn't enough, I added a membership at Planet Fitness.  They have circuit training equipment and cardio equipment, but little else. 

During the summer I was able to swim at Drew's community pool to add variety to the program. 

And then, in September, I signed up for a yoga class at my local high school.  I really liked it, but the program was short -- it ended in December, and wouldn't start up again until March.  So I found another class, this time at the public library, the session began in December and ends next week, with another session beginning the following week.  But I'm not signing up again.

Instead, I'm dropping my Planet Fitness membership and rejoining the Y/Jewish Community Center.

Why the Y?

I used to be a member of the Y, mostly for the social and cultural aspects  -- support groups, Jewish education, theater arts, etc.    So the place feels like home, it feels comfortable to be in the building.

And because they have all the same equipment as Planet Fitness, they offer yoga classes (and others), and they have a pool.    I really miss swimming, and I may want to try aqua aerobics.

And because I paid a "building fund" fee the last time I was a member, my monthly costs this time around are very, very reasonable.

Gotta keep moving!

Sunday, January 22, 2017


The whole album

cn you see it?

More pictures

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The folks we chased up to the Hill:

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On the Mall:

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The "useful items":

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Trying this again

So I tried something new, and my photos aren't appearing in the post I wrote this morning.

Let's try this again.

RFK Stadium:

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The walk through the neighborhood and Lincoln Park:

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The Women's March on Washington

In 1984, having received a Juris Doctor degree and having passed the bar exam, I stood in a courtroom in Brooklyn, NY, raised my right hand, and vowed to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. I have never forgotten that vow, or the obligations of an officer of the court that I voluntarily assumed,

Yesterday I took a trip to our nation's capital, a city I have visited countless times, to uphold that oath.

I traveled with my friend K.  Our bus left Long Island at 3:30 in the morning, destination:  RFK Stadium in Washington, DC, and then to the Women's March.  We were due to arrive in the district at 9:00, plenty of time to get to Independence and 3rd for the 10 AM rally.

Didn't quite happen that way.    The bus stopped at the Chesapeake  rest stop on I-95, and we were not alone.  It was, quite remarkably, a sea of pink -- as if every bus headed to the March was in that parking lot.  We hit a lot of traffic on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and didn't arrive at the Stadium until 10.

And then we walked from RFK up Capitol Street East, through a neighborhood known as Capitol Hill, towards the Capitol.  Nice that the folks in the neighborhood were happy to see us, that the police and National Guard members treated us with respect and visa versa.

We reached the Capitol and headed to the Rally.  It was so crowded on the Mall that we never got near the stage, or even a Jumbo-tron, and never heard any of the speakers or performers.  But the energy of the crowd!   The message of diversity and unity and democracy in action!

We first spotted these people at the Stadium, caught up with them at the Capitol:

Rumor has it that our thin skinned President wanted the names of these useful items covered up:

Foggy on the Mall.  We could barely see the Washington Monument:

And so very crowded:

Cell phone service wasn't very good on the Mall, I think the cell towers were overburdened.  But we did hear  about the Washington Post article, that there were too many people on the Mall to do a proper march to the White House.  That turned out to be misinformation, the march was merely re-routed.  But a lot of us on the Mall succumbed to the rumor, and dispersed.

We headed back to the Hill, then back to the neighborhood. We stopped at a high school to warm up and use the rest rooms, and our hosts were so gracious.  We picked up food at a local place called Al's Pizza, and then headed back to the stadium for the long bus ride home.

Others from our bus had different experiences, some finding their way to the stage area and seeing celebrities, some completing the march.

There were 500 of us all told, and not a single arrest.

This is what democracy looks like.

It's going to be a long 4 years.

Friday, January 20, 2017

music for today

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Wahlburgers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 Hamburgers anyone?  You know I love a good burger.  So we just had to try Wahlburger's. 

We were told the wait for a table would be about 30 minutes, but was much shorter because we agreed to sit in the bar area.   Service was a bit slow, but our server was friendly and efficient. 

The menu is very short, but interesting.  No appetizers, only a few sides (which must be ordered separately), a small dessert menu,  a few salads,  some very interesting sandwiches, and, of course, burgers.  The drink menu is much more extensive, and includes a variety of milkshakes and soft drinks as well as alcoholic beverages.  Purists will be happy to hear they have  Mexican Coke -- made with cane sugar -- in a glass bottle. 

I stuck to the basics, the house burger -- 1/3 pound hamburger on a potato bun, with lettuce, tomato, onions, cheese, house made pickles and special sauce, to which I added caramelized onions.  the burger was juicy but not sloppy, the house sauce just slightly tangy, the pickles...well, they were crisp and tasty.  the bun was soft and fresh, but fell apart while I was eating the burger.

I added Yukon gold fries -- shoestring cut potatoes.  Nice, but not remarkable.

Overall I liked this place.  It's certainly not a "destination restaurant", but if I'm in the neighborhood again, I wouldn't hesitate to stop here for a burger.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

another this and that

Becca is very excited.  Her boyfriend, who until now has been living with his parents on Long Island,  will be moving to the city next month. He and his cousin found an apartment on the East Side, Lexington and 34th.  Becca lives on 43rd and 10th, she prefers the West Side, but certainly won't object to traveling across town to see him.

Jen hasn't said much about her boyfriend lately.  I don't know why they broke up, I don't know why they reconciled.  He's a nice guy, and if he makes her happy ...

So Drew and I went to see L last weekend.  Her physical circumstances have not changed, but her mindset is so different, much healthier, as she works on resolving her medical issues and moving towards the next stage of her life.  I'm glad. 

Meanwhile, Drew has had a setback in his own medical condition.  The most recent tests were not good.  He has an appointment with his doctor in about a month, but he's trying to get that moved up.

I'm growing more concerned about my mother...

My health insurance woes have resolved, I was able to sign up for coverage and should be getting my ID cards any day now. 

I think I will be dropping my Planet Fitness membership and rejoining the Jewish Community Center.  I was a JCC member for many years, when the girls were little.  I took a tour of the JCC last week, and I am impressed by their updated athletic facilities.  They have a great pool, lots of cardio equipment, an indoor track,  interesting classes.  The one place they're weak is circuit training/weight training equipment.  I'm mostly interested in the aqua aerobics and the yoga classes.  I'm really trying to stay fit and healthy.  And exercise is a good way to combat the winter blahs, isn't it?

We had another meditation program at our synagogue last week.  Much shorter than the one presented by Rabbi Roth, and geared towards beginners.  Our own rabbi will be giving the next presentation, at the end of this month, and I'm interested to hear his take on Kabbalah.  I'm finding the programs to be very interesting, very insightful.

I'll be heading to DC on Saturday, political activism at its finest.  I'll be sure to tell you all about it when I get back.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The circus ISN'T coming to town

They traveled by rail, all across America.  They set up their tents, did their shows, and moved on.  Trapeze artists.  Tight rope walkers.  Clowns.  Lion tamers.  Elephants. 

Every child knew what a circus was. 

It was a cliché that every child wanted to run away from home and join the circus.

Circuses were so much a part of our cultural fabric that they made movies about them:  The Greatest Show on Earth.  Roustabout.  Under the Big Top. Water for Elephants.

One of my favorite singers, Mickey Dolenz, got his start in a TV show called Circus Boy.

The life of P.T. Barnum became a Broadway musical.

But no longer.

Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus has announced that it is closing up shop.  The last shows will be performed in May, right here on Long Island, at the Nassau Coliseum.  After that, you'll have to get your circus fix at the Ringling Brothers  museum in Florida, or the Barnum museum in Connecticut. 

Blame it on the elephants.

I mean, the elephants were the trademark of Ringling Brothers.  When the show came to NYC every year, the trains would head for a rail yard in Queens, and the elephants would march into Manhattan,  to Madison Square Garden, through the Midtown Tunnel. 

And then ....PETA.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. 

They claimed the elephants were being abused.  Even went to court to try to prove it. 

Perhaps they were right, or perhaps they were traumatized by Disney's Dumbo.  They convinced a lot of people that the elephants should not be part of the circus.  And eventually Feld Entertainment, the owner of Ringling Brothers, agreed.  The elephants would be retired, the show would go on without them.

And ticket sales fell.    So Ringling Brothers is going out of business.

But wait, don't we have  other, smaller circuses? 

What about Cole Brothers-Clyde Beatty Circus? 

Nope.  They were also targeted by PETA, they canceled their 2016 tour. 

Well, we still have the Big Apple Circus, right?   They don't use elephants in their show, they manage to bring in the crowds without elephants. 

No, sadly, the Big Apple Circus filed for bankruptcy last year, there's an auction on February 7 to sell off the props and equipment. 

I guess it's not just the elephants, our tastes in entertainment have changed. 

I believe there are still a few small circuses travelling about, but their days are numbered.

I'll close out with a salute to P.T. Barnum, whose name is synonymous with "circus":

Saturday, January 14, 2017

I think the universe is trying to tell me something

So last night I was looking at Facebook, and a friend of mine posted that one of her good friends, A. F., had passed away.

A. F.?  I'd known someone by that name, back in college.  We'd been friends, but drifted apart, and I hadn't spoken to her for years.  Probably not since college.  Could it be the same person?

This morning there were photos, and a link to A. F.'s Facebook page.

Yes, it was the same person.

And from what my friends have to say, she was just as sweet and nice and loving as I remember her.  Had I known that my friends were close to her, I would have tried to reconnect with A. F.

She was 56, the same age as me.  Way too young.

She was overweight, diabetic, and apparently suffered a massive stroke.

In a few days I'm going to visit my friend L, who, as I've said before, is facing life-altering surgery due to the complications of diabetes. And you'll recall I went to a wake last month for R, who had a heart attack after years of dealing with diabetes.

I see myself reflected in these women, and it scares me.   Diabetes, heart attack and stroke.  All of those looming on the horizon...if that's not motivation to stick with my  exercise program, I don't know what is.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday the 13th, and a full moon?

Oh, my!

It's Friday the 13th.  It's also the full moon.

I'm not truly superstitious, but nevertheless...I will be on my guard today.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

winter blahs

So it's the second week of January, and the winter blahs are already setting in.  Sigh.  Spring seems so far away.

Not that I don't have things to look forward to in the cold weather.  Valentine's Day, Drew's birthday and my birthday all fall in February.  Lots of celebrating to come, I'm sure.

And at least I've lost all the weight I gained over the holidays.   If only the rest of my excess baggage would melt away like that!   Yes, I'm back in the groove.  Feels good.

But the cold weather is doing a real number on my skin and hair.  I think I've cornered the market on hand lotion and Chapstick, my newest survival tools.

How many weeks until spring is here?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

it's getting difficult

So, back to my friend, the one in the hospital ...

I have not spoken to her since before Christmas.  We've exchanged voice mail and text messages, but haven't spoken.  She messaged Drew a few times, too.

It's difficult. Her circumstances are dire.  She's seriously ill and facing life-altering challenges.  She is also very isolated, no family except her daughter.

And it's becoming hard to maintain a balance between "wanting to help her" and "getting sucked into her drama".

Drew and I will probably go see her next weekend.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

C-c-c-cold out there

As a friend of mine recently said, it's safe to blog about the weather.

We've had a real drop in temperature.  Today's high was probably no more than 20.  In was bitterly cold when I went  out to shovel, but at least the snow was light and fluffy.  I usually park on Drew's driveway if I'm there when it snows, but this time around my car was in the street.  Luckily I didn't get plowed it, it took only a few minutes to clear my car.

We spent all of yesterday catching up on season 6 of "Game of Thrones".  Gave new meaning to the catchphrase "Winter is coming".  Can't wait for season 7.

I was waiting for some idiot to post on Facebook that this cold weather is "proof" that global warming is a hoax, but fortunately we are all smarter than that ...unless you're a Republican on Capitol Hill.  Or about to move into the White House.

I've seen what damage coal does to the environment, what fracking does, what drilling for oil does.  12 years in the environmental claims department, cleaning up those messes, convinced me we need clean energy.

But our president-elect wants to decimate the EPA and fire those employees who are studying climate change.

I guess it's NOT safe to talk about the weather anymore.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Lazy Saturday

It was snowing when Drew and I got up this morning.  We checked the forecast, and we're expecting between 4 and 8 inches of snow today.  There's no place that we have to be, and Drew really hates driving in snowy weather, so we're staying at his house all day, we're making spaghetti for dinner (I love a man who cooks!)

Becca sent me a text this morning asking me to be careful in the snow.  No worries.  And I don't have to worry about Becca driving around in this weather, she's at her apartment in Manhattan. She'll be out and about today, helping her boyfriend and his cousin find a suitable apartment.

But supposed to go to a christening today, the son of one of her good friends from high school is being christened.  The church is in our neighborhood, but the party is at the grandparents' house, and then she plans to drive to her boyfriend's house (yes, they reconciled).  That's a  lot of driving.  She drives an SUV, but still...forgive me if I can't stop worrying.  We live on the north shore of Long Island, which is very hilly, all the more treacherous in this kind of weather.

Sigh.  I am not a fan of snow.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Weight Loss Issues

The newest commercial from Weight Watchers, selling their Smart Points program, has Oprah celebrating a 40 pound weight  loss.  That sounds incredible, until you realize she was celebrating a 26 pound weight loss 6 months ago.  She's losing a pound or two per week, which is what most weight loss programs recommend.  Commendable but not miraculous.

But the corporation is not bouncing back the way they thought it would.  Yeah, the stock goes up every time Oprah says she's been successful on Smart Points, But then it drops again after the company announces its lackluster earnings.    Membership is up in the US, but down overseas, where Oprah doesn't have the same kind of influence. 

I don't think the problem is Weight Watchers per se..  It's the outdated business model that's the real issue.  Why pay $$$$ for Weight Watchers when you can find free or low cost apps to track your food, give you tips on nutrition and support your weight loss efforts? 

I mean, I was a loyal Weight Watchers member, on and off, for years.  I never thought about doing another program.  Until Smart Points came along, that is. 

So I quit Weight Watchers, downloaded a few apps, and I've been on my own since December of 2015.

And I was doing fine until the last couple of months.

then we went on vacation, on a cruise with unlimited food. 

And then it was Thanksgiving.

And then  I stopped tracking and went on a food binge in the middle of December.  By the time the holidays arrived, I stopped working out as well.  Result?  A six pound weight gain. 

But when you fall down, you have to pick yourself up again.  So I re-started my weight loss efforts on the 3rd -- working out at Planet Fitness, and tracking my food. 

I'm back to following Points Plus, the Weight Watchers Plan I loved.  I'm using iTrackBites to calculate the points, but I'm also tracking calories on My Fitness Pal.  Redundant, I know, but it keeps me focused. 

Between the holidays and the weight I gained during vacation in October, I'm further from my goal than I anticipated.   But I will persevere. 

what other choice do I really have?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Lost love

So on New Year's Eve, Drew and I were partying with a group of our friends at that overpriced party, Becca and her boyfriend were at a steakhouse, and Jen...was supposed to be at a house party with her boyfriend,  but was hanging out with one of her girlfriends instead.

I don't know what happened, Jen has turned into a perfect clam, but it appears the relationship is over. 

A mom always wants to save her kids from heartbreak, but that's impossible, isn't it?


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

revisiting old friends

Back in July 2011, I wrote this post.

I had just discovered something I really did not want to know.

I had discovered that the pediatrician who had treated my children from the day each was born...the man I'd relied on for 19 years...lost his license to practice medicine because of a substance abuse problem.

I was devastated.

The man was on my mind recently, don't know why.  but I Googled him again...

He's teaching science at a private elementary school.  I'm sure the kids love him, he knows how to relate to them.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Passengers (spoilers)

So...our Christmas Day tradition includes an early movie and dinner at a Chinese restaurant. 

And this year, the movie of choice was Passengers.

It's a relationship movie masquerading as a science fiction film.

The basic premise is that they are in suspended animation, on a space ship headed to a colony world.  The ship malfunctions, and Jim (Chris Pratt) awakens from hibernation 90 years too soon.  He falls in love with another passenger (Jennifer Lawrence)  named Aurora (a salute to Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty?), and wakes her up prematurely so that he won't be alone.   As their relationship continues to develop, the ship's systems begin to fail.

The relationship sours when Aurora discovers that Jim woke her up, but the two must work together to save the ship from blowing up and killing everyone aboard.

Nice movie, worth seeing, but ...We saw the movie in 3D, but the special effects weren't so spectacular that 3D is required. If you haven't seen it yet, you should probably wait for the DVD

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year

So our ever-shrinking group of friends spent last night at a huge party thrown by one of the local wedding palaces. The kind of place where there are usually 2 or 3 parties going on at the same time.   Each room was a different party, with a different DJ but the same menu, and you could wander from room to room if you chose.  It was fun, was good, service was a bit  lacking, and the music was skewed a lot younger than we are.  We all felt a little "lost" in that huge crowd.  Next year we'll be looking for a smaller, more intimate party.

Midnight came, we hugged and kissed, made noise, drank champagne.

And then I unexpectedly found myself crying.  Overwhelmed by the passage of time.  Of the good and the bad that happened last year, of the hopes and fears I have for the future.

My quote for 2017:

“I keep my ideals because in spite of everything I still believe that people are good at heart.”   -- Anne Frank

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