life in and around NYC is insane

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?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

movies movies movies

So last weekend we saw Thor:Ragnarok.  We had seen every movie in the "Avengers" series, and were really looking forward to this one as well.  And we were not disappointed. the movie has everything we love about the series:  lots of action, lots of special effects, quirky humor, and an incredible soundtrack -- gotta love Zeppelin.  Do stay for the bonus scenes.  Both of them.

Last night we saw Murder On The Orient Express. I've always loved Agatha Christie, and I read the book a long time ago, but I've never seen the movie made in the 1970's, so I had nothing to compare this version to.   they changed the ethnicity of some of the characters, but pretty much stuck to the story line...until the end.  And I won't spoil it for you. but yeah, it kind of makes you think...

And we also watched a DVD.  We had not seen Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in the movie theater, though we had seen and loved all of the other POTC movies.  the reviews of the moive were not good, so we decided to wait.  Good decision.  It wasn't awful, but it just wasn't as good as the previous movies int eh series.  Though I did enjoy Paul McCartney's cameo.

A lot of blockbusters and a lot of serious movies are opening in the next few weeks.  Should be fun.

Friday, November 10, 2017

And a view from another bridge #skywatchfriday

The Philadelphia skyline as seen from the Betsy Ross Bridge

Thursday, November 9, 2017

more this and that

So...Election Day.  Good news in Virginia and New Jersey, electing Democrats to their states' highest office.  Locally, though...mixed results.  My candidate for county legislature won, but my candidates for town council and town supervisor lost.

The holiday season is approaching.  One of my neighbors literally replaced their Halloween decorations with christmas lights, completely bypassing Thanksgiving.  I'd like to bypass Thanksgiving, too, I think, rather than deal with the holiday drama that's brewing.  I used to love Thanksgiving, now I dread it.

Remember my friend L, the one with the health issues?  Last time I spoke to her, she was working hard in rehab, trying to regain her mobility so that she could get back to her life.  Well, the other day, L's daughter posted on Facebook about how L has had a serious setback, yet another medical issue has cropped up, and she's back in the hospital.  This is not going to end well, I fear.

I'm having some success with physical therapy for my knee.  I see improvement in flexibillity and endurance.  I'm also back on my weight loss plan, which is a struggle these days. But I am determined to remain as healthy and active as I can be.

The weather is getting cold.  It almost feels like we skipped autumn and went straight from summer into winter.  Winter is not my favorite season.  Sigh.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wednesday HodgePodge

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Joyce always poses interesting questions.

1.  In a rut, in a jam, in the groove, out of synch, off balance, out of touch...which saying best fits some area of your life currently (or recently)? Explain.

Off balance and in a jam.  I'm a bit overwhelmed at work lately and feeling the pressure.

 2. What is it about somebody else's style of work (coworker/employee/shared volunteer project/household chore) that makes you crazy? Why?

I used to have two coworkers who made the rest of us crazy.  We referred to them as "Loud and Louder".  When you work in a cube farm, it's hard to concentrate on your work when the person in the next cube is on the phone and speaks so loudly that she can be heard halfway down the hall.

 3. What's a tradition that always makes you feel at home?
I've got a bit of writer's block on this one.  Can't think of a good response.

 4. A favorite song with a girl's name in the title or lyrics? Any reason why this is a particular favorite?

"Help Me, Rhonda" by the Beach Boys.  My college roommate was named Rhonda.  I haven't spoken to her in a very long time, I think I may want to look her up and find out how her life turned out.

 5. Share a favorite quote, verse, or saying relating to gratitude or thanksgiving.

“I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.”
― Jon Stewart
 6. Insert your own random thought here.

The holiday drama has already begun around here, and I'm so tired of it.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

happy birthday!

27 years ago ...

Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday...

Happy birthday to my first born.  Love you, Jen.

Monday, November 6, 2017

another this and that

Another mass shooting, this time in a church in Texas.   SSDD.  What's the point of complaining about it, when the NRA has ccontrol of Congress and nothing ever changes?  Our country is headed towards bad times, and I feel powerless....

So today I'm focusing on the small things, the little ways I can improve the world around me.

Tonight I'm going to a meeting, it's an interfaith council that plans several events throughout the year.  Last month we had a panel discussion on how faith and religion address the issue of immigrants in our communities.  In January we're planning an interfaith prayer service to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. We've got a Congressman lined up as guest speaker.

Tomorrow is Election Day, and there are a few local contests, in our town and county governments.  I've been working towards electing two candidates, a woman running for Town Supervisor, and a woman running for a seat on the Town Council.  I'm also supporting a woman who is running for County Legislature.  I am pleased to see so many strong, qualified women seeking office.

I've also been very active at the synagogue.  I'm a member of the Social Action Committee, we have many activities aimed at improving the lives of others.  Last month we had "Mitzvah Day", in which we made sandwiches for a soup kitchen, collected nonperishables for a food pantry, crocheted blanket for hospital patients, created toiletry kits for residents of homeless shelters...For Chanukah we're planning a toy drive for indigent families, and we will have another food drive in February.  I feel good helping our community.

Our Social Action programs are well-funded, in part because of the generosity of the synagogue's Sisterhood.  Sisterhood runs social programs for the enjoyment of its members, but those programs are also fundraisers.  Some of the money goes to improving the synagogue and enhancing its programs, but some is given to Social Action to support our work.

So when I go to a Sisterhood program, I'm glad to participate in whatever raffles they conduct.  And last week I actually won something!

That's a Mexican-themed basket.  Inside I found gift cards to three different local Mexican restaurants, a jar of salsa, two bags of tortilla chips  (one regular, one sweet potato) and a bottle of coffee liquer.

It was nice to win, and nice to know that the money I paid for the raffle tickets will be put to good use.

I can't control the big things, but at least with the small things...I'm trying.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Bored on the Belt

The screen shot from Waze tells the story.  Rush hour traffic on the Belt Parkway.  No fun.

So I, the passenger, start playing with the cell phone camera.

Large ships are headed towards New York Harbor:

You can see Coney Island:

A little autumn color along the road:

But don't forget you're actually driving through Brooklyn and Queens.  I love this shot, plane was landing at JFK:

Friday, November 3, 2017

A view from a bridge. #skywatchfriday


From the Verrazano Narrows Bridge

And a close up

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Another surreal image from Hugh Kretschmer

I've only just discovered him, but I'm a bit obsessed.


And the backstory.

the image was meant to illustrate an article about growth.

I love how she has such long, shiny hair.

but that cigarette.  Oh my!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

another this and that

So it's November.  Another new month stretches before me. Time is flying by so quickly lately.

I made it through the Ultimate Blog challenge, I posted on this blog every day throughout the month of October.  I migjht do it again, but for now I'll just be posting when I feel like it.

I heard on the radio yesterday that October 2017 is officially the warmest October on record.  Funny, I thought that was October 1990, the month before Jen was born...

Hard to believe she's going to be 27 years old next week.  Yes, I have an almost-27-year-old daughter.  She's going out on Saturday night to celebrate -- just Jen, Becca, Jen's boyfriend and a handful of friends at an Italian restaurant.  I hope they have a great time.

Becca starts a new job today.  Instead of working as a paralegal in a very large law firm, she'll be working in the marketing department of an even larger law firm.  She says this is the direction she wants to go, that she's thinking of taking a graduate degree in business.

I had a follow-up visit with my primary care physician yesterday.  Got my flu shot, so I'm ready for winter. Also found out that the medication I'm taking for my knee has known side effects that concern my doctor, he wants me to stop taking the medication on a daily basis.  I've ben taking this medication for six months.  Oh, joy.

Tonight is the annual sisterhood membersihp dinner at my synagogue.  We get together for cocktails and dinner, raffles, gossip, etc.  This year they're going with a Mexican theme.  Should be fun.

It's November.  And the fall weather has finally arrived.  Looking forward to the challenges and joys this month will bring.

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