October 31, 2006

Quick Historical Note: For all you sleuths!


Today, in 1887, the first Sherlock Holmes collection was published: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Basil Rathbone starred in a film adaptation.


I should run out and find a pipe and a deerstalker.

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Sort of a review

The nanny is on her way out -- tomorrow is her last day with us. I have no intention of telling her that she is leaving on my birthday. Why give her the satisfaction?

She abbreviated her notice period. That was very uncool. I asked her, "You are not working out your contract, you are not working out your full notice period, when the Viking Bride and I have been nothing but kind to you, even offering to assist you in returning to college, how is this honorable behavior?" She replied that she was leaving us with a totally clear conscience. I told her, "That simply means you are not very self-reflective." It ain't ending on a nice note, I'll tell you. At least, not from my perspective.

The Mother of Viking Bride has flown in to visit and otherwise be of assistance. That's nice. Super nice, actually.

The new nanny will begin on Monday.

* * *

In the meantime, thanks to the nanny shenanigans, the Viking Bride and I have begun the maybe-she-should-stay-home-with-the-kids conversation. She'd like to and I would like her to. It may be a question of how we can make it work financially as her salary is quite nice and we have all grown used to regular meals. Still, this question has been in the forefront of our discussions of late. Hopefully, by the summer, we will have sorted all of our thoughts out about it and be in a position to implement a decision, assuming we decide that she will leave work.

In that regard, I gather that I am going to be made partner at my firm. That will ease things somewhat but only somewhat. At least, it will be enough for us to think about how to move forward.

* * *

This weekend I attended my 20th high school reunion. It was somewhere between amusing and odd and sad. As an officer of the Alumni Association, I had to lead the Annual Meeting of the Alumni Association. At least turnout was nice and low due to the inclement weather. Turnout for our reunion was high; some 40 out of 90 showed up. We have a cohesive class.

Still, getting together after a 20 year gap was strange. We left as children, we have returned as adults with our own children. We left looking to conquer the world, we returned as lawyers and doctors and hedge fund managers; teachers and Marine Corps officers and stay at home moms; and, at least one of us did not return at all -- leukemia.

I wonder what the next twenty has in store for us?

* * *

The nation is in good hands, going forward. That is my assessment after spending an evening with the 20 top ranking cadets from this year's senior class from West Point. I am involved with the Military Academy and help the cadets prepare for Rhodes and Marshall scholarship interviews. These are an impressive and articulate group of kids; born two years before I graduated from high school (see above). I felt old at the conclusion of the event but at least no one offered to help me to the elevator or asked if I needed assistance finding my walker. There must still be something very good about this nation if we are able to attract the best and the brightest into her service.

* * *

In the midst of all this craziness, my mother has received a bit of bad news -- pre-malignant breast cancer, kind of a pre-cancer diagnoses. The lump will be removed on Friday. I am not worried in the slightest; possessed of an unshakeable belief that this will amount to no more than an inconvenience. She, however, is a basket case and reminded all the time of the death of her mother who died from breast cancer. I am concerned for her and sad that she is so upset but I absolutely refuse to consider any other possible resolution other than a complete and total success.

* * *

I hope you all have a lovely Halloween. I will be out early to take little ones out to beg for candy.

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Who could be so considerate?

There I was, walking up 41st street, when I noticed a bunch (or would it be a gaggle?) of puffers (yes, certainly gaggle as puffer is closer to puffin which is rather closer to bird so within spitting distance (yes, I know, vivid) of geese so clearly a gaggle of puffers) all busy smoking away outside in their shirtsleeves, not a jacket among them, sheltered on three sides from the wind, warmed by a ferocious heater suspended from the ceiling. Who, I wondered, would be so beneficent as to gift smokers, detested by most landlords for cluttering the doorways and littering the sidewalks, with an outdoor heating source? Who could this prince among landlords be? Ah, yes. Of course. I was walking past the Philip Morris headquarters. Someone with a vested interest in making smoking comfortable.

I wonder, idly, what their health insurance premiums are like at MO (now: Altria)? Think Altria pays more? I would hope so.

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October 26, 2006

You poor dear

I know I've been neglecting you. I'm sorry. I have been under a lot of pressure at home and at work. I have not intended for you to wither from lack of attention, but, just the same, that seems to have happened. Well, I'll be back soon. Promise!

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October 16, 2006

Today, my stress levels go to eleven

Stress one. The nanny gave notice last night. She has also given what amounts to a truly insufficient notice period. Three weeks. As I explained to her, when one of our nannies resigned in the past gave notice because her grandmother was dying, she stayed with us for a month, which was the quickest we could get a new nanny. I am concerned. Mighty concerned. In fact, I have done little all day but try to figure out a solution. Oh, and our nanny agency tells us that we should not expect to see a new candidate from them until Christmas is over. The kids, I bet, are going to be devastated.

Stress two. I am a private banking client of my bank. My bank has transferred most of its branches and thus the retail accounts in those branches to another bank. I discovered today, when I called to transfer money from private banking to checking that my original bank has kept my private accounts but mistakenly sent my retail accounts to new bank. This is unacceptable. It gets more unacceptable. To transfer funds, old bank now has to send a wire to new bank and new bank will charge me $30. Old bank agreed, in response to my delicate question, that yes, old bank will eat those fucking charges. To reunite my private and retail accounts once more might mean having to go and open totally new accounts with old bank, with all of the annoying documentation demands that entails with opening SIX NEW ACCOUNTS for four different people. As I said to private banking person, if that's the case, why should I bother? Wouldn't it be easier to simply open one new private account at a new bank? Audible gulp on the other end of the line as she began to realize that our 30 year relationship may have reached its natural termination.

So, to recap, no nanny, no cash (my extravagant $5.43 lunch went on my Visa), no sleep.

At least I have a clean desk.

That will be a consolation when they come and take me away, I assure you.

And by the way, I have managed to already reduce my stress from the time I began writing this by having an hour conversation with a new potential nanny.

Still. You know? Just, still.

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October 15, 2006

An unveiling

I took the day off of work on Friday to attend the unveiling of my grandfather's head stone. Or, what should have been the unveiling, if the monument maker had not messed up the date or the delivery. So, instead, the family gathered around the hole in the ground where the headstone was supposed to be. And we had a small service, led by my uncle. One of my cousins said something quite lovely afterwards. She said that while it was too bad not to have a headstone, the marker was really not all that important. All the marker would have on it would be his birthdate and the date he died and a couple of small words. The important thing wasn't the two dates but what he accomplished in between those dates and he really did accomplish an enormous amount.

I held it together the whole day. No problem. Actually, it was the first time I had ever left that place without crying, although it used to be tears for my grandmother who died when I was in third grade. Not this time. No, I was ok up to dinner when the Boy Child, in all the innocence of 3.5 years, leaned across the table and said to my mother:

"I are sad because I can't see my friend, Grampa H., laugh anymore."

From the mouths of babes. . .

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October 06, 2006

Go to jail. And I mean, now!

When I was in law school, I learned about when a shrink had to, by law, violate doctor-patient confidentiality. If the shrink learned, during the course of treating the whacko, that said whacko was an imminent danger to society, that said whacko was actually planning to harm someone, then the shrink had to blow the whistle. Failure to do so by the shrink might lead to the imposition of criminal penalties. That is my recollection.

Therefore, I have to say that the shrink who helped Barbara Streisand overcome her crippling case of stage fright, the stage fright that has largely kept her out of public appearances for the last 12 years, should go to jail right now. That shrink had an obligation to keep us from harm and by us I mean all of us, each and every one of us. He or she knew that Babs might get out on a stage and entertain, i.e. subject us all to that revolting mix of her naive and terribly righteous political views and her schmaltzy songs.

We must find this shrink and put him or her in jail now before this person can heal anyone else.

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A Promotion

Mia is asking you to help her make a clean breast of it. And who among us doesn't support that idea?

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And the week closes with a whimper

But it least it appears to be closing, thank goodness. The silence here this week is a result of the tremendous time crunch, stress, and pressure I have been under this week. So this post is going to be sort of a recap of the week, a random series of not necessarily related anecdotes and thoughts, as I do from time to time.

Some of you know what Kol Nidre is. For those who do not, it is the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. At Kol Nidre, you ask God to forgive you for all the promises you broke to him during the year and to release you from all the bargains you struck with him but did not fulfill. Example, "God, if you let me find my keys, I'll never eat Fritos again, I promise!". Keys found and soon thereafter you have a mouthful of Fritos. You need to be forgiven this one, or so we believe. So, there we are, in synagogue with the Girl Child, the Boy Child and my parents. We are in the middle of the Silent Amidah, the main prayer for forgiveness. It is a solemn moment.

The Boy Child observes the solemnity in his own special way by passing a little gas. We have the following exchange:

Me: [Speaking in Norwegian so no one around us will understand] Did you fart? Please don't fart in here, ok?

BC: [Clearly didn't hear me as I was speaking kind of low, answers loudly in English] Pappa, are you talking about my farts?

Everyone around us broke into laughter.

* * *

This Yom Kippur was the first one spent in a temple other than my grandfather's temple. You may recall, he died in December 2005. It was my first Yom Kippur wearing his yarmulke and his talis. It was hard. It felt like, in many ways, maybe the only reason I am a Jew is because he was a Jew and he believed. With him gone, the experience went from technicolor to flat. It was as if the full range of the color palette had been severely restricted. When he died, he took some of my light out of the room, or maybe it was just that he reflected my light back on me with such love that his absence makes me think everything is a bit darker.

I'm not sure about my relationship to Judaism with him not there anymore. I can tell you that I would like to figure it out. One way is that I am going to try to live the Jewish calendar this year. I am going to try to attend Shabbat services, to celebrate the holidays I never celebrate (that would be most of them so no point in listing them here), and to give it a fair shot. Maybe at the end I will be a Jew for me and not just for him. Either way, I think I'm going to have a lot less free time on the weekends going forward.

* * *

Tuesday was not good. It was a trial day. It was so not good that in the course of that day, according to the scale in my house the next morning, I lost four pounds. And no, it wasn't because I hurled in the courtroom.

The Court found that the chief witness I was putting on, that this witness testified incredibly as a matter of law. In other words, without saying he was a liar, she said he was a liar.

The remainder of my week has been spent dealing with the fall out. I have never seen that happen before. And in case you were wondering, I think that the judge was totally off base.

* * *

Tuesday night was spent at the Girl Child's elementary school open house. The Viking Bride was home with the kinder. I went to school from the train station. It was poorly organized, sometimes downright insipid (the principal greeted the assembled parents with a bad poem of her own creation), and eventually nice. While wandering the schools, I somehow connected with a Norwegian speaking parent and spent much of the time chatting with her in Norwegian. Her son is in another kindergarten section.

The parents of any boy I met in the Girl Child's class all said the same thing: "You're the Girl Child's dad? My son talks about her all the time." Another mother who I knew from pre-school told me, "all the boys love the Girl Child". I inquired, with some concern, why that would be and she told me it was because the Girl Child liked to play and run around with them during recess. I'm glad it was that and not because she was showing the boys her underwear in the corner of the playground, you know what I'm saying?

* * *

Thursday night I was MC at a dinner for the opening of a private showing of an astounding collection of historic American flags. It went very nicely. Did you know that before 1912 when the President entered an Executive Order setting out the required appearance of the Flag, that the arrangement of the stars was entirely up to the creator's imagination? Cool, no?

* * *

So it is Friday. Finally. And considering the week I have had, I want to leave you with a little something on the lighter side, a little helpful advice from the National Health Service (Britain, I think):


Have a nice weekend!

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