Sunday, December 31, 2006

Pleading Greek

I was hoping to end the year by posting my favorite films and music of 2006, but I'm out with my family and short on time. Like the Greeks, I must mark the year's passing two weeks later than everyone else! Or is that just Christmas?All I can do is wish you all a very happy New Year - hoping to take my life and my blog in new directions in 2007. Love, Aaron

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Danny and I are still in San Francisco, where the whether is brisk but sunny. We rode a cable car, saw performing artists at Fisherman's wharf, and ate New England Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl (pictured below first). Today, I'm hoping I can coax my nephew into visiting Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world (pictured below second).

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Hey there. Greetings from San Francisco, where I'm on a 3-day holiday with my nephew, Danny. This is an aerial view of the Presidio area, where we visited the amazing Exploratorium, a hands-on science fiesta of fun.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Jerusalem Of Gold: Panorama

The Wailing Wall, Judaism's holiest place, and the shiny gold Dome of the Rock, the third-holiest place in Islam.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

More Israel pictures today, signs of the times. The first is a café named, in English, 'Cuppa Joe,' with the transliterated Hebrew equivalent. There's also a Dead Sea sign and a Kosher MacDonalds...

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Dead Sea Mud Treatment

Here's my Cousin Rich taking a Dead Sea Mud Bath last week in Israel.

First, you reach in to a tub of highly sulphuric, mineral-rich Dead Sea Mud and smear it all over your body.

Here's a closer look at the mud tub.

And voilá, Cousin Rich reinvented as the Creature From The Mud Lagoon... After applying the mud, you wait ten minutes in the sun, and the mud turns light grey and starts to solidify around your skin.

Later, a shower of Sulphur Water quickly removes the caked-on mud.

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Everyone...

Last week, in Israel, Cousin Rich and I took our Aunt Eleanor (pictured) out to her favorite restaurant, Tzipporah.
The place is known for its kabobs (I had spring chicken and chicken hearts on skewers), but a dozen tiny appetizer plates really make the meal special (and filling.)

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

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Upon A Midnight Clear

Finally arrived in Arizona with a five-hour delay and much mayhem. I wisely postponed my car rental and took a cab to my Mom's. It's 6am NY time! Good thing I dozed on the plane.

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

So I'm leaving this afternoon to visit my family in Arizona. Will try to post regularly from there!

At Bart and Ashley's holiday party on Decemeber 9th, a most festive Ashley dressed in seasonal green...

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Back from Israel

Where I wasn't on the internet once!. From our friend Ed's holiday party on Dec 8th, here's our friend Raj and, to his right, Fernando's sister, Maria...

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

My Blurry Winter Wonderland

I promise I will clean the lens on this camera! By the time you read this I will be winging my way to Israel. I will post to this blog whenever I can so you can follow along on the adventure...

Below is the holiday display in the lobby of 55 E 52nd St where I work

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wikilibrium: Shades of Grey

So I'm off to Israel tonight. While net-surfing to learn more about Israel's troubled history, I reached a startling conclusion: Wikipedia, despite much criticism about the accuracy of an encylopedia edited by its readers, often winds up providing fair and balanced articles on very controversial topics. This because both sides of an argument contribute, sources and footnotes are encouraged, and the Wiki-staff aims for balance and errs on the side of completeness. Now, I'm solid centre-left Democrat, those are my core beliefs, but I also believe there are two sides to every story. FDR, for example, remains my hero and the finest President of the 20th Century, but it's quite possible that some of his programs may have actually prolonged the depression. Very little is black-and-white, and Wikipedia is good at capturing the shades of grey.

It's interesting, for instance, to read about Israel and Palestine, having been raised with only the Israeli side of the story. However pro-Israel one is, it's hard to object to the fairness of mentioning that when Israel was partitioned, Arabs outnumbered Israelis 2 to 1 in the portion assigned to Israel. I certainly believe Israel deserves its own state and defensable borders, but I can also see how this looked to the Arabs. There was particularly good balance on explaining why so many Arabs fled Israel - there was virtue and blame on both sides - many Jews really did encourage Arabs to stay, a few Jewish mayors did expel their towns' Arabs, while the Arabs themselves, preparing to attach Israel, encouraged Arab non-combattants to flee temporarily to neighboring countries for safety.
More balance: while Israel's independence created half a million Arab refugees, half a million Jews more or less had to flee most of the Arab countries where they had lived for centuries. Not so black-and-white, after all.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ann Atomy

"The lady with all the answers doesn't have the answer to this one" - that was Eppie Lederer aka Ann Landers' wistful comment on her 1975 divorce. That always stuck with me.

This Jewish identical twin (her twin was Dear Abby!) entered the advice game when her husband moved to Chicago and her efforts to get involved in local Democratic party politics ran into a brick wall because of differences in style and attitude.

As a teen I thought she was very wise and progressive, willing to take stands against domestic abuse and rape, advocating for therapy and counseling, and showing early acceptance of being gay as something normal in nature.

In retrospect, I realize she could also be flippant and insensitive. I remember a deeply depressed woman who had lost a lifetime of clippings and memorabilia when her house burned down. When asked if she'd ever lost something of value, Ann curtly said 'yes, my parents, now what were you saying about your clippings?' Obviously, that woman had deeper troubles and needed help, not a dismissive reproach.

The unusual thing was that she often owned up to her mistakes when readers took her to task, typically saying she deserved 'thirty lashes with a wet noodle' or something to that effect.

When she announced her divorce, she said she wouldn't consider having sex outside of marriage. She died 27 years later without ever re-marrying.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Thomas, who was visiting last week, has posted the view from my apartment with some interesting comments about a newcomer on the landscape.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

It's an intense time of holiday parties, shopping, and scrambling to get my work done before I leave Wednesday. Was planning to write a post on the movie "History Boys," which I enjoyed. Here are the pictures, anyway:

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

So Tiny!

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Friday, December 08, 2006

So Close!

Tel Aviv is 11 miles from the West Bank, 44 miles from Gaza, 69 miles from Amman, 130 miles from Beirut, 133 miles from Damascus, 252 miles from Cairo, and 565 miles from Baghdad. So if Tel Aviv were Manhattan, Gaza would be Nassau County, Beirut & Damascus would be Hartford, Cairo would be Boston, and Baghdad would be Ohio.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

My New Digs...

As of late 2007-early 2008, my employer will be moving to 7 World Trade Center, the brand new skyscraper that replaced the collapsed 7 World Trade Center.

What goes down, must come up.

We'll be on floors 30-33.

Last night I attended the EMTA ball, in suit, tie, jacket & overcoat. This is to benefit emerging markets charities such as Empower and Trickle Up.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Now and Then

Here's a aerial photo of Bat Yam, Israel, where my Aunt Eleanor lives, a few miles south of Tel Aviv. Bat Yam has changed a lot since the late 1960s when Little Aaron spent a summer there (see 1960s photo below).

Holiday parties are in full swing here in the Apple - tonight I have the Emerging Markets Trading Association charity ball, tomorrow night it's my gay outdoors group, Sundance Adventure, and Saturday with friends uptown in the afternoon and in Park Slope with Bart & Ashely in the evening. Next Tuesday is my apartment building's holiday shindig, for which the halls are already decked. And next Wednesday night, I'm off to Israel....

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Don't Know Nothing 'Bout Chemistry...

This is Polonium. Don't touch it, or go near it.

Here I am, trying to work hard when everyone's mind is checking out for the holidays.

Last night had appetizers at Bright Food Shop with my friend Thomas, the man who encouraged me to blog. He's in town this week ahead of starting a new job.

I've also been scurrying to recall (and build on) the Hebrew I learned, on-and-off, as a grade schooler...

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Happy Birthday, Danny!!!

I'm the only one who calls my nephew Danny - he's Dan to everyone else. Cool Dan. Dan the Man. So today Dan becomes a teenager - I hope it's the beginning of some wonderful times.

I love Dan a lot and I'm very proud to have a nephew with so much personality and intelligence.

I don't see him often enough, but when I do, it's very special. Here's to you Dan - Happy Happy Birthday Baby...

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bewitching Performances

As I watch "Johnny Belinda," I realize why Agnes Moorehead was a four-time Oscar nominee and how ironic it is that she'll be remembered for playing Endora on the "Bewitched" TV series. She never won - always a bridesmaid, but the Academy was nominated her work as supporting actress in "Magnificent Ambersons (pictured top)," "Johnny Belinda," "Mrs. Parkington" and "Hush, Hush Sweet Charolette (pictured second)."

She generally played hardscrabble spinsters and, memorably, she played the impoverished mother of the title character in "Citizen Kane." In "Johnny Belinda" she's a hard-as-nails rural maiden aunt who shows an unexpected reserve of tenderness and decency - her range is remarkable. "Johnny" was nominated for 12 Oscars, but only won for Jane Wyman's astounding work as the ill-fated deaf-mute girl of the title. Wyman was married to future President Ronald Reagan at the time, forty years later became a television icon as the tyricannical matriarch of "Falcon Crest." It remains unconfirmed as to whether, despite two long marriages, she was indeed a lesbian. Here's more about her life and career. At left is Moorehead dolled up in her Sunday best.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Square Pegs in a Round Childhood

I was struck by today's NYT article today on childhood gender non-conformity, and growing support among psychologists for allowing these children to be themselves, even to the point of allowing children to cross-dress when they seem strongly inclined to do so. This is a dilemma even for enlightened parents, who don't want to suppress their childrens' true selves, but worry about cruelty and non-acceptance from the outside world. The article points to high depression and suicide rates among these children as a reason to shift tactics, and suggests that 3/4 of these children turn out gay, most of the rest straight, and a small fraction become transsexuals. Personally, I certainly found growing up gay difficult in my generation, though the difficulties hit in adolescence, not childhood. While I seldom fit in as a child, this rarely played out as a gender issue, as I avoided both typically male and female activities, choosing to collect maps and take a neighborhood census...

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Friday, December 01, 2006


It looks like my final foreign trip of 2006, and my 102nd overall, will be my return to Israel after over 37 years! I'm visiting my Aunt Eleanor there from December 14-21. When I was 9, my sister and I spend a summer living with her in Bat Yam, a southern suburb of Tel Aviv, while my parents supervised a group of teenagers touring Israel. This was my first major foreign experience, the one that made me want to learn languages. Back then, Israel was a good 20 years behind the states - five hours of television a day, live poultry markets, and such - but now it's caught up, which means I'll see Israel about 60 years more advanced than I remember it. This trip would be my 5th to the Middle East (I've been to Israel and Turkey, and to Morocco twice). Since Israel (and Turkey) are technically in Asia, you could call it my 9th Asian trip - or not. It would be my 37th non-business foreign trip. I will have spent 40 days of 2006 outside the country, or 12% - slightly below my 13% average for the decade, but well above my lifetime average of 6.65% (3 years and 43 days abroad out of 46.84 years). Finally, this decade is 69.1% over, in case you haven't been keeping track... Pictured above, the Wailing Wall (holiest place in Judaism) and the Dome of the Rock (third-holiest place in Islam).

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