Saturday, October 9, 2021

Saturday - Third and final Yizkor at New Montefiore Cemetery posting

Mourning is both a personal and communal activity. Nobody but the mourner feels the particular loss they are grieving, but many feel or have felt something similar, and can both sympathize and empathize. I cannot get inside the head of someone who has lost a parent recently, but having lost my parents and remembering how I felt, even if the sharp pains of that moment are blunted by the passage of time I can sympathize and offer honest words of condolence. If I can bring those old feelings back and let the grief wash over me for a moment, in silence I can empathize.

When the children and their children and grandchildren of the Radomers gather at the cemetery, we let some of the pain come back but ease it with the companionship of our fellows who are all in the same place. It's not the words of the prayers that make us better, it's saying them together that allows us to put aside differences and share our humanity. 

Beginning in March 2020, many of those whose close relations and friends passed away often had to mourn with their community kept at a distance. Video chats and conferences don't compete with the warmth of a person sitting next to you, perhaps in silence.

The Jewish mourning ritual is a step by step process that begins with the burial. If it is a parent that is being mourned, the stages will take a year to complete, though most of the last 11 months the mourner has returned to their normal routine.

For a person who is Ashkenazi, toward the end of that year or later, the stone on the grave is unveiled in a brief, usually meaningful ceremony. There is a tradition among the Radomers to hold the unveiling at the Yizkor if it is near the anniversary of the person's death.

It was good to get back together. Now we all have to practice good community/public health measures to show that community and communal responsibility is a way to express personal liberty.

Here's the final group of photos I've selected. I take too many and it takes time to select and edit a posting. I am glad I can do it.










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Friday, October 8, 2021

Friday - Second Yizkor at New Montefiore post

Every year now, before the service, I stop at the cemetery office to pay a courtesy call on their grounds manager, Tommy Whelan. We chat for 15 or 20 minutes and catch up on each other's year as well as dealing with any issues that can't be taken care of with a phone call. This year, he told me about how hard it was for him and his crew, as well as everyone working at the cemetery during the first months of the pandemic.

He said that normally that get a handful of funerals every day or during a week, but that every morning when the cemetery gates were opened there'd be a line of hearses waiting, sometimes more than 30 burials in a day, and that number was that low because the cemetery only accepts Jewish deceased. Nearby Pinelawn, a nonsectarian cemetery was getting 2 1/2 times as many. One morning, a panel truck was waiting and inside were stacked a half dozen or more coffins. The funeral director didn't have enough hearses. Coffins were arriving in all sorts of vehicles because people were dying in droves. It must've been horrible.

So as difficult as it was for me and the other members of the Radomer Society's cemetery committee, I think he had it worse.

Here is a few more photos. One more post will follow.









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Thursday, October 7, 2021

Thursday - A Yizkor to remember the Shoah and the remnants of a community

It is the tradition of the survivors from the city of Radom in Poland, their children, grandchildren and now, great-grandchildren, to gather on the Sunday between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at their communal burial grounds at New Montefiore Cemetery in Pinelawn, NY to solemnly recall those who were lost, those who survived and have now passed on and to keep the memories alive. Last year, for the first time since the tradition began, no service was held because of the Covid-19 Pandemic. This year, we were vaccinated and comfortable gathering again.

Most of the First Generation has passed away. It's more than 76 years since the end of WWII and the liberation of the camps. This year only one survivor of the Shoah was there with us, but nearly 100 children of survivors and their children and grandchildren made the trip to New Montefiore to stand together remembering our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and friends among whose graves and memorials we stood. 

During the first months we suffered many losses from the virus and we feared the end of the line for the generation of survivors. So little was known and so many errors were made but the number of deaths tapered off, though we did lose 18 members from the beginning in 2020 until we met. It was a difficult time. To memorialize them with a gift of life, the Radomer Mutual Culture Center is donating and ambulance to the Mogen David Adom.

This will be the first of three postings of photos I took. 

As you already know, click to expand.










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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Thursday - Thoughts on a road trip with my kid

 My youngest child is 30 years old. Don't worry about how old I am. Some days I feel like I'm older than dirt and others, younger than springtime, or whatever. But Hudson and I haven't spent a lot of time together, meaning several days, since they were in college. That made this trip special all by itself.

Spending seven+ hours in the car together, just the two of us in that bubble turned out to be rather pleasant. The drive up was pretty much uneventful except for a few rain showers along the way, and the route took me along a road I'd never traveled before, through a few towns in Wyoming County and eastern Erie County that were new to me.

Hudson was interested in the route, especially after we got off I-390 and headed west from Mount Morris. Wyoming County is rolling farm country, with corn fields, orchards and dairy pastures. The ridges were often crowned with wind turbines, as electricity generation has become a substantial financial support to the farms. They are neither ugly nor beautiful and add a certain SF atmosphere to the bucolic scene.

Hudson is very political and they paid attention to the American flags, the occasional Trump sign and notable anti-SAFE Act signs - which is an indicator of a 2nd Amendment absolutist since the act does nothing to prevent most people from buying, owning and using their weapons legally.

I do wonder why people vote against their own interests in the name of "personal liberty," or because they are driven by resentment or imagined grievances. Yet people like Trump, and of course the loser ex-President himself, stoke those grievances and resentments with lies and inflammatory rhetoric. These people - the leaders and politicians - are drunk with their power to sway the minority and do nothing positive for anyone.

Anyway, here are a few photos of the derelict Buffalo Central Terminal. It once was an Art Deco landmark, now it's in serious need of major repair. From what I understand, its structure has been stabilized - the roof repaired, access to the interior controlled to prevent further vandalism, but it's still sad to see what it is. The woman in the photo painting over some graffiti told me the thing they need most now is money. 









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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Tuesday - Back from Buffalo

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post. I've been busy but I'm catching up. I've got plenty of photos to post but I'll only do a few at a time.

I took a short roadtrip to Buffalo NY with Hudson, one of my adult children. We left from Chappaqua on Thursday morning and got back Sunday evening.

My car is a 2004 Saab 9-3 Turbo. Despite its age, it has only 100 thousand miles driven, so it’s young for its years. The only real issue is with the audio system and that is a story I don’t want to get into now.

Of course, I took a lot of photos, of course I chatted with people, and we drove around quite a bit, just looking. Buffalo has changed and is changing, possibly for the the better. The last time I was there the East Side, especially the ghetto, looked terrible. There were abandoned homes, wrecked cars, trash filled lawns and such everywhere. Since then, the abandoned homes have been razed, the wrecks towed and where there were ruined houses there are now mowed lawns.

Some of the empty and desolate industrial lots where the ruins of factories and warehouses could be seen behind razor wire topped cyclone fences across a field of high weeds, have been removed. Now there is an empty field or new construction – not necessarily attractive but less of an eyesore than before. The former air of despair and abandonment is no more.

Hudson noted that the city seemed more provincial than the Brooklyn, where they live - actually they said less cosmopolitan - but I pointed out that Brooklyn has nearly 10 times as many people, and that for a smallish city, Buffalo does okay.

One thing Buffalo has is interesting local foods. Buffalo chicken wings are nationally known. Less known are the roast beef on kummelweck sandwiches, and Texas red hots. On Saturday afternoon, we drove to Tonawanda to eat at Ted's Red Hots on Sheridan Drive. It's not far from where my late friend, John Farrell lived.

Texas red hots are the Buffalo/Erie County version of hot dogs. They are good enough that former residents visiting from out of town, such as myself and the family pictured, will make a side trip to eat some. The place is popular: witness the line of people getting their orders.

The staff is friendly and so are the customers. After all, how can you be miserable when you are about to eat a terrific locally produced hot dog with fixings?

The woman in the Buffalo State sweatshirt is a teacher of special needs kids in the Buffalo school system. She seems like a very special person herself. Her sister was just a little shy about my taking her photo.

                                        










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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Wednesday - Still digesting Texas imitating Communist East Germany

 The anti-abortion movement is against democracy. In Texas it has convinced the Republican Party that dividing people against each other is the best way to eliminate abortion in their state. The state itself no longer needs to concern itself with directly investigating and prosecuting the people and organizations that provide abortion services, that role has been delegated to private individuals. At the same time, this opens up an Informer State and potentially a form of Communist totalitarianism that Texans should be revolted by rather than embrace.

I am not sure I understand the motivations of the Texas Republican controlled legislature and executive. On the one hand, they have often sought to limit access to the courts on civil matters with the aim of restricting the right to sue. But this law goes in the opposite direction and makes abortion a civil liability, with enforcement devolved to private individuals. There is little good here and lots of potential ill. For one, it aims to make everyone a snitch against their neighbors, not just for moral but also financial gain. It will possibly clog up the courts with poorly structured and unprovable case and act to limit speech.

This law brings to mind the Stasi, the secret police of the German Democratic Republic - more often known as Communist or East Germany. Stasi turned the people against each other. You never knew who was an informer and you could be made suspect for no reason or any reason. Texas is trying to become a police state where everyone is empowered to act as a cop, but who will police the police?

So what can we do? Well, we can start with economic boycotts: no more Texas products in your home, letter writing campaigns to companies headquartered there to let them know that they will be boycotted as accessories and abettors. And so on. They've kept their mouths shut on this issue and so silently support the implementation of a new form of Communistic surveillance state. Many of the anti-abortionists, who show that at heart they are totalitarian in their attitude toward disagreements over opinion rather than fact, are not motivated by money, but politicians, no matter what their public moral stance, usually are. 

So let's hit them where it hurts if we can and boycott Texas. It's your right and even your duty.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Saturday - It's still hurricane season but we own the little sump pump that can

 What a week! 

Monday was pretty normal but Tuesday we started prepping for what would be Tropical Depression Ida, what Hurricane Ida had become by the time it reached the metro-NYC area. We expected lots of rain and some strong but not outrageous wind so we filled some buckets with fresh water in case the power went out - our water supply is an artesian well but if there's no power, the water pump doesn't work, made sure anything that could get knocked over or blown around was secured, and that was it.

Tuesday night it started raining and raining and raining. It rained so hard and so fast that it was cascading down the terraces and stairs in the backyard. It was accompanied by a huge thunderstorm with dramatic lighting bursts. It was a seriously intense storm, indeed. By the time it slowed down, we had about two feet of water in the basement. Our 200+ year old house has a stone foundation so it will let some water in but it was spurting in through some spots. 

There wasn't anything I could do about it so I went to sleep. When I got up at 4AM I checked to see how much water was in the basement, expecting I'd be baling all day until we could get a plumber to come. I was pleased to see the floor was wet but there were no puddles or pools. Outside, I checked the outlet pipe from the sump pump and it was spewing water into the stream running down the road.

That sump pump never gave out, it just kept ond oing what it  was supposed to do. We got off easy: the fuel pump and controller for our furnace needed to be replaced and that was it. Out internet connection went offline for a few hours but considering the bigger picture, that was a mere inconvenience.

MetroNorth Commuter Railroad got hit hard.They cancelled service on Thursday while they cleaned up the tracks, and one of their lines, the Hudson, is still out while they clear the wash-outs and mudslides.

Central Park in NYC had over 5" of rain in one hour. Around us, we got somewhere between 6" and 7" overnight, a few miles north in Mt. Kisco, over 9" was measured.

We might not be able to do much about it, and even the best preparations can prove sorely inadequate, but we sure do like talking about it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Tuesday - Hurricane Ida crushed Louisiana and loser Trump was upset. A few photos of things I see

 I wish Donald Trump would just go away. It's always about him and never about us, the people of this country. A headline taken from TheHill.com, a slightly right of center website covering politics read, "Trump complains about media coverage of Hurricane Ida."

The article goes on to report on an interview this hyper-egotist, this vain LOSER and liar gave to a very Conservative radio station on Saturday night, just hours before a category 5 hurricane was going to slam into the Louisiana coast. The former asshole-in-chief, yes, that idiot and LOSER donald trump of the small hands, was upset because the news didn't go on about his ultimately failed negotiations with the Taliban, which legitimatized them and undercut the Allies efforts to leave something stable behind. He said, and I quote theHill.com quoting the LOSER trump, "'The level of stupidity — and we had a great agreement,' Trump said, referring to the 2020 deal his administration made with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. troops by May 1."

Yes, the withdrawal was a messed up operation, but the three presidents before Biden built this mess up to an irredeemable point. 

My point is that Donald stupid lying egotistical, pathologically vain Trump was upset because the weather was more important than him.

The regularity of my bowel movements is more important than him.

I deliberately chose theHill.com's coverage because they aren't a liberal site.

Enough.

A few photos of things I see.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Saturday - No politics, no science - tourists drifting back to NYC

No musings tonight on the nature of the universe, of whether scientific theories or mathematical proofs are invented or discovered, and no politics except to say don't be a fool, your liberty is not at stake when you act like a citizen: get vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Thursday - Random photos vs. quantum probability

 I spend a lot of time thinking about quantum mechanics - sort of obvious if you've been reading my blog entries the past few months. One of the questions I've been pondering is about the quanta of the macroscopic world. Nothing so deep as quantum gravity - that's a problem I haven't been wrestling with - but more along the lines of myself as a quantum and how I exhibit some of the same phenomena in my daily life that should not be impactful even if all the phenomena described by quantum mechanics do happen at the human scale.

The physicists I've been listening to - Dr. Brian Greene, Dr. Erica Carlsen, Dr. Sean Carroll, Dr. Leonard Susskind, and more, caution me to be aware that at the scale where I can detect phenomena without the aid of very sensitive instruments, there is too much going on to solve the problems, that the phenomena I might want to solve for is too - and I hesitate to use this word - entangled with too many other things going on, to be able to distinguish the answers.

And yet, as I mentioned not too long ago, I can seem to someone who wants to know where I am or where I am going and about when I might get there, in a sort of superposition. I am told that the quantum wave function is real yet describes where a particle might be found when I look for it, and that the particle does not know where it is or where it will be found until it is observed.

I won't ascribe consciousness to a particle. An electron, a quark, a photon can't know where it is because as solitary particle its properties have been measured and quantized. Yet the question of what the outside world saw of me when I was alone, in my car, without any tracking devices, essentially unmeasured and undetected until I arrived at my destination, remains with me.

From inside that car, knowing where I was and where I was going, I'm pretty sure I wasn't in superposition.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Tuesday - The storm's passed, back to the city tomorrow

 We were lucky where I live. Hurricane Henri didn't come this way. Hardly any wind, little damage but a lot of rain, and I mean a lot of rain. It went on into the early afternoon. From what I heard, NYC had a record rainfall.

Meanwhile, parts of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts got hit hard. 

Hurricanes are not gentle things. They are fierce, dangerous and overwhelming. You can't stop a hurricane by spitting in the wind.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Saturday - Waiting on the weather

As I sit here writing, Hurricane Henri is a category 1 storm moving in a northerly direction, about 335 miles south of Montauk Point at the eastern end of Long Island. With hurricanes, nothing is certain until it's gone past and even then, some have turned and hit places that thought they were out of harms way.I am about 10 miles north of Long Island Sound, which is far enough to not worry about a storm surge but not far enough to not be affected if the storm comes this way. I lived through Hurricane Sandy which clobbered New Jersey, New York and Connecticut and from which some infrastructure is still under repair. I was in NYC the day before the storm and I noted that the litter baskets not secured had been removed, shops taped their windows to prevent flying glass, and everyone was hunkered down, as well they should've been. The storm brought down enough trees where I live to isolate us for a few days and then to leave us without power for 10 days, and we were lucky. No serious property damage, nobody hurt and not having running water was probably the biggest inconvenience.

I remember Hurricane Belle in the summer of 1976. It was aimed directly at the New York Metro area and came ashore on Fire Island, a barrier island with lots of summer communities about 60 miles east of New York City, and cause serious damage there. Manhattan, where I was living then, was blasted by the western edges of the storm, and it was still seriously intense. I put on an army surplus poncho/shelter half that I used in very wet weather and went for a walk. I lived on the Upper West Side and I started my walk along Riverside Drive, thinking I'd see some interesting things across the Hudson. What I remember was the wind was strong enough to drive water through every opening in the poncho, that walking into the wind was impossible, that I was soaking wet within minutes of entering the storm, and that parked cars were shaking up and down and trees were groaning and shaking violently, shedding leaves and small branches that were hurtling through the air, larger branches crashing down on top of parked cars and blowing into the middle of Riverside Drive. 

I think I walked two blocks. I realized that I was being stupid and putting my life at risk. The wind lashed debris in my face,  my clothes were so soaked under my poncho and the poncho too much like a sail, that I sheltered in the entryway of an apartment building, took it off and folded it up as compactly as it would go. I could not stay where I was because debris was flying all around me, windows were crashing out of their panes above me, and all of this not even close to the center of the storm! Out on Long Island the winds were stronger than 100 miles per hour and it would've been horrific to be in them. Where I was, on the west side of Manhattan, I don't know what they measured but they felt stronger than the winds felt when I'd stick my hand out the window of a car traveling more than 60 mph.

Global climate change is affecting the strength and number of ocean born storms every year. I'm a lot older now than that brash young man in 1976, and where I live the danger of falling trees is far greater - there are many more trees and they are much larger - so I won't go out in the storm. But afterwards I marvel at the how strong nature is and how puny we are in comparison.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Thursday - Not knowing what to write I write about history and Afghanistan. More Beacon photos.

Sometimes I don't know what to write and I don't know what I will write, but write I will. Today I've been thinking about history and how ignorant of it most of us are. At best we have a superficial smattering left over from high school and perhaps university. If only the latter, more than likely what was learned was mostly forgotten and that would be for the best since pre-college history is less about understanding how we got to where we are and more a matter of making us proud of who we are. Teaching civics is well and good but calling it history is malpractice and leads to disputes  such as the one going on now regarding how and whether to teach the history of racism in the United States.

More current is how we are absorbing here, in the USA the sudden fall of Afghanistan. The the recriminations come from the same people who wanted us in then out of Afghanistan. 20 years ago we sought to punish the Taliban without every trying to understand who the enemy was, how our enemy fought and how their military was inspired by the same intensity of faith that drove them to never give up despite being chased from power. Don't blame George Biden alone, blame George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump for never trying to take the measure of the enemy. Blame Ronald Reagan for supporting anti-Communist terrorism around the world, and blame George H. Bush and Bill Clinton for continuing these failed policies. Supporting terrorism in a war against terrorism only generates new terrorists and more terrorism.

And if there was a failure of intelligence, it goes back to our support for the Anti-Soviet Islamic Mujahideen beginning in the early 1980s. We armed them but never really got to know who they were and what their supplanting the Soviet backed regime in Kabul would lead to.

I don't know if it's apt to quote George Santyana here, but he famously said,Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Considering I didn't know what to write, I ended up writing more than a little.

Here's a few more photos from last Saturday's stroll along Main Street, Beacon NY. 

The firefighters in the first pair were on duty, alert and ready to roll. Luckily, there were no fires in Beacon that evening.

The next one is shot from across the street from the Hudson Valley Food Court. The banner is for Shmuck's Sweet Stuff. What I wonder is whether that's the owner's name or did the proprietor not know how to spell schmuck?

We got our sweets further east on Main St. at Gourmetibles where the proprietor was mixing Sunday's fudge. Would've been even cooler if she was mixing Sunday's sundaes. Sadly, no website so I've linked their facebook page. As you might know, I am off facebook for many reasons. The ice cream was excellent.

On the east side of Fishkill Creek - or should that be FishCreek Kill or Fishcreek creek or Fishkill Kill - near the waterfall, there was an event going on. Probably a wedding from what I could tell.

And the man with the flip phone(!) was selling a variety of interesting used goods outside the former Matteawan Train Station but though there are tracks there are no trains. 

And last, lots of fossils from an ancient sea bed embedded in matrix with some sort of protective, clear  coating. If anyone can tell me more about it, post a comment.









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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Tuesday - more thoughts on the fall of Afghanistan / Stopping at the Clutter Gallery in Beacon, NY

Was there ever a chance that an Afghan government supported by outsiders, NATO this time, would survive the departure of the outsiders? Was there any sense to using military methods to replace an unwanted government deemed undesirable? My initial thought was that all these invaders of Afghanistan, going back through all of history, were like Sisyphus and the stone, when it rolled back down, rolled right over them.

I am concerned for the fate of those Afghans who tried to change the way Afghanistan is ruled and the way it deals with the world, will suffer retribution from the Taliban for not being Islamist enough, for collaborating with the enemy, and just because they are in the wrong place or look the wrong way. The Taliban leadership is speaking with a conciliatory tone and I wonder whether it is a change after 20 years out of power or a ruse to get people calm and ready to accept their leadership before dropping a weight of dictatorial fiat rule and theocratic jurisprudence on a docile population.

I suspect conciliation is a short-term policy and theocracy the ultimate goal, but short of another invasion, which is highly unlikely, we will have to wait it out and see what direction the Taliban takes.

The failure of nation-building was predictable if not inevitable. Under three Presidents, Bush 2, Obama and Trump, we saw the situation remain unstable, the Taliban determined to not surrender, and no resolution in sight. Once Trump decided to cut the cord last year by making a deal with the Taliban that we could not enforce, the stone began rolling down hill.

That the world and the people of Afghanistan have to wait to see what the Taliban will do is nerve wracking, especially for the Afghans.

Could NATO have done more? I think more would've depended on significant resistance to the Taliban from within Afghanistan, as the Taliban presented significant resistance to NATO and the NATO backed government, and it just wasn't there. Perhaps in the future, but not now.

I'll quote from Pirkei Avot, the Sayings of the Fathers, an ancient Jewish text. Rabbi Hillel is reported to have said, "If I am not for myself, who is for me? But if I am for my own self [only], what am I? And if not now, when?"

This seems apt right now.