Log in

25 August 2016 @ 05:17 pm
The other thing I did when I was up in New York was visit two cemeteries with my uncle Herb. We started at Montefiore, specifically old Montefiore, in Springfield, Queens. That’s where a lot of my mother’s family members are buried and we started with the plot for the Congregation Sons of Jacob Tiktiner Young Men, which is a burial society for people from Tykocin, Poland (which is Tiktin in Yiddish).

My grandfather, Simon LUBOWSKY is buried right in front, with an empty space next to him. My grandmother, Lillian, who died several years before him, is further back. Apparently, the intent was for his second wife to be buried next to Grandpa, but she’s actually in a different burial society (and possibly a different cemetery). According to Herb, she lived to be over 100, but I searched after the visit, and she was only 99 when she died just a couple of years ago. That also shows her as Rose ROSENBERG LUBOWSKY. I am not sure if ROSENBERG was her maiden name or the name of her first husband. The story, by the way, is that a year or so after Grandma died, Grandpa decided he should improve his English so signed up for night school. But he met Rose, who also spoke Yiddish, and they decided to marry and speak Yiddish with each other.

Also in the same area are the graves of Grandpa’s brother, Willi, Willi’s wife, Sarah, and their son, Milton. Then there is another brother, Max. There was a large, overgrown shrub in front of his gravestone, so I couldn’t photograph it. But I could clear enough to learn that his Hebrew name was Mordechai. This proved useful in doing some searching of immigration records.

One of Grandpa’s sisters, the notorious Mary LEHRMAN, is also there. (She is the one who was the subject of a criminal investigation, accused of practicing medicine without a license, for performing electrolysis at her beauty salon in the Bronx.) What’s interesting there is that her gravestone shows her first name as Miriam (most records show her as Mariasha) and indicates that she died in an accident. That seems like a potential subject for more research.

I thought we were done, but Herb said we had another relative there. This turned out to be Sima SLANSKY. She died young – at age 35 – of cancer on 30 October 1953. I have some very speculative ideas about the SLANSKY family. I can find a census record for a Lena and Sam SLANSKY, with several children. Now, Grandpa had a sister named Lena, usually known within the family as Laika. The first problem is that I knew of her husband as Sam WEINER, not SLANSKY. The other problem is that I thought she had stayed in Europe and survived the Shoah, coming to the U.S. later. There are a handful of remaining older relatives, but I don’t know if any of them will know anything.

We also went over to anther burial society, New People’s Synagogue. It was fairly easy to find several of the LEBOFSKY graves. Nathan (another of Grandpa’s brother’s and, so far as I know, the first to come to the U.S.) was near the front. His gravestone indicated that his Hebrew name was Nachman David. His second wife, Jennie, is buried nearby, as is his daughter, Celia. According to Herb, Celia was killed in a train accident in Washington, D.C. That is obviously worthy of some newspaper searching. He believed she came to Washington for work, which makes some sense, since she was a public health nurse. Alas, I completely forgot to look for Nathan’s first wife, Rose, who the cemetery locator says is in the same block.

Finally, we tried to find the graves of another of Grandpa’s sisters, Adele WASSERMAN, and her husband, Max. We failed miserably. A quick search now reveals the problem. They are at New Montefiore, which is in West Babylon, on Long Island. On the plus side, that is quite near Mount Ararat Cemetery, where my parents (and my paternal grandfather) are. I believe that Rose, Grandpa’s second wife, is also at New Montefiore.

We also took photos of gravestones for other people, but there isn’t much to say about that other than it is probably best not to do cemetery visits on days that are close to 100 degrees out. Also, the signs at Montefiore leave a lot to be desired. I still need to make the time to do some photo processing, as the files are too big to email.

Anyway, we went on to Mount Judah in Ridgewood, where my great-grandparents (i.e. Herb’s grandparents), Enoch Ber and Malka Ryfka SCHWARTZBART, are buried. We had some trouble finding the correct section because Herb made a wrong turn and we wandered around quite a long time. Did I mention that it was incredibly hot and humid out? I was getting rather grumpy, but we did find them in the end. It’s worth noting that those gravestones are entirely in Hebrew / Yiddish.

After I got back, I did a bit more work. I finally found Max’s passenger manifest, which was under the name Mottel CHLIBEJOYZKY. He arrived 16 Sep 1913 on the Potsdam from Rotterdam and was going to his brother, Nachman. Who we know is Nathan. I still haven’t found Nathan’s manifest. I am also still trying to figure out the mysterious Icek CHLEBIOCKY, having found even more evidence that he must be one of Grandpa’s brothers because I noticed his manifest has a notation about an inquiry from the American Consulate in Toronto in October 1937 – which is not long before Willi arrived in the U.S. from Canada. (There’s still no info on how he got from Havana to Toronto, however.) Unfortunately, Icek’s manifest is really hard to read. I’d like to find out his occupation and who he was going to (I can tell it’s a half-sister), which may help in solving the mystery. The best guesses I have so far are that he was a tanner and was going to Anna WALEWSKA. Which clears up nothing, of course.

One other thing I’ve found is the record of Willi and Sarah marriage in the Bronx on 21 December 1937. But they entered the U.S. as husband and wife on 10 December 1937. Given that their son, Milton, was born in 1934, that marriage record is particularly interesting.
I did a bit of theatre going over the past couple of weeks.

NY Weekend Part 3 - The Mushroom Cure: I went to see this one man play (aka storytelling show but they don’t advertise it as such) because it got a good review in Time Out. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a subject that fascinates me, though I’ve concluded I’m on the high functioning margins of it if at all. And, besides, it was about $25, versus $500+ for Hamilton.

Adam Strauss’s OCD was particularly focused on seeking perfection, leading him to, say, change his shirt over and over again for hours or zig zag across the street trying to decide which is the better side to walk on. There is definitely humor in this, but also obvious pain. Then he reads an article suggesting that psychedelic mushrooms could cure OCD and sets out to try to obtain some, which leads to experiments with other psychedelics along the way. This is mixed in with the story of a woman he meets while barking his comedy show at Times Square. She’s a graduate student in psychology and surprisingly willing to help him in his experiments, possibly because of her own past.

Things go awry in interesting and, often, funny ways. The problem I had is that it’s hard for me to listen to material like this without being reassured that the teller is safe. And, yes, I know he is sitting there in front of me, but he still comes across as wild-eyed and a bit crazy, so I didn’t really feel sure that he was safe. I don’t think he needed to change much to add that reassurance. Perhaps, just switching the order of a few incidents would have been sufficient. As it was, I thought this was an interesting story, but not entirely successful as a performance piece.

The Tempest: I will actually go to see Shakespeare plays if they’re free. This year’s Shakespeare Theatre Company Free-For-All show is The Tempest and I was lucky enough to win tickets in the on-line lottery after only a few days of trying.

I vaguely recall reading the play in a Renaissance literature class in college and I’ve seen one or two rock opera adaptations of it, as well as hearing a storyteller perform a one-woman version of it. Despite which, I admit that I didn’t really know what to expect. In particular, I didn’t realize how central the drunken butler, Stephano, and the jester, Trinculo, are to the action. Unfortunately, the drunken antics, which are largely focused on getting Caliban drunk (but, it's unclear who is manipulating whom, as Caliban has his own plan) are not really my thing. Or, at least not, when those bits go on as long as they do. I also thought that the wedding masque for Miranda and Ferdinand went on longer than it needed to, though I am sure it was fun for the designer of the massive puppets.

On the plus side, I liked Patrick Page’s performance as Prospero, even though I still fail to understand his change of heart at the end. I also thought that Clifton Duncan was excellent as Caliban, who could easily be overdone in the wrong hands. I also thought the island set was particularly effective. Overall, I’d say it was a good production, but about 20-30 minutes too long.

I also could have lived without the person next to me who apparently believed that the admonitions against cell phone use / photography and eating in the theatre did not apply to her. Some other theatres I’ve been to are more vigilant about enforcing such rules.

China Chilcano: Since I was going to be in Penn Quarter for The Tempest and a friend was going to see Barbra Streisand across the street at the Verizon Center, we had dinner together beforehand at China Chilcano, the Jose Andres Peruvian-Asian fusion place. I ordered a tuna roll (i.e. sushi) and a mushroom skewer. My friend ordered stir fried chicken in lettuce leaves and shu mai. And the two of us split the aeropuerto, a fried rice and noodle dish, so named because everything lands in it. All the food was good, but the waiter failed to correctly charge us the happy hour prices for some of the dishes, leading to a delay getting it all straightened out. Still, it was a good chance to catch up on things.

The Lonesome West: Martin McDonagh has a unique and extremely dark sense of humor. I really enjoyed both the movie In Bruges and his play A Behanding in Spokane, so was eager to see this play at The Keegan Theatre, especially since I got the ticket on Goldstar. It’s the third play in a series set in Leenane, a bleak Irish town plagued with murders, suicides, and drunkenness. And then there’s the matter of the under-12 girls’ football team and whether or not one of their opponents is going to come out of her coma.

Actually, the plot involves two brothers, Coleman and Valene, who have been fighting constantly. Coleman shot and killed their father, but Valene gives him an alibi that it was accidental, in exchange for getting all of the inheritance money. The local priest, who has been driven to drink by the goings on in Leenane, tries to reconcile them, in between being teased by Girleen (a young woman who supplies poteen, i.e. moonshine, to the town) and coaching those murderous under-12 girls. I know that doesn’t sound like much of a basis for humor, but, trust me, there were lots of laughs. I think most of what makes it funny is that it goes so far beyond plausibility. Unexpectedness is a major element of humor and there is plenty of that throughout all of McDonagh’s work.

I really need to see more of McDonagh's work.
19 August 2016 @ 01:08 pm
Yes, I still have theatre and genealogy updates from last weekend in NY to write, as well as things I have done this week. But I don't want to fall behind on the regular topics, so here is a review of my most recent Graze box. (Note that I get an 8 snack box every other week. I normally eat one snack a day, workdays only. So if the box comes on Monday during the day, I eat the last snack the following Thursday.)

Snack #1 – Original Protein Flapjack: This is a typical Graze rolled oat flapjack, in this case with flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. The seeds make it high in protein (8 grams), but also high in fat (15 grams) so it has 260 calories. The description (rolled oats, seeds, soy protein) sounds very wholesome and virtuous, but doesn’t give a hint at how tasty this is. The dominant flavor comes from golden syrup, which is a very British sort of very light molasses type product. I liked this a lot and thought it was a good way to handle a telecon that was going to delay lunch beyond acceptable bounds.

Snack #2 – Sour Cream & Garlic Crostini: This was a repeat. It consists of sour cream & onion cashews and garlic crostini (essentially croutons) and is 130 calories. It’s well-balanced, crunchy, and feels reasonably healthy (due to the cashews). Overall, a good savory snack.

Snack #3 – Strawberries and Cream Protein Granola Topper: Another repeat, this is 130 calories of oat and barley granola, yogurt coated strawberry pieces, soy protein crispies, and freeze dried strawberry pieces. I ate it with some Greek vanilla yogurt. I like the crunchiness, but I can’t get past how this still being strawberry season here, so the sugary freeze dried strawberry pieces just can’t compare to the fresh ones from the farmer’s market.

Snack #4 – Booster Seeds: This is a straightforward mix of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and golden flaxseeds. It’s high in protein (9 grams) but also high in calories (220). There’s not really much to say one way or another about this sort of thing. It’s fine, though unexciting. I do find the tiny flaxseeds to be a bit of a pain to pick up. So one might consider sprinkling this on salad or yogurt or something. But it tastes just fine eating it straight.

Snack #5 – Japanese Miso: This consists of a miso soup paste, which you reconstitute by adding hot water, and a side snack of dried edamame beans. It’s 90 calories – and 750 mg of sodium. I like miso soup in Japanese restaurants, but this version just didn’t work for me. I can’t quite pin down why, but maybe the flavor was a bit too seaweed dominated. As for the edmame, they were okay, but I prefer warm steamed ones to these dry crunchy ones. It’s rare that I really dislike a Graze snack, but I decided to trash this one.

Snack #6 – Snickerdoodle Dip This was another repeat, but since it was of something I absolutely love, I certainly didn’t mind. The combination of cinnamon pretzel sticks and a cookie dip with sweet spices (cinnamon and nutmeg) is just fabulous. It’s also not too bad nutritionally for a sweet snack – 150 calories and 5 grams of sugar. This is another one they can send me as often as they want to.

Snack #7 – Protein Cashew Kick: This has chili lime cashews, garlic sesame sticks, and spicy chickpeas. It’s 6 grams of protein and 180 calories. I’ll admit that I didn’t really taste any significant lime on the cashews, but that isn’t a big deal. Both the cashews and chickpeas have mild chili flavoring, which I found tasty, but not actually hot. The sesame sticks were decidedly garlicky. Overall, I liked both the zesty flavors and the crunchiness of the combination.

Snack #8 - Stars & Stripes: To close out this box, yet another repeat. This mix of blueberry flavored cranberries, miniature blackcurrant fruit stars, and raspberry fruit strings has just 130 calories, but is high in sugar at 25 grams. Still, it is absolutely delicious and that’s still less sugar than in, say, a Milky Way bar. Overall, I think this is an excellent sweet treat.

Summing up, this box was half new, half repeats. All of the repeats were good, though I think my overall favorite snack of this box was the new-to-me Original Protein Flapjack. There are lots of recipes out there for British flapjacks, so I really ought to try making some myself. But it is so easy and so good to just eat the various sorts I get from Graze. The clear loser was the Japanese miso, but I need never have that vile experience again.
16 August 2016 @ 01:39 pm
This past Saturday was a Saturday in August, so it must have been time for Lollapuzzoola. As I’ve said before, this is my favorite puzzle event of the year, largely because the puzzles are just that extra bit more creative. This year’s were particularly good, with a wide mix of themes that were interesting but still fair.

I should note that they expanded the space being used, essentially by opening up an alcove for use by the pairs division. It’s clear that the popularity of the event has grown and they had a wait list for registration. (I had registered more or less when things opened to do so, so it wasn’t an issue for me.) I believe everyone cleared the wait list, but it’s a good reminder to sign up early in the future.

While we waited for things to start, there was a warmup puzzle by Brian Cimet. It had two identical grids, but the clues were mixed together (i.e. two clues for 1A, etc.) so you had to sort out what went in what grid. It wasn’t especially hard, but did take some thinking. Even more thinking was required to work on a cryptic that Ucaimhu had brought along. Note that I said "work on," not "solve." I expect to finish it (and other of his puzzles) somewhere around my 80th birthday.

Anyway, the real event started soon enough. Puzzle #1 was by Mike Nothnagel. There was a bit of pop culture trivia buried in the theme, which gave me a moment’s panic, but it turned out that the crossings were helpful enough to make that not be a problem. Overall, it was a good start to the competition. I solved it cleanly in a reasonable amount of time. (Reasonable for me. The top competitors finish in about the time that I can pick up a pencil.)

Puzzle #2 was by Patrick Blindauer. We were told up front that there was something quirky with how one was to enter the answers, so I was a bit scared. It turned out that the trick wasn’t that bad and it was definitely the sort of thing that one would never see in other puzzle venues. Again, I solved cleanly, though I was a bit slower than I should have been. By the way, there was a cover sheet and they recommended using it for origami after turning in one’s solved puzzle. Alas, it was not quite stiff enough to make a hopping frog with. (I have very limited origami skills and they are oriented towards things you can do with a business card.)

Puzzle #3 by Doug Peterson was a bit tricky. I knew I was doing fine with the answers, but I had to double check just how I’d entered them. That made me slow and, even worse, apparently I didn’t double check quite well enough as I had an error. Someday I will get through an entire tournament cleanly, but this was not going to be that day.

Then came the lunch break. It was beastly hot out, so I wasn’t inclined to do lots of walking around. I went with bugsybanana and her mother a couple of blocks to Hale and Hearty. They do have some cold soups, but I opted for a salad. Which was good, but actually bigger than I wanted, since I had had a largish breakfast. (There is a diner by Hunter College that I like, more for the quality of eavesdropping on the regulars than for their food per se. It’s a very New York place.)

Puzzle #4 is the scary one of Lollapuzzoola, the equivalent of Puzzle #5 at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. The good news this year was that it was by Evan Birnholz. Since he writes the puzzle for the Washington Post Sunday magazine section, I’m comfortable with his style. In this case, I got really lucky, because I happened to start in the northeast corner and saw what was going on right away. That made for a clean solve in a reasonably decent time. (Again, by my standards. How is it that Erik Agard’s paper doesn’t catch on fire from the speed of his writing?)

The final puzzle (well, for those of us who weren’t going to be anywhere near the finals) was by Francis Heaney. There was a gimmick involving having to put certain words at the bottom of the page. But, again, I didn’t really have trouble figuring out what was happening. I got slightly hung up on a little of the fill, which made my time a little on the slow side, but I did get a clean solve.

As for the finals, the clues for the Express division (i.e. the speedsters) appeared near impossible and the clues for the Local division weren’t actually all that much easier.

By the way, there were also a couple of group games to fill in some bits of time. Those were generally fun, though I didn’t think my table had great teamwork. And there was a metapuzzle, which my table didn’t really get around to doing much of.

All in all, it was a fun day of puzzles. I ended up tied for 94th out of 230 contestants, which put me at the 59.1st percentile. That’s a nice improvement over past years:
2012 – 42.6
2013 – 44.6
2014 – 57.6
2015 – 51.0
2016 – 59.1

Now, if I can just outlive all the top solvers ...
Celebrity Death Watch: Pete Fountain was a jazz clarinetist. Joani Blank was the founder of Good Vibrations, the San Francisco store that made vibrators mainstream. Michel Richard was a celebrity chef and one of the people most responsible for making Washington, D.C. a major culinary destination.

Fyvush Finkel is probably better known nowadays for his television roles but, of course, he was a huge star in the world of Yiddish theatre. And he showed up in movies all the time – more or less whenever somebody needed an old man with a Yiddish accent.

Glenn Yarbrough was a folksinger and, in particular, the lead singer of The Limeliters. I grew up listening to their albums and some of their songs, especially some of the comic ones, were major influences on my musical tastes.

I should note that I make no claim to be comprehensive in these items. They happen to have caught my attention for one reason or another, which is not necessarily correlated with how famous or how important they were. I usually write a little bit more about people who I felt more of a personal connection to for whatever reason, but there’s no guarantee.

Non-celebrity Death Watch: My evil twin, Holly Stowe, passed away last week. We got friendly back in the early usenet days largely over shared viola-associated trauma. (That is, the whole bit that lets you play only three notes every ten measures.) We met in person at a weekend event in Indianapolis that included a Halloween party in which we did a tandem costume as Velcro. Her death was not a surprise as she had been dealing with late-stage kidney disease for some time. But I’m still sad.

Another Death Story: I had a reminder that depression is all too often a fatal disease. It isn’t my story to tell, so I will not elaborate, but I will plead that if you are having issues with depression, please, please, please, do all you can to get help.

New York Gelato Tasting: I was up in New York over the weekend, primarily for Lollapuzzoola 9, which I will write about separately. In the evening, I went down to the Village to go to the theatre (which will also merit its own write-up) and, having asked for ice cream advice on facebook, sampled two places. The first was Victory Garden, whose gimmick is that they use goat milk. I tried a flavor called Black Magic, which consisted of a black tahini (i.e. sesame) and cocoa base with salted caramel and chocolate chips. It was quite good, with a nice creamy texture, but possibly a bit too intense in flavor. At any rate, I would certainly go there again and try other flavors of their ice creams.

I also tried a place called Cones, where I got a small cup with two flavors (and, also, sampled a taste of their mascarpone which also had some sort of berries). The two flavors I opted for, however, were the zabayone [sic] and ginger. I was a bit disappointed in the former, though that may have been the influence of their spelling failure. It’s zabaglione, damn it! The ginger was, however, excellent. (Bear in mind that I have a particular fondness for ginger, so may be biased.) I’m actually less inclined to go back there than I am to go back to Victory Garden, mostly because it wasn’t necessarily any different than gelato I can get at lots of places.

The Waldorf-Astoria: Due to some Hilton Honors promotion, it was actually cheaper to stay at The Waldorf-Astoria than it was to stay at a normal chain hotel like a Hampton Inn. So why not? In fact, they upgraded me to a room in the Waldorf Towers, which mostly meant that the room was huge. Given how little time I spend in hotel rooms for anything but sleep, that wasn’t significant. Anyway, it was perfectly fine, but if you are going to stay somewhere fancy in NYC, I preferred the time I stayed at The Algonquin. Even better (but much harder to get a deal at) is The Library Hotel, where they ask you "fiction or nonfiction?" when checking in.

Trains: I had good train karma getting up to New York with snort waits for both the yellow and red lines and Amtrak being on time. Although Union Station was its usual Friday night chaos, made worse by most of the info signs being out. (I now know they use Windows XP for their displays. That is not a reassuring thing.)

The train karma did not, alas, continue for the trip home. Amtrak was having various delays due to a train stuck in an East River tunnel. So we started out a half hour late. And then there was a power outage affecting signals in part of Maryland, so we were moving very very very very very very slowly. A 10 minute wait for the Red Line wasn’t too bad. But, of course, Metro had a screw-up on the Orange Line, so I had almost a 20 minute wait at Metro Center. So, overall, I got home too late to really do anything but collapse.
10 August 2016 @ 03:59 pm
I am crazy busy right now, which is okay because the problem I am dealing with is an interesting one.

It does, however, bother me that I am often happiest with my job when all hell is breaking loose. My experiences where I have been trouble shooting a difficult issue let me use my creativity, as well as highlighting what I (and my organization) can bring to the table.

It's not like I want things to go wrong, so I feel vaguely guilty about this.
04 August 2016 @ 10:42 am
Snack #1 – Salted Fudge & Peanut Cookie: This box had two snacks I had gotten (and liked) before and this was the first of them. It consists of baked salted peanuts, redskin peanuts, miniature cocoa cookies, and little square of vanilla fudge and has 230 calories. It’s a good blend of sweet and salty. I think the fudge works best if you make an effort to eat it only with bites that also contain at least one type of peanut and some cookie. Anyway, I like it and have no objection to the repeat.

Snack #2 – Zesty Lime & Red Pepper Salsa: Obviously, what you get here is not just salsa, but also pita chips to dip in it. It’s one of the lower calorie Graze offerings – only 70. I’d have preferred corn chips, which seem to go better with salsa to my taste. These chips were a bit more like croutons in texture and varied a lot in thickness, with some of them rather too thick for optimal dipping. As for the salsa, it wasn’t bad, but was a bit too sweet and much milder than I’d have preferred. I downgraded this from "like" to "try."

Snack #3 – Vanilla-Almond Protein Granola Topper: This consists of oat and barley granola, soy protein crispies, almond slivers, and vanilla pumpkin seeds. It’s 150 calories and, with 6 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat, it seems equivalent nutritionally to most granola cereals I might buy. (I am fairly addicted to Trader Joe’s Ginger, Almond & Cashew Granola, which is higher in calories and lower in protein, with about the same fat content.) To be fair, I should have tasted this straight, but I didn’t think to and just poured it on a small bowlful of plain yogurt from the farmer’s market. (The Mennonite farmers who come to the Tuesday Crystal City market make really good, tangy yogurt, which reminds me of the yogurt one gets in the Caucasus.) Anyway, I thought the virtue of this granola topper was largely in its crunch. The vanilla and almond flavors were mild and were largely drowned out by the tang of the yogurt. Overall, I thought this was fine, but not particularly exciting.

Snack #4 – Sweet Rhubarb Jam: This has nothing to do with jam per se, but is a mixture of dried fruit – rhubarb slices, apple pieces, and cranberries. It’s 110 calories, but a lot of that is sugar (23 grams of it). I’ll admit I was skeptical, as I haven’t been entirely crazy about the texture of their apple pieces and I was still on the fence about rhubarb. I’m pleased to say that I concluded that rhubarb is actually quite nice. And, as I think I mentioned before, eating a mix of the fruit types helps a lot with the chewy texture of the apple. I was pleasantly surprised.

Snack #5 – Raspberry & Coconut Muffin: This is another deconstructed snack, which consists of raspberry infused cranberries, almond slivers, amaretti drops, and coconut flakes. It’s 140 calories. I’m a little concerned that the amaretti drops are made from apricot kernel, which I understand contain cyanide, though they are apparently a common ingredient in Italian amaretto cookies and liqueur. Anyway, the whole thing tasted surprisingly muffin-like. It works best if you get little bits of each of the components in each bite. Overall, I thought this was a well-balanced, nice sweet snack. I’ve rated it as a "like," not a "love" because of that cyanide concern.

Snack #6 – Lemon Drizzle Flapjack: This is the standard Graze rolled oat flapjack (i.,e. soft granola bar sort of thing) with lemon curd and a yogurt drizzle. It’s 150 calories, including 14 grams of sugar. It is also thoroughly delicious with lots of lemon flavor. I thought the taste and texture of this were both right on the mark. Yum.

Snack #7 – Chocolate Pretzel: This was the other repeat. It consists of lightly salted pretzels, which you dip into a cocoa and hazelnut spread, similar to Nutella. It’s not quite as bad nutritionally as one might expect from that description – 140 calories and 8 grams of sugar. This is just fabulous and, as far as I am concerned, they can give me a container of it in every box they send.

Snack #8 – Sesame Garlic Crunch: This is a mixture of garlic sesame sticks, oat bran sesame sticks and multigrain soy rice crackers. It’s 140 calories. The mix isn’t super-garlicky, which is probably a good thing, since I was eating this at work. I love sesame, so this worked well for me, overall. I was especially pleased that it wasn’t very salty, since excessive saltiness is my most frequent complaint with savory snack foods.

Overall, this box had a very good mix of snacks. Obviously, as time goes on, I expect to get more repeats, but both repeats in this box were things I enjoyed and there was plenty of new stuff to try. My main intention was to shake myself out of a routine and Graze has certainly been successful at that. In fact, I am thinking about backing off on my rejection of raisins as they have several snacks with raisins infused with various other flavors that actually sound good. Banana, however, remains inedible in my book.
02 August 2016 @ 02:22 pm

  1. Do you like blue cheese? No. I’m not much of a cheese person to begin with and I am a bit freaked out over deliberately eating mold.

  2. Have you ever smoked? I briefly experimented with tobacco around 8th grade, but very briefly, largely due to the disapproval of a boy I had a crush on.

  3. Do you own a gun? No.

  4. What is your favorite flavor? It’s between lemon and mint. Or both together.

  5. Do you get nervous before Doctor visits? Yes. This does not do wonders for my blood pressure.

  6. What do you think of hot dogs? They are obligatory at the ball park and an occasional indulgence otherwise.

  7. Favorite Movie? Local Hero is a perfect mixture of quirkiness and good sense.

  8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Coffee. Ideally, freshly ground Celebes, brewed in a Vietnamese drip pot, though a Melitta filter will do and is easier to clean.

  9. Do you do push-ups? No. I do, however, sometimes do push-offs. That is, pushing off the wall, instead of the floor.

  10. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry? A necklace my great-grandmother supposedly bought in Shanghai, though I have not found any actual evidence of her having actually been there.

  11. Favorite hobby? Storytelling is more of an obsession than a hobby. So is knitting, probably, but maybe less so.

  12. Do you have A.D.D? I’m probably borderline. I certainly have a short attention span at times and hyperfocus at times. But I’m mostly functional, so it’s not clear if I meet the diagnostic criteria and I’m not really interested in finding out officially.

  13. What’s the one thing you dislike about yourself? My disorganization and procrastination.

  14. What is your middle name? One of my better kept secrets.

  15. Name three thoughts at this moment. 1) Why am I wasting time on this meme? 2) I have way too much unread email in my inbox. 3) Are any of several people ever going to get around to calling me back?

  16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink. Tea. Water. Coffee, but only at home because I am an unrepentant coffee snob.

  17. Current worry? How am I going to find the time to do everything on my to-do list?

  18. Current annoyance right now People talking loudly right outside my office.

  19. Favorite place to be? By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea.

  20. How do you ring in the new year? I pretty much don’t. I have spent New Year’s eve on airplanes surprisingly often.

  21. Where would you like to go? Laos to see the Plain of Jars. Sri Lanka. Greenland.

  22. Name three people who will complete this. I am not into coercing anyone to do memes.

  23. Do you own slippers? Own, yes, mostly due to having inherited some of my mother’s slippers. Wear, not so much.

  24. What color shirt are you wearing right now? I’m not wearing a shirt. I’m wearing a teal dress.

  25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? I don’t think I’ve ever tried to, but I imagine they would be too slippery.

  26. Can you whistle? Not really. I can get out a faint note but that’s about all.

  27. What are your favorite colors? Teal, amethyst purple, ruby red, emerald green, sapphire blue. Why are there no teal gemstones?

  28. Would you be a pirate? Piracy is inconsistent with my moral standards.

  29. What songs do you sing in the shower Mostly Broadway show tunes, e.g. the entire score of West Side Story. But there are also cheesy pop earworms from time to time.

  30. Favorite girl’s name? I don’t have children, but if I’d had a daughter, I’d probably have named her Civia after my great-grandmother. Or Lily after my grandmother.

  31. Favorite boy’s name? Again, I have no children, but if I had had a son, Simon would have been at the top of my list (after my grandfather). I also really like the name Avigdor, but I have no idea why.

  32. What’s in your pocket right now? I don’t have any pockets. This is kind of a sore spot. When I rule the world, all women’s clothing will be required to have pockets.

  33. Last thing that made you laugh?A cartoon questioning why hedgehogs don’t just share the hedge.

  34. Best toy as a child? I was very fond of Barbie, because she could play a lot of roles in the elaborate stories I made up. I also loved the Spirograph. And then there was this board game we had where you moved little plastic dinosaurs up the evolutionary tree.

  35. Worst injury you ever had? I broke my ankle falling down one step somewhere around 1990 ish.

  36. Where would you love to live? There are 18 miles of sea coast in New Hampshire. I only need 100 feet or so. Plus a condo in Punte del Este, Uruguay for the part of the year that New Hampshire is uninhabitable.

  37. How many TVs do you have? One, but I don’t even watch that.

  38. Who is your loudest friend? Michael compares himself to thunder, so I guess he wins.

  39. How many dogs do you have? None. The breeds of dogs that I like are not really compatible with urban condo living.

  40. Does someone trust you? I think my boss does. Or, at least, I hope so.

  41. What book are you reading at the moment? The Crossword Hunt by Herbert Resnicow.

  42. What’s your favorite candy? Those sesame brittle things that I don’t know the name of. Belgian chocolate is a close second. Lake Champlain Chocolate 5-Star Bars with Hazelnut are also high up on the candy charts. If I am buying more mundane candy, I feel obliged to prove I am a space geek by buying Milky Way and Mars bars.

  43. What’s your favorite sports team? The Boston Red Sox, of course. I am reasonably sure anybody who has ever met me knows this.

  44. Favorite month? September, because I get to celebrate my birthday.
01 August 2016 @ 12:12 pm
Celebrity Death Watch: Betsy Bloomingdale was a socialite and fashion icon. Dave Bald Eagle was a Lakota chief who is probably most famous for having acted in the movie "Dances with Wolves." Miss Cleo was a TV psychic. Jack Davis co-founded Mad Magazine. Richard Thompson was a cartoonist ("Cul de Sac") and illustrator. Doug Griffin played second base for the Red Sox in the 1970’s. Fred Tomlinson wrote "The Lumberjack Song" for Monty Python.

Forrest Mars, Jr. inherited money from the candy company, some of which went to support historical projects, including support of Fort Ticonderoga and funding the construction of a coffeehouse in Colonial Williamsburg.

Marni Nixon dubbed the singing voices of several actresses in movie musicals. James M. Nederlander owned a number of theatres on Broadway and elsewhere. Zelda Fichandler co-founded Arena Stage, one of the major regional theatres here in Washington and, apparently, the first racially integrated theatre in the region.

The death I most want to highlight is that of Mary Ann Madden. She edited the New York Magazine Competition for many years and some of the best entries were compiled in such books as Maybe He’s Dead and Thanks for the Giant Sea Tortoise. I have distinct memories of several of the entries from the 1970’s. She was long retired and had, apparently, been ill for some time, but her spirit lives on in the Washington Post Style Invitational and the community it has fostered among its devotees.

Lesser of Evils: It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I intend to vote for Hillary Clinton in this year’s presidential race. I’m not especially enthusiastic about her (she is, after all, a Yankees fan), but this is a clear lesser of evils for me. I challenged myself to see who would be so awful that I would vote for Donald Trump over them and came up with two names. The first was Robert Mugabe, who is not, of course, eligible, not being an American. The other was Cthulhu, who I could argue was born in Rhode Island. I generally prefer my political candidates without tentacles.

On a More Serious Note: The major impact of the veepstakes is that it gives some insight into how a politician makes decisions. I’d argue that the single most important thing a President does is make political appointments. (That is especially true of the Supreme Court, of course, but applies to various Cabinet and other posts.) The choice of a running mate is our first opportunity to see this in action.

This is an area in which I think Hillary Clinton made an excellent choice. I’ve lived in Virginia through Tim Kaine’s term as governor and his tenure in the Senate. I don’t agree with him on everything, but I’ve been impressed with his integrity and with his ability to work across the aisle. I think he can provide some good balance to the race.

One More Political Note: There is nothing wrong with trying to develop third parties to better represent certain advocacies. However, it makes sense to start doing so at the local level. Not enough attention gets paid to city and county races to begin with. Even at the state level, there is plenty of room for expanding the slates. For example, I remain appalled at how many candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates run unopposed.

Damn You, Noodles & Company: They added spicy Korean beef noodles to their menu. I have no particular objection to that, but in doing so, they got rid of the Indonesian peanut saute. That, with tofu, has been my mainstay of their menu.

Storytelling: Saturday night was the Better Said Than Done show in which I told my summer camp story. The show was an interesting mix of stories, which always makes for more fun for me as a listener. The audience was very responsive and I got plenty of laughs in the right places. All in all, a fun evening.

Knitting Group: There was a fifth Sunday in July, so we met at Starbucks, instead of the police station. The disadvantage of that is more cramped space. But the advantage is that we recruit new members who happen to see us there. I also ran into someone I used to work with who lives a few blocks away from there. And, oh, yeah, I got some work in on a charity afghan, though I am still skeptical about some aspects of the pattern. (Well, one aspect, which has to do with how the final triangle making up the hexagon gets joined and whether there is one or two decreases in that row.)
29 July 2016 @ 09:33 am
I have several genealogy-related updates, which are given here in a slightly random order.

DNA: I am still at something of a loss with what to do with the 7000+ matches I have. I do have matches to a couple of known relatives (e.g. a good match to a known second cousin once removed) but also some good matches for whom we have been unable to find any sort of connection. And, of course, there are dozens of people who provide no information to even decide if it is worth seeing if we have a connection.

Even more frustrating is my having uploaded my DNA to Geni (which frustrates me for other reasons, mostly having to do with it tending to show connections through 70 or so people on my father’s side of the family for a known 3rd cousin on my mother’s side or other similarly convoluted confusion. In the case of DNA, Geni is really bloody useless because it shows paths across marriages. There is some value in some of the collaborative capabilities there, but the annoyances are starting to outweigh that for me.

But, then Monday night gave me a little bit of hope. Israel Pickholtz, who is quite an expert on this whole genetic genealogy stuff, gave a talk at the JCC of Northern Virginia. He was interesting and entertaining and his talk at least gave me an idea of what might actually be worth doing with it. And I think the thing that makes the most sense is trying to use DNA info to sort out two specific branches of my family – the FAINSTEINs of Josvainiai, Lithuania and the SZWARCBORTs of Ostrow Mazowiecka, Poland.

Clearly I need to invest some effort into getting various relatives to test.

Obtaining Bits of Proof: While I was in Salt Lake City for the NPL con, I spent some time at the Family History Library. I obtained copies of birth certificates (from Lithuania) for my grandmother, Dvoira Etel FAINSHTEIN, and her brother, Nahum. It turns out that these are actually scanned and one need not go to the physical microfilms, so I decided to spend more of my time there on some things that I couldn’t do from home.

Namely, getting expert advice. Which leads me to the next topic.

A Few Updates on the CHLEBIOCKY Family: I hadn’t been able in the past to find much about my grandfather’s older sister, Adele WASSERMAN. While her two daughters are still alive, they are dealing with various health issues and don’t, frankly, seem very interested. I had located her in the 1930 census, living with her older brother, Nathan LUBOFSKY. But I hadn’t found more than that. With help at the FHL, I found her naturalization record, which was under the name Odel HLEBIECKA. She arrived on the Lapland in 1925. To make things slightly confusing, she gave her father’s name as Hersz, while I have always known my great-grandfather’s name as Mose Zvi. That isn’t a contradiction per se, since Hersz is the Yiddish form of Zvi (both of which mean "deer") but it doesn’t make things easier either.

Adele’s naturalization record always told me that her husband, Max, was from Zborow, Poland. I believe the town is now in Ukraine. But the useful thing was that knowing where he was from let me identify his (and, hence, her) graves at Montefiore Cemetery, where they are in a section for a Zborower landsmanschaft. She died 17 December 1968. (He died 5 September 1971.)

My other recent find is my grandparents’ ship manifest from Havana. This was tricky due to a typo which had their surname given as CHLEBROCKY, instead of CHLEBIOCKY. There are several points of interest on the record, which is from the Pennsylvania, sailing from Havana on 6 May 1932. The first is that date itself, which means that the family claim that Grandma decided to return to the U.S. because she was pregnant with my mother and didn’t want to go through another pregnancy in the tropical heat can’t be true (since Mom was born in January 1934 and I am reasonably sure Grandma was not pregnant for 19 months). The second is that Grandpa gave his place of birth as Lomza, Poland, not Tykocin. That’s not really significant, as Tykocin was in Lomza Guberniya, but was still a bit of a surprise. In addition, Grandpa gave his occupation as "silversmith," rather than "watchmaker."

But the real surprise is that just below their names is another name – Frieda SCHWARTZ She is, of course, Tante Frieda, one of Grandma’s sisters, and probably the family member I make fun of most often. (She was an unpleasant woman, a hoarder, and a chronic pessimist.. I also admit to some of my childhood resentment coming from times I used to have to share a bed with her when we stayed over at various events. Tante Frieda kicked.) Anyway, that raises a few interesting questiosn. Did Grandma invite her to come over to meet her husband – or, just as likely given this is my family we’re talking about – to taunt her with having found a husband? (Family legend, which is unconfirmed, is that one of the reasons they left Poland was that Frieda was developing an inappropriate relationship, i.e. with a non-Jewish man.) Or did my great-grandparents send her over to fetch her wayward sister home? And did she kick Grandma, too?

The Saga of Sam KATZ, the dwarf Communist Printer: Another part of my family that I did some research on involves the KATZ clan. Goldie KATZ was my great-grandmother’s sister. Her maiden name was probably GOLDWASER and we think she was from Zambrow, Poland. Anyway, she and her husband, Hyman, had several children, one or two of whom may still be living. I knew about several of their sons, but there had also been mysterious references to someone who was always referred to as "Sam Katz, the dwarf Communist printer." The story doesn’t say was form of dwarfism Sam had, but the main point of it was that Sam was forced to work for a Communist newspaper because nobody else would hire a dwarf.

I haven’t cleared up much, but I have found that in the 1930 census, the children living with Hyman and Goldie were Rose (age 19), Samuel (age 16) plus three others who help me confirm this is the right Katz family. A key finding here is that Samuel and Rose were born in Russia, while the younger three children were born in the U.S. The immigration date is claimed to be 1926, but it isn’t clear how accurate that is. Hyman was working as a shoemaker, though later (in the 1940 census), he was selling fruit. Both Hyman and Goldie have filed their first papers, though the two immigrant children haven’t. (It isn’t clear whether they needed to at that time, since they might have been covered by their parents’ naturalizations.)

Another interesting part is that I’ve found what appears to be Hyman’s naturalization certificate and it shows him having arrived in December 1913, with Goldie, Rose and Samuel (whose birth date is given as 10 August 1912) on the Neckar from Bremen, Germany. It gives his birthdate as 10 May 1888 in Lomza, Russia (which was really, of course, Poland) and Goldie’s birthdate as 15 May 1889, also in Lomza. The real key here is that this certificate is from 13 May 1925 and shows Rosie (and Goldie) living with Hyman – but Samuel living in Zambrovi, Russia, i.e. Zambrow, Poland. Which is exactly where Goldie was supposedly from.

This should be enough information to find a passenger manifest and I had, in fact, found one back when I thought they had immigrated in 1926 and dismissed it as being from the wrong year. But I can’t find it again, sigh. My guess is that they did come over in 1913, sent Samuel back to Zambrow when they realized he was a dwarf, and that he then came back to New York in 1926 as a teenager. But there is a lot more work to do there.