Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What does Jewdar and a Federal Department have in common?

They both were relevant connection points on my morning train to NYC.

I am an avowed train and plane talker.

That probably comes as no surprise to you, of course.

Thing is, ALMOST every time I initiate a conversation on a train or plane, it pays off.

Today was no exception…two times.

As I boarded the train at BWI, my esteemed colleague and erstwhile running partner, Eric (follow him on twitter @emarterella) had saved me a seat. Settling in, I commented that my 3 day suitcase was overfilled because “at least 50% of it is running gear.”

This brought a smile to the face of the woman in the seat next to me. (Apparently, she had been forewarned that, well, I’m the gregarious type.)

Turns out, this federal government employee is a serious runner and, since that is a common component of Eric and my trip’s to NYC, she quickly became part of the group. So much so that we invited her to join us for a run the following night. And, it turns out, that we have a mutual friend in common who used to work at her Federal agency.

Seeing as she is an ultra-marathoner and really fast, we fully expect to be embarrassed, but hey, we’ll have aimage new friend.

As the journey moved along and we worked intermittently while chatting, the train unexpectedly filled up quite significantly as we rolled out of Philadelphia.

A middle-aged (but very young looking) woman boarded with her grown son and his wife.  As soon as I saw her, my well-tuned Jewdar was going off. I just knew…and I was right.

She took the seat next to Eric and we quickly began to kibitz. Soon, of course, we were watching a video of her son and new daughter-in-law’s weddings (it’s really beautiful, you should as well. Here you go.)

Even more, I learned that her father was the founder of a very worthwhile organization which I support, the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. So, needless to say, Ruth Schwalbe and I became fast friends and I promised I’d share the video of her handsome son and beautiful daughter-in-law (that would be Jason and Laura) who, I am sad to say, because of the full train were not able to sit next to each other.

But somehow they made it.

And, once again, the value of connecting with total strangers on the train proves itself a winner.

So, next time you’re on a train or a plane, start up a conversation with your seatmate…you never know where it might lead you! Winking smile

Laura + Jason from Utopia video productions on Vimeo.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Recollections of JFK’s Assassination…

My dad sent this around the other day and I asked him if I could share it with you. He said ok.

Below are a few of my recollections on this occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Death of a President, JFK.

I watched part of a documentary on the JFK assassination last night, November 13, 2013, one that focussed on how the story was handled by the press, especially Walter Cronkite.

The Narrator suggested that this was the biggest story of the 20th Century or made some other hyperbolic comment.

It was big and remains big, but what about WWI and WWII, etc.

Fifty years.

I had lunch on November 22, 1963 with two friends at a restaurant named Lincoln's Inn.

One was Dan Rezneck, who, like me was an Assistant U.S. Attorney. 

Dan had actually promoted my application for the position, one that I enjoyed immensely. 

It was heady to get up and announce that I represented "The United States of America."

The other person at the lunch was our contemporary, Jack Rosenthal who was the Press Spokesman for the Department of Justice, Robert Kennedy, Attorney-General.

We discussed politics, Bobby Kennedy, etc.  Typical Washington talk.  We had no idea.

After lunch I returned to the U.S. Attorney's office and one of my colleagues, Tony Lapham, who was in the hallway told me that the President was dead.

A thought too large to wrap with my mind.  I had seen JFK once in a large room at Harvard Law School, when he was campaigning for the Presidency.

When he was inaugurated I was at the U.S. Coast Guard Officer Candidate School, Yorktown, VA. 

I had limited free time so  during lunch break I went  to the television room and listened to his stirring inaugural speech.

Washington was covered with snow and was bitter cold, as I saw on TV.   I was 150 miles away and it was cold. 

I was the only person in the room watching the Inauguration. 

I thought that was odd, as my military colleagues certainly had bright and interested individuals.

I think that my subsequent Commission as an officer may make reference to JFK or perhaps bore his signature. 

Later, I was moved by his call to come and serve in the government.   I doubt that was the only reason that I came to D.C. 

After I completed my military commitment, I did not return to San Antonio  because I thought that the prospects for finding a Jewish young woman

to suit my eccentricities were greater in the East, but that did not occur until eight years later.

In any event, during that night of November 22, 1963, I was staring into the White House grounds when the helicopter brought LBJ as the new President.

Two days later or so, when the casket was moved from the White House to the Capitol Rotunda, I was on the sidewalk outside the U.S. Courthouse  near Pennsylvania Avenue watching the procession, the riderless horse, the gun carriage bearing the body.

I went to the Capitol Rotunda at 2 a.m. to view the casket and persons were lined up for blocks waiting to do the same. 

I think that an acquaintance with a press pass got us in ahead of the line, not an egalitarian gesture.

Views of JFK as President, his accomplishments, his character and behavior, have changed over the years. 

During those three days, I was bereft.

The killing of Oswald, surrounded by law enforcement officials, by Jack Ruby viewed on live televicsion was astounding.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A few more thoughts on the sleep lab experience…

Wanted to get these last two down before I forgot Winking smile

The room was really nice. More like a hotel than a hospital room. Cozy bed. Quilted. Carpeted.

And the quote of the night from Lucy (the nurse) when I was having a hard time sleeping was:

“It’s ok, some people don’t sleep well outside of their own bed,” because I was thinking “I sleep in a hotel bed pretty much every week.”

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sleep Study— Being Watched in Bed

Disclaimer: if “TMI” is something you normally say, then skip this post. I don’t need that comment

Last week’s SnoreGate kicked it off.

Then, over the weekend, I felt some sensitivity in my lower teeth.1419248_10152027016389669_809789308_o

Now, I am plagued with periodontal challenges, since this, unfortunately, is nothing new.

As luck would have it, however, I was scheduled for a cleaning at my periodontist who asked me if I had any concerns. I shared them.

“You know, it’s interesting you say that because I was looking at your chart and I am getting a bit worried about the recession on the inside of your front lower teeth. It could be caused by sleep apnea, your tongue pushing forward as a reaction.”

I shared the snoring incident and he said, “you should probably had a sleep study done. Call your insurance company.”

In a once-in-a-thousand years scenario, I got word from CareFirst that I had met the deductible for the year on our Health Savings Account so the study would be covered (who says we need Obamacare?)

Then, as luck would further have it, the hospital 2.7 miles from my house has a sleep center…and they had a1090578_10152027016484669_1834918019_on opening the following night. The stars were aligned and I scheduled it.

Arrive at 8.30pm

I showed up on time, ready to go. At first, I thought, “for someone who goes to bed at 1.30am often, how am I going to go to sleep that early?” but I did feel tired and sleepy.

It took about an hour to hook up all the wires. Then, got in bed, watched a bit of TV (Kentucky vs. Michigan State), and then read a new book called “Grounded” (written by my cousin) until at 10.30pm, Lucy came in and said, “Ok, time to go to bed.”

I felt like my kids Winking smile

It was NOT easy or comfortable to sleep (or try to sleep) with wires all over my head, two straps around my chest, and more wires connected to my chest and legs.

There was no clock so I can’t really say for sure, but I think it took about 45 minutes to fall asleep. Maybe the pressure to perform got to me.

I also kept wondering what they were seeing as they were monitoring brain waves as I was having all of these thoughts. Could they read my mind like “the Matrix?” Were different areas of my mind lighting up and they would see “man, that guy needs to think less about work/money/sex/whatever?”

It was like I was trying to read the minds of the people who were reading my mind.

At some point, maybe 2 hours later, my eyes popped open and moments later, Lucy came in (they can monitory my eye movements) and made some adjustments.

I told her I had to go to the bathroom.

Now, I drink a TON of water and eat a lot of fruit. I had also gone for a run at 4pm the previous afternoon and had rehydrated.

Even though she said, “don’t be embarrassed if you need to go to the washroom” and I knew she was a nurse, and I tend not to be embarrassed by these things, I couldn’t help feeling that way, probably because each time I had to, she would have to unhook me. Not looking forward to being in a nursing home.

I came back to the room and, well, nothing. I could NOT fall asleep. I was tired but my mind was racing about all things…being in a sleep study, work, home, life, upcoming travel plans. I kept having the urge to get up and either check my phone or start working, but I couldn’t.

My mouth was dry and I was a bit hot. I only had a bit of water left in my water bottle. I was also pretty hungry.

Then, maybe 90 minutes later (?), I had to go to the bathroom…again. Nerves? I don’t know. I hesitated, since I was tired and I didn’t want to have to ask again, but eventually, I decided it just had to be done.

They had a microphone in the room so I could just talk and they’d hear me (in addition to the night vision camera where they could watch me), so I just said “Lucy, I need to go to the bathroom.”

And like magic, there she was at the door, unhooking me. I asked her the time. She said, “I can’t tell you that.”

The CIA could learn from these guys Winking smile Very disorienting.

Just kidding, they were nothing but professional.

Honestly, I may have gone to the bathroom a 3rd time…I’m really not sure at this point (I just got home and am blogging this while it’s still fresh and before the kids get up for school) because there were at least a few occasions when Lucy came in to adjust a wire that I had dislodged. It’s like sleeping in a stocking cap…made of metal.

I eventually did fall back asleep, but before I knew it, Lucy was back, telling me it was time to get up. At this point, she told me it as 5.20am and her one question: “Do you usually sleep this little?”

I’m kind of like a camel. I don’t sleep that much during the week, but Friday nights, I’ll go to bed at 8:30pm and sleep until 6:30am.

Anyway, results will come in about a week, I’m told.

The goop in your hair to keep the pads sticky is, well, sticky, and taking those pads off of a hairy chest…very uncomfortable.

Ok, time to go wake the kids and drink some coffee Winking smile

Thanks for the support.

Thursday, November 07, 2013