Blast from the Past

Last night, I went to the MRJ-West Man of the Year Dinner. While reading the list of honorees, I was surprised to see a name from my past, Bernie Kessler. When I was young (and I mean young—we’re speaking under 10), my family belonged to Temple Israel of Westchester (a/k/a Temple Jeremiah). Mr. Kessler was a past congregational president, active in temple brotherhood, and one of the teachers in the religious school. I remember taking classes from both Mr. Kessler and his daughter, Honey. But I haven’t seen him since our family moved to West LA in 1972 and we switched to Wilshire Blvd Temple. So it was quite a pleasant surprise to see him again after 40 years.


Remains of My Youth

As I sit here eating lunch, I’m thinking about a birthday party I went to last night. This party was for a friend who is simultaneously a new and an old friend. She’s an old friend in the sense that we were good friends when I was really young, until I was 11 or so. She’s a new friend in the sense that I moved away when we were 12 or so, we lost touch, and only reconnected in the last month or so. The reconnection got me thinking about what aspects of the younger me are still present in the current me. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, as I don’t have many memories of those years, and I think my current personality was much more formed during my high-school years.

So what is still present from my boyhood days?

Well, I was interested in highways even then, although it manifested itself in collecting maps from the local gas stations. I loved maps, and still do.

I was connected in a sense to Judaism and the Wilshire Blvd Temple Camps, having attended in 1969, 1970, and 1971. For me, that gave me more of a sense of my Jewish self than did attendance at religious school.

I remember an interest in science, although we didn’t have computers as we do today. I do remember a fascination with space. Related to that, I enjoyed reading, but wasn’t hooked on science fiction yet. That came later, thanks to Bill Layton at Pali Hi.

I didn’t have a large friends set. There was the girl whose party I attended, and about 3-4 other kids. Perhaps that is the normal friend set size, but I remember it being small. Of this group, the only one I had a desire to reconnect with was the one I reconnected with.

I recall enjoying swimming, although I swim a lot less today. I suspect that’s because of our pool, which is shedding fiberglass. Other than that, no real interest in sports, which remains true to this day.

I remember a burgeoning interest in folk music, mostly acquired from my brother. I still have some of my folk records (mostly PP&M) from that era.

Hmmm, I guess quite a bit of my personality was there. More than I thought. So what about you? How much of your personality from when you were 10ish remains part of you today?


Friday Afternoon Chum

It’s been such a busy week, and the news has been less interesting, that there hasn’t been much chum for the waters. But today’s perusal of the papers over lunch brought some interesting items:

  • From the “Does This Explain Donald *Trump*?” Department: An interesting article in the NY Times today explains why some senior citizens are sharp as a tack: they regularly play Contract Bridge, and the social and memory aspects serve to exercise their brains. It also notes that bridge players are quick to sense when mental faculties are going: you don’t want a partner who isn’t playing at the top of their game. This article caught my eye for a few reasons: it talks about the seniors in Laguna Woods*, where my step-mother lives; both of my material grandparents, as well as my mother, were strong bridge players, and my grandfather was a master; and bridge was a game we played regularly in the UCLA Computer Club, although I was never good at counting suit.
    *: Why does the NY Times have so many articles about Southern California?

  • From the “Life in the Funny Pages” Department: The LA Times has an interesting piece on how the comics page in newspapers is declining with the death of the papers, and how this affecting the cartoonists. I know there are only three traditional cartoons I still follow (“Get Fuzzy”, “Pearls Before Swine”, and “Funky Winkerbean”), and I read those all online.
  • From the “Take the Money and Run” Department: The NY Times News Blog has an article (although I heard it on KTLA last night as well) about a man and his girlfriend in New Zealand who took advantage of a bank error. An error by a bank worker in New Zealand changed a man’s overdraft limit from $62,000 to $6.2 million. When the owner of the account discovered this, they reportedly withdrew as much of that money as they could, locked the doors of their failing business and fled the country with about $2.3 million. The couple are thought to be armed with little more than a change of clothes, passports and an ATM card.
  • From the “Does Two a Pattern Make?” Department: The OC Register has an article on Danielle Fishel, who is one of those actresses I enjoy watching (not necessarily because of their acting). Valerie Bertinelli, who I’ve mentioned before, is another in that category. I am a little surprised to learn Ms. Fishel lives in Yorba Linda.
  • From the “Probably the Only Time They Will Meet” Department: Marvel comics is publishing a Supermodel Magazine. Featured on the initial covers: Millicent Collins, a.k.a. Millie the Model (born 1945), and Mary Jane (born 1965), the model-turned-actress who toyed with the heart of Peter Parker (Spider-Man). Look at the covers closely. Yes, there are insider jokes.
  • From the “Taking the High Road” Department: Two interesting road related articles, one of which I’ll put on the California Highways Facebook Page when I get home. First, a plan to widen a portion of Sunset Blvd in Brentwood has been shelved; this looks to be the segment from Barrington to Gunston, which would be roughly from the school near Brentwood Village to a few blocks away from the freeway. It was probably shelved because of the impact on the expensive houses in that area. Another local road in the news is Angeles Crest Highway (Route 2), which just reopened. This was a section in the mountains closed after a storm in 2005that caused extensive damage in 17 different sites along a 10-mile stretch of the highway, from Islip Saddle to Wrightwood. After the section of highway was closed, another storm in 2006 battered the road and delayed repair efforts. The entire repair project cost $10.5 million and was funded by the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program.

Feeling my age

[Lunch comes a little early today…]

neo_tanuki’s post earlier today, where he mused about his body going to pieces, has gotten to me. He’s only in his 30s. I’m nearing 50, and the grey is growing in my beard and moustache. I’ve had the moustache since high school days; the beard since I’ve gotten married. They’ve gotten progressively greyer.

I think, when I get home, I’ll take them off. I should look at least 10 years younger. What do you think?

P.S.: I’m surprised that no one has made any guesses regarding which news items are false in my earlier post.


Chum for your Friday Lunch

Some more lunchtime news observations, skimmed from the lunchtime perusal of the paper:

  • From the “One Step Over The Line” Department: Global warming is having numerous effects on society. One that peaked piqued (no pun intended) my interest as a Diplomacy player is the fact that Italy and Switzerland are being forced to redraw their borders. The previous border was the ridge crest of the glaciers, and as they shrink and move, that’s no longer viable. As a result, a new criterion has been proposed so that the new border coincides with the rock. The border between Italy and Switzerland was fixed in 1861, when Italy became a nation, but it has been occasionally modified, most recently in the 1970s when the Switzerland-Italy highway was built at the Brogeda crossing. The border change only affects uninhabited mountaintop terrain. No families should have to change citizenship.
  • From the “Not Only Do They Clog the Arteries” Department: KFC (the chain formerly known as “Kentucky Fried Chicken”) is standing up for their civic duty. They are offering to fill potholes in a number of cities, if they can plaster their logo on the street afterwards. Some cities don’t like the idea, but I think it is a great way to fill civic coffers. After all, it is not as if we don’t have advertising almost everywhere else that we ignore.
  • From the “Chop Chop” Department: Earlier, I wrote how an increasing number of airplanes are being mothballed. That’s not economical for some: some are just chopped and recycled. This article profiles one of the companies that does it. I’ve always found this process interesting, since I first read about it in Airliners.
  • From the “Looking Good at 48” Department: There are certain actresses of my youth (and possibly your youth) who were just your personal model of beauty and cuteness. Dawn Wells. Valerie Bertinelli. Danielle Fischel. Karen Valentine. Susan Dey. I mention this solely because the Chicago Tribune has an article about Valerie Bertinelli appearing on the cover of People in a bikini, looking quite good at 48 (only a year younger than me).
  • From the “The Teflon Market” Department: I’ve often made fun of Whole Paycheck. But TJs seems to be below scorn (or is that above?). But is it? Here’s an article that questions TJ’s green credentials. Yes, they use a lot of packaging, but they also use compostable trays and really encourage the use of bags. Is the problem as bad as they state?
  • From the “Social Networking” Department: More and more boomers seem to be finding social networks. Even Kirk Douglas has a MySpace page. I wonder if this means it isn’t cool any more. I don’t know, but I still find it freaky to get friend requests from folks I went to camp with in 7th and 8th grade (not that I mind reconnecting). But given all this, why is it so hard to reconnect with the people you actually want to reconnect with?

Old Home Day

Today seems to be an “old home day”…

  • My email brought me an evite from a good friend from college, my “evil twin”. We were born on the same day, not that far apart from each other. Although we went to different schools, we had friends in common because he lived near one of my best friends. The evite was to his wedding: after 21 years of living in sin, he’s making it legal. I just need to confirm whether it is a family invitation or just me (as one can’t easily tell from evites). It is things like this that make me proud to live in California. I haven’t seen him since my days at UCLA (back in the mid-1980s); we almost got together in 2005, but circumstances conspired against us.
  • My cell phone brought me a call from another college acquaintance… although this time is isn’t my college, but my brother’s college. Yes, I had a brother; he died in 1970 when I was 10. In late 1969, he had started at UCSB, and Andy (who called) was his roommate. I visited them once in the dorms there — it was shortly after the BofA in Isla Vista burned (you kids can look it up). We lost track of all my brother’s friends shortly after he died. Andy found me a few months ago from the Internet. He’ll be down in LA over Labor Day weekend (he’s normally in San Francisco), and we’ll get together. I expect that to be interesting. I still have two paperweights that Andy painted and gave to my brother.