Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dvorak's Symphony No. 9

Just now listening to Dvorak's "New World" Symphony which has been my favorite for decades. So much so, that recent nostalgic musings have reminded me (I just got my son's report card, more on that later) about a nerd explosion of mine back in 1982 when I moved from Binghamton to Ithaca.

Back then my pop music consumption was eclectic and my classical music knowledge was pretty good for a 10 year old. We had some decent pop records at home, notably the Jackson 5 which got me into their song "ABC" (who knew my father was so funky to own that record?) but when we would drive frequently from Binghamton to Brooklyn to visit my mother's parents (an action I know mightily endorse and would probably do the same if I could) the music in the car came entirely from 8-track tapes of classical music. And Dvorak's 9th was my permanent favorite.

The nostaglia point is to illustrate my immense dorkiness back then. Again, I knew pop music, but I dare say that compared to Dvorak's 9th, pop back in 1982 just couldn't compare. It was all soft-rock and disco for goodness sakes! I am defensive because, in 1982, I had entered a new school in a new city. I had been in Hillel Academy, a Torah U-Mesorah parochial school, and had just entered Northeast Elementary in Ithaca - a public school. And for the 5th grade yearbook, we were all asked what our favorite song was. The most popular ones were "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson (which is great, don't get me wrong) or "Africa" by Toto. But when asked I said "Dvorak's 9th Symphony, 4th Movement."

And you know what, I'm still right!

But I also dare you to find non-pictorial proof of greater dorkiness than having a newly acclimatized Orthodox Jewish keepah-wearing fish-out-of-water-in-public-school 10 year old declare in his 5th grade yearbook, on a page of neo-disco tunes, that his favorite song is - the editorially shortened - "9th Symphony." I guess I'm still ticked that they shortened it, because I actually like Dvorak's 9th better than Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" (which is my second favorite classical ditty).

And, I guess this shows that I'm still a massive nerd. Ah well, at least I get paid for it now. That's the joy of adulthood and the hope of all teenage nerds everywhere - in America, and other Western countries - you will get paid handsomely for being a nerd.

Pic of the autographed score of Dvorak's 9th from here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

End Semester Nigh

I haven't blogged in a while because I'm working furiously to finish all my papers before the end of the semester. It's coming close... and then I'll be able to relax a bit and sort through all the ideas that have clogged unblogged. In this Fin-de-Siecle push, almost everything has been breaking down except for the overall health of my family (and may it stay that way!). My back has held up (but I did lose a tooth - long story), and compared to last year's hospital saga, this has been a breeze.

One last note, I am now indebted to Endnote that I will need to give it much love in an blog entry soon. It's so amazing, especially when paired with the academic search engines (PDF delivery machines, more like it), that I have through school. I know I'm in the right professional direction when I consider it a valuable professional perk to have access to a full online library.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Boston 'Catastrophic' Water Woes

Right after Motzei Shabbat, my internet connection wasn't working, so it took a bit for us to get the message that there was a 'boil water' emergancy condition for eastern Massachusetts after a 'Catastrophic' water main break. This is not a good way to begin the week. Add onto that the terrorist bomb attempt in Times Square and a children's Tylenol recall, and you got a trifecta of Doom.

I have a few musings on the water subject:
  1. After taking a shower last night, bathing myself in e-coli, I realized that I hadn't felt so dirty after 'washing' since I went to the Washington Heights mikvah erev Yom Kippur.
  2. It's situations like these that we need to recall whenever we feel high-and-mighty about our technical mastery of nature. A busted pipe - a few centimeters gone wrong - will leave 2 million people without potable water.
  3. Also, this should remind the crunchy green granola types that 'natural' water is deadly.
I hope the crisis will pass quickly - it's not fun to be frightened of a normally life giving substance.

Pic from the Globe story.