Monday, November 24, 2008

My Computer

I got my computer back last Thursday, after three weeks without it. Then, the same day, it crashed again with a blue screen. I took it back to the shop and am again working with Liz's laptop, but not before I had managed to get almost all of the files I need backed up -- either on external media or on Liz's computer.

I feel curtailed in two or three ways -- first, although I now have access to my files, in order to use them effectively I would have to take over Liz's computer. Second, projects I was working on during the summer and into the fall are now at a standstill. Third, I am limited in what I can take on new. In short, I need my own computer.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Morningside Heights and Harlem Delights

From our terrace in Morningside Gardens I can see parst of Grant's Tomb, Jewish Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, Corpus Chrisi Church, the Interchurch Center, Teachers College, Barnard College, Columbia University, and look across Harlem on 124th Street. Nearby, but out of sight from our apartment are Riverside Church and the Manhattan School of Music.

On Friday evening, Liz and I attended an evening of opera scenes at Manhattan School of Music (MSM). MSM does this twice a year and we have attended many times over the years. This year the theme was Opera as Politics -- the evening began with a scene from Donizetti's Maria Stuarda dramatizing the final rift between Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Suart Queen of Scots. There were several fine musical moments in the evening. I want to take note of two dramatic highlights.

I especially enjoyed an excerpt from Lehar's Die Lustige Witwe -- the end of the second act in which Hanna pretends to be engaged to Camille. I don't think I have ever scen this operetta performed in German before. The portrayal of Danilo by Chris Lucier seemed to me to be the best I have ever seen -- in part because the scene plays better, to my ears at least, in German than in English translation.

The Merry Widow was the applause machine that ended the first part; the evening ended with another applause machine -- because of its staging: the election campaign scene (Act III, Scene III) of Douglas Moore's The Ballad of Baby Doe, in which William Jennings Bryan comes to Leadville during one of his presidential campaigns. MSM cast the sole Black member of the ensemble as Bryan. It was brilliant stagecraft and musically satisfying as well.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday Jury Duty

Today I started jury duty at 100 Centre Street -- the Criminal Court Building in New York City.

When I first got the summons for September 11 this year, we were planning to stay at Heart Lake for several weeks so I took advantage of an automatic deferment option. I was presented with the choice of deferring for anywhere from two to six months. I knew we would back in New York in November, so I chose to defer for two months.

The work on my dental implants is taking place only on Wednesdays, and I knew when I got the jury notice for November 12 that if I got on a case there was a likelihood that I would be tied up not only today (a Wednesday) but also next Wednesday. As it happens, I am currently part of a group undergoing voir dire on a case that is scheduled to hear evidence next Wednesday. I have an appointment next Wednesday and if I get on the jury I will have to reschedule it. I will know by the end of tomorrow whether I am on the jury or not.

Over the years, I have been on several juries -- the ones that stand out in my memory are murder, drug sales, and robbery in state criminal court and two interesting federal cases: a complaint against the City of New York and several corrections officers of assault on a prisoner and a wire fraud case (involving gold plated silver replicas of Chinese gold panda coins) before Judge Michael Mukasey.

I have also been empaneled but not selected on several cases, too. So I really don't care whether I am chosen -- on the one hand, a trial is fun, on the other hand, I have plenty to do and I don't need to be on a trial for entertainment.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Saturday Rambling Thoughts

There's lots of big news this week. And there has also been some small developments in my own life.

First, of course, is the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. I first voted for president in 1960. The country has come an amazing distance since then. I heard one commentator mentioning the difference in perceptions between people over and under 45 -- I think the magnitude of the change resonates more for those in my generation -- the pre boomer generation who lived through the civil rights movement of the late 1950's and the 1960's.

Second, the anti equality votes for LGBT people in California and elsewhere is disappointing. The struggle continues.

Third, the vote by the Diocese of Quincy to align with the Province of the Southern Cone, while expected, is saddening.

In my own life, the most pressing matter is the death of my computer. As I noted in an earlier post, the computer failed over a week ago, on October 29. Since I have Liz's laptop to use, I took my time deciding what steps to take. I finally decided to take it to a place on Broadway near 32nd Street that offers both computer repair and data recovery services. On the repair side, they told me that the hard drive was damaged, so I asked for a quotation on data recovery. When that quote came back at $925, I realized I had some hard thinking to do.

I called the shop that sold me the computer and they tried hard to sell me a new laptop with similar power for over $1,800. I'd love to have a powerful new computer, but I don't want to spend that kind of money this year for reasons that are probably obvious to everyone. So I did a little more investigating.

I found a recommendation to remove the hard drive and put it in a USB drive enclosure, so I rushed out and bought an enclosure so that I could try to recover the data myself. Then i went to the repair shop to pick up my laptop. While I was there, the technician asked me whether I had considered repairing the computer. She said that if I provide a new hard drive, she can reinstall the operating system for $150. At the same time, she told me what kind of hard drive to buy -- and I learned that I had bought the wrong enclosure for the damaged drive.

I know I am going to go ahead, buy a new hard drive, and have the computer repaired. I am still undecided about whether to attempt data recovery myself, or simply to pay for the recovery.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Struggle Continues

Liz and I went over to vote a little after 10 am -- there was quite a line and we finally voted at about 11. I had every intention of following Tobias's Election Gospel Challenge but there were too many friends in the line for me to concentrate on reading Matthew -- I only got up to the verse where Joseph names the baby Jesus. Like Counterlight I voted for Obama, and for my State Senator, Bill Perkins, on the Working Familes line, but I did not vote for US Representative, Charlie Rangel. Instead I voted for Craig Schley -- it was a protest vote because Rangel consistently supports real estate interests over the objections of our local community.

As I heard Howard Zinn say recently, I voted for Obama -- with trepidation. He talks as if there are no poor people -- it's all about "middle class." A tax cut for everybody making less that $150,000? Come on! Last night at St. Mary's food pantry they gave out 50 packages of food in a little over an hour. Because it was the first Monday of the month, that was a low amount -- the week before, the last week of October, it was 80 packages.

Remember, whoever wins, the struggle continues.

Monday, November 03, 2008

All Saints Sunday

Yesterday at St. Mary's we had a baptism -- an interesting way to celebrate All Saints. On the first Sunday of the month, we have a custom of "Prayers for Baptismal Anniversaries, Birthdays and other special occasions." This comes before the Peace -- and yesterday it took place directly after the baptism at the font. November 2008 marks the fiftieth anniversary of my attending St. Mary's.

I don't remember which Sunday I first went there -- but I think it must have been November 16th. I met Rex late election night -- in the small hours of Wednesday, November 5, 1958, and went with him to evensong at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on the following Sunday, November 9th. So I probably went with him to St. Mary's the Sunday after that. It's been a long time and it makes St. Mary's the second longest constant place in my life. (The first is Heart Lake in Susquehanna County Pennsylvania.)