Tuesday, July 22, 2014

More Snapshots

We are deep into summer and the activity level rises. Consequently, it's getting harder to function in the morning. I feel like a drunk, but grind the coffee beans, add water from the Ice Mountain water cooler, and pretty soon, can bless G-d, check my messages, and write a little. Always in that order, naturally. (No Keurig, although I understand there's a small one for $52.00. A thought.)
Bike Selfie, therapydoc

(1) FD and I try to take a bike trip on our anniversary. The day we met he won a Raleigh 10-speed in a raffle for Native Americans. He still rides it. We keep our bikes inside, no rust. And no home-invader would want them.

Frankly, fixing a bicycle, to me, has always meant filling tires with air, or perhaps grabbing a stick when the chain falls off to slip it back on. That's as far as my skill goes, and it doesn't matter because FD is a good bicycle mechanic, and Bob, who I think of as an authentic bike guy, is a bicycle savant.

One night, heading home from the office, my pedal fell off, or was that the derailleur. You can't ride very far without these things, but a bike shop loomed ahead, lucky for me, so I gathered the pieces and walked over.

Bob, working late, suggested that I leave it with him, he would work on it that night, have it for me the next day. I whined, "Then how would I get home?"

He agreed. Neither of us even considered the bus or a taxi, and Uber didn't exist. So Bob, who channels Haight-Ashbury, rewired the whole bicycle, charged me almost nothing. Now, whenever something goes wrong, he's my go-to guy. FD might be jealous, not sure.

Anyway, we're about to launch our annual anniversary trip, only a day trip, no plans to stay anywhere over night. FD has found us new bike paths north of Chicago, trails we've never seen before. Aside from the nuclear reactor a few yards away, and the black sand on the beach, it looks really great. But my bike gears don't work and FD is really busy. I am, too. Things are getting tense, as tense as if we were off to another country and hadn't packed.

My only hope, Bob. So I stop in after work, but he's not there. Two other guys are lolling around the shop (this place is like a barbershop, honestly). One takes my bike for a spin, comes back and pronounces, "It's frozen. The gears,or whatever, frozen. No clicks at all."

This I knew.

"So fix it, no?"

"You can't fix that."

"Bob has done it many times. Maybe I need a new whatchamacallit.  Can you do that, replace it?"

No, that's an old bike, and finding the whatchamacallit will take time. It so happens that this bike shop is a museum of bikes, and Bob can do this in five minutes, either repair it or replace the shifter. He would have known which bike to pirate it from.

"Where's Bob? Can't you call him?" I ask desperately. "I know he'll come in for me. He made me a bike once (He did). He knows this bike."

Oh, Bob doesn't have a phone. "You can leave the bike if you want. Maybe he'll be in later. Maybe not."

"Thanks anyway."

The bike gets me home with two working gears, but riding 10 miles the next day is going to be a drag.

In the morning FD is fiddling with his bicycle. He will get to mine, surely, but I take out a screwdriver and a wrench, pry open the clicker. I pull on a cable, tighten a bolt, squirt in a little WD-40, then climb on to try it out. It works! (A reader tells me that Finish Line is better for bike chains, already on order.)

You would think I have discovered a cure for cancer, maybe one for mental illness, fixing my own bike.

That's how self-esteem works. Too bad it is so easy to undo. That clicker has a short life, too, I imagine.

(2) Funding for mental illness

The US government has cut back on biomedical research, so when two of my sons went into bench science, my hopes for a comfortable retirement based upon their wildly important discoveries flitted away. I have an almost daughter-in-law, also in a bench scientist at Harvard. She toyed with real estate before a fellowship made that a less-than choice. What is with this attraction to selling buildings?

But thankfully, the Broad Institute in Cambridge will a receive $650,000,000 gift, the biggest gift worldwide for psychiatric research, ever. Ted Stanley's son Jonathan had a psychotic bipolar episode in college at the age of 18. The Stanleys decided that the best use of Ted's hard earned money is to find cures for these troubling life-breakers. He made his money marketing and selling collectibles.

Good for the bench scientists, and wonderful news for everyone else, too. Because although we're affected by everything from the air we breathe and our experience coming out of the womb, to the way our parents and everyone else treated us since then, it is biology that holds immediate power for the fastest cures. No worries. Therapists will always find work.

(3) And in Antisemitism news
Jewish owned pharmacy in Paris  Http://tinyurl.com/m2mldag
Technically, antisemitism should also refer to being anti-Arab, too. But it doesn't.

Due to the war in Gaza, at least one mob is breaking down doors to Jewish businesses, ransacking Jewish lives, burning stores to the ground.

Shades of the late 30's, early 40's, Hitler. Skin-heads. In Berlin the call for an end to it goes unnoticed. Politicians try, but the taste of violence is irresistible.

In my own neighborhood, Chicago, Illinois, death threats: We know where you live.

No, we don't have the right to be happy, not when people are dying, when stores are burning, people dying. Palestinians need to get out of their homes, let the Israelis find the tunnels, the rockets, disarm them, stop being human shields. It should be a war of words.

Easy for us to say. But if Canadians tunneled into Minnesota armed with grenades and explosives, ready to blow up the Mall of America, taking down hundreds of Americans in one blow, Americans would stop them. This is insanity, waiting for terrorism in Israel. So innocents die in Gaza, told they have a straight shot to Heaven. My guess is that they will.

There is a pro-Israeli rally in downtown Chicago today. My colleague, the woman who shares a suite with me, asked if I would go with her. She'll drive.

Someone guilts her into going, she guilts me. Despite FD's warnings to consider other ways to show support (worried about rocks and other projectiles), it seems like the right thing to do. It is too hard watching the war online. Even Palestinians want an end to Hamas terrorism even if they lie down and die for them.

At the rally, about fifty Palestinians, held back by police, shout at Jews and wave their own flags. We make eye contact, although I keep walking, don't stop. But I can see that these people are not violent, they have fears, concerns, likely relatives back home under fire. They plead, heart-felt, need to express their own angst, be understood. I don't take a picture of them, feel it is an invasion of privacy. Whereas the Jews at the rally are landtsmen. Wouldn't it be something if we took 5 Palestinians at random, and 5 Jews, and sat down for a conversation?

The rally was over in 30 minutes. As my ride told me, "Jews aren't going to miss lunch."
Rally in Chicago-pro-Israel


Pro-Israel rally Chicago

1 comment:

Mound Builder said...

I feel at a loss about what to say about Israel and Gaza, Hamas. Part of my family is Jewish (a sibling converted more than 30 years ago and raised a Jewish family). Several of my family members have lived for varying lengths of time in Israel; one of them married an Israeli, though at the moment they are living here. I feel a sense of loyalty to my Jewish family, to their love for Israel. I can see, because I look at a wide variety of news sources, both sides, the Israeli and the Palestinian sides, have read a lot of the history, the history of the establishment of Israel as a country in 1948. I know the history that goes much much farther back, too, thousands of years, of how often that region has been the object of fights.

I think it's horrible, what happens from both sides. I can't blame Israel for fighting back when Hamas can't even maintain a cease fire for 12 hours. I can't blame the Palestinian people who are living under difficult conditions, too, and who also have lived in that region a long time.

I confess that the weakest case, to me, to be made for anyone's right to that land is the idea that G-d gave it. That's hard for me because that means that I need to accept someone else's idea of G-d (I am writing it this was out of respect, as I think that may be your preference) and because I'm unconvinced that G-d works in quite that way, giving land to some people and not to others. People do give land. Or fight for it. Or claim it. I don't think G-d works that way, though.

I also don't see how this situation will ever be resolved. It is plain to me that because Britain helped establish the state of Israel, and because generations have now lived there and called it home, it is home to many Jewish people. And it also seems that other people have a claim to it, too, having lived there as well.

I wish the fighting would stop. I wish somehow peace could be achieved.