Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue Moon

Of Kentucky and Beyond: The next Blue Moon, the website informs us, will appear on August 31. Hey - that's tonight!

According to modern folklore, a Blue Moon is the second full moon of a calendar month.

August 2012 is a month with two full moons. And, by popular acclaim, that means it’s a Blue Moon month – but it’s Blue in name only. That’s because a Blue Moon is sometimes defined as the second full moon in a calendar month. The first full moon is August 1. The second full moon is August 31, 2012.

There are two more definitions for Blue Moon. It can be the third of four full moons in a single season. Or, someday, you might see an actual blue-colored moon.
Our old friend Wikipedia tells us way more than we want or need to know:
A blue moon can refer to the third full moon in a season with four full moons. Most years have twelve full moons that occur approximately monthly. In addition to those twelve full lunar cycles, each solar calendar year contains roughly eleven days more than the lunar year of 12 lunations. The extra days accumulate, so every two or three years (7 times in the 19-year Metonic cycle), there is an extra full moon. Lunisolar calendars have rules about when to insert such an intercalary or embolismic ("leap") month, and what name it is given; e.g. in the Hebrew calendar the month Adar is duplicated. The term "blue moon" comes from folklore. Different traditions and conventions place the extra "blue" full moon at different times in the year. In the Hindu calender, this extra month is called 'Adhik(extra) masa (month)'. It is also known as purushottam maas, so as to give it a devotional name.
  • In calculating the dates for Lent and Easter, the Clergy identify the Lent Moon. It is thought that historically when the moon's timing was too early, they named an earlier moon as a "betrayer moon" (belewe moon), thus the Lent moon came at its expected time.
  • Folklore gave each moon a name according to its time of year. A moon that came too early had no folk name, and was called a blue moon, retaining the correct seasonal timings for future moons.
  • The Farmers' Almanac defined blue moon as an extra full moon that occurred in a season; one season was normally three full moons. If a season had four full moons, then the third full moon was named a blue moon.
A "blue moon" is also used colloquially to mean "a rare event", reflected in the phrase "once in a blue moon".
Fascinating, eh what?

Delving further in the annals of folklore - Bill Monroe gave us the High Lonesome version of Blue Moon of Kentucky.

Blue Moon of Kentucky, keep on shining
Shine on the one that's gone and left me blue 

Not to be outdone
(Bill Monroe was the Father (of Bluegrass),
but Elvis was and is the King), Elvis produced
his own version of Blue Moon of Kentucky.

Are there, Abq Jew cannot help but wonder, no Blue Moons other than in the state of Kentucky? How about us here in the Land of Enchantment! What are we - chopped liver (which Abq Jew & mishpocha once again enjoyed tremendously at Ben's Kosher Deli)?

But Abq Jew knows with 100% certainty that you, his readers, don't give a fig about Mr Monroe or Elvis or Kentucky. The only song about Blue Moons you care about is the 1961 hit by The Marcels, which begins with the everlastingly eternal lyrics

Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba
Ba ba ba ba ba ba dang a dang dang
Ding a dong ding

So when you go to or come home from shul or wherever tonight, be sure to look up at the sky and enjoy. After all, this only comes around ... well, you know.

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Geezer Goes To The Movies:  It turns out that Mike Birbiglia is a comedian. Who knew? Certainly not Abq Jew - he is just way too old to notice. But the geezer's daughter Alex the BU Student knew.

Not only that. Alex knew that Mike Birbiglia wrote, directed, and stars in Sleepwalk With Me, a "sincere and hilarious" film based on his off-Broadway show and bestselling book.

Ah, yes - sleepwalking. That reminds me of what Lena Rose's parents are going through. We went through the same thing with Alex the BU Student, and most certainly with Dov Yellin the Film Editor. Payback!

But where were we? Oh yes. Alex was able to use her iPhone to find out where Sleepwalk With Me was playing in NYC (at the IFC Center, of course), purchase tickets (for the family), figure out which subways to take, and even calculate which way to walk from the subway platform to the ideal subway exit.

In fact, Alex was using her iPhone to determine the best route from the exit to the theater when Abq Jew told her to look over her shoulder - at the marquee!

All this would mean little to Abq Jew's readers were it not for the facts that a) the NYC showing we attended turned out to be the film's premiere; b) Mike Birbiglia and producer Ira Glass were there for a round of Q&A afterwards; c) Ira Glass wrote an article entitled Ira Glass on Rescuing a Pit Bull Dog with a Ridiculous Diet in this week's Newsweek; and c) the film will soon arrive in Albuquerque.

Sleepwalk With Me
Guild Cinema
Friday Sep 21 to Thursday Sep 27
4:00 pm, 6:00 pm, 8:00 pm

Winner of a 2012 Audience Award at Sundance, comedian Mike Birbiglia wrote, directed and stars in this sincere and hilarious film, based on his off-Broadway show and bestselling book.

It's also the first movie co-written by Ira Glass and co-produced by "This American Life."  The  story: when an aspiring stand-up fails to express his true feelings about his girlfriend and his stalled career, his anxiety comes out in increasingly funny and dangerous sleepwalking incidents.

Sleepwalk With Me features Lauren Ambrose ("Six Feet Under”), Carol Kane ("Taxi"), James Rebhorn ("Meet the Parents"), Cristin Milioti (star of Broadway's "Once"), plus comedians Marc Maron, Kristen Schaal, Wyatt Cenac, Jesse Klein, Henry Phillips and David Wain.

Amazingly - for an old guy - Abq Jew thoroughly enjoyed the film, and was even able to wish a hearty mazeltov! to Mike Birbiglia and Ira Glass as the three of us emerged from the men's room after the showing.

Here's the trailer - go see the film!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Two Unforgettable Memorials

The Holocaust & 9/11:  There was time last week, in between visits to Lena Rose and her family, for Abq Jew & his wife Perri Yellin the Artist to also visit two of New York City's newer landmarks.

Museum of Jewish Heritage

Last Wednesday, Abq Jew & Perri began the day by visiting the Museum of Jewish Heritage. The Museum is located near Battery Park, at the very southern tip of Manhattan, within sight of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Wikipedia states:
The Museum of Jewish Heritage ... is a living memorial to those who perished in the Holocaust. The Museum honors those who died by celebrating their lives – cherishing the traditions that they embraced, examining their achievements and faith, and affirming the vibrant worldwide Jewish community that is their legacy today. The building, designed by Roche-Dinkeloo, is topped by a pyramid structure called the Living Memorial to the Holocaust.

Since the Museum first opened its doors in 1997, visitors of all ages and backgrounds have gained a perspective on 20th and 21st century Jewish history and heritage. Now in its second decade, the Museum has welcomed more than 1.5 million visitors from all over the world.

The two Biblical quotes that define the Museum’s mission – “Remember, Never Forget” and “There Is Hope For Your Future” – also define the Museum's perspective on the events of the 20th and 21st century Jewish experience. Although the Museum centers on life before, during, and after the Holocaust, the obligation to remember is enriched and enhanced by a commitment to the principles of social justice, education, and culture in the Jewish community and beyond.
Included in the Museum are special exhibitions, public programming, and contemplative spaces, which are intended to enrich the visitor experience.
 The first and most important thing to see was the Core Exhibition.
The Core Exhibition tells the story of 20th and 21st century Jewish life from the perspective of those who lived it. Through a rotating collection of 25,000 pieces that includes artifacts, photographs, and documentary films, the Core Exhibition places the Holocaust in the larger context of modern Jewish history. It is organized into three chronological sections: Jewish Life A Century Ago; The War Against the Jews; and Jewish Renewal - each told on a separate floor.

The Core Exhibition is housed in a remarkable six-sided building—symbolic of the six points of the Star of David and the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
Entry Rotunda
The visitor experience begins with a nine-minute, multimedia presentation that introduces the themes of the Museum. Combining vivid imagery, music, and multigenerational voices, this collage eloquently conveys the richness, diversity, and tenacity of Jewish life around the world.

Jewish Life A Century Ago
The first floor of the Core Exhibition explores vibrant and multifaceted Jewish life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Personal artifacts and family photographs accompanied by documentary films provide a rich emotional component to the exhibition.

The War Against the Jews
The second floor tells the story of Europe's Jews confronting hatred and violence, of communities coping with persecution and isolation, and of their struggles to maintain humanity. These galleries present the history of the Holocaust from the point of view of Jews who lived through it, using their own artifacts, photographs, testimony, and historical footage. Chronological displays provide a framework for the historical events of the period. 

Jewish Renewal
The third floor of the Core Exhibition focuses on how Jewish individuals and communities rebuilt their lives after the Holocaust and continue to thrive in the 21st century.  The exhibition concludes with how contemporary Jewry has embraced the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) and fighting for justice for everyone. 
The story of the Jews in the 20th and 21st centuries must be told anew for each visitor, no matter what that visitor's age, knowledge, or sensitivity. Here, the Core Exhibition succeeds - poignantly - in walking the fine line between the morbid and the factual, layering the story as the visitor climbs the floors of the museum.

There were two other exhibits - Emma Lazarus, Poet of Exiles and Filming The Camps - plus the OU-supervised kosher Heritage Cafe and the Pickman Museum Shop, where Abq Jew found but, for reasons of shalom bayit did not purchase, Moses Action Figures.

It was that kind of day.

9/11 Memorial

As Abq Jew & Perri were walking from the subway to the Museum of Jewish Heritage, they glanced uptown and saw one of the new skyscrapers being built near the World Trade Center site - Ground Zero. They had not planned to visit the 9/11 Memorial - but they were there; how could they not?

It was that kind of day.

Wikipedia states:
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum (branded as 9/11 Memorial and 9/11 Memorial Museum) is the principal memorial and museum commemorating the September 11 attacks of 2001, and the World Trade Center bombing of 1993 that killed 6 people. The memorial is located at the World Trade Center site, on the former location of the Twin Towers destroyed during the attacks. The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation was renamed the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center in 2007.

The winner of the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition was American architect Michael Arad of Handel Architects, a New York- and San Francisco-based firm. Arad worked with landscape architecture firm Peter Walker and Partners on the design which calls for a forest of trees with two square pools in the center, where the Twin Towers once stood.

In August 2006, the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey began heavy construction on the memorial and museum. The design is consistent with the original Daniel Libeskind master plan that called for the memorial to be 30 feet below street level (originally 70 feet) in a piazza. The design was the only finalist to throw out Libeskind's requirement that buildings overhang the footprints.
On September 11, 2011, a dedication ceremony was held at the memorial, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the attacks. The memorial officially opened to the public on September 12, 2011, while the museum will open one year later, on or around September 11, 2012. Three months after opening, the memorial had been seen by over 1 million visitors.
The first and most important thing to see were the Memorial Reflecting Pools.
The National September 11 Memorial is a tribute of remembrance and honor to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.

The Memorial’s twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest manmade waterfalls in the North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood. Architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker created the Memorial design selected from a global design competition that included more than 5,200 entries from 63 nations.
The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools, a powerful reminder of the largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil and the greatest single loss of rescue personnel in American history.
And after spending one whole day visiting two of the most sacred sites in the city? There was no way around it - three have to eat.

So Abq Jew & family dined fabulously well at The Prime Grill. A place where glatt is the new hot. A place where kosher beckons the cool crowd.

It was that kind of day.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wherever You Go

There's Always Someone Jewish:  And sometimes her name is Lena Rose!

Alright - Abq Jew concedes the point that sometimes her name (or his name) is something else completely. Which is certainly an odd name for a Jewish person.

Anyway - Abq Jew's daughter Alex the Boston University Student played this video on her iPhone while we were waiting for the F train to Manhattan. This is a "must share" - proven true every day in NYC.

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!
See you soon!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Queensboro Bridge

For Sale! Right Now!  Greetings from the Best Western Plaza in Long Island City, just two subway stops from Forest Hills, Dov, Jessica, and Lena Rose! That is, when the F trains are running ... which they don't on weekends (construction). Also just two stops from Manhattan, or a quick cab ride over the Queensboro (59th Street) Bridge.

What - you thought Abq Jew & mishpocha were staying at the Waldorf?

As you can easily see from the MTA subway map above - the Waldorf (in midtown) is way too far away. And staying with the machetonim is ... way too close. So here we are, right across the street from the architecturally iconic Storage Deluxe, and right behind the world-famous Silvercup sign visible from the GCP, LIE, and Roosevelt Island tram!

We're about to set out to enjoy the day, which will include this afternoon's visit of Great Grandmama Sheila Kronrot from dear old Livingston, New Jersey.

Mark Twain famously said
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.
Well, we greatly enjoyed our experience at the American Museum of Natural History last weekend. What a magnificent collection of God's creatures, in all their bizarre shapes, strange colors, and incomprehensible feeding and mating habits. And that's just the visitors - the exhibits were even better!

Have a great day, Albuquerque! And a wondrous week, New Mexico!

Former Forest Hills residents Simon & Garfunkel

Friday, August 17, 2012

Welcome, Lena Rose!

Live! From New York!  Remember that project Abq Jew mentioned in Moses On The Mesa? The project involving Dov Yellin the Film Editor and his wife Dr Jessica Schnur and a Player To Be Named Later?

Well, the Player arrived Wednesday afternoon, and her name is  

Lena Rose    (Lena Raisa)

Mama Jessica

Papa Dov

Auntie Alex
Grandma Perri

Popsy Abq Jew


Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!
Mazel Tov, Tri-State Area!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Moses On The Mesa

The Life and Times of Solomon Bibo:  Every Jew in New Mexico (claims Abq Jew) knows the story of Solomon Bibo, the German-Jewish immigrant who came to the Land of Enchantment in the 1800s, married a NAP (Native American Princess), and became a real macher in Acoma, his wife's pueblo.

No Jew outside New Mexico (claims Abq Jew) knows the story. But (claims Abq Jew) they will soon. That's because a team led by Paul Ratner (and including his wife, Petra Ratner; noted NM actor Ron Weisberg (he just starred in Paloma); and Abq Jew's son, Dov Yellin the Film Editor) are about to release ... wait for it ...

Moses On The Mesa
The Ballad of Don Solomono

Says the film project's website,
Moses On The Mesa is inspired by the real life of a man named Solomon Bibo. He was a Jewish boy from Germany who came to the Wild West in the late 1800s. He learned how to ride a horse, how to shoot a gun, how to play poker with the outlaws and make friends with the "Indians" from his grandpa's tall tales.
He married a pueblo beauty, battled against crooked government agents and became the governor of the oldest settlement in North America. Life threw him many curves after that - he fought for progress but lost to tradition, his friends turned against him, great earthquakes and great depressions wiped him out, but he always fought back... and always remained a Jew... a Moses on the Mesa.
Our project consists of a short fiction film inspired by Solomon's life and a documentary series of conversations with today's Jews about what makes and keeps them Jewish.

Continues the film project's website:
Through incredible twists of fate, [Solomon] became governor of the indigenous tribe of Acoma whose ancient pueblo (named “Sky City”) sits atop a beautiful and unassailable cliff in the middle of a New Mexico desert. Solomon became known to the Indians as “Don Solomono” and married the granddaughter of the tribe’s former governor.
Solomon’s amazing story spans the Napoleonic Wars, the aftermath of the American Civil War, the building of the Santa Fe railroad, the American Indian Wars (and such famous characters as Geronimo), the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, the Great Depression and leads all the way up to World War 2. Solomon’s descendants now live throughout the world.

How, Abq Jew hears you ask, did Abq Jew & Son become involved in this project?  It all started a few weeks ago, when Sharon Levin of Gourmet to Go mentioned to Abq Jew that she was going to cater the team's upcoming NM film shoot.

As Abq Jew wrote in Got Midrash? - everyone loves a good story. And Solomon Bibo's story is better than most. Thus: emails were exchanged; phone calls were made. Abq Jew signed on, and mentioned to Paul Ratner that - were he in search of a very good film editor, Abq Jew knew of one. Paul were! Thus: emails were exchanged; phone calls were made. Dov Yellin the Film Editor signed on.

And not a moment too soon! As it turns out, Dov is currently ... between projects. Rachael Ray (where he has been working) is on summer hiatus, and Dov's new project (with his wife Dr Jessica Schnur and a Player To Be Named Later) won't officially begin for another few days. Moses On The Mesa was just the right "in-between" thing to keep Dov Yellin the Film Editor occupied and relatively sane.

You can learn more about Solomon Bibo from Wikipedia. Or from Solomon Bibo: Jew and Indian at Acoma Pueblo, an article by Abq's Gordon Bronitsky. And you can read the blog post From the Mesa, by Isaac of the Foundation for Jewish Culture.

But Abq Jew strongly encourages you to take a long look at the Moses On The Mesa website, which is beautifully done and provides interviews, history, and more.

Yes, despite strong backing from a host of institutions and organizations (including the Six Points Fellowship, the Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles), the project is looking for additional funding. You can donate here if you wish. But if you don't wish - you could at least "like" MOTM on Facebook!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Noah! Send Out The Dove!

And Send Us Some Rain!  Matti Caspi (מתי כספי‎) is an Israeli composer, musician, singer, and lyricist. Born in 1949, he is regarded as one of Israel’s top musicians.

Caspi has released close to 1,000 songs, both remakes of older songs and his original creations. His musical style is well known, especially for his harmony and popular writing style. Musicologist Tzipi Fleischer said:
He is the genius among his fellow artists, he set an important milestone in the history of the music of the world. Caspi has invented his own new musical language. As I sit and analyze his harmonies I find myself amazed all over again each time. The fact that he functions as the performer, arranger and conductor has formed a certain reservedness and introversion, but the truth is that he is a musical wild man. He is the one who promoted sophistication and western standards to the region.
In 2005, he was voted the 91st-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.

Chocolat, Menta, Mastik (שוקולד מנטה מסטיק: Chocolate, Mint, Gum) was an Israeli female musical trio, active in the 1970s, composed of Yardena Arazi, Ruthie Holzman and either Tami Azaria (1972-1973) or Leah Lupatin. All the girls served in the IDF as part of the Nahal Ensemble.

The trio performed both in Israel and Internationally, especially after being the 1976 entry to the Eurovision Song Contest in The Hague.

Here they are, singing one of Abq Jew's old favorites.

And speaking of the Land of Israel - Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld and Congregation Albert will be visiting next year. Just sayin'.

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hearing Men's Voices

Your Living or Your Life: The Men's Club of Congregation B'nai Israel is pleased to announce its first program of the season, for members and prospective members:

Hearing Men’s Voices
Congregation B'nai Israel
Men's Club Members & Prospective Members
Sunday August 12
Free breakfast & program
9:00 am

Hearing Men’s Voices is a Federation of Jewish Men’s Club (FJMC) series that enables men in the community to discuss issues that men too frequently do not talk about.

The series is divided into topical areas such as father-son relationships, men’s spiritual issues, men’s health issues, and work-life issues.

Abq Jew would like to point out that - in spite of the spiffy graphic - there may be no singing involved. Instead - what is involved - is meaningful thought and discussion. Click here to learn more about what we'll be discussing as the series progresses.

FJMC is a partnership of over 250 affiliated clubs with more than 20,000 members across North America dedicated to involving Jewish men in Jewish life. FJMC empowers the men of Conservative/Masorti Judaism so that their passionate voices are heard in their communities and in the movement throughout North America and around the world.

The Men's Club of Congregation B'nai Israel invites members and prospective members to participate in this groundbreaking series.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rothschild Bloomberg Grinblat

The Value of Information: Who is Jonathan Grinblat? Unless you were watching The Rachel Maddow Show last night, you probably have no idea. But if you were watching - or if you keep reading - you will know exactly who Jonathan Grinblat is.

Jonathan Grinblat
This is a photo of Jonathan Grinblat.

Because of the peculiar spelling of his name - if you Google "Jonathan Grinblat", you will discover more information about Jonathan online and accessible than you think you ought to know.

As you can see, Jonathan and Abq Jew are already on a first-name basis. Remember: the same information is available about you.

Who is Jonathan Grinblat? Let's first talk about the Rothschilds. Wikipedia tells us:
The Rothschilds
The Rothschild family, known as The House of Rothschild, or more simply as the Rothschilds, is a European dynasty, of German-Jewish origin, that established European banking and finance houses starting in the late 18th century.

During the 1800s, when it was at its height, the family is believed to have possessed by far the largest private fortune in the world as well as by far the largest fortune in modern world history.

The Rothschilds already possessed a very significant fortune before the start of Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815), and the family had gained preeminence in the bullion trade by this time. From London in 1813 to 1815, Nathan Mayer Rothschild was instrumental in almost single-handedly financing the British war effort, financing the shipment of bullion to the Duke of Wellington's armies across Europe, as well as arranging the payment of British financial subsidies to their Continental allies.

The brothers helped co-ordinate Rothschild activities across the continent, and the family developed a network of agents, shippers and couriers to transport gold across war-torn Europe. The family network was also to provide Nathan Rothschild time and again with political and financial information ahead of his peers, giving him an advantage in the markets and rendering the house of Rothschild still more invaluable to the British government.

In one instance, the family network enabled Nathan to receive in London the news of Wellington's victory at the Battle of Waterloo a full day ahead of the government's official messengers. Rothschild's first concern on this occasion was to the potential financial advantage on the market which the knowledge would have given him; he and his courier did not immediately take the news to the government.
Or, as Abq Jew sees it: the Rothschilds got the information first and acted upon it.

Who is Jonathan Grinblat? Let's next talk about Michael Bloomberg. Wikipedia tells us:
Michael Bloomberg
Michael Rubens Bloomberg (born February 14, 1942) is an American businessman and politician who is currently Mayor of New York City. With a net worth of $22 billion in 2012, he is also the 11th-richest person in the United States. He is the founder and 88% owner of Bloomberg L.P., a financial data-services firm.
And what do we know about Bloomberg LP? Wikipedia tells us:
Bloomberg L.P. is an American multinational mass media corporation based in New York City, New York. Bloomberg makes up one third of the $16 billion global financial data market with estimated revenue of $6.25 billion in 2009. Bloomberg L.P. was founded by Michael Bloomberg with the help of Thomas Secunda, Duncan MacMillan, and Charles Zegar in 1981 and a 30% ownership investment by Merrill Lynch.

The Bloomberg Terminal
The company provides financial software tools such as analytics and equity trading platform, data services and news to financial companies and organizations around the world through the Bloomberg Terminal (via its Bloomberg Professional Service), its core money-generating product. 
Or, as Abq Jew sees it: Michael Bloomberg's Terminal enables investors to get the information first and act upon it.

Who is Jonathan Grinblat?  Jonathan Grinblat is an employee of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Avionics Subsystem Lead for Cruise, Approach, and EDL [Entry, Descent & Landing] Operations for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission.
Aka the guys who just landed the Curiosity rover on Mars.

And, says Rachel Maddow, Jonathan Grinblat was The Best New Thing in the World Today on Monday August 6.

Why? Because, says New York Magazine:
When the rover Curiosity safely touched down on Mars at 1:32 a.m. this morning — Eastern Standard earth time! — the brainiacs at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory were understandably elated, and shared in this elation together, as a team. Except for one guy, whose computer seems to have tipped him off to the mission's success about three seconds earlier than everyone else. Pre-celebrations: so exciting, yet so lonely.
Rachel Maddow picked up on this and tracked down "our guy" - Jonathan Grinblat - "the man I most identify with," as she explains:

Or, as Abq Jew sees it: Jonathan Grinblat is the guy who - following in the illustrious footsteps of Rothschild and Bloomberg - was able to get the information first and act upon it.

Mazeltov to everyone involved!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Economics of Gravity

Visit Scott Tyson's Universe:  Surely you remember way back in June when Abq Jew asked ... anybody ... to Explain Me Three Things. You know - when Abq Jew said:
Scott Tyson has written a book. That book, The Unobservable Universe, states on its cover that it provides a "paradox-free framework for understanding the universe."

Abq Jew does not understand the universe. Except for the answer 42 to the ultimate question of Life, The Universe, and Everything, the universe rarely crosses what remains, after all these years, of Abq Jew's mind.

Scott Tyson, Abq Jew believes, does understand the universe. 
Well, anyway ... Scott is giving a class this Wednesday at Albuquerque OASIS entitled The Economics of Gravity (#83). Which is to say (as the OASIS catalog does):
A scientific revolution appears imminent. It will likely involve the unification of quantum theory with relativity theory, and the understanding of gravity. The revolution will offer the prospect for an abundant, benign supply of energy that redefines the concept of "green energy." But this next revolution may represent a disruptive technological, economic, and societal event on a potentially unprecedented scale with huge consequences to our nation and all humanity.
Why does Abq Jew bring this up? Because the class (if it's anything like the book, or like listening to Scott explicate over lunch) is probably going to be pretty interesting.

Abq Jew certainly plans to attend. Maybe he'll get Scott to Explain Me Three Things.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Young Men and Fire

Cold Missouri Waters:  On August 5, 1949, a crew of fifteen of the United States Forest Service's elite airborne firefighters, the Smokejumpers, stepped into the sky above a remote forest fire in the Montana wilderness. Two hours after their jump, all but three of these men were dead or mortally burned.

Haunted by these deaths for forty years, Norman Maclean put back together the scattered pieces of the Mann Gulch tragedy in the now classic Young Men and Fire.

Young Men and Fire won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992.

What happened on that terrible day? Wikipedia provides this narrative:  
Sequence of Events
The fire started when lightning struck the south side of Mann Gulch, in an area named by Lewis and Clark in the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness. The fire was spotted by a forest ranger around noon on August 5, 1949. James O. Harrison, the recreation and fire prevention guard for Meriwether Canyon Campground, had given up his former job as a smokejumper to find a less dangerous profession. On this day, however, he fought the fire on his own for four hours before he met the crew of smokejumpers who had been dispatched from Missoula, Montana, in a C-47.

After the smokejumpers had landed and gathered together, Foreman Wagner Dodge went off to scout the fire status while the remainder of the team ate. When he returned, Dodge told the team to get on the North side of the gulch and 'sidehill' (keep the same contour) and move "down gulch" towards the Missouri River, because they could then fight the fire from behind it. Dodge stopped to eat and to discuss additional plans with Harrison, who knew the local terrain well. He noticed however that the smoke was starting to boil, and he became concerned. He decided to rejoin his men as quickly as possible and get them out.

By that time, the fire had jumped the gulch from the south side to the north side, downgulch from the men. It had 'blown up', spreading much faster than anticipated, due to various weather and environmental conditions. This was unknown to the crew because various ridges running down the slope obscured their view of the slope. Only when they came over a ridge did they see the huge fire coming at them, only a few hundred yards distant. The men had to turn around and run for it. Soon after, Dodge ordered them to drop their heavy tools (shovels, Pulaskis, saws).
When Dodge realized that they would not be able to outrun the fire, he started an escape fire, taking a match and burning an area of grass to lie in so that the fire would burn around him and his crew. He ordered everyone to lie down in the area he had burnt down. In the book that he later wrote, he claimed that he had been "lifted off the ground" several times by the fire. He later claimed he had never heard of such a fire being set, it just seemed "logical", and it was thought to be an on-the-spot invention. However, plains Indians had used the technique to escape grass fires and it had been written about by authors in fiction stories in the 1800s, e.g. James Fenimore Cooper (1827) in The Prairie.

However, it is unknown if the crew heard or understood him. The group had spread out while running to escape the fire and was strung out along a good stretch. The noise of the fire had also become intense by that time. The 'escape fire' technique had not been part of their training. Dodge later stated that someone said, "The hell with that, I'm getting out of here". The other team members hurried towards the Mann Gulch ridge, hoping they had enough time to get over the ridge to safer ground; though fires spread quickly uphill towards a ridge, they are significantly slower coming down the other side.
Only two of them, Bob Sallee and Walter Rumsey, managed to escape through a crevice, came to the other side of the ridge in Rescue Gulch, and found a safe location, a rockslide with little vegetation to fuel the fire. Diettert had been close behind Sallee and Rumsey, but he did not go for their crevice, for unknown reasons. The two had no way of knowing if the crevice actually 'went through' so it was lucky that they survived. Two other members initially survived with heavy injuries, but died within a day. Unburnt patches underneath the bodies indicate that the rest of the team, including Jim Harrison, suffocated before the fire caught up with them.
Everyone had jumped by around 4:10 pm. The scattered cargo had been gathered at about 5:00 pm. At about 5:45 pm, the crew had seen the fire coming up towards them on the North slope and had turned to run. By 6:00 pm, the fire had swept over them. The time of the fire was judged by wristwatches stopped by the heat.
450 men fought for five more days to get the fire, which had spread to 18 km2 (4500 acres), under control.

Wagner Dodge survived unharmed and died five years later of Hodgkin's disease.

Thirteen crosses were erected to mark the locations where the thirteen firefighters who died fighting the Mann Gulch Fire fell. However, one of the smokejumpers who died in the Mann Gulch Fire was David Navon, who was Jewish. In 2011 the cross marking the location where Navon died was replaced with a marker bearing a Star of David.

James Keelaghan (born October 28, 1959) is a Juno award-winning Canadian folk singer-songwriter. Born in Calgary, Alberta and now based in Winnipeg, many of his songs, such as "Kiri's Piano", about the internment of Japanese Canadians, and "October 70", about the FLQ crisis, are inspired by events and figures in Canadian history. Known for his lilting baritone voice, his driving rhythm guitar, and a keen sense of scene and narrative, Keelaghan’s music bridges traditional folk music with Canadiana.

His song Cold Missouri Waters, about the Mann Gulch fire of 1949, was covered by the band Cry Cry Cry in 1998.

Cry Cry Cry was a folk supergroup, consisting of Richard Shindell, Lucy Kaplansky, and Dar Williams. The band released a single eponymous album of cover songs on October 13, 1998.

The trio performed together on an extensive tour in 1999, singing mainly the songs included on their collaborative album. The tour was met with very favorable reviews.

The album Cry Cry Cry was a great success on folk music radio. It ranked as the fourth most played album by folk music DJs in 1998, the fifth most played in 1999, and remained in the top 250 through 2002.