By agreement I refer to Jules by the nickname her friends use. Too many of her students stalked her name searching the web. She thought it was weird. I guess I agree. But here we are again, another birthday. She always had a celebration that began at the end of the school year with her classmates. This was well before August. Then, the excuse was everyone would be on summer vacation. Then, we were on vacation, the Tyler Place. This called for a second celebration, cake, party, the whole works. And then there was the extended family of cousins, and grandparents at home. And on her actual birthday we had a family celebration. So it became a summer long party. For a kid who seemed deprived because of her August birthday, Jules would be about 100 by now if each party counted. And for the birthday wish, I wish her happiness. I think she is. Happy birthday kid.
I recently made a connection, or perhaps a reconnection from West Virginia. Colleen, a girl from my grade school class in a very convoluted way found me again. Once a woman marries her identity is virtually impossible to trace. There was another girl, one of my secretaries tracked down. She refused to talk even though she remembered me. This (photo) encounter, email only, came about via circumstantial detective work, only to fizzle for a few more years until, Marty another mutual acquaintance linked us again. Lisa had a similar experience with her grade school class and reunion. Lisa and I had attended the same school but at different times. I had been long gone to West Virginia by the time Lisa attended. And Colleen, my new contact and I have never met in person. Confusing, try this. I did it without Facebook.
Rain or shine – well it never rains…but the men’s dominos game goes on whether or not there’s a crowd. The guys are tolerant. People were crowded all about them snapping pictures. I mean the crowd was in their space! The game was on and no matter the crowd, it was proceeding. Just one table and one game…. The last time I saw this group, it was on an evening tour of the Balad. The tourists crowded and shot images. The men ignored them and played on.
Plop! Yes bring a rug and plop down in any open space. No one seems shy about bringing along a rug and just claiming a spot in the middle of everything. I can’t say that it appears comfortable. Selfies in the background!? It’s midnight and joint is hoppin’! I’d ordinarily think a nice soft patch of grass would do. But there ‘s no grass in sight. Folks will set up in the most unlikely and most uncomfortable looking locations. And despite the hour, no one appears ready for bed.
My guide told me that there were typical drinks that were served at Ramadan. These things create the familiar memory of a holiday as eggnog would remind me of Christmas. The dark purple drink is served everywhere. The origin or berry is unclear to me. The taste is distinctive. The other drink is newer and is seen together. But it is the purple stuff….has an odd distinctive flavor. It is sweet without citrus tartness. Initially I did not like it but it becomes an acquired taste. It was new for me but is typically served where ever I go. Most vendors served it up from plain plastic containers. Here at least the display had some style and was worth sharing the image. Otherwise for the rest of the year I don’t see this drink.
More street photography – I got a second chance. Well okay. This time I wasn’t under pressure. If I got a shot or not, there was already one in my archive. So now the goal is to get a better one. Smile, get eye contact, and shoot.
Someone I know, knows all about second chances. This really isn’t. You have already seen two shots on a recent post. This time with nothing to lose, I relaxed, smiled at the kid, made eye contact, and got him to engage with my camera. Instead of a distracted look, I got a smile. Like many of my street photography subjects, this kid will grow up. But for this instance I have preserved his youth forever.
The last time I made the mistake of coming at 7PM. The action I spoke about starts after the last prayer. So this is the crowd milling about at midnight. This is a one-way thoroughfare. Are you kidding? Nope, it’s one way. I got caught about half way along and had to walk to the end twice. Pain! No one sleeps during Ramadan. They stay up until 4AM, then try to sleep all day to minimize the time of fasting and hunger. I’m saying that families and young kids are all up and active at this hour. If the routine change has affected me so, it must be hell on little kids. Once a year for 30 days…..
My guide told me that this is typical food served at Ramadan. It is liver she said. Diced liver and mixed vegetables are added to a hot grill. The savory smell beckons. It seems this is the specialty of the house and at every table multiple orders were being eagerly shared. No one seemed to mind me taking images, so I did.
This spot is designated seating for the elders of the village or neighborhood who would gather, sit, smoke, and discuss the news of the day. I asked and the pictures are of prominent members possibly deceased but who are still remembered. I asked and this man graciously let me take a few images. Jules would be proud that I asked.
Street photography – you shoot an image hoping to preserve spontaneity. It is an unguarded moment. I guess I’m better than I realize. I shot this. It is on my memory card. No one else used this camera other than me. The problem is that I don’t remember taking the image. It is in the middle of my Balad night series during Ramadan. So I am as surprised by the shot as anyone else. Does it still count if I don’t remember pressing the shutter release?
During Ramadan the Balad is covered in lighting. I was too early to see the entertainment. But the lights are welcoming. I am simply amazed that the camera figured out this complex scene and calculated the proper exposure and white balance. I got to compose and shoot. No complaints from me. It helps if you have a fast lens. I took this single shot and it was fine by me. Now for the entertainment….
This is sure to be a classic image for me. I was walking the old city Balad. The evening heat was still simmering. I was half melted. There in the window was a kid looking out at the passing crowds. As I snapped another woman commented it was a great shot. She did not copy me. And a moment later the kid was gone. I shoot multiples especially in poor light. Something is always wrong with focus or lighting. I have my favorite. It’s good to have a choice.
Well that’s what Lisa and I called them. We traveled without a plan. And in Brussels we chanced upon a fair or festival. These guys were dressed in head wear that reminded me of craniotomy dressings. It was quite an elaborate affair and in my inexperience I wandered around getting some random shots. I would do it all differently knowing what I know now. But that was then. And these guys make me smile every time I run across the image.
We were in Brussels. I take pictures of silly things like mailboxes. The first shot was devoid of people. Then to my surprise a kid came and posed. In those days I just took a single shot. Today it would have been a series of clicks. But this was it, the one and only. Cute. Spontaneous. Memorable.
Some days it’s like MASH, the TV program. Things get a little silly. As you may surmise, this was my beloved PA. He watched my back. And the nurses had a love hate relation with him. Mostly love, I think. He had his tonsils out. At least I think this was that occasion. It’s not important as you can readily see. In the holding area just before going to the OR he loudly proclaimed that he was here for his “sex change” operation. Imagine the other patients and then the look he must have gotten when they saw him in the recovery room. He could dish a joke a well as anyone. So payback as they say is a bitch. I didn’t have a hand in the decorations. If the slide is not clear, he’s wearing lip stick, nail polish, crude art work , autographs, and a surgical bra. At that time family was not permitted in the recovery room but our nurses made a pointed exception for his wife. She took one look, threw her hands up, and ran. Though these photos have not widely circulated, they did make an appearance at his 50th birthday party. This I will add is a guy in touch with his feminine side. He once wore a big fake butt and a thong for a going away party.
Wetsuits come in different thicknesses. 1mm is for tropical water. Why wear one? It keeps things in the water off your skin. I didn’t wear one for about two years. Then last summer I dove about ten days in a row. I did between three and four dives a day. After that I had a lot of skin irritation. It’s called a ‘rash.’ Whatever. It itches and was making me uncomfortable. I gave in and started wearing the wetsuit Eric gave me. It was a 3mm suit. It’s probably a bit too warm. And when I dove the 60 degree California waters even a 7mm suit was not enough to keep me warm. But there’s another consideration. A 1mm wetsuit is pretty thin. You make the call. I’d say it was hard to decide whether to mention transparency as an issue or to keep quiet. Under the circumstances the same thing happened when I chanced upon some worn bike shorts in some past blog post. I got no editorial stake here. I just remember it’s not possible to answer the question, “Honey, do I look fat in this dress?”
I shoot other people when they get married. No problem. It’s considered okay. You are in public and considered a fair target. Harsh? My kids get embarrassed when I whip out my camera and shoot. I’m not in the wedding or anything like that. I just like the formality and the fact that this is a special day for someone. We were walking along the new Brooklyn promenade below the Brooklyn Bridge. And the view of the Manhattan skyline is “free!!!” Great backdrop!
Today it’s about the story of some other dear friends. I’d say ‘old friends’ but you might take it the wrong way. It was a celebration at their place and I didn’t get a single focused shot. Light was great but the digital camera failed me. And I didn’t look at the screen. The good news is… no wrinkles, anywhere. Fuzzy is okay, I can make-up the details myself. Sometimes it’s possible you don’t want to remember all the details. We’ve been friends since the kids were in preschool. That’s a lot of years ago.
We’ve been friends since forever or at least more than twenty five years. I can’t believe it. It’s as unlikely a friendship as one could imagine. We are similar but very politically disparate. Then there was a divorce and some grand-kids and some marriages. Right now I’m waiting to see what my kids do. They were always the youngest of the bunch. There were other couples who drifted in and out of the mix but this core has hung on. We still meet but it’s harder with all of our lives changing with the times. But it’s nice to find this picture in the archives. It was taken on 6th Avenue in the 40’s (street). I don’t know whom we corralled to take the picture. It could have been one of the kids or a passerby. No ‘selfie’ here. It’s the Tyler group because we met one summer vacation at the Tyler Place. Maybe some of the grand-kids will get to go and we can go back as the ‘old folks.’ Hey, when this was taken we were still playing doubles tennis.
I think the joke about dementia goes, “You make new friends everyday.” I apologize to those who are afflicted and who might be offended by a politically incorrect joke. The nature of much humor is that it’s not to some. But here I am browsing my Canon G3 images and look what turned up. In fact the images were lost for a while because I neglected to get them onto my backup, backup drives. I am redundantly backed up. Luckily! I actually lost track and almost couldn’t find the backup. Ah well, I did find them didn’t I? Here’s a shot taken by Lisa at Carolyn’s Bat Mitzvah. It’s not technically perfectly composed. But boy does it bring back memories I’d long forgotten. Obviously I have seen this picture? Well at least I think I have. I’ll have to check with J but a lot of folks called her “Jules” when she was young and in school, which may be less confusing than calling her “J.” I doubt her students will look her up on the ‘net with that search term.And this picture’s for Harry and Debbie, old friends, who famously avoided using camera where I was obsessed with documenting things I can’t remember now.
I began the transition to digital photography in 2003. I was given a Canon G3 by Lisa. She shopped and took the advice of the salesman. It was a good call. I continued to use slide film for another year. During that time the kids and I built a slide storage unit to last for the next twenty years. We built 26 brand new drawers. It would be less than half full as I suddenly switched to digital with the Nikon D70 in June 2004. It was an abrupt end to using film. It was eventful using the G3. Though by count I shot only several thousand images, there was a lot of action that occurred during that time. I shot images at two weddings, Amy and Katelyn. No no, I was not the primary photographer, but as friend of the family, I got to experiment with digital and slides all at the same time. I had yet to learn that taking a thousand digital images at an event was all for the cost of a memory card. Though I’d love to do weddings, I realize that I’m better at my day job. I did, as a favor to Susan (Amy’s mom), shoot Scott’s second wedding. Come to think of it, I shot his first wedding also. There was a school play. You can shoot in virtual darkness handheld. It sure beats slides which are held to a single low ISO. You learn to push the technical edge of your equipment. And I first realized that digital images could be adapted to Powerpoint for teaching. Anyone remember Kodak carousel slides at the national meeting?Lisa and Jules took it to Italy on vacation. I think that this would be Venice. Pardon the fat arm, but selfies do suffer from wide angle distortion. Though it sits on a shelf passed up by later cameras that came into my life, I did get a lot of important shots with the G3. Lisa was indeed prescient in her gift to me. And most annoyingly, she would not hesitate to smugly tell me, “I told you so.” And this would not be the first time she was right.
His remarks reflect much of the conservative nature of the AANS membership. Robert Gates’ long and distinguished career spans eight presidents. He was recently US Defense Secretary. It was an interesting talk from a man no longer in government who could speak his mind without fear of losing his job. So he spoke rather candidly about his own opinions and could highlight his own ideas so often subverted by political appointment. In fact he’d have been fired over many of his remarks which were so different from the administrations under which he served.
As for Hunt and Wilson, I know and have met William Hunt and Charlie Wilson. I trained with Bill’s son David. At the time I trained Wilson’s program in San Francisco and Ransahoff’s at NYU competed as the premier training programs in the US. And when we presented our data indicating early CNS manifestation of HIV was toxoplasmosis, the west coast experience was for lymphoma and PML. Our early work remains widely cited.
I recall just before the 2nd term election of ‘W’ Bush I sat in the audience at the CNS waiting for Mikhail Gorbachev to speak. The room was packed. A member from the national leadership stood before the microphone and I thought he would introduce Gorbachev. Instead he said short and sweet, “Bush supports malpractice reform. Kerry and Edwards do not.” He sat down and the room remained dead silent and I was amazed that the CNS had endorsed Bush. That November I did in fact vote for Bush. He would win anyway, with or without my vote. I voted on that narrow bit of platform knowing that it would never be passed in Congress. What?! My only problem is if I am discovered by Lisa.
I’ve reached the point where I am now a senior neurosurgeon …like it or not. No “Peter Pan” for us. This grab shot at the recent AANS meeting is four of us who were fellow residents together at NYU. One is semi-retired. I get to dive about every weekend and feel semi-retired. We’re all a few pounds heavier and got some grey hair. Kids are grown; curiously none became neurosurgeons. Overall the years have not been too bad. One of our residency fellows (not pictured here) passed away a couple years ago of a malignancy. The meeting also featured a jab at our NYU Chairman, who took a dim view of spine surgery in his time (1994). Of course history has proven that spine surgery is a vital component to the income of neurosurgeons nowadays. Go ahead and laugh but they really did think we didn’t know how to screw in a screw? And then there is always a bit of history. Graham Teasdale was an invited speaker. His claim to fame is the Glascow Coma Score published forty years ago. Anyone in trauma, emergency medicine, neurology, or in neurosurgery will be familiar with this score because it is used to describe level of consciousness that could be translated from hospital to hospital. It’s quite a thrill to be listening to a man who has changed/affected our very thinking for so many years. I have indeed been fortunate to have seen and heard so many men who I would consider to be heroes in neurosurgery. What I have learned is that things change, things stay the same, and that one needs to keep an open mind to know which is which.
I admit that I have been living under a rock. The recent AANS meeting took place in San Francisco and on April 6 the opening ceremony featured Bob Geldof speaking. I don’t know him though he has a claim to fame. He rambled on in a rather inspiring way for about thirty minutes about how his life’s turns brought him to this point in time. He is planning to go into space next. As I looked him up on the internet today, the news was about his daughter’s funeral. She, too, was famous. He gave the eulogy. The news was reported that her body was found at home the very morning after the evening he spoke at our meeting. Sobering and sad news. My condolences.