A Secret of Life

WHEN YOU’RE TALKING WITH SOMEONE, ask yourself: “How can I meet this person’s needs right now?

App Happy

WITHIN THE SPACE OF LESS than a year, I have gone from a smartphone disdainer to a smartphone … user? enthusiast? Dare I say addict?

That last descriptor is perhaps a touch harsh. Let us say instead that I have a new appreciation for the wonderful world of apps. My own ‘phone has them divided into six home-screen groups: “Connexions” (local media, mostly), “Tricorder” (sensors and general knowledge-bases); “Astro” (star maps and related information), “Dispatch” (fire/medical alerts and trackers of earth, sea, and sky traffic), “Judaica” (Jewish texts sacred and secular), and “Utils” (such essential system features as Clock, Calendar, Calculator, Contacts, &c).

Do I use them all? I either do now, or conceivably will.


Muzak is the musical equivalent of small talk.

I continue to believe that this world has no ultimate meaning. But I know that something in it has a meaning and that is man, because he is the only creature to insist on having one.”
— Albert Camus

Confessions of a Sidewalk Astronomer

THERE ARE TWO TELESCOPES IN my living room, a third in a backpack in my bedroom closet, and a pair of astronomical binoculars on the bookcase near the front door.

“Why so many?” you may ask.

Easy answer: I am … obsessed.

Why Am I Still Here?

BARRING ANY UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES, I will celebrate my 62nd birthday tomorrow.

Leading me to ask: “How did THAT happen?”

As a child of the 1970s and very early ’80s, my gentle nihilism is understandable. It was a period marked by grand-scale social upheaval and the very real threat of nuclear war. Thus, many of us, instead of making plans for the future (“what future?!” we chorused with youthful cynicism), opted to revel in an increasingly tentative present. That checkered and lazy lifestyle provided a certain spice, and “no point in tomorrow” slid me into various endeavors — some pointless, others rewarding, all instructive.

But that sort of thing can only take you so far, and having arrived largely intact (save a handful of scars and surgeries) at this particular 2024 moment is to me something of a major miracle.

Regrets? A few, mostly of the self-sabotaging variety.

Joys? Many. Many and multiform.

Plans for what’s left of my future? To become, and to continue to become, more. I like to think I’m getting the hang of it.


Hamas must be defeated.

The hostages must be released.

But Netanyahu cannot be trusted to wage a just war in a just way. Let us not forget that almost the entire country turned out, in the weeks before Oct. 7, to demonstrate against his would-be ironfisted dictatorship.

I am heartsick and soul-sore that too many innocents have died, are dying, and will die. Meanwhile, the world’s ravening Jew-hatred continues unabated. It’s getting worse, in fact.

Also meanwhile, I can hear my spirit hardening, like cement patching a broken sidewalk. And it scares me.

At what point do we raise our voices in protest? Where? To whom?

And — what good would it do?