My hopeful hand checkup, a new salad restaurant, a Porsche contretemps, and discussing legalization
by Rob Tiller
I was a bit anxious about my check up for the torn ligament with the hand doctor earlier last week, but it turned out fine. After the doc twisting my fingers a bit and asked if it hurt (it did), he pronounced me improved, and lowered the chance of needing surgery to 5 percent (a big improvement from his previous estimate of 50 percent). He cleared me to play the piano gently (no Rachmaninoff, he said), but to otherwise keep my fingers taped up for another month. I asked about getting back to golf, and he strongly advised me to wait. This was disappointing, as I’d felt like this could be my year for a big golf breakthrough (as, admittedly, I’ve felt in previous years). Still, I I was pleased to be heading in the right direction.
Playing the piano again was a rich, dense, textured pleasure. Going a month without playing is something that I hadn’t done for at least 30 years, and I missed it. I started gently with some Chopin mazurkas, and then some nocturnes. I couldn’t resist trying some Rachmaninoff – the Elegie, op. 3. It was all a bit rough, but I felt I was listening better, hearing more nuance, and playing with more rhythmic freedom. Perhaps the forced time off did my ears some good.
The next day I discovered Happy and Hale, a relatively new take-out restaurant on Fayetteville Street a couple of blocks from my office. It serves only three things: salads, smoothies, and juices. All are not only super healthy, but also lively, interesting combinations of ingredients. My first experience was the quinoa salad, which had quinoa, black beans, avocado, cilantro, feta cheese, and a couple of other things, with red pepper vinagrette. It was amazingly tasty. There was a long line, but I found this more cheering than annoying. It was good to see people interesting in eating something healthy, and to see this little business doing well.
The next day, I took Clara to the Porsche dealer for servicing. Her check engine light had come on, but even before the that, I’d felt something wasn’t right. Giving her more throttle in the higher RPMs yielded more noise, but not more thrust. I suspected a transmission issue, which turned out to be correct. I needed a new clutch and new flywheel, and the cost was a big ouch.
Waiting for the parts to come in, I drove a loaner Ford Explorer (a sport ute). I just don’t get why people like this type of vehicle, at least when they don’t have a big group of kids or other heavy loads to haul. To me it was not fun to drive. After my sports car, It felt lumbering and awkward. I had the impression of barely having enough road, like a truck pulling a massive mobile home, needing a “wide load” sign to warn other vehicles.
But I admit that I liked the instrumentation. It had a touch screen set up for the climate control, radio, blue tooth, etc., and a handsome virtual compass. In reverse, the touch screen showed the view behind, with the danger zone outlined in red. It had some sort of RFD key that allowed the vehicle to unlock when I pulled the handle without the need for any use of the key. A nice convenience.
Reading the New York Times is a settled part of my morning breakfast ritual, and there is a sense in which I always enjoy it. But golly, the news has been grim! Part of it is structural: in conventional journalistic thought, information usually only qualifies as news if it involves dramatic conflict. So we don’t hear anything about the peaceful countries in, say, Africa. But the lead stories recently inspire a special mixture of horror and hopelessness, because they’re big and absolutely beyond any individual control. Examples: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Gaza, Nigeria, Washington.
This week, though, there was a welcome exception. I was pleased to see the Times came out in favor of partially ending the war and drugs and legalizing marijuana. The editorial board had clearly had thought hard about it, and put some elbow grease into collecting the arguments: including the enormous human cost, the huge economic cost, and the relatively low risk. It felt like a watershed moment. Maybe now it will be possible that we can have a debate based more on facts and less on myth, moralism, and hysteria. I don’t think marijuana is a particularly good thing; for some people it’s surely an unhealthy thing. But criminalizing it has been an absolutely terrible thing.
So we might be close to overcoming this particular moral hysteria and to ending of prohibition. Perhaps some of our other seemingly intractable problems aren’t beyond all hope.