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Friday, November 30, 2018

Advent Lessons and Carols at Grace Church Sunday afternoon

Christ in Glory, from the Wheel Window, Grace Church.

2018 marks the 100th year since Eric Milner-White, a World War I British Army chaplain, introduced the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at Kings College, Cambridge.

The tradition continues today in Anglican churches worldwide and will be observed at Grace Episcopal Church in Plainfield this coming Sunday, December 2, at 5:00 PM.

This quiet service of short lessons recalls the story of salvation from the fall of humanity through the promise of the Messiah to the birth of Jesus.
The brief lessons are interspersed with carols sung by the choir or hymns sung by the congregation and the choir together.

Though more than a hundred years old, as the newest of Anglican services it reflects the ancient tradition of respectful silence and awe before the Divine Majesty.

The quiet traditional hymn "Once in royal David's city" opens the service. Among the high points is the singing of "O come, O come, Emmanuel" based on the great "O antiphons" of the ancient liturgy.

All are invited to this quiet time apart from the beginnings of the busy Christmas rush to pause and reflect on the new thing for which the season of Advent (which begins this Sunday) is a preparation.

The warm and welcoming evening candlelight make Grace Church a perfect spot to pause and reflect on this season of expectation.

Grace Church is at East 7th Street and Cleveland Avenue and is an accessible facility. Parking available on the street or in the public lot across 7th Street from the church.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Plainfield icon Robert H. Wilson passes

Robert H. Wilson, known to all
as "Bob" has passed.

CORRECTION: Services for Bob are of course THIS Saturday, December 1, and not November as I mistakenly wrote. -- Dan

Robert H. Wilson, known to all as Bob, passed on Tuesday, November 20.

Bob was a beloved figure in Plainfield and deeply active in the community.

A lifelong Democrat, he served for many years as a commissioner of the Housing Authority of Plainfield.

He also served on the boards of the Drake House and of Faith Bricks and Mortar, the housing advocacy organization.

In addition, he was a longtime trustee of Calvary Baptist Church.

Always the nattiest dresser in the crowd, he was in regular attendance at City Council meetings until recent illness prevented him.

He was warmly supportive of the New Democrats in their heyday though his style was never to clash publicly with the late Assemblyman Jerry Green, no matter how much their perspectives diverged.

In declining health in recent years he nevertheless summoned the strength to have his family take him -- in his wheelchair -- to the polls on November 6 so he could take part in the Blue Wave that will make Democrats the majority of the House of Representatives in the next Congress.

It gave him great satisfaction as one of his last civic and political acts to play his part in this national rebuke of President Donald Trump.

Many were surprised to learn recently that Bob was nearing his 90th birthday. His quiet demeanor and ready smile and greeting always seemed like that of a much younger person.

Services are set for this coming Saturday (December 1) at Calvary Baptist Church, West 4th Street and Monroe Avenue.

The family will receive friends from 9:00 to 10:00 AM and the funeral will begin at 10:00 AM.

With Bob's passing, another Plainfield icon is no longer among us.

We will miss you Bob.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Condolences may be sent to the family at 903 Central Avenue, Plainfield, NJ 07060. Arrangements have been entrusted to Brown's Funeral Home.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Dan discovers an unheard of Democratic SIG (special interest group)

USAF drill sergeants turn raw recruits into airmen.

So I'm at the supermarket Tuesday afternoon and this older woman in front of me is paying for her groceries with a credit card.

She swipes the card and then turns the box slightly to use the stylus to sign for the purchase. And she curled her left hand over the signature space so that she was actually writing upside down to sign her name. Aha! She's a leftie!

Then it hit me all at once -- a special interest group the Democrats have not taken into account. (You know the rap by Republicans is that ALL the Democrats ARE is a party of SIGs.)

Full disclosure: I am a leftie as are about ten percent of the human race.

And the world is quite uncaring about lefties. Let me share a couple of stories.


How Miss Cumro had Dan starting to write. Not!

In the 3rd Grade, Miss Cumro began our lessons in the cursive script known as the Palmer Method. It consisted of learning to make loops, ovals and swirls by practicing them over and over on specially lined worksheets. I was enthusiastic and brought worksheets home to practice.

Which is when my mother noticed me writing upside down (like the lady in the supermarket and the gentleman above). What was that about, she wanted to know. The answer wasn't far away.

Turns out Miss Cumro would check our work as we practiced  by walking up and down the rows of desks, eyeballing each student at work. As everyone else was right-handed, she had me turn my paper at the same angle as they did -- meaning in order to write in that position I had to write upside down, with my hand and pen above the letters instead of below them.

Mother put a quick stop to that. She said to Miss Cumro, "I don't care what's easier for you. I want him to write like a normal person so you let him put the paper the way it's comfortable for him." And that was the end of that. I'm left-handed but write like a normal person.

My next challenge as a leftie came at the end of my Junior year in high school.


Just before the final exams I had fallen going over a gym horse and broken my left (writing) wrist.

Now New York State finals in those days were the dreaded Regents Exams -- highly guarded, state produced tests delivered and kept secure by the local schools under lock and key until administered. They were a timed test, at the end of which you turned in your test book and worksheets. Period.

With my arm in a cast I could not write with my left hand. But I could write with my right hand -- slowly and laboriously, meaning the clock would beat me before I could finish.

The school asked for and got special permission from the state for me to continue on after all the others had their test papers collected for as long as I needed to finish the exams. Whew!

My third leftie story is from my time in the United States Air Force.


The Air Force was not yet 15 years old when I enlisted and much of its basic training showed its ancestry as a part of the US Army. This included being issued and having responsibility for an M14 rifle and attaining marksmanship proficiency.

There were about forty guys in my barracks and the drill sergeant marched us to the rifle range one day for live ammo practice. Airmen would lie in a long line on the ground, separated by a couple of feet or so, with a slight embankment against which they rested their weapons to take aim at the targets about 20 yards away.

As there were several lefties, the drill sergeant had the right-handed airmen line up from the right end of the firing line toward the center. And then the left-handed airmen started from the left end of the firing line and filled in toward the right. I was the right-most leftie and there was about 3 or 4 yards or so between me and the left-most right-handed guy.

The sergeant first instructed all the right-handers on the proper procedures.

Then he came over to the left-handers and tried to give the same instructions from a left-handed perspective. (We lefties were already ahead of him, as we had spent a lifetime "translating" right-handed things to left-handed use and could do it without batting an eyelash.)

The drill sergeant instructed all the airmen to keep their weapons pointed toward the targets at all times. If they had a question or a malfunction, they were to keep their weapon pointing at the target and raise their free hand and he would come over to address the situation.

Well, the right-hand guy nearest me had a malfunction, and he raised his hand and turned toward me as he did so -- with his weapon pointing directly at my head. The drill sergeant sprang over to him and in one motion kicked the M14 out of his hands and into the line of fire. Then he proceeded to viciously kick the airman, pull him up from the ground and send him to the barracks to await discipline.

We continued our practice. I don't think I took it all in as that serious, but while marching back to the barracks, I suddenly fainted. First and last time in my life I ever did so.

Everything from mayonnaise jars to bowling balls, from toothpaste caps to the computer mouse is designed for righties.

So, why doesn't the Democratic Party start a "lefties caucus"?

Actually, I don't think that would be a good idea.

In fact, I think what the Democratic Party needs is less identity politics and more getting back to its roots as the party of  working people.

Part of the reason for the Trump win and the Democratic loss in 2016 was the Democrats' drift away from the base, which can be traced to as far back as Bill Clinton in the 1990s if not further.

In order to make sure Donald Trump is a one-term only president, we Dems need to get it right the next time around.

The 2018 mid-term elections were a dress rehearsal for 2020, and I sure hope the experience means we WILL get it right next time around.

Our small "d" democracy depends on it.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Plainfield Symphony house tour Saturday promises "fresh meat"

The meticulously restored Marsh Mansion is on the tour.

"Home For The Holidays" is the theme of the Plainfield Symphony house tour this Saturday (December 1st).

Seven homes -- including some that have never been on tour before -- will be open to the public between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM.

Homes are being decorated by some of New Jersey's finest interior designers.

Tickets are $35/person in advance and may be picked up at Swain Galleries.

Day of tour tickets will be available for $40 per person and may be purchased at duCret School of Art, 1038 Central Avenue, which is where the tour starts.

In addition there will be a boutique offering hand-crafted holiday items and a cafe with coffee and other beverages plus light refreshments.

Both will be at duCret and will open at 9:00 AM and will run throughout the tour.

This is the first Plainfield house tour in a while and you won't want to miss it -- especially since there is the promise of "fresh meat".

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Monday, November 26, 2018

Anyone else feeling ripped off by Checks Unlimited?

My repeat order contained surprise charges.

I've been banking at the Bank of America branch at East Front Street and Sanford Avenue ever since it was Crestmont Savings & Loan (now how many banks ago was that!).

And ever since I began, the banks have used Checks Unlimited to fulfill customer's check orders.

Today I noticed I was running low on checks and decided to reorder online.

Checks Unlimited site is pretty straightforward if a little clunky (you can visit it here).

You pick your design. Add any frou-frous you may want.

Enter your transit code (this identifies your financial institution and branch location) and your account number and you're good to go.

Or at least you should be.

When you get to the order review page, the company tries to hustle you with "check and identity protection".

Even though you decline, the additional fee continues to show on your order total, until you decline the offer two more times!

This may be intentionally designed to play on fearful older customers, but I am not one such. And it annoyed me.

But wait, there's more (as they say on late night TV)!

After getting to the order total page and giving my credit card information, the final order total page (see above) shows on screen.

That's when I noticed a $13.80 "handling fee" that appeared nowhere before in the entire order process.

So, let's review --

  • I am a repeat customer of many years;

  • All the information is already in their system, including the last check # they printed for me;

  • The printing and binding is automated;

  • The finished checks plus a register and a popup storage box are machine-inserted into a pre-addressed plastic mailing sleeve -- all automated
And the customer is charged a "handling fee" that is a whopping 26% of the merchandise total (it's a bigger bite if your order is smaller).

But it gets worse.

Checks Unlimited has the nerve to include the "handling fee" as a taxable item, meaning the State of New Jersey gets an extra little bite out of you though I would dispute that this is a "service" in the "goods and services" definition the state uses.

A thoroughly distasteful experience, but this is a business that has the customer by the short hairs, so to speak.

Like AT&T used to tell angry customers: You can always use the other phone company.

Other phone company? What other phone company?

I'm not a happy camper.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Plainfield Public Library: Not your grandmother's library

Library Director Mary Ellen Rogan in front of the Library's
new electronic bulletin board inside the main entrance.
Just one of many surprises awaiting visitors.

"Peace and quiet. That's the Library." -- Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve.

Well, the Library is still a pretty quiet place, but Bette Davis would not recognize it, that's for sure.

As a kid, my mother would make a weekly hajj to the Darwin R. Barker Public Library on the Barker Commons in the village of Fredonia, NY.

She would go to pick up her fix of new historical romance fiction. She was on the reserve list for new books and they would call her when they were in. She would read one (sometimes two at a time) and return it the next week in order to get another.

The librarian knew everyone by name and specialty. She would try to send me into the children's room to look at books while dealing with my mother (I was about eight at the time), but my mother insisted I be allowed in the Adult Room if I wanted -- which I found far more interesting.

There was a phonograph in the Adult Room and a selection of 78-rpm multi-record albums. It was there that I first heard Ralph Vaughn Williams' Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis; I have been a fan of classical music ever since.

It was also there that I discovered the big dictionary on the stand had all the "dirty" words in it; I have loved dictionaries ever since.

In college, I drove the Bookmobile for the Reading (Pa.) Public Library (shearing the side mirrors off one day going down a too narrow street alongside the Berks County Courthouse). I have always loved Libraries.

So it was a dream come true when I went to work for Joe Da Rold at the Plainfield Public Library (PPL) in 1996 with the task of managing what was to become the Anne Louise Davis Meeting Room and reaching out to the community to increase its use. What a fun job!

The Plainfield Public Library then was truly a realm of books -- hard-cover books, and government documents (for which it was a regional depository). Hundreds of thousands of them.

The main floor was filled with them. Gov docs and overflow stacks filled most of the basement level (where all the meeting rooms are now).

This was on the cusp of the Internet age (one program I arranged to introduce the Internet to the public drew a standing room only crowd to the meeting room).

CDs were a new lending opportunity for the Library (you do remember CDs, right?).

Folks still went to the Unemployment Office on Madison Avenue to look for work and apply for unemployment benefits. Now they do it at the Library.

From the award-winning jungle-themed Children's Room to the banks of computers in the main reading room, today's Library is radically different -- not your grandmother's (or grandfather's) Library any more.

Not only can folks search for jobs on the Library's computers, they can take computer classes to hone their office skills in the Library's computer labs.

And you can download or stream audiobooks, books, magazines, movies, and music -- all with your Library card.

Wanna learn to design websites or write code? The Library's subscription opens it to you for free.

Need tutoring? The Library's subscription to lets you get free tutoring in Math, Science and English -- including test prep and AP (their slogan is 'Better Grades Guaranteed').

And the NJ State Library brings you hundreds of online resources for every phase of lifelong learning -- from high school to college and beyond, from career prep and advancement to online courses for Spanish-speakers.

If languages are your thing, there are the Library's subscriptions to Rocket Languages and Rosetta Stone. Need to brush up on your French? How about Chinese in advance of that posting to Beijing you are angling for? Or sign language? All for free with your Library card.

Genealogy? Your Library card gives you free access to and other databases with over 100 million genealogical records.

Academic journals? Gotcha covered.

Legal information and legal forms? Ditto.

News or information on all branches of the military and federal government? Also ditto.

Besides all this (and more), if you need a quiet place to study or read, the Library offers plenty of options from tables in the main reading room to private study carrels. And there's free WiFi.

All you need to access this bounty is your Library card. Library cards are free to Plainfield residents; simply show your drivers license or proof of residence.

To learn more, visit the Plainfield Public Library website here, call (908) 757-1111, or stop by the Library at Park Avenue and 8th Street.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Thursday, November 22, 2018

A Thanksgiving Day riddle

The question that has divided families for generations --
jellied or whole berry? Jellied aficionados treasure
the rings on the side of the can shown in the jelly...

... while whole berry enthusiasts smirk at the "fake"
sauce. Either version can be homemade, but do you
know anyone who actually does?

So here' a Thanksgiving riddle, courtesy of a third grader:

Question: Why did the cranberry sauce cross the road?

Answer: To be with the other sides.

Enjoy your turkey, and be sure to give thanks -- even for 3rd-grade humor.

See you Friday.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

DaVita patients celebrate Thanksgiving -- with Famous Dave's BBQ

The Thanksgiving meal was catered by
Famous Dave's BBQ in Mountainside...

...Inside was a delicious hot Thanksgiving dinner
with perfect portion sizes (note absence of carbs)...

...And Dan was a member of the "clean plate club."

I felt the excitement in the air the moment I arrived at dialysis on Tuesday. It was like kids on Christmas Eve.

I had learned a while back from the center's director, Betsy, that there would be a special treat for Thanksgiving on this day.

Since most patients receive treatments three times a week, scheduling an event like a meal takes a lot of coordination, at which Betsy and the crew excel.

In order to guarantee patients and staff a day off to celebrate with family, everyone's schedule needed to be shifted for the week.

So my Mon-Wed-Fri slot became Sun-Tue-Fri and the Tue-Thu-Sat folks got Mon-Wed-Sat for the week. This meant everyone has no more than two days off between treatments -- and all get Thanksgiving off. Neat trick!

After everyone got settled in, the fun began with bingo. "Cards" were distributed to patients and Betsy called the numbers over the intercom. Tension grew as we began to circle more and more numbers on our 5x5 grids until someone finally shouted Bingo! Prizes were DaVita branded merchandise -- umbrellas, lunch bags, pill organizers, etc.

(I have to admit the last time I played bingo was at a firemen's carnival when I was sixteen. We marked our cards with popcorn kernels. I was so excited at getting a bingo that I hit the edge of the card overhanging the table and my corn flew in all directions. No kewpie doll for Dan that day!)

After a short break a hot meal catered by Famous Dave's BBQ in Mountainside was served to all.

The meal -- and the portions -- were perfect (remember that ya'll on Turkey Day).

Included were a helping of turkey (both light and dark) with a packet of BBQ sauce, an excellent creamy cole slaw, collard greens with a touch of cayenne, and a cornbread muffin.

The meal was topped off with a tasty peach cobbler. Not only was the meal great, the hot food was hot and the crunchy slaw cold. And bear in mind we have three shifts a day here (I'm in the middle one). Talk about logistics! What more could one ask for?

Actually, there WAS more.

This pic does no justice to their talents -- click on
the short video link
here to see the dance action.

After we ate, Betsy and a number of the staff formed a chorus line and danced to music from a boom box. (Watch the short video here.)

They called it "the Plainfield dance," but I suggested "Hamilton, the Plainfield version." Next stop, Broadway!

This is just one of the activities the staff put on which help reinforce the sense that we -- patients and staff -- are all one healthcare team, and that we can have fun while taking care of serious business.

What will we do next? Stay tuned.

(Local businesses that would be interested in donating treats or useful small articles -- toiletries, grooming supplies, branded giveaways, etc.-- can reach out to Betsy at (908) 757-6030.)

Meanwhile, a Happy Thanksgiving to all. Enjoy time with your families and remember not to discuss politics, sports or religion. That should make it simple, right?

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Was Councilor Storch staking out 2019 terrain Monday night?

Councilor Storch, who was Council President in 2016,
must decide whether to run again in 2019.

There has been speculation that disaffected Democrats in the Second Ward used Ron Johnson's campaign against Elton Armady for the citywide at-large seat as a trial balloon for the candidacy of Sean McKenna in next year's Second Ward primary race (see my previous post discussing this possibility here).

So far, Councilor Storch has kept his cards very close to his vest and has not addressed speculation about whether he will run -- one way or the other.

However, given that background, it is interesting to speculate on the stands he took at Monday night's (busy) Council meeting.

As Council President McRae has done with the combined sessions this year, he moved blocks of resolutions for each department, asking council members if they had questions or comments and, once those were out of the way, asking for a motion to pass the block of resolutions on one vote. This is a convenient procedure, sort of a hybrid of the regular one-by-one routine and a consent resolution.

Here's what Storch did Monday night that was interesting to watch.

As with most meetings, about 99% of items are unremarkable and there is hardly a whisper of discussion.

However, Storch voted "no" on two of them and made a public statement on another matter that stakes out a position pre-empting any potential challenger(s).

With regard to ordinance MC 2018-24, which altered a recommendation by the Planning Board to ban certain types of signage, Storch voted "no" on the ordinance's second reading and final passage.

His lone "no" vote did not deter the ordinance from being passed, but Storch's move cut off the possibility of McKenna -- who is a member of the Planning Board, and spoke against any changes to the original ordinance proposal -- using a Storch "yes" vote against him in a possible primary race.

Storch's second "no" vote was on the introduction of ordinance M2018-28, adopting a non-condemnation redevelopment plan for what is being called "South Avenue East" -- from the Fine Fare building to Terrill Road and properties on the south side of South Avenue, plus a residential property on Terrill Road but omitting the 7-Eleven on the corner.

The perimeters of the area aroused considerable discussion, not least of which is why the 7-Eleven was left out, why the residential property was included, and the fate of two popular restaurants -- Giovanna's and Freppe's.

Storch's "no" vote here also headed off any advantage that McKenna might have got on this plan, which is not universally adored by Second Ward residents.

The third action by Storch was in the matter of deer management.

About ten people spoke out during the public hearing. They ranged from familiar animal activists who urged against continued hunts to several residents who noted the ravages of deer upon their gardens. Some felt that hunting was, regrettably, necessary. One person urged the adoption of a contraceptive (administered by darts) that has yet to be approved for use in New Jersey.

After all was said and done, Storch asked to make a comment and then, acknowledging the complexity of the situation and the public health issues brought up, announced that he would support another deer hunt.

(He did not speak to the issue of bow hunting, which many consider inhumane, but which is the manner Union County has allowed. Because of the proximity to residential areas, the Cushing Road Retention Basin would be a dangerous place to allow guns to be used. Storch was the only person in the entire hearing to bring up the fact that the deer have no natural predators -- a line of thinking that could be pursued further.)

Was this a calculation that there are more aggrieved property owners than deer-lovers? I don't know, but the effect is to rob McKenna of yet another issue in any possible primary race.

2019 is certainly going to be an interesting year in Plainfield politics. But then, when has it ever not been?

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Monday, November 19, 2018

Monday Council meeting includes an eyepopping resolution

Donate items to the Philippine National Police? Really?

City Council meets in a combined session Monday evening (November 19) at 7:00 PM in the Council Chambers / Courthouse at Watchung Avenue and East 4th Street.

A separate legal notice several days ago announced that there will be a public hearing on deer management policy. Readers will recall that the City's agreement with the County to allow bow hunting in the Cushing Road Basin caused a firestorm among local animal rights activists. The hearing is listed as Item 6 on the agenda and will come very early in the meeting.

Discussion items include acknowledgment of the Police Divison's recent re-accreditation under Director Carl Riley, a report by Parks and Recreation Superintendent Veronica Taylor on recreation activities and future programs (it should be recalled that thievery in the program stopped the moment she was appointed), and a review of the DLGS CY2018 Best Practices for Municipalities. (It would be well worth your time to review the document -- included in the online packet here -- and see how the state delves into what is going on in municipalities.)

A resolution (R344-18) is set to accept 11 bids totaling $485K for city-owned properties; however, the online printout did not contain the list, so anyone interested will have to do some digging to find out what was sold, for how much and to whom.

Two resolutions (R352-18) and (R353-18) deal with redevelopment on East 3rd Street and South Avenue respectively. The South Avenue item is the former Loizeaux Lumber Yards.

If this ends up being yet more housing, the tilt in development is decidedly skewed toward the 2nd Ward, which should raise some questions of equitableness. (Meanwhile, the housing proposed at South Second and Grant in the 4th Ward seems stuck in limbo, with trees growing out of the piles of crushed concrete from the old factory floor.)

There are also three nominations to the Board of Trustees of the Plainfield Public Library, an unusually high number to be filled at one time.

And the new Director of Health and Social Services, Shep Brown, is putting forward a resolution urging the Trump administration not to penalize resident aliens who use social services such as Food Stamps (R358-18).

However, the truly eyepopping  resolution (R346-18) is to donate holsters and magazine pouches to the Philippine National Police.

Those who follow the news will know that Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte -- a favorite of President Donald Trump -- has alarmed many with his policy of encouraging extra-judicial killings by police in his "war on drugs."

Extra-judicial means the police may summarily execute suspects on the spot, and upwards of five thousand have been killed in this manner since he took office in 2016. In addition, there is evidence that police are using this authority to settle personal scores that have nothing to do with drugs.

Discussions of the issues involved range all the way from the staid Council on Foreign Relations (see here) to the Human Rights Watch advocacy group (see here) to a report by Reuters this past June that Duterte told the UN human rights officials to "go to hell" (see here).

As a community where many people have rallied around the #blacklivesmatter movement against extra-judicial killings of Black Americans by police, shouldn't we be asking ourselves if this is really a gesture we want to make?

Is there no one else less objectionable to give these items to?

I hope so.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Farewell Nidia, and God bless!

On Charge Nurse Nidia's last day, I brought her some flowers.

Last Monday, Nidia brought each and every patient
a goody bag with tasty treats.

Nidia, the charge nurse on my shift at DaVita Plainfield, finished her last shift on Wednesday (November 14).

She will be starting a new job with DaVita as charge nurse at a facility Down The Shore.

She was the first staff member I met (after Betsy, the Director) back in April when I first started dialysis.

She put me at ease immediately, introducing other staff, explaining procedures, and generally making me feel at home.

I've been around the block (as they say) and I can spot a really good manager from a mile away.

Nidia is one of the best.

She is firm but friendly and is a real team builder and leader. I've never heard a cross word from her or a complaint from staff about her.

On top of all this, we became friends. She shared with me some of her adventures as an adopted American (she is originally from Colombia) and -- after she learned I had been in real estate for many years -- her concerns with selling her home and downsizing.

I knew there was "trouble" when she and her husband sold their home right away.

They moved Down The Shore, and her commute lengthened considerably.

So it was a surprise but not really a shock when she circulated among the patients a week ago, telling each one personally about her move.

I told her she was gonna make me cry, and we both teared up.

But the move makes perfect sense -- she will have the same position and be only five minutes from their new home in an age-restricted community.

On Monday she distributed goody bags to each patient (about 150 in this unit).

As Melida the social worker said, "We will all miss her greatly!"

Good luck, Nidia!

As the Irish say,
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Until we meet again!

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Plainfield Symphony presents "The Gershwin Songbook" Saturday night

A caricature of Gershwin by famed New Yorker
artist Al Hirschfeld (1946).

CORRECTION: Note parking correction, there is no parking in the First Place lot.

The Plainfield
Symphony, under Music Director Charles Prince, presents "The Gershwin Songbook" Saturday night at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church.

George Gershwin was an enormously productive American composer who wrote everything from classical compositions (Rhapsody in Blue) to opera (Porgy and Bess), from solo piano works (Fascinating Rhythm) to popular songs (Oh, lady be good; Someone to watch over me; Shall we dance; and many more).

Three well-known artists will join the PSO in offering up a delicious selection of Gershwin's ever-popular numbers.

Pianist Richard Glazier will present some of Gershwin's piano works, and singers Rebecca Faulkenberry (Groundhog Day, the musical) and Ron Raines (Showboat, Chicago) will present fabled Gershwin songs.

Because a large crowd is expected, special parking arrangements have been made. There is no parking in the church lot on First Place owing to construction. Parking is available at Swain Galleries on Watchung Avenue and the parking lots at the Salvation Army (across from Crescent Church) and City Hall (6th and Watchung).

The concert starts at 7:00 PM sharp. Please be sure to leave yourself time to park and walk to the church.

Tickets are available at the door. $65/reserved, $45/general, $30/seniors and students.

Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church is at Watchung Avenue and East 7th Street. Parking as noted above.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Plainfield Foundation seeks new member for distribution committee

The Plainfield Foundation seeks a member
for its distribution committee.

The Plainfield Foundation is a community fund established by donations and bequests more than eighty years ago, and annually distributes grants to Plainfield and North Plainfield nonprofits active in arts, culture and community service in the two communities.

Proceeds of the fund are awarded as grants each year by a distribution committee which, under the terms of the trust document, must include members who are residents or work in each of the two communities.

This year, applicants are sought to fill a North Plainfield seat.

Here is the notice from PNC Bank, which holds the funds in trust:



Any reader who meets these conditions is invited to submit a resume for consideration.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Armistice Day (100th Anniversary, observed)

The poppies of the poem grow wild in the fields of Flanders.

American graves in the Flanders Field American
Cemetery near Ypres, Belgium.

Plainfield's observance of Veterans (Armistice) Day did the right thing by marking the commemoration on Sunday (November 11), the exact 100th Anniversary of the Armistice that brought the fighting in World War I to an end at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

Celebrated as Armistice Day from 1918 to 1954, the name was changed by Congress in that year to honor veterans of all American wars.

(It is a complete mystery, however, as to why the flyer marking this event featured the iconic World War II photo of Marines raising the American flag on Mt. Suribachi, the highest point on the island of Iwo Jima. That event marked the planting of the American flag on Japanese soil in the closing months of the Second World War. Taken by photographer Joe Rosenthal, it became the most celebrated photograph of WWII and won the photographer a Pulitzer Prize. The fame of the photograph dogged the three survivors of the Iwo Jima flag raising all the rest of their lives, much to their dismay.)

In observance of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, I am reprinting the short poem "In Flanders Fields" that all American grade school children of my generation were required to learn, recite from memory, and be able to explain the meaning of --

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
          Between the crosses, row on row,
       That mark our place; and in the sky
       The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

        We are the dead, short days ago
      We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
       Loved and were loved, and now we lie
             In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
       The torch; be yours to hold it high.
       If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
             In Flanders fields.
It was composed by Canadian soldier-surgeon John McRae during the Second Battle of Ypres (in Belgium), and is dedicated to his friend (some say his lover) Alexis Helmer, killed during that battle and whose funeral McRae had conducted the day before.

The Americans and the Canadians fought side by side during the Battle of Ypres.

The Flanders Field American Cemetery near Ypres is one of eight American cemeteries in Europe where the remains of American WWI dead are buried. Nearly 90,000 fallen soldiers are buried or commemorated in the Ypres area.

The poem made the red poppy the symbol of remembrance for those killed in World War I and crepe paper poppies have been distributed ever since 1921 by the American Legion Auxiliary (see here) as a fundraiser for wounded veterans in rehabilitation.

P.S. We also commemorated Armistice Day at Grace Church on Sunday, where our priest, Mother Joyce Scheyer, whose father was on active military duty throughout her childhood, displayed a Gold Star Parents banner from the pulpit and explained its significance during her homily.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Piano six hands? Yes, indeedy! At Sunday's benefit concert at FUSP

A special treat will be a piece for piano, six hands.

The Plainfield Music Club (PMC) always brings interesting programs to the public and this year's scholarship benefit concert on Sunday (November 11) is no exception.

Since Sunday is the actual commemoration of the World War I truce which gave rise to Armistice Day (now Veterans Day), this program will offer rare and interesting music giving an insight into this period of American history.

It is also notable as Plainfield prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the construction of City Hall in January of 2019.

On a sadder note, the concert underscores the fact that the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield (FUSP) has held its last service in this wonderful building.

While the PMC usually offers its public concerts in Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church's large and very resonant space, the choice of FUSP is exceptionally wise for this program, with its smaller, warmer, more intimate room.

The program will include a number of pieces from the WWI era by Claude Debussy, Bela Bartok, Percy Grainger, Scott Joplin and Zez Confrey. They will also range from the classical period of Mozart to the beginnings of the Jazz Age with George Gershwin and others.

Among the featured performers are well-known Plainfield musicians Victoria Griswold (piano), Ron Thayer (piano), Wendy (bassoon) and Robert (clarinet) Romano, and Edwin Lopez and Fred Fischer (both piano).

One of the special treats will be performance of a piano work for not four but SIX hands!

If this means they'll all be sitting on one bench, you'll want not to miss it! (If so, they must be the skinniest musicians you ever saw.)

Tickets are $15/person, $10/senior and $5/student, and will be available at the door (cash or check only). The scholarship aid helps young area musicians pursue their musical training.

Your contribution may just help underwrite the career of a future rock star in the classical music world.

FUSP is at 724 Park Avenue, just off 7th Street. Parking available in the lot across the street.

Doors open at 3:30 PM and the concert begins at 4:00 PM sharp.

Hope to see you there!

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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