From Earth to Moon and Back

Source: NASA

Here’s to all the unsung engineers who made the Apollo 11 moon landing possible. I say this with particular pride because my husband was one of them. A systems engineer for a NASA sub-contractor, he was a card-carrying member of the IEE (from his early days in the UK) and IEEE (US). His expertise was in military/aerospace radar in applications such as tracking and guidance. This technology was used to land the lunar module, dock it back with the command module after the moon landing, and return the spaceship to Earth. (For more details, go to the link at the bottom of this post.)

My husband with a rooftop microwave dish, Ilford, Essex, England (c.1947)
Early wireless communication for the Apollo mission (RCA)

Below is a link to a press release. Read all about space radar, wireless lunar radios, HD-to-TV signals, digital rocket launch technology, and other precursors to the tiny cellular computers we now carry around every day.


My Father the Tailor

Above is quite an old photo of my father, Harry Silberman, who was a tailor from Romania.

The photo above shows Poppa (left) with one of his first bosses when he worked as a tailor in a factory loft in Brooklyn. Poppa later opened his own shop and dry cleaners in Bay Ridge.

But few people wear bespoke clothing anymore. Most people, well…

Lox vs Nova

Lox isn’t lox and nova isn’t nova.

When people say lox, they really mean nova (“Nova Scotia” salmon) even though it isn’t always from Nova Scotia like it used to be.

Anymore, delis and food stores don’t seem to have actual lox. So we use the term loosely and everybody is really talking about and eating only nova these days. But years ago, you could get lox or nova and you had to specify which you wanted. Even some real delis today still offer both. So it is still worth knowing the difference.

A cautionary note: Lox is extremely, almost inedibly salty. It is an acquired taste and that is why most people understandably eat only nova and why the word lox has changed in connotation to refer to the type of smoked salmon that people actually eat.

Instead of trying to explain the difference, let me link to an expert in this helpful story from Bon Appetit :



The Moonlight Flit

Two of our tenants, a mother and daughter, moved to 82nd or 83rd Street from our building on 69th Street. This was in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn during the 1930s. (They did what my husband would call the moonlight flit.) So who does my father send to collect the rent they owed? My mother and me—the two “helds” (heroes). As as we approached their building I saw the mother looking out the window. I saw her and she saw us. They didn’t answer the door. Needless to say we did not get the rent.


For Those Who Need Comfort on Mother’s Day

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

The most important poem I have ever read is Carrion Comfort  by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I turn to it often for comfort. But I must quickly add that it is not a greeting card message or saccharine rhyme. It may take some soul searching to discover that despair can be felt as a kind of sickening comfort to wallow in, and that we must find reasons not to do so.

The poem can be read and heard here:

Hopkins was a priest and his work is both lofty and profound. I have recently re-posted a helpful analysis (Carrion Comfort: Hopkins Wrestles with God) by a contemporary poet (Hokku).

The poem ends with one of the most enlightened devices imaginable. For those who do not think it blasphemy to say “My God,” after reading this poem you will always say it twice from now on: The first time as a secular expression of shock, and the second as a sacred expression of awe.

In the audio clip below you will hear why the poem is so important to me, as I explain it to my daughter.






A thoughtful, line-by-line interpretation of one of the most important poems ever written.


We have seen in earlier postings how the 19th century British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins suffered from terrible episodes of depression, the worst aspects of which were depicted in his poem I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark.BonnatJac.

We may see today’s poem as a mate to that other work, because it deals with the same topic, but in a slightly different way. It has the odd title Carrion Comfort.

We should first make sure we know what is meant by carrion. Put very simply, it means dead and decaying flesh. It has a strong undertone of something very unpleasant, as when we speak of vultures feeding on carrion — on dead animals. Many humans, too, eat dead animals, but tend to avoid any signs of decay in what they eat. That did not stop me from now and then remarking to meal mates, when I was…

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Post-Truth Truth Post

Sir Winston Churchill (Photo: Andrew Howe)

“We occasionally stumble over the truth but most of us pick ourselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”


Camp Nitgedaiget

If I didn’t have photos of this you would think I was making it up: During the depression my mother, poppa, my aunts and I went to a summer camp in Beacon, N.Y. called Camp Nitgedaiget. This was not a fancy place. In fact, it was originally founded by Communists! But what did I know? I was a kid. Here are some pictures, and to hear all about it, scroll down to play the audio where I explain it to my daughter.

Bottom row center, Aunt Goldie; bottom right, Aunt Anna


Aunt Goldie at the pool

Play the audio clip below to hear all about Camp Nitgedaiget…