Monday, January 27, 2020 -
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Rush job

I didn’t know what to write about this week. All my leads didn’t pan out.

First I thought I’d turn to my favorite wordsmith. Yogi Berra, “If you ask me a question I don’t know, I’m not going to answer.” Many politicians today have no such compunction . . . but I didn’t know where to take it from there.

Second I thought of the book I’m reading on the destruction of the Vilna Ghetto. The author, a survivor obviously, sets down the radical distinctions the Germans introduced, favoring a few Jews to co-opt them into ruling, and ultimately delivering to death, most of the other Jews. Then the author recounts the grand illusion. The so-called elite members of the Judenrat ended up in the same death lines as the people they ruled. The sheer evil of the Nazis — the wholesale killings, beatings, fires, mental tortures, all the rest . . . I definitely was not in the mood to go into that.

Third I thought of our little grandson who’s learned to talk now, but doesn’t have the art of speech, or his relatives, or his times, straightened out just yet. He called me last Sunday: “Hi Zayde. Good Shabbos . . . ” Then the line went dead.

Fourth I thought of my computer, which writes in both Hebrew and English, but you can go stark raving mad when the the computer goes haywire and the English starts going in the Hebrew direction and vice-versa. Maybe this made me tell a German national who visited our office, and who knew Henry Kissinger’s first wife, that Kissinger once tried to provoke Golda Meir:

“First I’m an American,” he told Meir. “Second I’m a German. And only third I’m a Jew.”

Riposted the late Israeli leader: “That’s all right. In Israel we read [Hebrew] from right to left” . . . Then my humor ran out.

Fifth I thought it was a good thing I’m not a Broncos fan. I can’t be disappointed in the lousy team because I was never turned on to the sport to begin with. But I do recall I thought it was a waste for the public to pay all those hundreds of millions for the Bronco stadium . . . But I wasn’t in a political frame of mind.

Sixth I thought of the famous painting, “Storm over Toledo,” when, the other day, the light under the sky near dusk acquired that rare, cool, phenomenally sharp quality, both gorgeous and restrained, etching the leaves so clearly you see each one 50 feet away  . . . But I wasn’t in a poetic mood.

Seventh I thought of the newspaper article I read about terrorists’ ultimate goal: to disrupt our cable-communications-computer-electronic information network. “Wealth” is actually nothing more than a number in a bank account or on a brokerage statement. If the computers are knocked out, the numbers just disappear. You have no proof you own anything. With interest rates hovering at 1% or lower, should we just go back to keeping our money in cash under our mattresses? . . . Certainly didn’t want to dwell on that.

Eighth I thought about our great human capacity for delusion. My car has cruise control. If only I can get the car to go at an even speed, I’ll increase its gas mileage — just like on the way to the airport, when I can keep the car at 60 mph or 65 mph. Steady. But by the time I fill the car up, the miles traveled on one tank never seem to vary much . . . Oh well, enough for delusion, not much fun.

Ninth I thought of weight . . . actually, I think I’ll cut that line of inquiry right now.

Tenth I thought of a remarkable thing that happened the other day. I needed something and remembered it was in the garage. I had to go from one side of the house to the other. By the time I got to the garage, something odd happened. Very odd — I still remembered what I’d come for . . . no use dwelling on what usually happens.

Eleventh I thought of Tom Tucker, who, when I asked him what he does, said he’s a printer — prints large color posters and things like that. Then he told me the name of his business, “T&R Colorado Print and Imaging.” T&R! Well, I remembered that! It used to produce what is very difficult to describe for the post-1985, keyboarding (not “typing”), computer set. Pictures used to be printed off a metal plate. And that plate used to be mounted on a thick, heavy piece of wood. And that entire wood-metal combo used to be covered with ink, over which a newspaper flowed. That’s how you got one single picture. And if you wanted a rush job, you would get your “photo engraving,” as the wood-metal combo was called, overnight.

That’s right, one picture took 12 hours — and that was fast! A rush job. So, Tucker and I started to reminisce . . . but then he had an appointment, and so did I. I had to get to shul for mincha on my Dad’s 38th yahrzeit. Oh, did my Dad, Max Goldberg, know about those photo engravings and that whole printing process! . . . Well, on my Dad, I could write forever.

Copyright © 2010 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Hillel Goldberg

IJN Executive Editor |

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