Category Archives: Blog / Personal Business

Happy 90th Anniversary to the Empire State Building

It took them only 13 months to erect the greatest building in the world: The Empire State Building, which opened on May 1, 1931, ninety years + 1 day ago, (h/t to my friend Mario Rizzo for reminding me of the anniversary).

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Back in 1983, they put a King Kong balloon on the building to mark the 50th anniversary of the original film classic!

Happy Easter to the Easterners!

Christos Anesti” to all my Greek (Eastern) Orthodox family and friends: Happy Easter. Enjoy this celebration of renewal and rebirth.

Song of the Day #1863

Song of the Day: Come on-a My House features the words and music of Ross Bagdasarian (yes, “David Seville” of “Chipmunks” fame) and William Saroyan. Based on a traditional Armenian folk song, it was performed in the off-Broadway production of “The Son” (1950) but became a huge #1 hit for Rosemary Clooney the following year [YouTube link]. Check out some other renditions by Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Prima (with a few Italian delicacies thrown in), Kay Starr, and Julie London [YouTube links]. Today is Moderna Second Dose + 14 Days, which means that if you too have the proper paperwork, you can “Come on-a My House” and—as the song says—I can give you candy and figs and grapes and cakes and everything, even a Marriage Ring! Well, I’m not that easy. 😉

Be Kind …

This being the Greek Orthodox Holy Week, I can think of fewer messages more important than not giving into the very things you dislike in others. It reminds me of some great dialogue from “Ben-Hur” (1959). His family destroyed, his childhood friend (Messala), who betrayed him, is now dead, and Judah Ben-Hur is turning toward the dark side. Esther, who loves him, tells him:

“It was Judah Ben-Hur I loved. What has become of him? You seem to be now the very thing you set out to destroy, giving evil for evil! Hatred is turning you to stone. It is as though you had become Messala! … I’ve lost you, Judah.”

The “miracle” at the end of the film has less to do with leprosy being cured and more to do with Judah laying down the sword, upon which his own soul was being impaled.

Coronavirus (33): Dose #2 and Done—Or Not!

As I reported on 18 March 2021, I received on that date the first of two doses of the Moderna vaccine. As I said at the end of that Notablog post:

I made this decision for my own health, and as a responsible caregiver to my sister [who was vaccinated herself during her recent hospital stay]. True, it is not clear if getting vaccinated will prevent any of us from being asymptomatic carriers of the virus (though one study has suggested that those who took the Moderna vaccine might be able to prevent two-thirds of asymptomatic transmission after a single dose).

The decision is yours. I’ve made mine.

What’s One Dose when It Takes Two To Make a Thing Go Right [YouTube link]? Though on my way out of the facility, I was told “The Department of Health will contact you and we’ll see you in December for your Booster Shot!”

Either way, I’ll let you folks know if I end up flat on my face after this second dose. But for now, all is well in Brooklyn, New York.

My Vaccination Record Card!

Postscript (17 April 2021): So I have survived my second dose. No fever, but have had some chills and body aches, not to mention an arm that feels like somebody took a bat to it. Drinking plenty of fluids, and getting lots of rest. 🙂

With a library from left to right … 🙂

[I was asked offline to prove this was not a bot! I am alive, with a library from left to right behind me… 😉 ]

Ski and Me: Update #2

As many of you know from my first post on the subject, way back in December 2020 (“Ski and Me: An Update“), my sister, Elizabeth Sciabarra (“Ms. Ski” to all those who know her), has had quite a few medical issues with which to deal since mid-November. This is just an update for all those who have sent messages of love and support along the way.

After hospitalization for serious illness from November 13 to December 12, 2020, my sister returned to the hospital from March 8 to April 7, 2021, where she underwent successful back surgery before being transferred to the hospital’s acute rehab unit. She has now been transferred to a sub-acute rehabilitation facility, and it will take some time to get her fully mobile—for her to return back home. But we have great confidence in the facility and in all of her healthcare providers. She’s been vaccinated for COVID, and, in fact, I get my own second dose of the Moderna vaccine on April 15 (next Thursday). Indeed, as my sister’s primary caregiver, healthcare proxy, and loving brother, I have been taking very good care of myself—because if I don’t, I will lose the capacity to take care of my sister or anyone or anything else! So I’ve not missed a single doctor, dental, or other appointment, and have lots of work on my very full plate.

I’ll continue to keep folks posted—especially once she has returned home.

I just wanted to extend my deepest appreciation again for all the love and support that has been expressed by colleagues, friends, and family—and especially from all of my sister’s former students, the thousands of kids she taught and mentored, and for whom she continues to care so deeply. Your goodwill wishes are part of the love that sustains her. Thank you.

Coronavirus (32): Junior’s Cheesecake (or Bring On Dose #2!)

This just in from the New York Daily News (27 March 2021), by Larry McShane: “Sweet Offer from Junior’s for COVID Vax“:

Brooklyn’s famously to-die-for Junior’s cheesecake is now something to live for, too.


The quintessentially New York restaurant, beginning this Monday, will offer a free cupcake-sized version of its renowned taste treat to any customer with a COVID-19 vaccination record card.


“What we’re seeing locally, in our Brooklyn restaurant, is a lot of hesitancy to get this vaccine,” said owner Alan Rosen. “And Brooklyn was devastated by this. We’re right down the street from Brooklyn Hospital, so we decided, ‘Why don’t we do something to maybe change somebody’s mind?’”


The Flatbush Ave. eatery opened its doors back in the 1950s, founded by Alan’s grandfather Harry. The third-generation landmark business’ sweet freebies will continue through Memorial Day. The handmade cheesecakes use a special Junior’s recipe of premium cream cheese, heavy cream, eggs and a touch of vanilla atop its signature sponge cake.


“If that can’t convince you, maybe there’s no hope,” joked Rosen, tongue firmly in cheek. “But maybe, if Dr. Fauci can’t convince you, this will put you over the top.”

Indeed, who needs Brooklyn-born Anthony Fauci when you can have Brooklyn-born Junior’s Cheesecake as Incentive. Okay, the cupcake-sized one ain’t the larger Strawberry Cheesecake, but we’ll take it!

Bring on Dose #2, scheduled for April 15th!

Coronavirus (31): Dose #1 for a “Fake” Virus

Having recently attacked everything from Big Pharma to the medical-science-state-corporate nexus that plagues U.S. healthcare in the thirtieth installment of my Coronavirus series, I nevertheless want to make a few things clear about how I have personally dealt with weighing the risks and benefits of taking any of the three major COVID vaccines currently available in the United States (from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson).

First a few words to the Covidiots among us, who continue to deny the extent, seriousness, or even the very existence of COVID-19. My friend and colleague Roger Bissell addressed this issue first on Facebook (back in October 2020), and in addendums to that in a paper he shared with me (dated December 12, 2020), which I excerpt below. Roger focuses exclusively on the issue of “excess deaths”—for “if they exist,” he writes, “then the disease and its reported death toll are likely real; if not, not.” He continues:

Being an equal opportunity skeptic by nature, I was intrigued by an online claim, supposedly supported with data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), that there are in fact no excess deaths this year, and thus that 2020 will ultimately end up with approximately the same number of deaths from all causes as the most recent preceding years.

As reported by the CDC, the 2016, 2017, and 2018 figures for United States deaths from all causes were, respectively: 2,744,248; 2,813,503; and 2,839,205 (see here, here, and here). CDC figures for 2019 will apparently not be available until at least January 2021; however, hot off the press, as reported by the CDC, is the figure for United States deaths from all causes from February 1 through October 30, 2020: 2,347,341. Since this period is essentially three-fourths of the calendar year 2020, multiplying that number by 1.33 will produce a reasonable projected estimate of total 2020 United States deaths for all causes: 3,121,963.

From this, some simple arithmetic shows that in 2020, there will (likely) be more than 300,000 “excess deaths” compared to 2017. As of October 30, 2020, the number of United States deaths from COVID-19 was 235,158; a reasonable projection (based on an average of 1,000 deaths a day between now and the end of the year) would be about 295,000 deaths for the full year.

To me, this is solid proof (without all the technical bells and whistles from academic statistics) that we are dealing with a real, new disease, not some result of phony, fraudulent manipulation by people trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Whatever this disease really is, and whatever other questionable categorizing and reporting of deaths there may have been, about 300,000 more Americans [will have] … die[d] from all causes [in 2020] than have died from all causes in typical past years, and those deaths will likely be due to COVID-19.

On December 12, 2020, Roger provided additional analysis of the preliminary data (based on this data source):

The 2020 deaths from all causes for February 1 through December 9 is 2,703,232. If COVID is fake and there are no “excess deaths” for 2020, then all we need do is divide 2,703,232 by 313/366 (the ratio of days from Feb. 1 through Dec. 9 to the total days in 2020).

Simple math: 2,703,232 divided by 313/366 = 3,161,675.

So, the projected total deaths for 2020 is 3,161,675. The deaths for all causes for 2018 (above) is 2,839,205.

More simple math: 3,161,675 minus 2,839,205 = 322,470.

Does that look like COVID is fake to you? Something will have caused over 300,000 extra deaths [in 2020]. To paraphrase SNL’s Church Lady: “Could it be … COVID?” [YouTube link]


Now that we’ve gotten that issue out of the way, let me turn to a more personal issue. I’ve detailed throughout this series, the nightmarish extent of the death that I have witnessed in my hometown, New York City. A summary of my thoughts can be found in my last installment. But given my own lifelong health problems, clinically referred to as “comorbidities,” I had to weigh the risks of taking a relatively new vaccine (of whatever variety that is currently on the menu for U.S. citizens) versus the risks of contracting COVID, given those comorbidities. I spoke with all of my doctors, and the overwhelming consensus was: Take the vaccine, because the risks of dying from the vaccine are far lower than the risks of dying from contracting COVID, given my pre-existing conditions.

More than that, whatever problems I have had throughout my life, I am now the primary caregiver to my sister (“Ms. Ski” to all the students whose lives she changed dramatically throughout her nearly forty years as an educator), whom I love dearly, and whom I nearly lost in mid-November 2020 due to a non-COVID-related serious illness. She spent a solid month in the hospital, and after three months at home, returned to the hospital last Monday, due to complicating factors now requiring surgical attention. She undergoes major surgery tomorrow morning. We are hoping for the very best of outcomes.

So, again, this is a very personal decision and I would not for a moment engage in context-dropping (it’s against my dialectical sensibilities) to assume that I could make this decision for any person other than myself. And given my libertarian predilections, I’m not inclined to put a gun to anybody’s head to force them to take any vaccine—or to put a gun to anybody else’s head to force them to open their establishments to those who refuse to take vaccines of any kind, and whose inaction might put others at risk for deadly diseases that have been essentially eradicated (like smallpox).

After a couple of months of trying to get an appointment, I finally lined up one on Tuesday to receive the first dose of the Moderna vaccine late this afternoon. I arrived on time and it took about a half hour to receive the inoculation, sit for observation, and set up the date for my second dose in mid-April.

As yet, I have not sprouted any new ears, limbs, vestigial or highly active new parts of my body above or below my waist. I don’t suspect that the vax was designed to combat any alien virus straight out of “The X-Files“—or to create any alien-human hybrid race.

I made this decision for my own health, and as a responsible caregiver to my sister (who will eventually be vaccinated herself). True, it is not clear if getting vaccinated will prevent any of us from being asymptomatic carriers of the virus (though one study has suggested that those who took the Moderna vaccine might be able to prevent two-thirds of asymptomatic transmission after a single dose).

The decision is yours. I’ve made mine.

#IGotTheShotNYC

Postscript (19 March 2021): My sister’s surgery had to be postponed to Monday, March 22. Watch this space for updates! Thank you to all those who have expressed their love and support.

Elizabeth Ann: Long Live The Ferret—and My Sister!

Whatever your views on cloning endangered species (we’re not talking about bringing back the dinosaurs, here, a la Jurassic Park!), I have to admit that both my sister—who is dealing with her share of health issues—and I got a bit of a thrill from this story about “the first of any native, endangered animal species in North America to be cloned.” A black-footed ferret, Elizabeth Ann was born on December 10, 2020, two days before my sister came home from a difficult one-month stay in the hospital.

As it happens, my sister’s name is Elizabeth Ann Sciabarra. My sister has been emboldened by her namesake’s birth. We all hope that her recovery mirrors that ferret’s fortune!

Three Cheers to Two Elizabeth Anns!

Charles Schulz, “Peanuts” — and Hugs!

Twenty-one years ago this month (on 12 February 2000), the famed creator of “Peanuts,” Charles M. Schulz, died. Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the gang still make me chuckle, while also melting my heart. Thanks to my pal, Merlin Jetton (a long-time contributor to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies), for emailing me some “Peanuts” gems this morning!

One of those gems I dedicate to a couple of very special people (family and friends), whom I’ve not seen in a long time. I’m sending this out with a Very Warm Big Brooklyn Hug! I miss you all very much—and hope to see you before too long!

Sending “Positivity, Love and all things Good” to my Friends …
(courtesy of Charles M. Schulz and “Peanuts”)