English Letter Frequency – Redux

Back on September 15, 2010 I wrote a little piece, “Frequency – Scrabble and the actual frequency of letter usage in English”, about what seemed to me to be a puzzling mis-match between the number of tiles in Scrabble and my superficial sense of the frequency of occurrence of letters in English.  While I was away in Hong Kong in December, I received the following email note from David T. Wong, Continue reading

Enroute to Hong Kong

During the first couple hours of this 16 hour flight I watched The French Connection. This is probably the fourth or fifth time I have watched this movie, though not perhaps more recently than five years ago. The movie really stands up.

One small revelation is that my recent lust for a fedora (thanks to that all around maven of the hip, David Drake) has been replaced by the need to get a hat like Popeye’s (not the spinach eater).

Karen informed me that this is actually Hackman’s hat, not the invention of the wardrobe dept.

Dinner, pot roast, I always get potted food on airlines, much less likely to be anything more than potted, was incongruously accompanied by a fortune cookie. The message is propitious,especially in light of my conversation in Berkeley Heights in the morning before departing for the airport.


Mr. Wonderful aka Santa Claus at Hudson’s Winter Walk

Several weeks ago Mr. Wonderful, in a moment of irrational exuberance at a BeLo3rd meeting about Winter Walk, volunteered to be Santa Claus. The Tanzey girls immediately volunteered a Santa suit, assuring me that “my husband is bigger than you” in answer to the question, “Is the suit big enough”.

wig from Matthew Tudor-Jackson

The Santa outfit was inexplicably lacking a beard. A quick call on the local Web for help brought this offer from Matthew Tudor-Jackson up the street (left).

My first reaction was that this was something from a run amuck costume show for Louis XIV. On further consult with the fashionistas of BeLo3rd it was determined to be BeLo3rd!

So, I was ready for my outing as Santa for Winter Walk, December 3rd.

I dropped the big wig and just went with the ZZ Top length mustache beard combo.

Mark orton as SantaYou can see more pictures of this at the Davis Orton Gallery news page.

I was very busy with lots of little kids and not a few babies for three hours. I was amazed that the Santa myth continues merrily along despite the enormous seemingly every larger maw of commerce.

I discovered that kids in the 3 to 4 yr range know who Santa is but don’t know yet that they are supposed to tell Santa what they want for Christmas. I stopped asking and quickly moved the conversation to the imminent arrival of a candy cane. I guess that 3 and 4 yr olds are a blind spot in my life’s experiences.

7 to 10 yr olds wanted lots of electronic games and Ipod Touches (very specific about those). 11 to 12 yr olds wanted a phone. I foolishly asked the first few if they wanted a cellphone? They looked at me quizzically until I realized that they did not know that phones used to have wires coming out of them. What most surprised me is the persistence of some old toys. A significant number of 4 to 6 yr old girls asked for Barbie dolls and accessories. Only one girl requested an American Girl doll.  Their male counterparts asked for trains. Bicycles and scooters are also still popular.

One girl, age 12, (I asked each for their name and age) told me that she wanted a Merry Christmas for her family. I asked how many were in her family, “Two, Five, how many?” She thought for a moment and said “Forty”. “Oh, a merry Christmas for the extended family?” “Of course.” she replied.


Thanksgiving and Other Goofiness in Berkeley Heights

The Warm Up

Karen and I made our annual Thanksgiving pilgrimage to Berkeley Heights and the Morgan-Ortons. This year we went via Roosevelt Island in NYC to drop of exhibition prints from our October show Street Photography / Surveillance with Bojune Kwon.

Trader Joe's Coastal-Merlot

Ed went upscale on the wine for this meal

Wednesday evening dinner was cooked by Mr. Wonderful who brought back an old favorite for a re-run, meatloaf. This is the same meatloaf that was the subject of several earlier postings here. Of course all of this attention on a dish which has no recipe necessitated some head scratching. Once I got started in Meredith’s kitchen (I know that Ed makes rice and beans and other delicacies there, too, but this is Meredith’s kitchen) she hung around to kibitz. This lead to the discovery, not surprising given her penny pinching propensities, that she added oatmeal to her meatloaf too. The Wheatena I include was a novelty for her but I left out the carrots that hers included. Since my earlier jiggling of the memory banks I recalled that I also added either canned diced tomatoes or tomato juice to give some fluid for the cooking of the oatmeal and Wheetena. Spices include variably, basil, garlic, red pepper, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, Pickapeppa, and catsup. Actually, the catsup is a required sealant for the surface of the meatloaf.

meatloaf and kasha varnishkes

Not to get carried away further with TMI (where is Nyla when I need her steadying editorial hand), I also made a dish that was a real novelty for the Morgan-Ortons, kasha varnishke. My original plan was to make a basic Russian kasha, but Karen demanded the Jewish variant familiar in the US. I followed a recipe (this happens occasionally) at yourjewishmother.wordpress.com.

Thanksgiving Day

Since Meredith has to put in an appearance at the annual football contest between her high school and the local rival New Providence HS, we arrived fashionably late half way through the second period and departed after the half time extravaganza marching band foolery. Always the opportunist, Meredith stopped to feed the fish in her classroom after filling up on the the adulation of the crowd.marching-band



Before we could get Ed to peel a few potatoes, the following goofiness broke out:




Andrea, Noah, and Nyla arrived. Then next door neighbors Roland and Andrea. The feast was ready to begin. Karen took this panoramic shot over dessert. (Click on the image to see it full size)

Novelty Item

We had not noticed this little bit of wit from Meredith earlier. This inspired by one of Ed’s bad habits. Strikes many that there must be many more of these hidden about and to come. Ed has a lot of bad habits.

This is just to the left of the front door.

cigar box closedcigar-box-open