Monday, October 4, 2010

Handwriting on the Wall

I’ve got a handwriting problem. I can’t always read notes I’ve written down for blog entries.

I walk around with a pad and pen in my back pocket to jot down notes, even to longhand full stories, whenever the muse hits me. Trouble is, my scribble is so hasty that unless I sit down to transcribe it right away I often have a hard time discerning what I wrote.

It was always this way. My illegible handwriting drove my parents crazy, so much so that when I received an “A” in penmanship in fourth grade my father made my mother go up to the teacher to complain her standards were too low. She explained she based the grade on the penmanship of homework reports she assigned. Knowing that, I painstakingly toiled to make these reports works of cursive art. Even at the tender age of eight I knew how to game the system.

I think I might qualify to be a banking executive. Today’s New York Times showcased troubles with the mortgage foreclosure process. One problem involved the signature of an assistant vice president of American Home Mortgage Servicing assigning a mortgage to another bank. As shown in a photo of three documents, the AVP’s signature differs widely in each instance. The clear inference is that three different people signed the paperwork, meaning at least two were forgeries.

That’s the logical conclusion, but if American Home Mortgage Servicing needs an expert witness on its behalf, I’m available. You see, I, too, have multiple signatures, and I’ll be darned if I can remember which one I’ve used for, say, the safety deposit box form, my regular checking account or any other official paper that requires a John Hancock.

It’s always a crap shoot wondering which way to sign and if the people scrutinizing my chicken scratchings will ask for further proof of who I am. When they don’t I silently say, “Fooled them again,” but then I begin to wonder how safe my money and identity are if I am not questioned when my signature clearly does not match the official record.

Does God need a better GPS? It might appear so after last Friday’s weather.

On Thursday, Jews all over the world prayed for rain, part of the annual fall holiday of Shemini Azeret. They were praying for rain in Israel, which, by the way, is enduring a years long drought. Instead, God sent torrential rain up and down the East Coast, with more rain expected this week. In Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, meanwhile, it’s been nice and sunny.

Perhaps God was confused because there might be as many Jews living on the East Coast as there are in Israel, especially when you consider the number of Israelis who have moved here.

Driving home from Queens the other day, two things occurred to me. First, too often there’s no music I like playing on any of my 12 preset FM radio stations. I don’t do enough driving to invest in satellite radio so I’m stuck with FM fare. Oh well...

Second, why is it during a traffic jam whenever I switch lanes my new lane almost always comes to a standstill and my old lane starts moving faster?

At his town hall meeting at Washington, D.C.’s, Newseum two weeks ago President Obama got an earful about the stalled economy and shattered dreams. One poignant moment came when a woman, a supporter of his, asked, "My husband and I thought we were beyond the hot dog and beans (stage) of our lives. ... Is this my new reality?"

Funny thing, Gilda and I like the occasional franks and beans dinner. But it’s easy to understand why a constant diet of franks and beans would be disheartening. If Obama and the Democrats hope to keep their majority influence in Washington they have just four weeks to convince voters that a Republican/Tea Party victory would guarantee many more franks and beans meals.

Compassionate Conservative is never mentioned these days. Instead, the candidates on the right hammer home a message of lower government spending which can only mean less assistance for the needy. And more tax breaks for the wealthy.

Incidentally, on your next visit to Washington, take time to visit the Newseum. Set aside several hours. There’s lots to see and absorb there.

The regular baseball season ended with Boston denied a post-season slot but gaining some measure of satisfaction by denying the Yankees a first-place finish in their division, though the New Yorkers still qualified for the playoffs as a wild-card entry. It's too early to say if the Red Sox did the Yanks a favor by making them play the Minnesota Twins, and not the Texas Rangers, in the first round.

Over the weekend the Yankee announcers were reminiscing about the 1978 playoff game between Boston and New York, won by Bucky Dent's dramatic three-run home run off Boston's Mike Torrez. They wondered why they had been home to watch the one-game playoff to determine the winner of the American League East crown (this was before the wild card option). They speculated they played hookey from school that Monday, Oct. 2, 1978.

I, on the other hand, easily remember why I wasn't at work. It was the first day of Rosh Hashanah. After we returned from my parents' synagogue and ate lunch, we retired to the TV room to watch the Yankees begin a wonderful year for our extended family, capped by the birth of my son Dan, my sister's son Ari and my brother's daughter Karen. And, oh yes, the Yanks won the World Series that year.