Monday, July 7, 2014

Viking Hand, A World Cup Trip and Two Sad Notes

Those who know me might be surprised, even amused, by this next piece of information, but I have it on scientific authority, at least according to my brother, that I have Viking blood in me. Perhaps that explains my repeated viewing of the Kirk Douglas-Tony Curtis 1958 movie "The Vikings" and my interest in watching the current History Channel mini-series, "Vikings."

I have, as does Bernie, what is called Viking Hand or Baron Dupuytren’s disease. Here’s a link describing it (, but the long and the short of it is that on the palm of my left hand a small nodule has appeared recently. Its occurrence is usually limited to people of European descent, from areas where the Vikings are known to have traveled in their marauding and trading days. 

According to the National Institute of Health, “The Viking age of exploration, trading, and colonization lasted nearly 300 years. They raided as far as Newfoundland to the west, the Mediterranean and its many ports to the south, and the Caspian Sea—by way of the rivers of Eastern Europe, such as the Volga and Dneiper—to the east.” The Viking Hand could have could have easily been impregnated into my ancestors’ gene pool in Central Europe, by a Viking or by someone whose foremother a Viking ravished. 

While my sister Lee doesn’t have Viking Hand, not yet at least, our family has always believed she displays evidence of a Tatar invasion. Her high cheek bones, slightly slanted eyes and darker skin tone are traits not shared by any others in our family. 

For those who haven’t stopped laughing at the image of me running around as a Viking, let me remind you that Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis were both nice Jewish boys cast as fearless Norsemen.

World Cup Trip: The World Cup is almost over but I was amused by a recent article in the travel section of The New York Times. Here’s how it was described: “Instead of taking an expensive direct flight to the World Cup in Brazil, Seth Kugel, the Frugal Traveler, took a cheaper and more adventurous journey through four countries over 16 days.”

I found it quite extraordinary that The Times would think anyone but the richest of people, or those retired, would have 16 days to gallivant around before attending soccer games, the ostensible purpose of traveling to Brazil. 

Sadder Note: As you might have read or heard, Louis Zamperini died last week after a 40-day bout with pneumonia. Zamperini is the former Olympic runner who, as a World War II bombardier, survived a plane crash, 47 days afloat in the Pacific Ocean in a rubber raft and then two years of inhumane treatment in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

Gilda and I listened to the Laura Hillenbrand book of his life, “Unbroken,” while driving through New Mexico last month. It is kind of eerie to now know we were thrilled by Zamperini’s exploits at the very moment he was fighting, ultimately unsuccessfully, for his life.

A Sad Note, Closer to Home: Here’s an example of why I am uncomfortable with most social media:

A few days ago I received an email from LinkedIn encouraging me to contact someone I knew who was registered on the business/social media site. Trouble was, he passed away several months ago. It was, to say the least, quite jarring to see his smiling face being used to hype LinkedIn. 

I realize LinkedIn cannot keep abreast of the passing of any of its users. But that reality does not condone or endear the service or that of any other social media to me.