A Triply Awesome Weekend

June 4, 2024 by Joshua
in Art, Relationships, Stories

I don’t usually just talk about what I did, but sometimes things work out enough and I feel great about how major life choices I’ve made work out. Last Saturday, Sunday, and Monday were great times.

I’ll share Monday first since it’s not visual so might get lost following the other two.

Monday: Einstein and Nobel Prize winners

Monday I met with a physics professor who mentored me in college and graduate school. We’ve stayed in touch since then, which was the early to mid-1990s.

I told him I remember knowing professors who had met Einstein and Feynman, but couldn’t remember which. He had met Einstein. I asked if he saw him speak at a talk, colloquium, or event like that. He told me the story, which happened when my professor had just started studying physics, so he couldn’t ask Einstein about physics.

He had done enough physics that a mutual contact connected them. They drove to a wedding together. But my professor lamented that only another ten years later, after he’d learned more general relativity and quantum, did he know enough to speak to Einstein substantively, but he had only met him around 1954, shortly before Einstein died.

He said that while Einstein wrote English fine, his accent was strong and he didn’t speak as well as he wrote. I asked how Einstein’s actual voice compared with that of the actor playing him in Oppenheimer, but he hadn’t seen the movie.

I enjoyed knowing that I know someone who met one of the most famous, influential people in history.

While my professor didn’t get to work with Einstein, he ended up being a student of T. D. Lee, later a protege, then eventually hired as a full professor in the department. Lee won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1957, so my professor ended up working directly with a different Nobel Laureate. I met Lee in person, or at least was in the same room at the same time, though I didn’t learn physics at Lee’s level.

My professor described how Lee would give him challenging problems to see if he could make anything of it. So you can figure out for yourself the level of his work if a Nobel laureate asks him to solve hard problems.

We talked about other parts of a career in physics as well as other stuff old friends talk about, but I enjoyed the proximity to that level of physics.

Saturday: Drew Gardens, the Bronx: leading my annual sustainable cooking workshop

I’ve written up past workshops I’ve led in Drew Gardens, the park in the Bronx that residents reclaimed from being wrecked and have created wonderful gardens there.

I lead workshops on cooking more sustainably with no packaged food, and spending very little money.

I started by sharing how it hit me that for all my science, entrepreneurship, and business experience, I didn’t know how to cook without hurting people and wildlife. That realization prompted experiments to live more sustainably, which led to finding unexpected intrinsic motivation, which prompted me to start leading in sustainability.

Here I am talking to some of the attendees about how I cook.

I made my famous no-packaging vegan solar-powered stew. The ingredients this time were:

  • Chickpeas
  • Green lentils
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potato
  • Potato from their garden
  • Mushrooms from their garden (not sure what kind)

Plus flavorings and toppings:

  • Avocado
  • Purple onion
  • Mixed nuts, mostly almond
  • Turmeric
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Peppercorns
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Fermented Habaneros for some
  • Oregano and thyme from their garden

Probably some other ingredients I forgot

Here’s a video of the park.

All that green was missing before the park’s caretakers recovered it. What it looked like before:

Sunday: Lee Burridge

Long-time readers know that overlapping finishing my PhD, starting my first company, Submedia, and returning to school for my MBA, I danced at clubs a lot. One of the DJs from that time—the late 1990s to early 2000s—still plays and seems to have gotten bigger: Lee Burridge.

I ran into him last year at a bar in Soho and invited him to be a guest on the podcast. He agreed, though we haven’t had the chance to record yet. He played Sunday evening in Brooklyn to a full house at a major club there. I hadn’t been out in a while and am enough older that I couldn’t dance like I used to.

On the other hand, he gave me a wristband for access behind the DJ booth. Clubs are like machines to stratify people by status and I confess I enjoy when I reach the top status of a place through relationships, not just spending money. In fact, the VIP areas where people pay thousands of dollars per table, I could go there, but they couldn’t go behind the booth.

I may sound like I’m bragging or hung up on status, but I’m not. I’m just remarking on the people I hang with: people who meet Einstein, Puerto Ricans who make an oasis in the Bronx, and big time DJs.

Anyway, here are pictures of Lee playing. To see him playing, the music empowers him so he’s like a one-man party on his own, more than the dancers around him.

A couple videos:

So I had a joyful, fun three days.

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