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Mozart Concerto

That’s what I’m listening to right now.  Concerto 20 in D minor, K 466, Romance.  It’s lovely and a nice end to the day that started in the bureau of Vital Records in Philadelphia where I was lucky number 81.  Why did I need to go to Vital Records you may ask?

Well, it turns out that my most recent employer would very much like to get rid of its pension obligations so it is offering us lucky duckies a once in a lifetime opportunity to receive a lump sum payment, which I may elect to use now and pay a hefty tax, or roll over into my IRA.  It has taken me awhile to figure out what to do here.  I could just pass up this once in a lifetime opportunity that will not be offered again under any circumstances or I can wait until I’m 67 and get the measly amount of the current value of the pension times four.  I have elected to take the money and sock it away in my IRA, and rely on hope vs experience where the market is concerned.  But to do it, I needed my birth certificate and despite the fact that I actually have a folder in my file cabinet clearly labeled “Vital Statistics”, my birth certificate was not in it.  Go figure.

So, I hopped on down to Philadelphia today to visit the closest Vital Records office for the state of Pennsylvania (I was born in County: Allegheny, City: Pittsburgh, Hospital: Pittsburgh Hospital, Year: MYOB).  There I was given the opportunity to pay $18.00 for the privilege of parking for the hours I spent there and $10.00 for the certificate.  In spite of the wait, the civil servants who processed my request were friendly and efficient and I had an opportunity to witness a dozen or so of them in a demonstration on the sidewalk at lunchtime while I waited.  Whatever it was they were demonstrating about was getting a lot of support from the traffic that passed by.  I found this to be reassuring because it meant that they would return from lunch in a good mood.

The friendly and efficient lady who took my check gave me my receipt and instructed me to return on Wednesday when I could pick up the certificate or I could choose to wait for snail mail.  It would take 18-25 days.  I opted to make a return trip.  Besides, it would give me a chance to meet with some researchers I am collaborating with at a local university.  Still, one has to wonder why printing a copy of the original document takes so long.  Maybe hiring more civil servants or modernizing the technology would help.

Meeting with my collaborators was very pleasant.  My brain gears are usually spinning without resistance and doing some work gives them a chance to engage.  All good.  But the trip home was long and I passed sections of New Jersey that still do not have power almost two weeks after Sandy.  One of those areas was Lawrenceville where the famous Lawrenceville prep school is located.  It’s the one with it’s own golf course on campus.  And although the powerlessness of the area around the school must have bothered the residents, for some reason, it did not trouble me as much as the powerlessness of the people in Newark who don’t have electricity.

The longest part was the section of road between Belle Mead and my turn, which was exactly 2.9 miles ahead, according to my navigator.  Route 206 is one lane in each direction at that point, as it is along much of the way through New Jersey.  I have lived in this town for 20 years and they are only now getting around to building a bypass.  So, I waited patiently in my car listening to the Red State Blue State episode of This American Life while I remained calm and relaxed. However, I really think that if you’re going to be in a traffic jam, it’s much better to be in one 37 miles away than 2.9 miles away from your destination.  This is my personal opinion based on my observations on how anzty I was to get out of the fricking car.

Ahhh, there goes the Mozart again.  So soothing.  I think I will sit here and drink my Trader Joe wine and dream of my next house where I can install the cast iron wood stove of my dreams, a Jotul F 370.  It’s sleek, it’s modern, it swivels.  It puts out 30,000 BTUs/hour, which sounds downright decadent after a hurricane.  It is to die for…