Hole in the Clouds

Tag: Norman

Dick and Jane See Spot Run

Dec 18, 2010


This first grade class in East Meadow, on Long Island, New York, had 32 students in 1957, which was probably a typical class size. Schools just couldn't be built fast enough in the 1950s to hold all us baby boomers coming of (school) age in thousands of new GI subdivisions springing up around cities all over America.

The boy standing second from left, wearing a turtleneck, is Norman.

New York   Long Island   school   Norman   Meadow Lawn Elementary School  

Balloon Boy

Nov 9, 2011

Somehow, Norman believes he can remember sitting in that chair and putting that balloon to his mouth, while Iris Quigley posed for the camera. The photo was probably taken in 1954, maybe 1955, in Iris's house, which was down the street from Norman's house in East Meadow, Long Island, New York. Great furniture, great dance moves, and we can hope those little baby teeth weren't too sharp.

New York   vintage   Long Island   children   1950s   Norman   Iris   East Meadow   (h/t: Iris Quigley)  

The Professors

May 15, 2012

Of the various dogs who've come to live with us over the years, only one–this one–was named Professor Brophy. We called her Professor for short. Professor was a dumpy-looking brown dog from the pound with big jaws and an unfortunate personality, to put it mildly; she snarled at people when they tried to come in the house and then snapped at their heels when they tried to leave.

You may ask why we invited such a beast into the family. Well, obviously, Professor was smart enough not to treat us as rudely as she treated outsiders. Maybe she did what she did because she cared for us and felt she had to protect us from dangerous intruders. Or maybe she really despised us right along with everybody else but realized she'd better suck up to us.

Whatever was going on in that professorial little dog brain, it kept us hopeful for a while. And mixed in with the trying times were some very, very nice days with Professor–such as this perfect summer afternoon up above treeline on Mount Washington. That's Professor Stein following along behind as Professor Brophy breaks trail; a good time was had by both.

Mt. Washington   landscape   dog   mountains   New Hampshire   Norman   Professor Brophy  

Caped Crusader

Jan 14, 2017

Norman hit the bigtime back in October of this past year, at the 40th anniversary gala of the Pension Rights Center, when he was honored as a Retirement Security Superhero. You just never know where life will take you: one day, you're catching a ride to Woodstock with your high school biology teacher, and next thing you know, you're a retirement security superhero.

Norman was selected for the award, according to Dan, the very nice man who introduced him at the gala, because he has the superpower of accomplishing work while he sleeps. That's not what Dan said in public, which is a good thing since it's not true, but it really is what he said to us after the event, when nobody was around.  What he said out loud was that Norman has devoted and is still devoting millions and bajillions of hours to Pension Rights Center projects, writing and testifying and helping to change the rules so that fewer Americans will get screwed out of their pensions and retirement savings.

Why does he do all this, on top of working his day job as a bearded professor? What motivates a person to become a retirement security superhero?

At the gala, Norman explained the roots of his "career path." Forty or so years ago, back when he was in law school, he was offered a summer job in Beckley, West Virginia, working with retired coal miners whose pension claims had been turned down. He asked his father if he should take the job.

"Definitely," his father said. "It sounds like a lot of fun."

There are people all over America now who know Norman as the guy who helped them get their pension. A lot of other people work with him as he does this stuff, especially the Karens–pretty much all the staffers at the Pension Rights Center are named Karen, and they too put in millions upon millions of hours struggling to fix our retirement system.

Norman would agree with his dad that it's fun work. Also, the Pension Rights Center party was a lot of fun, especially the part where we got to hear a superhero identify us to the world as "the owner of the spousal survivor annuity of my defined benefit plan." Aw, the way these superheroes talk.

See also.

Norman   ERISA   award   Pension Rights Center  


Apr 21, 2014

Here in a Zodiac, scooting across Milford Sound, a fjord on New Zealand's remote southwest coast, on a cold wet summer day this past December, is Helen Ruskin Stein Behr with her three sons. Not pictured is her daughter, who visited Milford Sound a few days earlier.

The impetus for the journey to New Zealand was the awesome wedding of one of the granddaughters, Gillian, who emigrated to New Zealand seven years ago with her parents, Richard and Arleigh, and her sister Avi.

Today is Helen's birthday, as she turns eighty-something-and-who's-counting, to our great joy. Wishing her many happy returns of the day.

landscape   New Zealand   Helen   Norman   boat   Bob   rain   Milford Sound   waterfalls   Richard   (Image credit: Little Fuji)  

How the Badlands Went Bad

May 26, 2014

All it took was a few days of bad weather like this, every year for maybe half a million years, and most of the sediment that used to blanket this part of South Dakota has washed on down the White River and then into the Missouri and the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico.

This was an ancient seabed, back in the day, deeply mucky, collecting sand and silt and mud from the Black Hills nearby and the Rockies beyond. The sediments piled up in layers hundreds of feet thick, but when the ancient sea drained and the lithified muck was exposed to the elements, wind and rain and frost proved to be powerful chisels. 

It's believed that in another half million years, the remaining spires and parapets will have crumbled down into the gullies, and it'll be curtains for the scenery hereabouts.

landscape   geology   Norman   South Dakota   Badlands National Park   erosion   (Image credit: Little Fuji)