Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Today marks Purim, which commemorates the victory of the Persian Jews over the evil vizir Haman, who wanted to have all the Hebrews killed but ended up being hanged himself. Of course this wouldn't have been possible without the intervention of a beautiful woman, Queen Esther. We all have known a Haman or two, perhaps even many, and secretly wish a similar fate will be awaiting them. These Hamans are in a leadership positions like the famous one, whether in government or in a company or organization. The festival itself is a merry one, belonging to the "they wanted to kill us; we won; let's eat" category. The old story is acted out by "Purim Shpielers". Perhaps I ought to participate as such, to witness the victory of good over evil. In any case, Hamentaschen or Haman's Pockets taste delicious. My daughter Anna baked a wonderful batch and a student brought over more. Interestingly, in Israel, a three-day festival called Adloyada is celebrated. The name means "until he did not know". It must have been invented by early politicians, since the idea is to eat and drink so much that at the end you cannot tell the difference between Haman the criminal and Mordecai, Esther's uncle and the good guy.

Spring seems to be arriving in Seattle, although some days have been surprisingly reminescent of winter, with strong, cold winds and even a dusting of snow. However, our Sun is at its closest to Earth at this time of the year and one feels its powerful warmth whenever the skies are clear. Many allergic people are suffering from all the pollen in the air but the blossoms are a beautiful sight, not to mention the new leaves which are uniquely "baby green" in color. A walk in a forest or park can do wonders to one's mental state. Spring break is almost here and I can hardly wait for my college junior to come home for almost two weeks. Hopefully she'll take care that her old man gets a hike of a few miles done on a regular basis.

Two days ago maestro Milton Katims was remembered in one of the most wonderful memorials I can recall, in Meany Hall at UW. Pianists Bela Siki and Robin McCabe played, as did my wife and I, accompanied by a quartet from NWCO, with the help of a senior student of mine from Seattle Pacific University. At the end there was a fabulous video presentation of this great man's life. We felt very honored to be part of this occasion. A lot of people showed up, but almost more noticable was the absence of the ones who should have been there but opted not to come, from certain organizations which more or less owe their existence to Milton. After all, he was the force behind Seattle getting their Opera House which became the main venue for these groups to perform and grow. One doesn't need to agree with everything a person did or said, but one has to be able to to give credit where credit is due. Ingratitute is the way of the world. Enough said.

Last week brought sad news from my home in Finland: it is basically a one-company town and that company, the world's largest maker of magazine-quality paper, decided to eliminate thousands of jobs and move them elsewhere where people will work for much less and trees grow faster. Naturally, the company's stock price went up sharply. This is so typical to todays's world and global economy: to benefit a few, far more many have to suffer. Although people there will be protected much better than in this system and the place will not become another Flint, Michigan, it will still negatively affect the lives of everyone there, from subcontractors to businesses and lowered real estate values. Managements seldom have a heart and those in charge only think of themselves.

Time to take out Purim's noise makers and protest. I just passed a car with a bumper sticker that stated "Stop bitching - start a revolution". Wish it were that easy.