From the Publisher January 2017

Max & Joanne Friedland

“And what air freshener would fabulous Max desire?” These words never fail to arrest my reverie whilst waiting in the carwash line at my local Fabulous Freddy. The desire to return my vehicle to its pre-owned showroom condition, especially after bad weather, is something that I share with many other locals. Without hesitating or even requesting an inventory of all my options, I reply “New car please!”

The last days of a year are somewhat akin to the carwash; we patiently wait for brushes and foam, champagne corks and fireworks to be over, allowing us to emerge once again into a universe anointed by the fragrant notes of a fresh scent. We drive off with the impression of newness – since it smells new it must be new! We renew our lives on New Year’s Day compliments of a new calendar.

In 1582 some monks and astronomers produced the Julian calendar 2.0, naming the update after Pope Gregory XVIII. The new Gregorian calendar neatly organized life into years with 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8,760 hours 525,600 minutes and 31,540,000 seconds. They even took care of the fact that the real length of a year is approx. 365.25 days and added an extra (leap) day to February. 2016 was one such year with the next one coming in 2020. I guess U.S. Presidential elections are always on leap years.

Jaq Greenspon recently had an extended stay in Lisbon, where he was invited to manage a clown festival. Never one to pass up an opportunity, I asked him to snoop around Portugal (a larger assignment than we both anticipated) to find a compelling subject for an essay. In Rabbi Abraham Zacuto and the Astrolabe pages 52-56 you find the result of his daytrips out of the capital. Traveling to Tomar, a small medieval city some hours north of Lisbon he came across the tiny, very old Sinagoga de Tomar which holds the Museu Luso-Hebraico Abraham Zacuto (the Abraham Zacuto Portuguese-Jewish Museum.) As an astronomer, Rabbi Zacuto held prestigious positions in both the Spanish and Portuguese courts. His contributions to the exploration of the planet were significant, as both Vasco de Gama and Christopher Columbus carried charts and astrolabes of his design and making.

Getting back to the theme of the New Year, we cover one particular resolution that many make and sadly break. For years statistics have shown a sharp decrease in smoking. Last year these statistics were troubling, as a slight uptick in the habit was observed. Not as advertised, vaping and marijuana use may be encouraging a return to tobacco products. We provide two articles on the subject. In Early Detection is the Name of the Game pages 32-35 we cover the ground breaking technology that doctors at UMC are using to spot lung cancer and in The Wrong Year to Quit Smoking pages 42-45 Rob Kachelriess covers the topic more generally.

History does not write itself, let’s all commit to participating in the writing of an excellent 2017. It is, as always, our pleasure to prepare this publication for you, see you in the racks.

Max D. Friedland

Share this Article