Writing Letters to a Dead Man: Dr. Howard Stein in Memoriam

Yesterday, I received the one phone call I’d been dreading for over 30 years: “Howard Stein is dead.”  It turns out Howard died back on October 14, 2012 after an eight-day hospitalization, but I didn’t learn of his death until yesterday.   I knew he was deathly ill the last year, and when his surgeon recently refused to do a final operation, Howard told me his heart had finally turned against him and become a “ticking time bomb.”

As I paged back through my calendar for the last six weeks to memorialize the final events of my life with Howard, I reflected back on our final telephone conversation on October 1, 2012.  He told me how much he appreciated the letter I wrote celebrating his 90th birthday.  He said he read the letter every day.  That meant a lot to me.  He was my master.

One the first day of October, Howard and I left it that Janna and I would visit him in Stamford, and that he would check his doctor schedule and call me back to let us know what day would work best.

I never heard from him again.

A week later he was in the hospital — never to see the sky again.

As you can see in the graphic below, I tried to call him on October 5th and 11th to check on our visit date.  There was nobody home when I called.  On October 22 and November 13 I wrote him letters — our one, ancient, guaranteed way of always getting in touch when time and tide and humanity and the phones failed us — to inquire about the visit.

I had no idea was writing to a dead man.

Now I know how Bartleby really felt working in the Dead Letter Office.

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A Doctor By Any Other Name

What’s in a name?  If person says they are a “doctor” does that mean they actually have a medical degree or a just a PhD?  Context can’t always argue the right decision, and sometimes you have to actually ask, “Are you a ‘doctor’ doctor or just a ‘doctor of philosophy?'”

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21st Century Guilds: Companies Pay For Your Education

When you think of the word apprentice, what comes to mind? For me, sadly, the first thing that comes is the image of Donald Trump telling some celebrity that they are fired in an obnoxious tone. The term goes a bit further back than that, however — many centuries before the ridiculous ‘reality’ show came to be. Teenagers were sent to learn a particular trade — they could spend a good number of years learning how to be a proper blacksmith, or a shoemaker, for example.

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PhD Grade Inflation

Is grade inflation really a problem at the PhD level? Isn’t the assumption at the graduate level that each student should be expected to do “A” grade work?

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by Joyce Kohl

Attending college, age forty-three
T’ain’t so easy, believe you me.
Over the hill, sliding down fast,
Up on my feet, up, off to class.

Continue reading → Nevertheless