Thursday, November 10, 2005

phone calls, maps, and pizza

I spent most of this morning on the telephone trying to clarify a few insurance matters. It's something that I have become used to in the recent weeks and although it becomes tiresome quickly, it's absolutely necessary. I must clarify all my insurance problems and questions before I undergo the stem cell transplant. The financial coordinator at the hospital warned me about past patients, who failed to take care of their financial business prior to treatment and so they were left with huge bills that hadn't been paid. That's a horrible situation to be in. After undergoing such a serious treatment, one hopes that life will improve steadly thereafter, however, with huge hospital bills staring one in the face it's not so easy. I have yet to meet the financial corrdinator. We have conversed via the telephone only, but we talk so many times each week that I feel like I know him. It's very common that I'll call him 3 times a day. He's very attentive and friendly and I hope to have the opportunity to meet him in person before everything is over.

This afternoon I finally checked out the two exhibits at the 42nd Street NY Public Library, which I mentioned in an earlier post. I explored "The Splendor of the World: Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts" thoroughly and was most impressed by the bright, sprightly colors and meticulous detail of the manuscripts. It's clear to anyone that the manuscript artists were gifted individuals. Many of the manuscripts' text are surrounded by abstract, floral motifs which are so beautiful. Many times you find fantastically colored mythical-like creatures in the thick of the floral embroidery. Having taken art history at Vassar, I recognized the Flemish influence in some of the manuscript's illustrations. The Flemish style resembles the art of Jan Van Eyck. There's a lot more that could be said about the exhibit, but I feel I wouldn't do it any justice. You must see the manuscripts for yourself.

Afterwards, I visited "Treasured Maps," which I found to be very interesting as well. Many of the maps are devoted to the history of New York City. The remaining maps are 17th century - 19th century global maps which show the improvements in cartography. The NYC maps show the growth and expansion of the city from its roots in the late 17th century to today. In addition to the maps, the exhibit displays what is described as perhaps the oldest known globe of the New World. It's a small copper globe dated 1510. It shows the Old World in which Europe, Asia, and Africa are clearly identified although the most remote areas, such as Siberia and southern Africa, are not complete. However, it's the detail in its Western Hemisphere which is most fascinating. South America is identified clearly, however, North America is absent. Hispanola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) is the northernmost landmass identified in the globe's Western Hemisphere. I assume that North America, therefore, at the making of this globe was unknown to the cartographers at the time. The other highlight of the exhibit is an original copy of the Gutenberg Bible, which is a delight to behold. The layout of the text is very simple, yet it's striking. The print is black mostly except for a few areas of red and blue. The Bible itself is quite large and thick and the edges of the paper have gold relief.

At about 5:30 I met up with Ben and Adeel at Lombardi's, a famous pizzeria on Spring Street. Today marked Lombardi's 100th year anniversary and so in celebration the pizzeria was selling whole pies for 5 cents only. We hoped that each person could order their own pie, but I suppose that was a bit too much to ask. The limit was one pie per table, so we split the pie amongst us. It was our first time there and we all thought the pizza was pretty good. The crust is amazing and the pizza itself is thin. My only criticism would be with the tomato sauce, which I found to be perhaps a little bland. After enjoying the pizza, we went to my favorite coffeehouse, Cafe Dante, where we drank cappucino and tea and shared a cannoli and an eclair before parting our ways and heading home.


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