Oct 122015

As frequent readers of this Web log are no doubt aware, my full name is Tom Collins Martini. I have mentioned before that my grandfather grew up in New York’s Little Italy and subsequently abandoned it, anglicizing his last name to Martin, moving to a white picket fence suburb and forbidding his wife to speak Italian, lest the neighbors overhear and suspect. And my own dad, of course, as I have also related, grew up thinking he was of Northern European extraction, having no idea his ancestors hailed from the Bay of Naples, and upon learning the truth changed his name to the original, unmistakably Italian Martini, moved back to Little Italy and resigned his employment as an engineer with […]

Sep 292015

After the Union Army of the Cumberland was routed by the redoubtable Confederate General Braxton Bragg at the Battle of Chickamauga, President Abraham Lincoln noted that its commander, General William S. Rosecrans, was “confused and stunned like a duck hit on the head.” I never fully understood what Lincoln was talking about until this morning, when Percy Windermere Pratt, Strategic Advisor to the Republican National Committee, arrived at my office for a consultation. One look at him was sufficient for me to completely comprehend that remark in every aspect and dimension. “Please,” I invited, indicating the couch in front of the picture window overlooking the White House, “sit down and make yourself comfortable.” “Yes,” Percy replied in a flat monotone […]

Sep 212015

This morning, I received a visit from Dr. Benjamin Cash, a branch chief from the Treasury Department. He was there to review the results of a currency logistics mathematical model which I developed after being requested to do so last June, when Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that a portrait of a woman would replace Alexander Hamilton on the obverse side of the US ten dollar bill. The model calculates the lengths of service and rates of circulation, inactivity and return for destruction of ten dollar notes bearing various female portraits, assuming the reverse remains constant and consists of a neutral image of a well-known public building, in terms of a matrix of parametric partial differential coefficients representing esthetic, political, […]

Sep 072015

As regular readers of this Web log know, Gretchen and I make special preparations for visits from my client “Ahmed.” These involve scheduling him as the last consultation on a Friday, preferably before a long weekend such as this one, which includes Labor Day on Monday, installing new filters in the office air purification system, and making sure there are sufficient supplies of high thickness, low gas exchange oversized sealable plastic bags, impermeable polymer gloves, and activated carbon canisters for the gas mask Gretchen bought with her own money, all of which she needs in order to dispose of the filters on Tuesday morning, and to subsequently replace them with fresh ones before the first client takes their seat in […]

Aug 272015

Saturday afternoon about three o’clock, I was alone at home in Great Falls, reclined on the couch with my cat Twinkle nestled in my lap, enjoying the latest edition of The Atlantic Monthly. (Yes, Virginia, there are still people who subscribe to literary magazines.) My landline rang, and Caller ID indicated it was Telhas’teeze al Ayrehfeek “Freddy” bin Sharmouta, Special Assistant Policy Liaison for International Issues at the Lebanese Embassy here in Washington DC. He’s not all that regular a client – at least not lately, since Lebanon has had some problems paying its bills and therefore has had to cut back on some luxuries, and even expensive necessities, such as my advice. Nevertheless, it’s not like Lebanon owes me […]