What is Here and Why

This page has nothing to do with research or teaching or anything else academic. It exists for those people who want to know a little more about me as a person. I make this part of my life available because some people want to know more about a professor in order to decide whether he or she is the kind of person to whom they will be able to relate. Some people want to know about a prospective research colleague or mentor for the same reason. Some students just like to see their teacher as a human being, just like them, because it makes the classroom more like the rest of the world. Therefore, I share on these pages some of the things that I cherish or enjoy about life.

Family and Background

I am married to Joanna Klukowska (pronounced “kloo-kuf'-ska”), who earned her Ph.D. at the Graduate School of the City University of New York under the mentorship of Distinguished Professor Gabor Herman in the Discrete Imaging and Graphics Group. I have a son and a daughter. My daughter, Shayna, is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and is presently working towards a Masters degree in general and special education at the Bank Street College. My son works as a freelance graphic artist.

I am a New Yorker, born and raised in the Bronx. I left the Bronx when I was 19 years old to live in the southeastern part of the nearby continent of Manhattan, which was then known as the Lower East Side, or the East Village. I fled the East Village when the old Ukrainian, Polish, and Italian mom-and-pop shops were being replaced by chain stores and cafes to nourish the invaders from the wealthy outerlying regions of the city. I took up residence in an even more far-flung place known as Jackson Heights.

I have worked in all kinds of jobs. There were the taxi-driving days, which ended when I had a knife shoved at my throat so that I would part with my cash proceeds. There were the days of carrying 90-lb bags of portland cement up four flights of stairs while doing renovations of apartments on the Lower East Side with Angelo LaTerra, a local contractor there. There were, of course, my days in architects' offices, of which the most enjoyable were the ones in which I got to build models of houses and buildings. And then there were the years I spent as a designer and builder, renovating lofts and apartments and making minor alterations throughout Manhattan. My clients including well-known people such as Nancy Kissinger, Robert Sarnoff (of R.C.A.), and Robert Woodruff (former president of Coca Cola Corp.) I enjoyed and still enjoy working with my hands. There is something magical about making something from what started out as nothing, whether it is a sculpture, a house, or a cabinet. This is very much like mathematics and computer science, in an abstract way. Creating a program is the same, except that it is something that “runs”, and creating something new in math is even more abstract but equally magical.

Photography

I have been taking photos ever since I took my first photography class in Cooper Union back in 1969. There are many different types of photos; the ones on the site so far are the older ones from my early years of shooting color slides (the old Kodachrome days.) I will eventually add my portrait shots and black-and-whites. The photography end of the site is under construction, but you can visit my photography gallery, where I am collecting my photos for display.

Music

I am not a musician, although, like most people I enjoy to listen to music. (When I was a kid, I played clarinet, but that does not make me a musician.) However, my daughter, Shayna, studied piano for thirteen years, and can safely be called a musician. I am the proud father, of course, and so I have collected a few of her more memorable concert recordings, and provided links to them below, listed in chronological order of the date of the performance. These are mostly from her childhood days and are many years old.

Languages

I enjoy learning languages, and I will not violate my principles of modesty to enumerate the languages I have learned to varying degrees. I have been studying Polish most recently, albeit slowly. Why Polish? Because my wife is Polish and that is as good an excuse as any. Also, it is hard to learn, which makes it more interesting. It is like Latin in that it highly inflected (with seven different cases), but is highly irregular. It is a West Slavic language, but many of the words have Teutonic or Latin roots. Its use of gender is complicated, unlike any other languages I have studied, in that there are masculine, feminine, and neuter genders, but there is a distinction between alive and non-alive and whether the object in question is a person or a non-person.

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