UNITED NATIONS AT 70 ------------------ John Pazmino NYSkies Astronomy Inc firstname.lastname@example.org www.nyskies.org 2015 December 27 Introduction ---------- In 1945 the United nations was formally established by the signing of its charter by some 50 nations. Almost all were victors from World War II, following up on advance meetings in 1944-1945. The first official meetings of the new UN were held in the pavilion for New York City left over from the 1939 World's Fair. This arrangement ws temporary while the permanent offices were under construction on Manhattan, the present campus of the UN. The pavilion since undergoed many renovations, with probably no vestige of its use for the UN. Today it is the Queens museum of Art. The campus sits on the East River waterfront from 42nd St to 47th St, with a terrace on top of the FDR Drive. Some of the land is open to the public, like the lobby of the Secretariat Building and the UN Gardens. The vast bulk of the property is off-limits except for persons with proper clearance and credentials. The lack of public access over the decades leaded to stories of the goings on inside the campus, with allusions to assorted world affairs. The public made do with the public issuances, a few statistical books, and hearsay. The invite -------- In 2013 the United nations was near the peak of heavy rebuilding of the entire facility. While the postcard image was drop-dead gorgeous, the guts of the buildings were antiquated and well past their design life. The construction made a mess of the campus and surrounding streets. It also annoyed neighbors with noise, dust, congestion, road detours. I never learned how the invites started. By now it seems the Secretary-General realized that the UN must be more neighborly and promote good-will to the public, as compensation for the nuisance of construction activity. Probably he sent around a policy to all UN offices to start an outreach programs for the public to better understand and appreciate the work of the UN. Apparently each unit figures out how to satisfy this policy. In 2013 I spontaneously received an invite from some outfit connected with the UN to sit an internal meeting in the UN buildings, normally closed from the public. After a sanity check I showed up at the stated date and hour. There were many scored, maybe a hundred, others who were just as puzzled as I was. I wrote about that, and several other invites, in separate articles in the NYSkies web. The invites then after came at very irregular intervals, with 2015 looking like a shut-out until this past summer. I really do not know just how I got into the favor of the UN and each invite comes form a different office within it. While I am thoroly honored to be allowed to some of the internal procedings, I very well know I am passed over on most occasions. Maybe the invites are rotated among a pool of possible inviteds. The topics of the meetings is, for me, with no logic or reason and none related remotely to astronomy. Only one, and that was a CI -- not a UN -- event, related to electric power engineering, my career. A UN party invite --------------- All thru 2015 I got no new invites. I let the matter alone, allowing that maybe I already attended my 'allotment' of Un sessions. Well, the experience was fantastic while it lasted. On 22 June 2015 I get an invite form the UN, yet a different unit, for an event only two days later, the 24th. It was an outdoor supper with dance and music to celebrate the UN's 70th anniversary. Unlike previous invites, this one specificly said the show was free and open to the public. By the same token, other internal content looked like this was a targeted invite for me and particular others. The outdoor party was on 24 June 2015 at DAG Cafe'. This is a regular sidewalk lunch stop across the street from the UN with no special UN features about it. Local office workers, plus UN workers, frequent the cafe'. I don't recall eating there prior to this event. DAG Cafe' ------- The day was sunny and mild. I started to walk toward the UN, with idea to catch a 42nd St bus that goes right to the corner of the campus. On the way I felt so refreshed by the weather that I ended up walking the whole two kilometers with no bus ride. I arrived at DAG Cafe' at about 5:15PM EDST. The invite noted the start of festivities was at 5:30. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the arrangement of furniture and fixtures. The whole cafe' was openly accessible from the street with no barriers or check points. There were a few horses near on end, likely being stored, that did not impede entry to the tables and lunch hut. In as much as I was not in any way queried upon entering the cafe', maybe the public was supposed to just walk in. At 5:30 an MC spoke thru a PA welcoming us to the UN party and explained about the hut, dance, and music. One side of the cafe was free of furniture for dancing and one other side was done up for a band and recorded music. By 6:00 about 80 people showed up. I saw only a few that looked like 'outsiders' like me. Every one else seemed to be UN crew, some speaking in their native languages. At my table --------- The cafe' is on a busy street connecting the north side of the UN campus to the interior of manhattan. People walked by in continuous flow, prompted in part by the pleasant weather. In spite of the overall attraction of the cafe' on this evening, essentially no one walked in off of the street. All seemed to come with the invite. There was no seating plan. I took a seat at a handy table with four others. All, two men and two women, were UN crew. One man-woman pair was from the Ukraine! The other pair wereassociates within the UN but I didn't catch their affiliation. They welcomed me to sit. When I explained that I am not from the UN, attending by separate invite, which I waved to them, they were specially polite and friendly. They spoke excellent English, with aContinental accent and full vocabulary. The Ukrainian pair, mostly the woman, wanted to explain about the situation in their country to put out their side of the story. They believed that Americans get a distorted picture of events in the Ukraine, with far too much omitted from the normal news media accounts. explain why the Russians must be kicked out, why the Ukraine should join the European market and NATO, why it should look after affairs in the Black Sea. I put into the conversation my own visit to Yalta in the 1980s, with its museum of an planning meeting for the future United Nations. I also discussed a student project I judged at a recent NYC Science and Engineering Fair about Ukrainian sentiment toward Russia. The delegates seemed to be honored, I think, to discover at least one native American layman with reasonable knowledge of their country. I learned one hell of a lot about the conflict, of course from only one side, and I could write a healthy discourse about it. Some later events I now see are evolutions of the dialog. other current activity is all-new with only weak attachment from the dialog. Now, in December 2015 it is six months since the UN celebration and events in the Ukraine moved along, now they are confounded with the activity of Russia and Turkey in the Middle East. Any commentary I have from the party is thoroly ediurnate by now. Yet I'm glad I had the discussion with folk immersed in the Ukraine situation. From time to time today some current news from there links back to that summer evening around a party table. The Moon in daytime! ------------------ I offered one wonderful treat I to these folk. High over the UN campus was a half Moon! The delegates didn't know you can see the Moon in daylight. The Sun glinted off of skyscrapers around the cafe', still a couple hours from setting. One of the delegates, I forget which, noticed the Moon first because I was sitting faced away from it. She was puzzled by it hanging or floating in the air. Isn't the Moon somewhere in outer space? I give a brief explanation of the lunar phases. I wished a had some round or ball object to do the marvelous trick with the Sun and Moon. I didn't. You know the demonstration, a ball held in sunlight next to the Moon show the exact same phase as the Moon in the sky. I had in my shoulder bag my 3X monocular . I passed it around for a closer look at the Moon. I didn't DARE tell them the instrument is a Soviet KGB unit now commercially at sale in the US. All were amazed to see the rough terminator and the gray patches in a deep blue daytime sky. The food hut --------- A sidewalk cafe' is usually an extension of an adjacent restaurant. Food is prepared indoors and carried to the tables outside. In some cases you get the food yourself inside as takeaway and go out to your table. Since this was my first time at DAG Cafe', I found the food service to be clever.I went for my supper after a half- hour of banter and viewing the Moon. In the middle of the cafe' grounds was a shack or hut completely detached from the office building behind it. In it you place your food order from a selection of the normal lunch & supper items. After I paid for the items,a cheeseburger and fries, the clerk handed me a small box with a number label on it . It looked like a transistor radio or tiny tablet. The clerk said I can go back to my table and be called when the order is ready. The device was a pager. The cafe' had many of them, each with its own call number. After a few minutes back at my table the device buzzed loudly. It was time to fetch my supper. The clerk handed me my food tray and took back the pager. I guess it would be reset for the next customer. This was really cool! For one thing it dispensed with flocks of people huddling around the shack while waiting for their trays. Just go to your table and wait there until the pager rang for you. Along one side of the food hut was a stand-up bar for drinks. All the usual hard and soft items were available for prices noted on signs to be discounted for the UN party. I went there after setting my food try down at the table and got two white wines. The second one I gave to the woman delegate who first spotted the Moon. She was tickled. Music and dance ------------- I skipped any attempt to dance. Many couples or singles took up dancing on one cleared side of the grounds. The steps were all light, in tone with the music. All five of us at our table stayed seated to continue chatting, with brief pauses to watch the dancing. Music was alternately provided by a trio band and recordings. The volume ws quite moderate, soft enough to permit conversation at the table. I couldn't sense amy selection for the music, alike a mix from different countries. All pieces were light & easy to put the audience into a pleasant mood. Evening over ---------- The four UN delegates got up to leave at about 7:30 PM. I by then finished my supper. I wrapped up for the evening, too. I wasn't sure how to reach my train, but I started to walk inland while thinking over my options. The other female delegate, not the ukrainian, caught up with me and we chatted along the walk. We bantered about places and features of new York, staying off of politics. She headed uptown along Third Av. This was one way to reach a subway so I followed along. I pointed out the setting Sun and asked if she knew about Manhattanhenge. She did but wasn't in town for the May show. I reminded her to look on July 9th to 11th. At 59th Street we came to a subway station worked by my own train. We waved goodbye and she kept walking uptown. I popped into the subway for the ride home. Conclusion -------- This was a most pleasing and refreshing evening! It was the only UN activity of a purely social character, rather than sitting in an auditorium for a presentation. Doing a light supper under clear sky and mild temperature and background music with people personally caught up by major world affairs was awesome. Perchance these folk may have felt somewhat the same for me by inspecting the Moon in daytime with a small telescope. The peculiar aspect of the UN party was the the absence of audience from outside the UN world. I saw only a few, among the many dozens of UN crew, who looked like outsiders. This was really odd because there was nothing about the cafe' or the party to exclude the public. The premises were open for all, like for any other day. Like for the other invites I was so far blessed with, this one an enlightening experience. How er these invites are issued and how ever I get some of them, the UN public program works well. It does build a better understanding of what the United Nations does behind the perimeter fence of its campus.