It was Jewish Community Night at the Indians game. The last time I went to one of these games must have been about ten years ago, maybe longer. Whole sections were sold to various synagogues, youth groups, and public service organizations. Many of the fans looked just like the thousands of other attendees. Some of the women did look a little overdressed for a pleasant summer evening. They wore long skirts and blouses or sweaters that covered most of their arms. Some of the boys and men had brightly colored kipot (yarmulkes) a top their heads. The stadium had plenty of places to purchase Kosher Hot Dogs and they were being washed down with bottled water, soda, and more than a few beers.
As sundown approached a group of men, many of them bearded and in dark suits, stood in one of the sections, faced east, and began to quickly pray the evening service. Others joined them, though you might not have even noticed had the stadium been more crowded. The bearded men were Orthodox and once they were done, they were done. No fuss. No big deal. The daily evening service is part or their daily lives.
But what if you weren’t Orthodox? What if you weren’t even Jewish? Did some of the Protestants at the game wonder, maybe for just a moment, what was happening to their country? Was the U.S. being overrun, invaded, by bearded foreign men who spoke in a different language and wore odd clothing? Would their children, the REAL American children, be forced to change to accommodate those men in Section 505?
There are pictures of Muslims praying on Facebook. The nerve of them! What right do a couple hundred Muslims have to gather at a public park in any city in the USA, much less Brooklyn, and pray to their G-d as if it was legal and acceptable? The camera pans in and out and we see that the field is between a freeway and the water’s edge. The crowd has old men, young men, children. CHILDREN! Are these future terrorists or just the kid that sits next to your kid at lunch?
I was trying to leave my office. I needed to get home, but I watched the video twice. I forgot where I lived and I’m not sure that I can find my way home.
Aren’t we better than this? We have candidates suggesting a religious test for entry to the U.S. One blowhard even crossed the line to suggest special ID badges for Muslims. Well, we’ve seen how that plays out. It hasn’t even been one hundred years since our relatives wore those stars on their clothing. The moment we force a group, any group, to be publicly identified due to their religion is the day we permanently lose ourselves to hate and fear. G-d knows we came close during World War II and the Japanese internment camps. Mandatory identification of a religious minority would be the final step.
I didn’t forget where I lived. I live in the United States of America. We are the land of the free. The home of the brave. When I see this hate and fear from our friends and politicians I have to remind myself the value of being both Free and Brave.
Give him a cookie, maybe he’ll go away. If that line brings a smile to your face then you probably remember the greatest insult comic of all time, Mr. Warmth, Don Rickles. His audiences WANTED to be heckled by the guy on the stage. Nothing was out of bounds and nobody was safe. His humor centered on stereotypes, repeating them and holding them up to the light. And in the end he understood that he was funny because he really didn’t believe any of it. He was just being funny.
Lots of entertainers studied at the feet of Don Rickles. The most famous of them did 95 minutes recently in Iowa. An hour and a half set is a long time to do insult comedy, but another Don, Donald Trump relished the opportunity. The links so far have been to vintage Rickles and Trump. Sure, Rickles was funnier, but Trump has learned well. And as long as you don’t think about the possibility of him becoming the president, Donald Trump can be very funny.
Have we really come to this? Choosing a president this time is like shopping at the food bank – all of our options are picked over, in some way damaged, or way past their sell-buy date.
Special note to Ben Carson: The Chinese have started to exercise influence even here in Northeast Ohio. First reports are that it is delicious.
Mike Huckabee has attempted to get on the news, any news, since Friday’s terrorist attack. Gosh, I hope to never need attention that badly. This paragraph may be one of his few mentions about his new Cub Scout reference to Obama.
Bernie Sanders wants us to believe the climate change is one of the main causes of terrorism. The melting of the polar ice caps is one thing. Suicide bombers may be a stretch, almost as big a stretch as believing that Bernie Sanders could ever be elected president.
Cuba/Canadian/American, Ted Cruz, thinks that we should only let Christian Syrian refugees into our country. I’m worried about the thousands of peaceful Pastafarians who will be stopped at our borders.
Hillary Clinton. What can I say about Mrs. Clinton that the vast right-wing conspiracy hasn’t already screamed for the last twenty-five years? It doesn’t matter if any of it is true. You can debate how many of her wounds (think email) are self-inflicted. The election is a year away and I am already suffering from Clinton fatigue.
Sure we still have Kasich, Bush, O’Malley, Pataki, Schmidlap, Graham, Bush, Fiorina, Jindal, and others vying for our attention. It was a struggle just to remember all of them. Hell, give them a cookie. Maybe they’ll go away.
Dr. Ben Carson, presidential candidate and amateur self-help motivational speaker, was re-explaining his positions to Andrea Mitchell. He always sounds so calm and measured, especially if you can’t hear his actual words. We were driving back from Marietta. We could clearly hear every word and had plenty of time to listen to the entire interview.
Dr. Carson’s leadership is purely speculative. It is all If Only. If Only he was in the room with the armed assailant. He would have led the charge against the gunman unlike those hapless victims who must have just waited for their turn to die. If Only the Jews and gypsies had had guns. The armies of the Third Reich which rolled through France, Poland, etc… would have been held off by tailors with pistols. If Only…
I’m hitting fast forward
Seems like we’ve gotten kind of stuck
Time to get out of town and try to
Set the controls for sometime in the future
When people will be happy instead of
Getting dumber and getting scareder all the time
Scared of their own shadows and scared to take a fall
Either miserable with millions or dying for a dime
Desperate to live forever or lucky to live at all
Oh to hit fast forward. But how far in the future do we need to go? If we skip ahead two weeks, will we find that the Republicans have decided that the Speaker of the House, the second in line to succeed the President after the Vice-president, should be a strong leader who actually believes in government? If we skip ahead thirteen months, will we find that the election results are as clear as 2008 or will we be facing the turmoil of 2000?
How far is far enough? While some of us pine for an idealized future, others dream of an impossible return to the 1950’s and a past that never existed.
There is a nip in the air and October is but a day or two away. We are required, as Americans to make or eat at least one pumpkin pie between now and the end of December. Some of you may try to substitute sweet potatoes or yams, but the color will be about the same and you may, or may not, be able to tell the difference. I’m a huge fan of pumpkin pie and this blog has a recipe for my pecan crusted version. Still, it was time for something completely different.
This is my version of a lower carb pumpkin cake. I have seen several versions of this online. This is the first I’ve seen without tons of sugar.
1 Pillsbury Sugar Free Classic Yellow
1 15 ounce canned pumpkin
1 t Cinnamon
¼ t Nutmeg
1 Pinch of Cloves
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. My oven needs a bit of a push so I set it for 340.
- Butter a tube pan, a Bundt pan, or a 13 x 9 pan. I used a tube pan.
- Empty mix, pumpkin and spices into a large bowl.
- Separate the eggs and hand whip the whites for 2 minutes. Fold into the mix. Beat the yolks. Now stir all of the ingredients with a large spatula.
- Pour into the pan.
Bake for 40 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean.
This version was light and the pumpkin flavor was subtle. I hope that you find this a pleasant change.
Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO, was about to take the stage at the InterContinental Hotel. I had a ticket and had planned to attend, but I was still at my desk, staring at my computer screen, fighting my way through a meaningless quiz. I needed to get 7 out of 10 correct to get past this roadblock. The questions weren’t difficult. I eventually scored 10 out of 10. The problem was that the quiz was embedded into an animated soccer game. Slowly the question loaded. Quickly I answered. And then the animation, think circa 1994, showed a goal being scored and the goalie reacting. And then, and only then, did the process begin anew for the next question.
Somewhere a six year old is missing a quiz game.
July, August, and September are devoted to my annual recertifications. Medicare requires an online class that takes about five hours to complete. Each section of the class has periodic quizzes and a test at the end. There is a 50 question final exam. This is followed by a 2 hour class and test for each insurer. I tend to represent 3 -4 companies each year. And once I’m done with Medicare the whole process starts all over for the federal exchange.
The insurers’ classes rehash the basics of Medicare, the basic rules, and the highlights of their products. Some companies respect our time. Some, like our soccer people, pretend that they are the only company selling these products. They aren’t.
There are lots of ways to waste time in my business. (Lots. I’m posting this while I’m on a webinar!) I attended a product rollout class yesterday morning. The insurer had the best of intentions, a comfortable meeting room, and useful materials. Unfortunately, the meeting was hijacked by two guys known more for their rants than their talents. I don’t know whether they were running a latte shy or if it was the 5 to 1 ration of women to men, but these guys and their grandstanding added over 30 minutes to a meeting that was already scheduled for two long hours.
These annoyances aren’t unique to my business. Scott Adams has mined the horrors of the cubicle farm in Dilbert, his comic strip, for 26 years. But I can only share with you my challenges and my new found success at animated soccer.
Jackie Mason noted that Jews view the world differently. You can clink here to listen to him in the background while you read this post. Non-Jews return from Europe with pictures of buildings. Jews come back with pictures of cake. This observation was from almost 30 years ago, long before food porn and Instagram.
Sally and I took a cruise in 2008. There were several memorable moments, but one thing gets mentioned more often than anything else – lobster macaroni and cheese. Sally was served this decadent side dish one evening and it made quite an impression. I don’t recall the evening. I don’t think I even tasted it. But lobster mac and cheese might be the only reason Sally would go on another cruise.
I’m not making lobster anything since I keep Kosher at home. Macaroni and cheese is also not part of a low carb diet. Up for a challenge and dedicated to resolve any unfulfilled needs, I decided to surprise Sally last night. Here is my version of a Kosher low carb seafood mac and cheese.
Shirataki Macaroni and Cheese
1 Package Tofu Shirataki Macaroni
1 Cup, loosely packed Fake crab meat
1 Cup Shredded cheddar cheese
¼ Cup Parmesan cheese
¼ Cup 2% Milk
1 T Almond meal
2 T Roasted red pepper strips
¼ t Garlic salt
¼ t Parsley
Butter to grease pan
- Preheat oven to 350
- Butter a glass 8×8 baking dish
- Shirataki must be rinsed thoroughly in warm water. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and cook the noodles for 2 minutes. Drain, return to the pot, and place it back on the stove. Low setting.
- Stir in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
- Pour into the baking dish and cook for 20 minutes.
Plate and serve with a tossed salad.
How did it turn out? We don’t have a Holland America or Royal Caribbean brochure in the house.
It was the spring of 2003 and our country was rushing to war. Our elected leaders, such as our Vice-President, Dick Cheney, were anxious to invade Iraq. The Sunday morning talk shows had Mr. Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell explain why we had to invade Iraq. The key was Iraqi development of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The British and other allies were ready to invade. The French weren’t. The French had doubts about WMD and whether this particular fight at this particular time made sense. Incensed, Mr. Cheney’s Republican allies in the U. S. House of Representatives pushed through a meaningful bill. Under the leadership of Bob Ney (R-OH), French fries were renamed Freedom fries in the three House office building cafeterias.
Freedom fries were a nice touch. It made the easily self-righteous on one side feel like they had taken a meaningful stand. Of course, the other side simply snickered and viewed this as further proof that they occupied the intellectual high ground. I remember telling Jeff, my business partner, how much I envied the certainty of both sides. The anti-war protestors KNEW that this invasion was a foolish waste of lives and treasure. Cheney, et al, KNEW that the Iraqis would welcome us with open arms as we rid the world of the danger of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. I didn’t have the luxury of certainty. The invasion and the elimination of Iran’s natural enemy didn’t make sense to me, but I didn’t have access to the information Cheney, Powell, and Rumsfeld received.
I didn’t know.
Try that. No one will hear you. Say it out loud. I DON’T KNOW.
We all seem to have an opinion on every issue, as if we know. But we don’t know. There are a few areas where each of us actually do know, where we are expert, but they are few and far between. And in our current political climate we choose sides based on our predetermined alliances with little regard to actual facts.
I have been asked about the Iran Deal. As the resident Jewish guy in some of my circles, it is assumed that I am against the deal because Netanyahu is against the deal. In other settings I have been asked to defend myself and the deal because I am the known Democrat. And the truth is I DON’T KNOW.
It is easy to ignore most of the “experts” and elected officials on this issue. We all know who was going to endorse the deal sight unseen and who was going to vilify it. And we also know that if the President were a Republican the endorsers and critics would be just as vociferous, just reversed. They just aren’t credible anymore. And me, I DON’T KNOW.
I wasn’t always this cynical. It took the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to get me to this point. Let’s be clear, much of the official Republican opposition is total BS. Huge portions of the law are directly descended from Republican proposals. And various Republican leaders from Newt Gingrich to Mitt Romney would have supported a Republican president (preferably them) pushing through this law. The leadership gets this. Obamacare is simply a rallying point and a fundraising bonanza. But the base isn’t in on the joke.
But this is my area. So when I read the proposals from Congressman Paul Ryan, or Senator Orrin Hatch, or the latest fluff from Governor Scott Walker, I know what I’m looking at. Since Representative Marcia Fudge’s office told me that she was still undecided while she was trying to stage a press conference announcing her support of the PPACA, I’m not going to wonder about her future positions on the issues. Their votes, yeah or nay, are already counted. I can use this as a litmus test. If a politician persists in bullshitting and grandstanding on healthcare, why should I believe that they can be trusted on other issues?
So when presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson states that Obamacare is the worst thing that has happened to this country since slavery, I tune out quickly. There is a reasonable limit to the cynical exploitation of the ignorant.
We enter the political season with our eyes wide open. If your Facebook posts are cluttered with negative, over-the-top references to the Obamas and this week’s unflattering Hillary picture, don’t be surprised if you don’t convert anyone to your particular politics. You’ve already borrowed the pictures from the people who agree with you and have been dismissed by those who don’t. If you are still describing Dick Cheney as Darth Vader and quote from memory Molly Ivins’ book Shrub, then you need to remember what John Lennon said on the subject.
Our country faces some serious issues and finding the right team to lead us is going to be quite a challenge. The answer on Iran. I DON’T KNOW. The questions as to who should be our next president? I REALLY DON’T KNOW.
I don’t want to go back to where I once was. Doesn’t that describe the alcoholic who knows exactly how long he has maintained sobriety? And that applies to the former smoker who remembers his last cigarette. And it certainly applies to me. I remember when Dr. Kent told me that I was too heavy and every step I took to drop about 25% of my weight.
I don’t know the struggles of the alcoholic. I quit cigarettes on January 1, 1985. Never went back. And I choose, every day, to not go back, to not be overweight again.
There is no guarantee that the diet process I developed would work for anyone other than me. Might. Might not. I have fielded numerous requests for my low-carb recipes. My most ardent followers have Type 2 Diabetes. They have been told to cut out white flour, sugar, and unnecessary carbohydrates. That would be my diet.
Even the most disciplined amongst us would prefer to not be tempted. You don’t offer an ex-smoker a cig. One should not pester a non-drinker to join you for a beer. And me? I confess that I spend way too much time fending off pasta and breaded chicken.
I went to a restaurant Friday afternoon. The broiled fish came with French fries. I asked the server what I could have instead of the potatoes. He proceeded to offer me red skins, hash browns, or a baked potato. Then rice. He finally remembered that I could have more vegies.
My client, laughing through the entire exchange, remarked after the server left that “He thought that you didn’t want THOSE potatoes”.
It is a constant struggle, a lot of effort, and requires total commitment. It takes discipline. And I realize that you may not want to hear, again, why your regular lunch companion will not be joining you for a glass of wine or the lasagna special. And if it helps, I apologize.
But I don’t want to go back to where I once was.
For those of you following along at home, which appears to be the safest place to be, minor traffic violations now appear to be punishable by death. I watched the video of the last moments of Samuel DuBose’s life. The camera was conveniently located on the shooter, a University of Cincinnati police officer who had stopped DuBose, age 43, because his car lacked a front license plate.
I asked Sally if the dealership had mounted her front plate. She had driven the last three months without it. With that resolved I found time to get to the Toyota dealership. I’ve been driving my new Avalon without a front plate since June 5th. Not anymore. I’m writing this from the dealership’s waiting room.
How have we come to this? Or worse, has anything really changed? Are we just finally seeing a more complete picture of our society?
I watched the Sandra Bland arrest. That could have been me. Really. I can be sarcastic. I can be edgy. I wear both my heart and my contempt on my sleeve. And I might not have been able to hide my disgust of the officer’s tactics. There are days when I am just not in the mood for chicken-shit power games.
My immediate reaction while watching the Sandra Bland video was shock. Then relief. After all, I don’t expect to ever pass through Waller County, Texas. I’m not booking flights to Alabama. I’m not running to Mississippi.
DuBose was killed in Cincinnati.
Too close to home. And yes, I am the guy in the picture. And if you see MIDDLE AGED WHITE GUY, cool. But as a Jew of Ashkenazi heritage, I have always identified as Other. And there has never been a shortage of television preachers, politicians, and even my childhood teachers to reinforce that perspective. And Other is Other. I realize that I can pass as part of the majority. I just have to keep very quiet.
The police officer (I won’t name him) who shot Samuel DuBose was wearing a camera. The camera didn’t stop him from shooting DuBose. The camera didn’t prevent him from falsifying his report. The camera didn’t make him a better cop or a better human being. No, the camera limited him to only one victim.
Dash-cam cameras and policy body-mounted cameras won’t solve every problem or bring back the dead, but they are an important step. We need to protect the police from false claims and we need to protect the citizenry, all of us, from abuses of power and fatal errors.
Fixing a taillight shouldn’t be a matter of life or death.
Let’s get this out of the way. Who is qualified to discuss marriage? Is it someone like me who has tripped down the aisle numerous times? Do we seek input from people who have never been married due to religious commitments or because they have yet to find suitable mates? Are we waiting to hear from those who are married but rue the day they met their mates? Or are the only experts, the only people with standing, those couples who met in their youth and now have decades of wedded bliss with nary a disagreement?
The answer is all of the above, even those who’ve never married, since we have all had the opportunity to participate and observe the institution of marriage.
Marriage, legal and religious, means different things to different people. Don’t assume that your definition or mine would be universally accepted.
I have a number of Pastors, Rabbis, and Ministers for clients. Many are self-employed and I take care of their health insurance. One of the perks of my job is attending the weddings of their children. These weddings are officiated by my clients, the father of the bride or groom.
One of those couples visited my office a month or two after the ceremony to discuss their health policy. As we were doing the paperwork I suddenly realized that they might, or might not, be legally married. The religious part had been beautifully performed, but neither the bride nor groom knew whether the civil paperwork had been filed. A quick phone call verified that they were legally married, too. They hadn’t given it any thought until that moment. And they probably won’t think about it again until they file their taxes.
Legal marriage was an afterthought.
Two neighbor ladies were scandalized. They were discussing a recent mixed marriage. I was a young child, invisible, as they went on and on about the couple who defied G-d and convention by going to downtown Columbus to get married. Their sin? One was Catholic and the other Lutheran. I didn’t understand. From my perspective Christian was Christian. It would be years before I truly grasped the difference between the various sects of Christianity. The ladies, and more importantly the couple, completely understood those differences.
They could be married legally, but not in the eyes of their churches.
I’m sure that we can think of countless couples who can be married only one way or another. Gender-neutral marriage is just another potential union that may only satisfy one of the two authorities. Two authorities- Church and State.
Marriage has the possibility of serving two masters. Religions are free to enforce their rules to determine who may or may not marry. Satisfying those requirements assure standing within a particular community. Governments are also free to establish who or who may not marry. Satisfying those legal requirements allow the couple legal standing within the community at-large with rights that can not be met any other way.
This is not to minimize religion, but religion is not universal. Some of us are Catholic, some Jewish. Some of us are Muslim, some Baptist. And a surprising number of us are atheists, agnostics, or unsure. But we are all American. And American trumps all. The Supreme Court decision doesn’t make gender-neutral marriage OK with a church or synagogue. This decision affirms what is legal.
Your church is free to decide whether a couple – man/man, woman/woman, or even Baptist/atheist – is bound for eternal damnation. That is your choice and the couple might even care about your thoughts on the matter. But it is up to the government to protect the rights of its citizens. And those property rights, those rights of next of kin, and those rights to be recognized as THE Partner, belong to the government.
Friday affirmed reality. Not my reality. A national reality. Though I won’t ever be a groom at a Catholic, a gender-neutral, or even a Buddhist wedding, I respect them all. And I’ve got a tux. I’m looking forward to your invitation.