The beacon cut through the Cleveland gloom. There, high in the sky, in lights, was the familiar picture of a guy talking on the phone. The call had gone out for Cunix. Where the Hell is Cunix? Truth, I was M.I.A. More specifically, I was taking a nap.
A nap! I don’t nap. I don’t know that I napped when I was a little kid. Up until a month ago I viewed sleep as something you did when you ran out of good things to do. I normally went to bed after midnight and got up at 5:30 or 6 each morning. Now I drag myself out of bed sometime before 8 and try to find time to rest or nap every afternoon.
These are the adjustments one must make. There is a constant struggle between doing too little and doing too much. I need to build stamina, but if I push too far I am whipped the next day or two. So I tend to err on the side of too much. Because that’s me and because I want to get back to normal.
My favorite nurse checks in almost daily. And not just to scold me! She monitors my water intake, walking, and rest. And one day I am going to give her the right answers.
So turn off the beacon and kill the lights. If can’t find me, I’m probably taking a nap. Or trying hard not to…
I’ve had way too much time on my hands lately. This has led to way too much TV. FOX, MSNBC, and CNN kept me company in the hospital and now at home. Truth, I deserved better.
The frontrunner, the leading candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination, is imitating the pancake eating habits of one of his opponents. It looks like a Saturday Night Live skit. Does the Leader of the Free World need the bullying skills of a 10 year old? I’m shocked. And if you are reading this, you are probably shocked, too.
So before this goes any further and everyone digs in for the final fight, I have a quick question:
What if it had been the other way?
Do my Republican friends wish that Donald Trump had hijacked the Democratic Party? He could have. His positions (go ahead, detail them) could just as easily have been presented as D’s. We could have Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders fighting for the Democratic nomination. And Jeb Bush could be just about ready to eliminate Scott Walker.
In that universe my Republican friends might sleep easily with either of their potential nominees, Bush or Walker? Would they be praying for Trump to polish off Clinton and Sanders? Would either of their guys beat Trump head-to-head?
Please list the top 5 reasons why the Democrats should be ashamed of a Trump ticket. Bet it would be easy. But you are here, so what are you going to do in November?
And my Dem friends shouldn’t get too smug. It could have been us. I would not vote for Donald Trump, period. This time I will have an easy choice. What about next time?
There is no escape to a parallel universe. We, as a country, need to start now to groom the candidates of 2020 and 2024.
We lowered the average age of this building to near death when we bought our condo in 2012. Sadly, several of our neighbors have died in the last few years. Most of our newer neighbors have been younger, but not all. We have had the middle aged and elderly replaced by the old and the congratulations on still living on your own. One of our most senior neighbors has converted our building’s lobby into G-d’s waiting room. There are stacks of old magazines and day old newspapers on the end table. A plate of cookies or leftover pastry may be found on the coffee table. I’ve been tempted to leave some funeral home brochures, but I don’t want to make anyone nervous.
The road from Youngstown to Phoenix was nice and flat much of the way. But there were mountains and my under-powered Chevy Chevette had a lot of trouble getting up what seemed to be the nearly vertical highway. The year was 1976. There were times when the Chevette struggled to maintain even 30 mph. I wasn’t alone. Other cars and 18 wheelers stayed in the far right lane as Lincolns, Cadillacs, and big Chryslers passed us by.
While pushing and cajoling my car to the top, I never said, “L-rd, bestow ten more horsepower to your servant and his undeserving vehicle.” I may have briefly thought about the Little Engine That Could. I cheered the car on as we reached the summit. Win or lose, it never occurred to me to discuss the matter with G-d.
Some of my readers are non-believers. Talking, petitioning, or even thanking a Supreme Being is irrelevant to them. The rest of us wrestle with this issue. I have never had that kind of relationship with G-d. I never thought to ask the Almighty for help on a math test, assistance with a foul shot, or even a solution to our current Presidential election debacle. You might to talking to the L-rd on a daily basis. That’s fine as long as you don’t hear Him calling you.
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I would like to wish a happy and meaningful Easter to those friends celebrating Easter today. Not all of my friends are celebrating today. Some are Jewish, Muslim, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, and Hindus. They obviously aren’t participating. I also have friends and clients who are Greek Orthodox who will be celebrating Easter a month from now. Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses are also commemorating the death of Jesus on a different day.
There are so many religions, and each religion has its fair share of sub-groups and sects. Our news is filled with stories about Muslims, as if all Muslims are the same. Of course they aren’t, just as all Christians aren’t the same. Even the day Easter is celebrated is subject to debate. There are so many ways to seek for the ultimate Truth. We struggle with this much the way my Chevette struggled to climb the mountain freeway in Arizona. And one day this may all be revealed to us. But until then we all hang around here in G-d’s waiting room.
Business or pleasure? Shuhei was nearly packed. Surveying the room I could see several parties of six to eight office workers, a few people out for some special sushi, and a lot of intense business lunches. I was there with my favorite life insurance client, my daughter Jennifer.
This being primary Election Day, politics were being discussed at almost every table. Politics, and Donald Trump in particular, was the topic of discussion at the next table over from us.
An Asian woman of a certain age was holding forth. Judging by the way the rest of the table deferred to her, I can only surmise that the ink wasn’t try yet on some contract. In a voice just loud enough to be heard ten or fifteen feet away, she informed her audience that the Trump candidacy was a sham, a hoax. She went on to explain that the media, all of the media, are controlled by liberals. The liberals want Hillary Clinton elected President. So the liberals got Trump to run so that Hillary would be elected.
These printed words cannot convey the contempt she voiced as she expressed these thoughts. She then proceeded to say that people should vote for Donald Trump just to defeat the liberal media.
Overhearing only part of the commentary, another patron left her table and approached the political analyst. “You aren’t really going to vote for Trump, are you?” Stranger stared at stranger for a moment and the interloper returned to her seat.
I saw no reason to provide my opinion. That decision was rewarded moments later when she admitted to her captive audience that she wouldn’t be voting today. She couldn’t. She wasn’t a citizen.
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Do these jeans make me look fat?
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The Rabbi, the cancer patient, and the insurance agent were having coffee. The cancer patient said that he had news.
“Good news”, the agent asked hopefully.
“No, just news. While running a test last week they found a mass on my kidney. The doctors aren’t sure if it is a cyst or cancer.”
The Rabbi told him not to worry. It is just a cyst.
Now you may ask yourself how the Rabbi knows that this mass on his friend’s kidney is a cyst and not cancer. The Rabbi is correct either way. If it turns out to be only a common cyst, then the Rabbi KNEW, he just KNEW, while others were unsure. And if it is cancer? Well, sharing hope and a positive message can never be wrong.
The cancer patient turned to the insurance agent and asked for his opinion. The insurance agent was smart enough to never disagree with the Rabbi.
Joan Rivers looked into the camera and asked us a question. She wanted to know how many times we had said that we would drop AT&T long distance in 30 seconds if we only had the chance. Then she told us that we now had a choice – MCI. And we still had 20 seconds.
The message was simple and to the point. We all hated AT&T. Who was MCI? Who cares? MCI wasn’t AT&T and that was all we needed to know.
Neither MCI nor Joan Rivers are still with us. Worse AT&T still is. So is the concept that some choices are positive and some are negative. We are forced, at times, to pick the other option.
Nowhere is that more obvious than in this year’s presidential election.
Regular viewers of FOX are constantly reminded that Senator Bernie Sanders is a democratic SOCIALIST. And Secretary Clinton? OY. Teetotalers could participate in a FOX drinking game that has the participants downing a shot of vodka every time FOX mentions Mrs. Clinton and doesn’t also include a reference to emails. Viewers may be confused about who (other than Trump) is running as a Republican, but they are fully versed on all of the Dem’s negatives.
MSNBC offers the mirror image. Want to know which racist, white supremacist groups, or reprehensible preachers have endorsed Senator Cruz? MSNBC’s got you covered. Senator Rubio’s latest flub? Rachel Maddow has it in slow-mo. And if Governor Kasich is ever deemed a worthy opponent, we’ll be treated to his innumerable detractors here in Ohio.
It would be difficult to find a reason to vote for someone. We just know who we don’t want. And the political attack ads will be wall to wall on TV once we get closer to next month’s primary.
I’ve talked to my Republican friends. Asked about Cruz and they immediately tell you how much they hate Clinton. They only have one word if you mention Trump, Benghazi. Pressed, they may also add Socialist. That’s it. In their minds the Dems are disqualified so they will vote for whichever Republican survives the ongoing cage match.
Many of my Democratic friends are just as frustrated with their options. Talking with a self-identifying Dem, they admit their reticence about a Clinton candidacy. But what choice do they have? Cruz? Rubio? Seriously? Trump? C’mon! They don’t like Bush or Christie, but they understand the attraction. How can the Republicans nominate Cruz the Canadian or Rubio the unprepared after seven years of Obama-bashing and birthers?
Sure there are some enthusiastic Sanders’ supporters. Trump, too. They look and sound surprisingly alike.
It turned out that MCI was a miserable choice. It would be a couple of years before service and reception equaled AT&T’s. What we learned was just how bad our choices were. Kind of like today.
Anger. Resentment. Righteous Indignation. Henry (name changed) had it all. But mostly anger. And he was sharing it with me. His voice, both pitch and volume, got higher as his rant went on. Every once in a while he stopped and made sure that I understood that this had nothing to do with me. He wasn’t blaming me. And then the phone call continued where he had left off.
As you may have guessed, Henry was angry about his health insurance premium. He was sure that he was being punished. He and his family are too healthy, too middle class, too responsible. He wondered how many families his excessive premiums were supporting.
This is where I could insert little factoids such as that Henry and his family pay less under the new law. Or I could shock you with his significant income. And by the way, his premium for a couple in their 50’s with a college aged daughter was a touch under $1,000 per month. But none of that really matters.
$1,000 for health insurance is $1,000 too much.
Henry isn’t alone. I regularly encounter people who are “Otherwise Responsible”. They are doctors, attorneys, dentists, etc… with mortgages and all of the normal trappings of the upper middle class, but they either don’t carry health insurance or they complain incessantly about it. Waste of money! They would rather spend the money elsewhere, such as on vacations or at the mall.
And the speech is always the same. They tell me about the indigent person who got first class care at The Cleveland Clinic. There was an uninsured neighbor or co-worker who was treated at University Hospital for cancer, FOR FREE! “Why should I buy insurance?” Why indeed.
I used to try to appeal to their better angels. I used to remind them that being indigent and dependent upon society shouldn’t be a life goal. Now? Now I just remind them that they are collectable. That always shuts them up.
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We’ve been going through a lot of tissues in my office. I wish my awful cold was the main reason.
It has been a tough eight weeks. Several clients have passed away. Another in the last few days. I won’t pretend that every client is a close personal friend, but the vast majority have spent time in my office and talked about more than just their aversion to needles or their frustration with the Browns. And some, like two of the clients who recently succumbed to major illnesses, had been friends for years.
I had two emergency appointments this past week. One was a widow. The other was a widower. Both had lost his/her spouse in the last 10 days. And now, in the middle of mourning, they were forced to meet with an agent to resolve their health insurance prior to February 1st. They didn’t know each other and I hadn’t met either of them prior to our appointments. Their friends had given them my name and number.
I was struck by the similarity of the conversations that I had with the two of them. Both the widow and the widower were grateful. They were grateful for the time that they had had with their spouse. They appreciated the care that their loved ones had received, even though a cure had not been possible. They were grateful for the access that they had had to a system that couldn’t guarantee a positive outcome, just a fair chance of success.
The widow and the widower weren’t the only recent visitors thankful for that box of tissue. It was that kind of week. A week of balancing the resentful with the grateful and the entitled with those who would give everything they possess for just five more minutes.
Who’d a thunk it? Who would have predicted six months ago that Donald Trump would be ahead in all of the Republican polls? Not me! Welcome to the 2016 I Told You So Contest. This is your opportunity to have your genius fully appreciated as you attempt to predict 2016 before it happens. There is no cost to enter and the contest is open to anyone. Please feel free to share this with all of the usual suspects – political pundits, market timers, and general know-it-alls (we know who we are).
Though the contest is for fun, there are prizes.
1st Prize – $50 Gift Card to Shuhei or the restaurant of your choice
2nd Prize – Lunch with me
All entries must be submitted to me by January 4, 2016. The winner will be determined by the number of correct predictions. In lieu of exactly correct answers, the closest to the correct answer will be given credit. The decision of the judge (me) will be final. The second tie breaker is a coin toss.
Don’t be intimidated. No one will get them all right.
- The Republican nominee will be ___________________________________.
- The winner of the 2016 Presidential election will be _____________________.
- The winner of the 2016 Ohio Senate race will be ________________________.
- The winner of the February 7, 2016 Super Bowl will be ___________________.
- The Cleveland Indians will win _____ regular season games.
- The 2016 Cleveland Browns will win _______ regular season games.
- The 2016 Academy Award for best picture will go to ______________________.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average will close on December 30, 2016 at ________.
- There will be ____ justices on the US Supreme Court on December 31, 2016.
- A gallon of milk will be $____ at Giant Eagle, Legacy village on June 30, 2016.
The picture at the top of this post is of the Introduction to Sweet Jane, signed by Steve Hunter. You can see mine at the office or get your own here. What does Jack do for a living? ________________________.
Have a Happy New Year,
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.