Thursday, May 23, 2013

20,000 Hits!!

Shalom all...

Last August, I blogged about 10,000 hits to my blog.  I changed the wallpaper.  McDonald's offered a free cup of coffee that week.  I noted the international nature of the blog.  I do not remember as to whether it was the case then, but there have since been visitors to the blog from every continent.

It is now May, and I am at 20,000.  Some of those are mine, as no matter how many times I tell blogger not to record my hits, it simply refuses to listen.  I will have to find new wallpaper.  Hopefully, I can convince McDonald's to offer the coffee again.

As I always, I appreciate your comments.  Some of you have been gently critical.  Some of you, a little more sharply critical.  We have all endeavoured to maintain some element of decorum though.  It is appreciated.  This is an open, friendly site.

I have several readers who are Christian, despite (because of?) the fact that I am a rabbi.  I find that people who are committed to their faith communities often share values despite having different theological languages underpinning those values.

I continue to be perplexed by certain things.  For example, one of the postings that has gotten several hits recently is entitled "P.S. to My Most Recent Posting."  It was not, or so I thought, one of my more profound postings.

"The Aging Warrior against the Young Prizefighter" posting about ping-pong with a teenager received a couple of comments.  The comment about avoiding high fives was quite funny.  It is interesting to see what interests all of my readers.

Related to that, the "Original Rules of Marriage" posting is by far the most popular.  There are no comments on it though.  I have several others that I thought were interesting and thought-provoking, with responses to Boston, comments on the death penalty, and some rather adult ideas.  There are no comments on any of those.

I will remain confused by those last two paragraphs.  Some items that I thought to be more fluff have received comments.  Postings that I thought should have been worthy of comment have not received so much as a whisper.

Thank you all for continuing to read.  As always, please feel free to comment.  Please feel free to suggest things about which I might write.  I am making this up as I go.

Good night.


R/SCG = Respectfully, Sean C. Gorman  'R/' is a common military way of signing off.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Okay....So I Do Not Get Birthdays...

Hi all....

Jennifer says I do not get birthdays.  She may be right.  After almost 20 years of marriage, it has only now gotten into my head that she likes a party for her birthday.  Had she not blogged about it, it might still be lost on me.  Sorry will likely not happen this year.  I may remember by next year.  At lest you will get the surprise cake this time.

Here is another thing I do not get.  It seems that as long as the gift is postmarked on time, it is the fault of the postal service if the gift does not get there on time.  Jennifer disagrees with me.  She thinks that gifts should be mailed with a reasonable expectation of being on time.  The postal service assumes blame only when the window of time is sufficient that the parcel can be delivered on time.  I am confused.

I am not sure that this is a point in my favour, but my brother agrees with me.

I am also not entirely certain as to why a gift cannot be purchased the morning of her birthday, as opposed to several days in advance.  I often run out to find something right after minyan.  If it is received on time, it should be considered on time, even though she has to watch the kids while I run around to find something that is not quite right because it is too last minute.

Happy Birthday Jen.

Love, Me


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lessons I Learned This Week....

Top of the evening to all...

My congregation hosted a concert earlier this week.  I learned a great deal about people during the preparation.

1.  The committee really, truly, had ownership.  And they seized it.  And we had several nights and Sundays of meetings.  We stayed up late.  We may have quibbled and even been a little testy, but we got it done.

Lesson learned: give people ownership, and they will run with the plan.

2.  I had several people who, for various reasons, did not attend the concert.  At my suggestion, they still bought tickets for me to give to people who wanted to come but could not afford it.

Lesson learned: people like to be given the opportunity to help others.

3.  In the middle of the planning, we came up with a very high donor level.  People at this level received two free tickets and a barbecue at my house the night before with the band.  Several people said yes.  My caterer donated the barbecue.  The band offered to play a few songs for this high level of donor.

Lesson learned: people want to be asked to contribute.  Given the opportunity, and treated with respect, they will do more than the minimum.

(By the way, we had a lovely time.)

4.  One family I knew could not afford it.  Rather than steer some of the purchased-for-others tickets their way, we brought them on as volunteers the night of the concert.

Lesson learned: many people would rather 'earn their keep' than have it handed to them.

5.  We had numerous skill sets in the committee.  We had prodigious computer skills.  We had prodigious organizational skills.  We had legwork.  We had people with more enough time to send the e-mails that needed to be sent.  We had people who knew how to keep track of our expenses.

Lesson learned: redundant skill sets do not get the job done with the same degree of efficiency.

6.  There were some disagreements among the committee.  Imagine that.

Lesson learned: difference of opinion does not equal difference of goal.

My friends, some of my loyal readers were privileged to join us for Rocky Mountain Jewgrass.  If you were not, seek the opportunity to see them.  We had a wonderful evening at the Pride.  They had a wonderful variety, and a great rapport with the audience.

Have a good evening.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Four Temperate Zones in One Day...

Hi everyone...

Today, I have experienced rather bizarre weather.  It is presently 3:42 PM.  It has been sunny.  It has rained.  It has hailed.  It has snowed.

This is the first time that I have experienced so many forms of precipitation in one day.



Saturday, May 11, 2013

Trying to Understand My Own Views on the Death Penalty

Hi all....

Most of the people who know me know that I have always been vehemently opposed to capital punishment.  I suppose that for many years, I might have been ambivalent.  What pushed me to being in the anti camp was a case that happened in Texas some years back.  In that case, the convicted felon was a woman.  She had managed to convince the entire world that she had turned herself around.

This led to a media outcry, and so on.  Texas ultimately executed her.  Still, it was at that time that I realized how sexist the whole thing was.  Most of the people on death row are men.  We never hear their stories of redemption.

I have heard all of the arguments.  The primary one is that of cost.  We should not talk of human life in financial terms.  If we spoke in such terms, we must point out that it costs millions to prosecute a capital case.  It only costs thousands to imprison someone for life.

When we add the question of race, it becomes even more untenable.  Logic suggests that the racial demography on death row should somewhat approximate the racial demography of the country.  It does not.  This is a significant Constitutional problem.

The governor of the State of Illinois some years back put a moratorium on executions in that state.  He realized that of the 25 people sent to death row, 13 had been exonerated.  One of the exonerations came as a result of a university research project.  He realized the flaws in the system and reacted accordingly.

At the same time, I look at what happened in Boston last month, and the horror of what is developing in Cleveland even as we speak.  I am not sure that there is punishment adequate to the crimes that were committed.  Part of me struggles with that question.  Whatever my feelings about the death penalty might be, I will not shed any tears over the perpetrators of these horrific crimes.

Where do I stand now?  That is a good question.  I ask myself that question every time something happens on such a scale.  Let me start by saying this: if you support the death penalty, you must demand the relentless pursuit of absolute accuracy in determining the perpetrator of a crime.  You must demand that all evidence be constantly subject to the latest in evidentiary technology, even after a conviction, even after an execution.  Whatever one's feelings about capital punishment are, for the State to execute an innocent person in the name of justice is unforgivable and unacceptable.

Beyond that, this blog entry has helped me clarify my views.  I am still against it.  I will remain a supporter of the Innocence Project, a group that seeks to exonerate those whose convictions are flawed.  The fact that it is sexist and racist resonates strongly.  The fact that so many of the accused work with a public defender, who has limited time, limited funds, and a plateful of other cases is problematic.  To deprive a person of life without the best defence possible is again unforgivable and unacceptable.

My tipping point towards remaining in the anti camp is a strange one perhaps.  It is a matter of national dignity more than one of justice.  On the one hand, the European Union will not admit to its membership any nation with the death penalty.  It will not extradite without a promise that there will be no execution.  Canada and the nations of the EU have real justice systems.  On the other hand, we have Iran, China, North Korea, and other nations of that ilk.  "Justice" is whatever the ruling class wants on any given day.  As an American, I would rather know that my country can keep faith with the countries of Europe and with Canada.  I do not wish my country to be counted in the same breath with those other nations.

The issue remaining to be addressed, and one to which I have no answer is this: of the nations with which I like my country to be counted, the United States has both the highest proportion of its population behind bars and the highest rate of recidivism.  Something is wrong with that picture.

Have a good evening all.


Friday, May 3, 2013

It Is Nice to Be Appreciated...

Top of the evening everyone...

In the US Military, there is a long tradition of command coins.  A long time ago, a commanding officer would give the coveted coin to someone who had done well for the command in some way.  The coin could be redeemed at the local officers' club for a beer, the bill for which would be sent back to the command.

A few changes have taken place.  Commanding officers will still give them out to those who have done something important/useful/above and beyond the normal.  They are rarely redeemed for a beer, but if someone "drops the coin" on the table at a function, the commanding officer must buy a round for all.

I have several at home.  One of them is from the USS TOPEKA.  Her commanding officer gave it to me for going on board to lead a departure prayer for them.  On the back of the coin, it shows a submarine at 0 degrees latitude, 180 degrees longitude (the date line) on December 31, 1999/January 1, 2000.  One part of the submarine was in each day/year.  I like that one.  Coins will also be given out as an appreciation of someone's role in a command.

Commands will also sell them to raise funds for something.  You can even find them now at post exchanges, and purchase them as souvenirs.  I try to buy them for Jennifer and for the kids when I travel.  They all like them.  When you walk into the office or work space of someone who has been around for a long time, there will be a display of them, often well into the dozens.  When I reach my retirement rank, I will have one made with my rank insignia on one side, and my corps insignia on the other.  My name will go around the circumference.

After all of that, I received one this week.  It means a great deal.  It is from the most senior person ever to give me one.  The Vice-Commandant of the Coast Guard (three stars) gave it to the eight reserve chaplains in appreciation of the work we do, and of what he expects us to accomplish over the coming months.  This one is a big deal.  It will get a centre spot in my collection.

Have a good evening everyone.