Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Mellowing with Age....

Top of the evening to all...

When Jennifer and I lived in New York City, I loved the Christmas season.  The smell of pine, of fir, and of spruce wafted through the air from all of the trees piled up in front of the stores.  People were generally of pleasant disposition.  We would walk down 5th Avenue and see how all of the windows were decorated.  We wandered into Rockefeller Center (US location, US spelling) to see the tree.  We never got to be part of the annual singing of Handel's "Messiah," but I wish we had.

I will tell you further that I absolutely love "Carol of the Bells."  As well, we played a remarkably Christian piece in high school band called "La Marche des Rois."  I still hum the piece from time to time.

We lived in North Carolina for a couple of years, a place a colleague called the "buckle of the Bible Belt."  I got a little X-mased out.  I even rewrote "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" to be "Rudolph the Kosher Reindeer."  It does not end well for the reindeer.

Nowadays, I am watching the atheist groups of the world try and shut out religion from virtually every corner of public life.  I am not impressed.  As they attempt this, I have also begun to rethink my own opinions.

I am a Jew.  I light a hannukiyah.  I celebrate Pesach.  I build a sukkah.  The list goes on.  I live in Toronto, a city in which 80 languages are spoken on a daily basis.  If we were to speak of theological languages, the number would be much higher.

I fully support placing a Christmas tree at Queen's Park, on Parliament Hill, at the White House, and on virtually every other piece of public property in the world.  I also have no issue with a manger.  I believe that all of these places should also have a hannukiyah and a sukkah at the proper times.

This is not a statement of communal support of one faith to the exclusion of others, or of faith in general to the exclusion of atheism.  It is a reminder that we speak 80 languages in our home city.  It is a reminder that we should share in each other's happiness as a community.  It is a reminder that even though some people do not care about Christmas, some other people might.  I share in their joy.  Please, offer me a cup of egg nog.  I will say a b'rakhah (blessing) on it, and share a toast with you.  I invite you to share in my joy.  As for all of these public places, they share in our joy communally.  They remind us that we live together as neighbours despite our differences.  They should remind all of us that Queen's Park, Parliament Hill, and the White House should not be places that are only about politics.  They are about people, and should not be devoid of the symbols that people find important.

On an aside, the sukkah is a much more potent Jewish symbol.  Hannukah does not hold a candle to Christmas in terms of deeper meaning of the holiday to the respective faith groups (pun intented).  A communal hannukiyah is wonderful, but I would much prefer to see a communal sukkah.

To my Christian friends out there, I wish you all of the joy and holiness Christmas should bring you.  And if you wish me a Merry Christmas because you do not immediately recognize me as Jewish, thank you for the sentiment, even if I cannot enjoy the holiday.


Conquering Fears...

Top of the afternoon to all...

Some of you may remember a few months back that I separated my shoulder playing racquetball.

I came back to Marine Corps Base Quantico in August with my racquetball equipment, but never played.  I was nervous about the possibility of injuring it a second time.

I am in Quantico again.  I have my equipment again.  I did it!!  Today was a racquetball day.  I played on the same court on which I received the reminder of the fact that sometimes things break.  The shoulder felt good.  There was no unplanned bouncing off the wall.  It was nice to play again.

The only thing left to do is to find the two Marines who got me in the first place.  I feel the need for some comeuppance.

Have a great day.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Men's Shabbat...

Shavua tov to all...

Jennifer and Keren are in Texas for a bat mitzvah.  That means that Gavi, Jesse, and I had a men's Shabbat.

Last night we played a couple of board games.  After services today, while lunch was getting warm in the oven, we worked on knife-fighting techniques.  Jesse had just had a karate class on how to defend against an attacker wielding a knife.

There was ping-pong in the afternoon, and some more board games.

Tonight, we are going to get sushi and watch "Demolition Man."  It is a classic.

Have a good evening everyone.


Friday, December 12, 2014

7th Period Band Class....

Top of the afternoon to all...

When I was in high school, band class was 7th period.  Lo and behold, it is for Jesse as well.

I went to band class yesterday.  Why did I do this?  Jesse downloaded a program from the internet called musescore.  It allows someone to compose music.  it has its flaws, for sure.

Jesse has been composing his own music for the last several years.  His band teacher decided that the band would sightread his music yesterday.

I arranged with his teacher and went.  I am no mere spectator though.  I brought my own trumpet, sat in the trumpet section, and played my son's music.

Way to go Jesse, and thanks for the father-son moment.

Shabbat Shalom to all.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Nickel for Your Thoughts...

Top of the evening, o' loyal readers.

With the mint's decision to remove the penny from circulation, the cost of a single thought quintupled almost overnight, at least in Canada.  Luckily, those in the US can still get thoughts at the cheaper rate that has been around for well over a century.  

I have a question.

Over the last couple of years, my beloved bride (some of you read her blog) has been telling me to write a book.  I have started that project.

This week, a publisher contacted me after having read entries from my own blog.  She also thinks I should consider writing a book.

Given that the 30-ish followers of my blog may end up being the only purchasers of such a book, I am curious as to the following:

1.  Is my beloved bride on to something here?
2.  If I were to write a book, what subject interests all of you?

I generally like to receive comments on my blog.  At this time, I am respectfully requesting them.

Have a good evening.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Ignoring the Lessons of My Mother...

Top of the evening all...

I had reserve duty yesterday and today.  I had breakfast yesterday morning before leaving Toronto at 5:30 AM.  Due to what turned out to be a hectic day, I barely had time for lunch.  I only ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I did not eat the two apples I had brought.  I did not eat any of my nutri-grain bars.  By the time the end of the day rolled around, I was pretty hungry.

When I go to the US, I always travel with a shopping list.  Since I know I am going to the supermarket, I never travel with anything more than my immediate lunch.

I got to the supermarket.  I bought the shopping list.  I picked up stuff for the rest of my meals.  Then I bought snacks.  There were cocoa-covered almonds.  They are yummy, and almonds are good for blood pressure concerns.  I bought honey-roasted sunflower seeds.  They are also yummy, and are packed with selenium.  I do not know what selenium does, but it has a cool name.  Jesse tells me that it is on the Periodic Table.  As there are sunflower seeds in front of me right now, I can happily tell you that it is also on the kitchen table.  I bought two bananas.  They were very appealing.

Now that I have returned to Toronto, I am forced to say that I did not eat everything that I purchased.

Mom's lesson: never go grocery shopping while hungry.

On the positive side, the list you see above is more or less healthy.  That is because I did not mention the bag of potato chips.

Have a good evening.