Wednesday, September 27, 2017

This Is NOT about Me...


Top of the evening to all, and especially to my readers from the United States.

It is impossible to miss the craziness going on in the US right now.  I fear for the country.  I have never been witness to the social fabric being so torn asunder.

One of the topics of overblown discussion is athletes from the NFL taking a knee during the Star-Spangled Banner.  It is their way of protesting police brutality.  Due to the President's response, it has also become the standard (pun intended) for demonstrating anti-Trump sentiments.

On one level, it is a free speech issue.  All those who refuse to stand for the national anthem are well within their legal rights to do so.  It must be noted though that football teams are private businesses.  Players are generally required to meet certain standards of demeanour within their contracts.  The New York Yankees require their players to maintain certain grooming standards.  It is in every contract.  For a team to fire a player over taking a knee is not a Constitutional matter of free speech.

Those who are taking a stand against kneeling and otherwise avoiding the anthem keep pointing to the military members who have put their lives on the line and sometimes paid the ultimate price in the defense of the nation.  Please do not make this about me.  It is not about the military.  It is not about those who have paid that ultimate price.  Those who take that risk did so out of love of country.  I also believe that those who would take a knee believe in America no less than those who have taken that risk.

And thus, love of country is the only thing that is relevant in this discussion.  If those who take a knee feel that the country they love needs to be called to task for its behaviour, then so be it.  Their love of country is no less than those who insist on standing.   I flatly disagree with those who take a knee, and am happy to discuss it with them, but perhaps they are bringing up issues that need to be considered.

Whatever the reasons for not taking a bow might be, please do not make me one of them.  This has nothing to do with veterans.  This has to do with the country.  Leave me out of it.

Have a good evening.

R/SCG

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie....

Top of the evening to all...

Most of the folks who have raised children in the last 25 years are familiar with the book by that title.  It tells us that if we give a mouse a cookie, he will want a glass of milk.  Then he will want something else, and something else, and something else.  The last page then says that the mouse will want a cookie.

Why did I choose that title?  I will tell you why.

If you wish to give a mouse a cookie, you will require an oven in which to bake that cookie.  By the way, for all that cookbooks will offer, and they offer plenty, Nestle's Toll House cookies are always the favourite around here.  Anyway, you will require an oven.

A year and a half ago, the oven died.  We replaced it.

The mouse will then want a glass of milk.  Earlier this year, I noticed that the light in the fridge did not go out when I closed the door.  The fridge light did, but it did not look like the door was sealing properly.  I put a flashlight in the fridge, and I was still able to see the light after closing the fridge.  Now the fridge has been replaced.

Then it was the cooktop.  We had an old cooktop.  It still had coils.  Two out of four coils did not work.  Batting .500 is great in baseball.  It does not work when cooking for Rosh HaShanah.  The cooktop went.  It has been replaced with a black, smooth appliance.

Our countertop is beige-y ivory, according to my beloved bride.  It does not match the cooktop.  Also, the fan on the oven hood often does not seal correctly, so cold air blows in from the outside.

I need a cookie.

Have a good evening.

R/SCG

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Concepts and Language


Top of the evening everyone...

Several years back, we visited the Diefen-bunker outside of Ottawa.  It is a bunker designed for senior government officials to hide in the event of a nuclear attack.  Here, they would be able to run the country in some element of safety.

In the Diefen-bunker, there were telephones.  These were the old-style phones, with one line, and a dial.  This is the source of the idea of dialing a telephone.  The kids, much younger then, did not know what it was.  I have not dialed a phone in years.  Yet, on my cordless phone, the option exists to redial a number.  Clearly, the concept of dialing a phone could not go away.

The next generation will not fully understand what it means to sound like a broken record.

Another change...I came home last week for lunch.  I drank my lunch.  In days of old, that would have meant lunch at a bar with coworkers.  I would have meant martinis or scotch.  I had a smoothie. It had protein and fruit in it.

Over the last couple of years, I have been changing the light bulbs in the house.  Incandescant bulbs are no longer available for sale in Ontario.  We have had CFLs.  Now, we are changing them over to LEDs.  The LED bulbs will last for years.  What will happen to light bulb jokes?  

Above, you see the things that occupy my mind when Jennifer is in New Jersey.

Have a good evening.

R/SCG

Playing with Fire....

Shavua tov everyone....

I did not cover the barbecue this evening.  Why?  It was not for lack of intention.  I even went out into the backyard to do it.  This is the third time I have had to deal with this.

We have a skunk that comes to our backyard to dine.

I saw him a couple of weeks ago up front, right where I was about to take the garbage.  He stared at me, tail straight up.  Luckily, the business end of the skunk was pointed in the opposite direction.

A few days after that, I went out to the backyard to cover the barbecue.  Our skunk was there, again.

And it happened this evening.  This time, I got closer before I realized that he was there.  And the tail was pointed straight up.  And the business end was pointed towards me.  For a 47-year old, I move pretty quickly.

I did not cover the barbecue.  The skunk can visit us whenever he wants.

Have a good evening everyone.

R/SCG

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

One Must Have Faith...

Top of the evening to all....

Last year, we went to PEI on our way (sort of) to dropping Jesse off at school out in Halifax.  To get from PEI to Nova Scotia, we took the ferry.  It was a little over an hour and very relaxing.  Even better, there was a Cows ice cream right on the ferry.  My daughter was in heaven.

I was in Buffalo earlier this week.  as I often do, I had my bicycle with me.  While out and about, I discovered that Buffalo now has a bicycle ferry that goes across the harbor and opens up the entire southern waterfront.  If you remember the scene with the lighthouse from the movie "Bruce Almighty," that is the exact area.

In the fall, we will head east again to drop Jesse off.  We are going to take the ferry from Saint John, New Brunswick, across the Bay of Fundy to Digby, Nova Scotia.  Yet again, I cannot wait.  It must be the Navy person in me.  My mother keeps telling me that sailors do not get old.  They just get a little dingy.

Anyway, PEI, Buffalo, Bay of Fundy.

As I said, one must have faith.  One must believe.  I believe in ferries.

Good night everyone.

R/SCG

Monday, June 5, 2017

For My Friend....

Good evening everyone.

My friend died today.  She had not been well over the last year or so.  I suppose it is odd to call her my friend.  We never met face to face.

Cheryl's sister is a congregant of mine.  Some years back, Cheryl was having some personal challenges.  Her sister thought that she might do well to speak with me.  I was both flattered and nervous.

Cheryl had been hit by a car.  The recovery was slow and arduous.  It seemed that one of the few things she felt comfortable doing was knitting.  Together, Cheryl and I came to appreciate what she could do with her knitting skills.  Cheryl knitted.  She knitted mittens for cancer patients.  These were not people she knew.  Still, at their darkest time, a complete stranger reached out.  Cheryl knitted many, many mittens.  She will likely never know how much her efforts touched people.  After a recent death of a fellow knitter in my own congregation, we arranged to have the leftover yarn sent to Montreal.  I knew it would be put to good use.

We kept in touch by internet off and on after our initial conversation.  About a year after that chat, I found a small package in my mailbox at the office.  The return address was Montreal.  I knew what it was before I opened it.  Cheryl had knitted me a hat.  I smiled for the rest of the day.  Wow.  Years later, it continues to touch me, even though my daughter has since appropriated it.

In April of 2016, my son was hit by a car on his way to school.  Cheryl and her husband were sufficiently alarmed that they made a donation to Cycle Toronto in his honour.  Please note: my son walked away from that collision.

This year, I found another package in my box.  I naturally assumed that Cheryl's knitting needles, likely capable of going on auto-pilot at this point, had been at work again.  I was wrong.  There was a bag of Dove bar miniatures (yummy) from Cheryl's personal stash not for me, but for my daughter.    Please note: this chocolate is not available with kosher supervision in Canada.  Cheryl, I had purchased a bag of those chocolate miniatures to mail to you.  It was in my office with my full intention of sending them to you from all of us.  By the way, I was slow getting back to you.  My daughter's favourite colour is purple.

To Cheryl's husband Michael, her son David, her sister and brother-in-law Glenda and Alan, the Torah speaks of all of the craft work that was part of the building of the Mishkan, the traveling sanctuary that the Children of Israel took with them during their journeys in the desert.  Two of those crafts were weaving and spinning.  I am certain that had knitting been around in those days, it too would have been included.  I am certain that Cheryl would have been in the thick of it.  And in continuation of that m'lekhet Kodesh, that holy tasking of building the Sanctuary, Cheryl created tiny sanctuaries for countless people she did not even know.

Cheryl...I am one of those people.  You looked after me.  You looked after my family.  Thank you.

May her memory be for a blessing.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Shameless Solicitation...

Top of the evening everyone.

Over the years, I have ridden for the Zareinu school here in Toronto.  The Zareinu school is a school for children with significant educational challenges.  You can check out their website at zareinu.org for more information.  They raise a significant amount of their operating budget through a bike-a-thon.  I missed riding the last couple of years.  It is good to be back in the saddle.

The boys and I have signed up to ride 50k to raise money for the school.  We have to raise a combined total of $2500.  At this point, we have $376.  The ride is June 11th.

If you would like to support the school via us, the best bet is to go to the website https://zareinu.donorpages.com/Moveathon2017/stats/ and look up either Jesse Gorman, Gavriel Gorman, or me.

Oh this is so exciting!!  And I will be out on my hydrofoil of aluminum.

Thank you all.

R/SCG

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Nothing to See Here - Addendum...

Good morning everyone.

Today, Pvt Chelsea Manning, US Army, was released from Leavenworth.  She was serving a prison sentence for conviction on 20 counts of espionage.  She had turned over countless documents at varied levels of classification to Wikileaks.  I remind everyone that Wikileaks is run by a man wanted for questioning for a rape in Sweden.  The man has been hiding out in the Ecuadoran embassy in London for several years now.  Former President Obama granted Pvt Manning clemency in the closing days of his presidency.

This is okay though.  For reasons that are lost on me, President Trump is not allowed to talk with his counterparts of other nations.

The hypocrisy of the reaction to the President is glaring today.

Have a good day.

R/SCG

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Steed of Steel...

Top of the evening everyone...

Over the last several years, my family has heard me say that I will be on my steed of steel.  That is what I call my bicycle.

Well, now I have three bicycles.  I have a fleet.  One of the bicycles is not made of steel though.  It is made of aluminum.  I have to tell you....it cuts the wind in a way that the other two do not.  It is such a delight to ride.  It is like being on a speedboat.

I have thus decided to call it my hydrofoil of aluminum.

I am wrapping up for the evening.

Have a good night.

R/SCG

Nothing to See Here...

Top of the evening everyone...

Yet again, the body politic is in a tizzy in the United States.  Apparently, President Trump revealed classified information to the Russian Foreign Minister.

And what was on page 2?

Folks, there are multiple levels of classification in the United States.  Sensitive, classified, top secret, top secret (special compartmented information), probably a few others, and President's eyes only.

In all categories of classification, the President is what we call the classifying authority.  That means that he has the authority to release any classified information at will.  That he might have shared something with a governmental representative of another nation is not at all without precedent.  It has been going on since time immemorial.  The most prominent example that comes to mind is when Prime Minister Begin directed that an assassination plot against Anwar Sadat be turned over directly to the Egyptians, instead of via the normal channels.  This led directly to President Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem.

We can question his discretion.  We can decide that maybe we should have someone else in office come 2020.  That is perfectly legitimate.  There is virtually no crime whatsoever.

Nothing to see here.

Except that there is something to see here.  There was a crime committed, or at least a violation of trust.  How it is that a matter discussed in the Oval Office made it out to the press is of major concern.  It does mean that someone violated his/her clearance.  It means that someone within the White House just made an active effort to undermine the President.  This is major.

Mr. President, it is my strongest recommendation that you get control over the White House staff.  This is not the first unauthorized leak.  It is unlikely to be the last.

I am utterly disgusted with everyone taking every opportunity not to let this man be the President.  Get over it folks.  Like it or not, Donald Trump is the President of the United States.  You will do more to bring a bad name on the country by pouncing on every little thing he does than he will manage on his own.

Have a good night everyone.

R/SCG

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A New Noun....

Top of the evening everyone.

Apparently, there is a new noun.  I think it originated in England, which makes it the Queen's English.

Our new word, or so I thought, is 'mamil.'  This is an acronym.  It is short for 'middle-aged man in lycra.'

Lycra is the fabric from which cycling shorts are made.  It is stretchy, and really has no respect for my sense of modesty.

I rediscovered this noun earlier this week trying to find a blog.  Before I found it, I found a rather amusing article written by the spouse of a mamil.  Here is the link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2869069/Oh-shame-married-MAMIL-s-Middle-Aged-Man-Lycra.html.

When I finally found the blog, the most recent entry started off by saying that Jewish law requires parents to teach their children to swim.  This is true, and can be found in the Babylonian Talmud in the tractate of Kiddushin.

Anyway, I would like to advise Jennifer that I am not headed down this road...at least not yet...ummmm...I do not think so.  I do not see the purpose of having more and more expensive equipment, except in certain circumstances, and one must be prepared.

I am thinking about bringing one of my bicycles on our next trip east.  It is a wonderful way to get out of the car.  The boys and I rented bicycles last summer on PEI.  We had a delightful day.

I have also started reading a couple of cycling magazines on line.

I went riding on a longer ride last Shabbat.  Am I ready for a three-hour tour?  A three-hour tour?!  We will see how the weather is.

Apparently, men of my certain age are starting to take up cycling.  Good for us.  We can get out, see the world, or at least the neighbourhood, and do something for our health.  Go men!!

None of this hides a much greater issue.  The man in the article cited above was 41 at the time the article was written two years ago.  He is a mamil.  I am 47.  I am not ready to be middle-aged.

Easy riding everyone.

R/SCG

Saturday, April 22, 2017

I Have Not Been Blogging Much Lately...

Top of the evening everyone...

I have not been blogging much lately.  I am not sure as to why.  One of my loyal readers told me the other day that she misses my missives.  Now I am feeling pressure.

You may remember last year that I won a bicycle last year in a contest.  That was amazing.  I then had two bicycles.  The one I won was a little bit more mini-van than sports car, but that is okay.  I teased it up a little.  The free bicycle ended up costing almost $500.

We were visiting my in-laws in December.  One of Rav Jen's friends from USY came up to visit us.  While we were chatting, it turned out that he likes to ride.  He is much more serious.  He rides triathlons.  I use that word playing Scrabble.  He said he had an extra road bike and offered it to me.

After spending several minutes confirming that he was serious, I said sure.  We would swing through Philadelphia in February to get it.  I told him to attempt to sell it before then.  He said he was either going to keep it or give it to me.  We picked up the bicycle in February.  He will not miss it.  He has five or six other rides.

Another free bicycle...yes, and another $500 from my wallet.  I have got to stop getting free bicycles.  It needed pedals, a tune-up, the right kind of shoes, and a saddle.

I can lift this bicycle with two fingers.  I took it for a ride last week.  Clip-in pedals take some getting used to.  I did not fall, but I humbly thank a congregant for being next to me at a moment when I lost my balance (I was standing still at the time).

I took it for a longer ride today.  I have to tell you...you all know that I fully support the idea of riding on Shabbat.  I do not know what it was, but I felt utterly free while I was out today.  That feeling of freedom is what Shabbat is supposed to be about.

The really good news is that I have a road bike...a really good one.  I also have two other bicycles.  One of them will go to Jesse as soon as he tells me wants it.

The only thing left to do is to convince my daughter that riding is almost as good as chocolate.

Have a great evening.

R/SCG

Monday, March 20, 2017

That's Three Times, and I Am Getting Annoyed...

Top of the evening to all...

I have now been killed in the service of my country three times.  This is getting annoying.

The first time was about 18 years ago.  One of my submarines, USS Chicago, was in drydock for some repairs.  The commanding officer decided to run a fire drill.  He asked me if I wanted to observe in the compartment where the supposed fire was to take place.  I went into the compartment.

The rule on submarines is that a fire must be brought under control within 60 seconds.  After that, everyone is presumed to be dead.  By the way, flooding at sea is bad, but there are multiple ways to control it.  Pumps, counter-flooding, or turning off water supply might be options, depending on the situation.  Any sailor will tell you that fire is far more frightening.  Anyway, the submarine's damage control team took three minutes to get to the compartment where I was observing.  Sigh...

The second situation was real.  I do not remember exactly what happened.  I know that I was underway and underwater.  I was hanging out in the torpedo room.  Suddenly there was smoke in the torpedo room (never a good thing).  I moved into a corner.  I still do not know what caused that smoke.

The last time was just a couple of weeks ago.  We had an active shooter drill at the reserve center.  I screwed up, got shot, and got everyone else in my room killed also.

The good news is that I am feeling pretty spry.

Have a good evening.

R/SCG

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Alt....


Good evening everyone....

One of the President's advisors used the term 'alternate truth' early on in his term of office.  It was an unfortunate term, and sadly has taken on a momentum of its own.

That the Presdient's advisor gave this concept a vocabulary does not take anything away from the reality that such alternate truths have been around for years.  Let's examine some of them.

Muhammed al-Dura was shot by Israelis during a gunfight in Gaza.  The science disproves it.  French courts explicitly rejected the claim, stating that not a shred of evidence supported it.

Vaccines cause autism.  This was a 'study,' the results of which could not be duplicated.  The Lancet, the British medical journal that originally published the 'study,' ultimately retracted it.  The doctor who authored the 'study' lost his license to practice medicine.  Neverthless, the perception still exists.

Israel is an apartheid state.  Have you looked up apartheid in the dictionary recently?  There is no Israeli denied the right to vote.  There is no Israeli denied adequate and equal medical care.  There is no Israeli denied the rights of citizenship.  There is an Arab judge on Israel's Supreme Court.  There is an Arab chief of surgery at Barzilai hospital.  Palestinians and Syrians regularly cross into Israel for medical treatment.  Arab representation in the Knesset is more than 10% of the Knesset.  This is a far cry from the apartheid of the old South Africa.

God forbid that these days one should be a campus speaker from the right of the political world.  Being shouted down is the norm.  Being whisked away by security is often a necessity.  Speeches are cancelled last-minute.  Campus riots against these speakers are defended as free speech, but God forbid that these folks be able to get a sentence out without feeling the wrath of the so-called free speech movements.

The late Senator Daniel Moynihan once said that "everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts."  To those who insist on pursuing alternate facts, please know that they are not facts, and you are not entitled to them.  Alternate facts are lies.  To those on the left and on the right, I remind you gently that those who live in glass houses should avoid throwing stones.  President Trump and his advisors did not invent alternate facts.  They are a tale as old as time.

I hope one day that we all learn to listen to each other again.

Good night everyone.

R/SCG

Good Advice I Have Given Out....

Shavua tov to all....

Over the last couple of weeks, two pieces of advice that I have given out have come back to me with thanks.  I share those pieces of advice with you.

The first is from a colleague.  Please bear in mind that traditional Jewish law does not permit driving on Shabbat.  As such, many rabbis live within walking distance of their congregations.  Even for my colleagues who do not live within walking distance, most want to be in their communities.  They are therefore not far from their congregations.

With that proximity in mind, I have always gone home for lunch.  It puts a break in my day.  It gets me outside, as I never drive to the office.

I gave that piece of advice to a colleague, a new rabbi in her first pulpit.  She goes home.  She sees her family.  She eats.  Word has traveled back to me that this has been helpful for her.

The second piece of advice is to the married folks out there.  It has been to splurge for the king-size bed.  Extra real estate is useful during...uhhh...marital closeness.  As well, young children are known for midnight invasions.  Hopefully, those invasions do not take place during marital closeness.

One of my former students, now on her second child, thanked me for that advice today.

Room size notwithstanding, I pass on that recommendation to all of you.

Have a great evening everyone.

R/SCG

Saturday, January 21, 2017

I Am Not Sure How I Feel Either....

Top of the evening everyone.

Today is January 21st, 2017.  The United States has just inaugurated a new President.  I congratulate my country for yet again defying what has been tragically consistent in world history by having a peaceful transfer of power.

And there were rioters in the streets.  They are saying things like "not my President."  Well, let's start with a basic.  The Constitutional process has been served.  To my American readers, Donald Trump most certainly IS your President.  In any event, I am not entirely certain what breaking windows and burning cars has to do with the negative sentiment.

President Trump (I have to get used to that also - this is only my blog's second President) spoke of "America First."  People are in a tizzy about that.  They should not be.  That is his job.  There is nothing in the President's job description that gives him any permission to work for the benefit of France, or any other nation.

That being said, we no longer live in a world in which any nation can just block out the existence of the rest of the world.  There are ripples in the pond of every decision that the President must make.  To start a trade war with China, for example, can destabilize what is a remarkably stable nation.  That has effects in the US, in Canada, and just about everywhere else.  Putting America first is what he should do.  There is no such thing though as "America only."  I hope that he realizes that quickly.

I do not know how I feel about this President.  I am hopeful that he will do wonderful things.  I believe firmly that he has the capability of doing wonderful things.  I think that the riots do nothing to advance the cause of those who oppose him.  It frankly looks like a child throwing a tantrum on the floor.  I also must point out to all that more than 60 million people voted for him.  I refuse to accept for even a second that more than 60 million Americans are bigots.  I refuse to accept for even a second that 60 million Americans are misogynist.  Neither is he.

And so we should let him have the chance to accomplish something instead of thwarting him at every turn.

Mr. President, if you are reading this, may you find every manner of good fortune, luck, and opportunity in making America greater than it already is.

Good night everyone.

R/SCG