Sunday, October 21, 2012

Compliments and Comments

Top of the evening everyone.

Several months back, you will remember that I made an editorial decision never to delete comments from the blog.  I enjoy the interaction, even when you disagree with me.

I have made an editorial decision to change that approach.   After much thought, I have elected instead to avoid deleting remarks when possible, but to delete when necessary.  While disagreements are quite welcome, a civil tone is also vital.  All capital letters generally indicate yelling.  I do not like yelling.  Yelling is not civil.  Unfounded insinuations are also beyond the limits of civil discourse.

This blog is intended to combine humour and a serious look at my life, marriage, children, my cats, ping-pong, community, and country.  There is room for disagreement.

I hope that you will all continue to write your comments, even if they disagree with my own thoughts.

As always, compliments are welcome.

We now return to the gentle, yet serious nature of this blog.


P.S.  If there is something about which you think I might enjoy writing, please let me know.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jennifer Wrote About Gandalf...

So I will write about Nora.

Gandalf is the size of a small gorilla.  He was weighed at the vet yesterday, coming in at over 15 pounds (around 7 kilograms).

Nora, as I have mentioned, is much lighter on her feet.  She can jump over the fence in the backyard.  She likes to sleep at my feet.

Jesse and I would like to know one thing.  Why is it that she likes to sit on the ping-pong table while he and I play?  She cannot hold a paddle.  She does not know how to keep score.  She does not even try to swat at the ball.  She just sits there.  We keep playing, to the best of our limited abilities.  She gets hit by the occasional ball.  There is no response.

If anyone can explain this, both Jesse and I would appreciate it.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Presidential Cabinet

Hi all...

As you are aware, I will likely write my own name in for the office of the President of the United States.  It has since dawned on me that I cannot just show up in Washington after winning without some sense of a cabinet.

Vice-President - my friend Chris from High School
Secretary of State - I am open to suggestions.
Department of Treasury - Warren Buffet
Department of Defense - VADM Al Konetzni, aka Big Al the Sailor's Pal
Department of Justice - My friend Betsy.  She is a lawyer in that department already.  She would not need a map to her new office.
Department of the Interior - whoever the director of the Nature Conservancy is.
Department of Agriculture - I do not know, but s/he should be outstanding in her/his field.
Department of Commerce - Mark Zuckerberg
Department of Labor - Someone who has worked for a living.
Department of Health and Human Services - Dr. House - do not tell me he is not real.
Department of Housing and Urban Development -  The guy who owns Home Depot
Department of Transportation - Mario Andretti
Department of Energy - My friend Rob from high school.  He works at Los Alamos.  They know from energy there.
Department of Education - Harper Lee
Department of Veterans' Affairs - my dad.  He is a veteran.  He gets it.
Department of Homeland Security - Mayor Rudy Guiliani

And my friend Patrick has asked to be king of Maine.

These nominations have not yet been sent to the Senate.  If anyone has any other ideas, I am open to listening.

I am going to listen to some of the Presidential debate, even though as a candidate, I should have been invited.  I even know where Hofstra university is.  The candidates are right across the street from Nassau Coliseum.  I hope that the debate and tonight's hockey game do not let out at the same time.  Oops...there is no hockey game.

Good night.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Proper Safety Gear

Hi all...

You are aware that I love to ride my bicycle.  Most of you have heard me say at one point or another that the more I drive in Toronto, the more I like my bicycle.  It always allows me to keep my head clear when going from place to place.

I always wear a helmet.  The primary reason is that we require the kids to do so.  Proper parenting means proper role-modeling.

All of the military bases require reflective gear at least between sunrise and sunset.  That has stuck with me.  As such, I always wear a construction vest when I am out at night, because...

When I ride home in the evening, I like to take time to reflect.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Semper Paratus

So the motto of the Coast Guard is "Semper Paratus - Always Prepared".  The motto of the Marine Corps is "Semper Fidelis - Always Faithful."

Somebody should be honest about this.  I humbly suggest "Semper Aquatus - Always Wet."


The Possibility of Mobilization

Top of the evening all...

Yes...the balloon could go up.  Yes...I can be mobilized.  According to federal law, the Department of Defense must give us 30 days notice.  Usually, the notice is much longer.  Anything less than that requires direct approval of the Secretary of Defense.

Not that it matters.  If the phone rang, I can and would be ready tomorrow.  Most of us would be.  It is the burden of commission and the burden of the oath of office.

Is there fear?  Perhaps.  Is there trepidation?  No.  We have a job to do.  We get it.

As I mentioned earlier though, goals must be clearly stated.  It is not reasonable to ask anyone to risk life and limb without knowing why.  It is not fair to our families to borrow us for the necessary amount of time without knowing why.  For those of us in the Reserve, it is not fair to our employers to have muddled goals when they are required by law to hold our civilian jobs for us.  They have the right to know why they are temporarily parting company with us.

I regret that my mobilization to Afghanistan was taken away.  It was the one of the most exciting things I would have done in my rabbinate in many years.  As well, we train for it.  We expect it.  It is like sitting at the starting gate, one foot on the brake, one on the gas pedal, and then being told to turn the car off.

By the way, Jennifer likely would not want me spending too much time in a combat zone.  Nonetheless, she has trained for this also.  She was somewhat disappointed that I did not go.

There is nothing on the horizon at this moment.  Iraq is over.  The President intends to remove troops from Afghanistan in 2014.  There are hot spots, but nothing that should require the reserve component.

Nonetheless, the motto of the United States Coast Guard stands: Semper Paratus - Always Prepared.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Politics and the Chain of Command

Top of the evening all...

'Anonymous' has been commenting on my blog over the last few entries.  I would like to thank 'Anonymous' for three reasons.  The first is for reading and commenting.  The second is for making me go back and check what I have written over the last few years.  The third is for offering me a topic this evening.

I must assume that I know 'Anonymous' personally.  'Anonymous' has accused me of making political statements.  The accusation stands, and is probably accurate.  However, there is nothing overly political in this blog.  Therefore, 'Anonymous' must have heard me face to face.

I am a Naval officer.  As a group, the public demeanour of military personnel tends to be apolitical.  The reason is rather simple.  It is not that we do not hold strong opinions.  To the contrary, we realize that what happens in Washington DC very much affects our lives and the lives of those in our charge.  We hold very strong opinions.

Still, to hold a public opinion that is not completely in line with the chain of command, straight up to the President, threatens to erode confidence in that chain of command.  When lives are at stake, when the security of a nation is at stake, such erosion of confidence can be lethal.  Two years ago, the President had to fire one of the most competent generals ever to wear the uniform for precisely this reason.  Despite General McChrystal's unquestioned competence, relieving him of command was the right decision.  The President handled it magnificently.

As well, we officers tend not to voice public disagreement for the simple reason of self-preservation.  I thought long and hard before publishing my last blog entry.  I serve at the leisure of the President.  I do not wish to be fired.

I once worked with another chaplain with whom I did not see eye to eye on a great many things.  One of the things he said was that President Clinton "was not his President."  I have no time for such officers.  He may not like whoever the present Commander in Chief is.  He may not respect that person.  Nonetheless, the President most certainly is his President.  To think anything other than that denies the Constitution that we have all affirmed to support and defend.

Good night to all.


Note to 'Anonymous': feel free to disagree with me.  Please do not write that I am not being fully honest.  The readers of this blog have received only full honesty at every turn.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I Have a Problem...

Hi all...

I have a problem.  A few weeks from now, I have the civic obligation to help the United States choose the next President.  I do not know what to do.

I am not thrilled with the current POTUS.  To be fair though, I congratulate him for placing the issue of health care on the political map indelibly.  Whether or not health care takes shape according to his vision remains to be seen.  Still, no President will be able to ignore the issue anymore.

Furthermore, I congratulate him on having the intestinal fortitude to make the final decision on invading a foreign country to remove an avowed enemy of the United States.  The list of things that could have gone wrong with that raid is long.  It was a gutsy call.

I have three problems right now.  The first is the voice vote that happened at the Democratic convention.  When the votes were 'counted,' it was clear that a significant group was against the inclusion of the platform item on Jerusalem.  While I think that the two parties in the US agree on this, it seems to me that the Democratic party is more and more becoming a home for people with negative views on Israel.  That is not the party of my youth.  It will not be the party of my old age.

The second problem involves the murder of our Ambassador in Libya.  It is coming out now that the 'right people' knew that it was terrorism within 24 hours.  The President and his staff maintained for over a week that it was random violence based on stupidity.  This affects my life directly.  It affects the lives of my Sailors and Marines.  I can be called to go to war.  Failure to name the enemy leads to confusion as to the goals of war, and whether or not those goals have been met.

The third problem is that being on a talk show should not trump meeting with heads of state in New York.

I am thus not voting for this President.

On the other hand, the only thing I like about Governor Romney is that his views on Israel are much more in line with mine.  Otherwise, I am worried about his level of compassion.  I am worried that he seems to put his foot in his mouth every time he speaks.  He also does not keep such great company.  The Tea Party people are as far removed from my belief system as the left wing of the Democrats.

Luckily, with every problem, there is a solution.  I have decided to write my own name in for the office of the President of the United States.

(The rest of this is a seamless blend of humour and seriousness.)

I have two platform positions.  The first is that I will work to lower the interest rate for federal student loans to 2% retroactively.  My second platform position is that I am not either of the other two candidates.

If I am elected, I further promise to take no salary.  It is an honour...oops...honor to be the President of the United States.  It does not require a paycheque...oops...paycheck.

I have definite views on Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  I also realize that this is an inflammatory issue.  I will thus test the cold waters by recognizing the Arctic as part of the United States.  I suspect that Ottawa might withdraw my permanent residence status.  If that is all that happens though, there should be no problem with Jerusalem.

I understand that there is a world of difference between running for office and being the President.  I therefore will make no other promises.  It is my clever way of avoiding having to backpedal later.