Monday, December 31, 2012

Choosing One's Aggravation

Hi all...

Jennifer and I drove down to my parents house in the DC suburbs last week.  According to, the fastest way is down US 219, a road that cuts through Western New York and into Pennsylvania.  In Pennsylvania, that road is a winding, annoying road.  If you get stuck behind the 18-wheeler, you will be stuck behind the 18-wheeler.

We left Thursday evening 10 days ago.  There was supposed to be a snowstorm in Western Pennsylvania, right where we were set to go down.  I changed my route to the alternate route, 20 minutes longer, but over open roads.  This route turns south at Corning, NY.

We stopped for the night.  On Friday morning, we left in a mixture of snow and rain, which ended about 20 minutes into Pennsylvania.  It was clear sailing.

Coming back up, we were faced with the same weather problem.  I made the same choice in reverse.

It was at that point that I realized that the route 15 trip is easier.  Yes, it is a little slower, but on the whole route up, there is about 40 miles of 2-lane road.  The rest is 4-lane highway, and just a delight to drive.  Going up 219, the drive has at least 100 miles of 2-lane highway.

I do not want to be in the car 20 minutes longer than necessary.

I also prefer the easier, more relaxing, and far less annoying drive that takes the extra 20 minutes.

One way or another, there will be some aggravation.

Jennifer and I will now always take the easier drive, despite the extra time.  We have chosen which aggravation we will take.  Open roads and easier driving are less aggravating than 100 miles on slow back roads.

My friends, only the roads and the stripes are black and white.  Very little else is.  When we live our lives in the greys, many decisions become more difficult.

Have a good evening.


Inappropriate Wedding Songs

Shalom all...

I attended a wedding last night.  It was really a wonderful affair.  I have never seen a couple look as thrilled about life and about each other.

I have been meaning to write this blog entry for a few days, but one of the songs played at the wedding finally got me to put pencil to paper.  Some songs just should not be played at weddings.  I suspect that people do not think about it.  Bands like them for all sorts of reasons.  Let me offer a few examples.

The band played the theme from "The Godfather."  It is a wonderful piece of music.  It is impossible to hear just the first few notes and not immediately recognize it.  At the same time, the movie opens at the wedding of the Godfather's granddaughter.  In the opening scenes, we see the funeral director asking for a special kindness from the Godfather, that the Godfather should have his people...motivate...the funeral director's son-in-law to be nicer to his wife, the funeral director's daughter.  We know what happens through the rest of the movie.

We move on to the Police and "I'll Be Watching You."  How lovely..."Every step you take, every move you make...I'll be watching you."  It sounds so romantic.  Sting wrote this song about stalking.  Stalking is often present in abusive relationships, and is often lethal.  It is not an appropriate wedding song.

"I will survive" - This song gets a great deal of play time because it has a wonderful disco beat, and thus motivates people to dance.  It is about a woman who escaped an abusive relationship.  Clergy should discuss abuse with couples as part of marriage preparation.  It should not be a song at the wedding.

And last, "You've Lost That Loving Feeling."  It is a lovely, slow tune, and again motivates people to dance.  The title, however, says it all.

Have a good day everyone.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Newtown, CT

Good evening all...

We are all painfully aware of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.  This one hits us differently from the others.  We do not have to go to the movies.  We do not have to attend university.  Every single one of us goes to elementary school.  Those of us with children send their children to elementary school.  We look, and we realize that the difference between Newtown and Anytown, or between Newtown and Ourtown is minimal at best.

I want to point at a woeful lack of gun control laws in the United States.  However, while there are more incidents, the United States is most certainly not alone.  Four people were killed in Alberta last year.  We all saw what happened in Toulouse.  Norway has some of the strictest laws in existence.  While stricter laws may be part of the answer, they are not the full answer.

The Talmud tells us: "Ein haolam mitkayem ela bishvil hevel tinukot shel beit rabban - the world only continues due to the laughter of schoolchildren."  The laughter of 20 schoolchildren will not be heard again.  Countless others will have to learn to laugh anew.  Children whose lives should have been more about crayons and cookies instead became permanent pictures in the memory of the vast majority of people, people who are decent, people who wonder about the well-being not just of their own children, but of all children.

While the world will continue, we have lost something in Newtown, CT.  We have lost something that we cannot get back.

Friends...hold your children a little closer.  Hug them a little more often.  Let them be the wonderful children that they are.  And yes...send them to school.  Those who choose violence should not define our children's gleaming futures.

Good night.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Karma? Bike-ma!

Hi all....

A couple of weeks ago, I was riding home after a rally at a local synagogue.  There were several thousand people there.  I had shown up a few minutes before the rally, wheeled through the parking lot,  got a closer parking spot than most, and attended the rally.

On the way home, I was whipping down the side of the road, enjoying a nice tailwind, and smiling to myself at all of the cars that were inching along.  It was dark.  I hit a nasty pothole, and kept on going.

Over the next couple of days, a sound developed on the back of my bicycle.  Apparently, my back wheel had a slight warp to it, and was hitting the brake pad.

I had some time today.  The bicycle went to the bike shop.  They trued the wheel.  They also showed me a crack in the rim.  While I have had that rim for several years and cannot for certain say that the rim suffered its damage that particular evening, I know my bicycle.  The rim bore the consequences of my smugness and of my recklessness.  The rim has been trued.  I will likely replace it in the summer.

On the positive side, I also have a new tire.  The old one had a tear in the side.

Have a good night.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

P.S. to My Most Recent Posting

Hi all...

We live in the age of easy communication.  In ancient days, letters could take months to travel from place to place.  Now, we can send a note in a matter of seconds.

Due to that ease of communication, it has also become easy to complain.  Something goes wrong, and we send an immediate e-mail to the company demanding that the employee be terminated, money refunded, and a share of the profits for the next year.

Please remember that it is just as easy to pass on a compliment.

I just sent a note to the Tim Horton's corporate office thanking them for the kindness of the lady at the counter from yesterday.

We should be prepared to pay compliments when they are appropriate.

Have a good night.


Special Thanks to the Lady at Tim Horton's

Hi all...

I was driving home from Buffalo on Monday after reserve duty.  I had slept about 90 minutes the night before.  I was also still in uniform.

Due to the lack of sleep, I thought a caffeine boost might be in order.

I pulled off the highway and found a Tim Horton's.  It is normally not my favourite cup of coffee, but it is always fresh.  There I was, exhausted, and still in uniform.  The lady behind the counter had every reason to conclude that I was fatigued.  She gave me my coffee for free, because that is what she does for folks who wear uniforms.

To the lady behind the counter at the Tim Horton's on Erin Mills just north of the QEW, thank you.

Have a good evening all.


P.S.  To GS, yes, the horrible pun was intentional.