It Is What It Is

So, Mike and Judy had company over the weekend. His late brother’s  2 oldest daughters, Ariela and Sharona, came to visit, one from Seattle and the other from Israel. I like them a lot. Mike has a very nice family. Michelle came over and enjoyed “cousin time.” Today is Thursday, the one Thursday of the month that he doesn’t have chemo. He goes for a meeting with his doctor next Thursday, and maybe will have a better idea of a plan going forward. We are very optimistic of a good outcome, and I’m sure you all are as well. I can tell that you have been praying for Mike. I feel the energy. Thanks a bunch.

Mike has started to use the prayer of St. Francis in his meditations every day. Did you know that the prayer was not authored by St. Francis of Assisi? In fact, it is little more than 100 years old, first appearing in 1912 in France published anonymously in a spiritual magazine, La Clochette, by a Catholic group called La Ligue de la Sainte-Messe, “The Holy Mass League.” It became popular during the period between the World Wars. The first appearance in the English language was 1936 in the book, Living Courageously, by Kirby Page, a minister affiliated with the Disciples of Christ. In his book he attributed the prayer to St. Francis.  Who knew?

Mike is reading a book called “Political Suicide” by Erin McHugh. It is timely given the apparent determination of certain political figures to self-destruct. Mike says that some people learn nothing from history, and that if anything guarantees that a scandal will end the career of a politician it is a clumsy cover-up of the scandal. Thank you Richard Nixon for being Exhibit #1 of this truism. My favorite story, because of its effect on society, is the one about G. Harrold Carswell,  a native Georgia boy. After a rapid rise in the judicial ranks, he was nominated to the Supreme Court by the above-referenced President Nixon. Nixon had first nominated Clement Haynesworth of South Carolina, but his nomination failed to be approved. Nixon wanted a conservative Southerner, and Carswell seemed to fit the bill. The seat was available because Abe Fortas had just stepped down from the court amidst a scandal, so the senators were closely looking for improprieties that would disqualify a candidate. Senator Ted Kennedy waylaid Carswell in hearings with questions about how many of his former law practice clients had appeared before him when he later presided as a judge over a case. Also, it was brought out that 58% of his judicial decisions had been overturned on appeal. Then he was sunk by his racist views. Years earlier he had been interviewed when he first ran for public office in Georgia  (he lost) in 1948. It was reported that he said “I am a southerner by ancestry, birth, training, inclination, belief, and practice.I believe that segregation of the races is proper and the only practical and correct way of life in our states. I yield to no man, as a fellow candidate, or as a fellow citizen, in the firm vigorous belief in the principles of white supremacy, and I shall always be so governed.” So, his nomination was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 45 yeas and 51 nays. He went on to be involved in a couple of scandals that in the interest of decency I won’t go into. The absolutely most interesting thing about this story, is that the judge who eventually took the vacant seat was Harry Blackmun a liberal judge who authored the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, probably the most important decision of the Supreme Court in the past 50 years. The decision was 7-2, so it is unlikely that a Haynesworth or Carswell appointment would have changed the outcome, but it is interesting to speculate about it.

So, Mike has been grumbling about trite or hackneyed phrases lately. He hears them everywhere: talk radio, the news, newspapers, conversation with others. One of his pet peeves is “obviously” (see “Obviously,” May 30, 2017.) He saw “obviously” and “probably” used in the same sentence referring to the same thing in the sports page this week. Another coach said that his quarterback who is injured is “probably doubtful” to play on Saturday. This from a football coach who might be making more money than the president of the university, and is certainly making more than the governor of his state.  Some of Mike’s favorite phrases to hate are “at the end of the day,” “first and foremost,” and “last but not least.” Let’s try something. First and foremost, if you push the envelope you obviously will discover, in the end, last but not least, that no matter how far you push the envelope it will always remain stationery. And as they say, it is what it is.

So, that’s all for now from Happy Meadows. Hopefully, next time we will hear from Waldo, the Fowl party spokesgoose for Donald Donck, (see “So this is what retirement is like?,” August 31, 2019) who is considering running for political office, if you can imagine a duck going into politics. Stranger things have happened, and maybe we will be able to report on some of them from right here in Happy Meadows. Be well, be safe, be nice, and be happy. I will certainly try to as well. Bye, bye.

A Quick Update

So, Mike had a great report from his latest lab work, and he has not developed a rash this time taking the Revlimid. I think this is encouraging. I know you will think so as well. We have company this weekend. Mike’s nieces are visiting, one from Israel and the other from Seattle. He has a lovely family. I will have more to report later, but wanted to pass on some good news.

A Big Tsimmis

So, to start with, Mike’s chemo Thursday was uneventful. The infusion center was very busy.  Again, Mike is grateful that he feels so well. Thanks for all the love and prayers.

Mike stayed home from High Holiday services this year to minimize his exposure to viruses. He is avoiding big crowds of people whenever possible. He watched the services on the computer, wearing a prayer shawl given to him by his friend, Robin. Her church prayed over the shawl before gifting it to him, and he remains on their prayer list. Despite what is in the news, and the dreadful example of behavior exemplified by some of our politicians and other leaders, most people are loving and wonderful, I am happy to say.

Mike just finished his friend Rev. Jerry Gladson’s book on Job. It is entitled “Touched by the Hand of God.” Years of research and effort went into the book. Ultimately, the question of why bad things happen to good people in God’s world goes without a satisfactory answer in Job. Mike finds the characterization of God particularly problematic. First, He boasts to his heavenly underlings about how much Job loves him. Then, He accepts a bet from Satan that if Job loses everything his devotion wouldn’t change. Then when Satan goes back to God to ask if he can afflict Job with some dreadful illness because he is holding strong God says Satan can do whatever he wants as long as he doesn’t kill him. When God finally gives Job His answer to why it all happened, He basically says “I’m God and you’re not,” as if that justifies anything. Thankfully, the idea of God has evolved over the last 2500 years or so. We cats have a much clearer idea of God, and much better communication than y’all. But, y’all keep on trying, please.

Mike and Judy went to temple last night for his brother’s yahrzeit. This is the anniversary of a death of a loved one who is remembered in the worship service with the recitation of the Kaddish (see The Kaddish, April 1, 2018.) It has been 8 years since Bob died. There was just a small group for the service, but the intimacy was appreciated. A potluck dinner was held afterwards. Judy made a tsimmis, which is a baked dish consisting of sweet potatoes, apples, prunes, carrots, brown sugar, and schmaltz (chicken fat.) It was delicious, according to Mike. Nothing much to eat if you ask me, but sometimes people put meat in it, usually flanken (short ribs), I think.. I understand that a common Yiddish expression for making a fuss is to “make a tsimmis” over something. As in, for example, the Democrats are making a tsimmis over Trump trying to get the Ukrainians to help him dig up dirt on Joe Biden.

So, a small group of students at Georgia Southern University disgraced themselves by engaging in a book burning this week. The book in question was by Cuban-American author Jennine Capo Crucet entitled “My Time Among the Whites: Notes From an Unfinished Education.” She had come to the University to give a talk about her book and her experiences and ideas. Ms. Crucet was treated rudely by some students, and authorities moved her that night to another hotel for her safety. As I say over and over again, people are very angry right now.

Book burning has quite a history. There are essentially two potential motivations for the practice. One is to destroy the ideas so that they are lost to history. This has occurred in the past, but it would be impossible today. The other reason would be symbolic. Public burning of books can serve to have the same psychologically intimidating effect as a lynching. The Nazi sponsored German Student Union engaged in this practice during the 1930’s, mostly books by Jewish authors. It has been said that if you burn books eventually you will burn people. This has proven to be the case.

If you are interested you might want to check out the 36th chapter in the book of Jeremiah, where a document burning is recorded. According to the account, the prophet Jeremiah dictated a prophesy to his scribe, Baruch, the son of Neriah, to be delivered and read to the Judean king, Jehoiakim.  The king didn’t like the prophesy (the Babylonians would conquer Judah) so he ordered the scroll burned. Baruch returned to Jeremiah, who dictated another scroll,and added more on to it, probably more bad news for the king. In China book burning goes back at least to the Qin Dynasty around 210 BCE.

The Christian church has a remarkable history of book burning. One example is of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, who convened the Council of Nicea in 325 CE to settle Trinitarian doctrine once and for all. Many of you are familiar with the Nicene Creed which was written at that time, and which you might recite in your Sunday liturgy. After things were agreed upon he issued an edict ordering the burning of books espousing non-trinitarian doctrine. People who kept these heretical books rather than turning them in for burning would do so at their own peril. It was a capital crime.

In the middle ages there was a belief that in order for Christ to come again the Jews would all have to be converted to Christianity, and the temple would have to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. From time to time local authorities would set up  public disputations with rabbis hoping to convince them of the error of their religious beliefs. These public debates generally resulted in the rabbis losing and in the burning of Jewish books. It must be said that the proceedings were rigged against the rabbis. The Spanish Inquisition was based, in part, on the notion of getting the Jewish religion abolished to make way for the Second Coming.  The Jews either had to be converted or killed. Other than the Nazi led holocaust, the Inquisition was the greatest disaster ever to befall the Jews, a great many of whom were put to death by fire, along with their books. Some would list the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans as the second most devastating incident in Jewish history. At the time it was, but the religion evolved of necessity into something much more suitable to the perpetuation of the Jewish people, as things turned out.

Here is what I think. If you disagree with someone, say so respectfully, and have cogent arguments advocating for what you believe. That is where it should end, unless your opponent tries to kill you, deny you the right to pray according to your own conscience, or deny you some other basic human right. It is remarkable how important it is to some people for other people to think how they think or believe what they believe.

And, regarding some people thinking that other people should be the way they think they ought to be, let’s look at homosexuality for a minute. Yesterday was National Coming Out Day. Let’s just respect that we are not all the same, and that we don’t know what is best for people who we may not understand. Homosexuality is not a lifestyle of choice, but rather a biologically driven way of being. Judge not lest you be judged.

So, not much else is going on in Happy Meadows right now. Please permit me to make a suggestion. Just for today, try to be the best person, dog, or cat that you can be. Our code must be love, tolerance, patience, respect, and forgiveness. Give it your best shot. By the way, Gracie Bonds Staples has a good article in today’s paper  (the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) about forgiveness. You might want to check it out. Until the next time, be well, be safe, and try not to make a big tsimmis over anything.


The “Crotch Cams”

So, today Mike went to Emory for his regular chemo. Everything seems to be under control. He will continue on the same dose of Revlimid for another month, so that is encouraging. Right now, there is no rash. He sees the eye doctor tomorrow. The doctor will say “Perfect!” and “I don’t need to see you again.” Good deal.

Monday Mike brought home 2 carloads, the last of what he had at the office that he is not going to leave there for the next tenant. The last 2 items in his hamstermobile were a microwave oven and a copier. They both went to the basement, the microwave first. When he put it on the shelf he noticed that there was a trail of liquid on the floor, all the way from the garage to the shelf. Opening up the microwave door, he found a Chick-fil-A coffee cup lying on its side. There was still a half of a cup inside, so it could have been worse. Someone, not Mike, had apparently heated the coffee and then forgotten about it. I know it wasn’t Mike because he doesn’t trade at Chick-fil-A because of a homophobic corporate position publicly advanced by one of the Cathy brothers. Frankly, they can get along nicely without Mike’s business, and Mike even has a friend whose father owns a couple of franchises. They are very nice people. But it is nothing personal. You just have to do with you think is right. It’s a matter of integrity.

But back to to unloading. The last item was the copier. It was bulky and heavy. Mike saw no reason to hold it perfectly upright as he carried it, but he does now. As he stepped from the kitchen to the first step of the basement stairs he felt something slippery under his shoe. Looking down, he saw a large puddle of black toner. Oh, no! Holding the copier upright, finally, he cautiously carried it down the stairs to the basement and set it down on the floor. Looking back, he saw black shoe prints and small puddles. He took off his shoes, one of which was soaked with toner on top, and both had toner on the soles. The one sock was soaked as well, so he took it off too. Upstairs Judy was assessing the damage. There was toner all the way across the kitchen floor from the garage. The garage floor and car were not involved in the mess. I have to tell you, most women would not have handled this situation as well as Judy. She just started cleaning. Mike helped too, of course, following Judy’s advice on materials and technique. She never once said a negative word to him. Other people could take a page out of her lesson book on human relations. Luckily, the kitchen floor is restored to its former self except for a little grout staining which is not really noticeable unless you are short like me, and I don’t care. The basement floor will probably clean up. The stairs are probably permanently stained and will have to be painted when all is said and done. Oh well. Nice going, Mike. (See, I am not as nice as Judy. I might as well admit it.)

Spoiled Donald is losing his mind. His behavior of lying, attacking his critics verbally, and ranting and raving about the Bidens has escalated and is now completely over the top. He seems to have no respect for the legal protection afforded the whistle blower, and wants him/her outed so he can personally confront/attack the individual. He thinks criticism of his behavior is treasonous. As Mike said when Spoiled Donald announced his candidacy for president of the USA, he would make a much better dictator than a president.I say let the Congress investigate what happened, and he should just do himself a favor and shut up about it. He is acting, paranoid, rageful, deceitful, and well, spoiled. Everyone felt sorry for the poor president of Finland who was sitting next to him at a news conference when Spoiled Donald was foaming at the mouth about the Ukrainian thing instead of being a gracious host to his guest. As I said in the last paragraph, oh well.

And now let’s talk about “crotch cams.” In the latest kerfuffle resulting from the incursion of technology where it doesn’t belong, at the latest track and field championship event held in Doha, Qatar, sponsored by the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) cameras were installed in the starting blocks. A spokesperson for the organizer of the event explained that the purpose was to capture the “explosion of energy” as the athletes started the race. Apparently watching them break from their starting position from a side view is insufficiently interesting. Viewers were treated to views of the athletes that were regarded by some as unflattering. One of the athletes, at least, had advance knowledge of the invasion of privacy and wore his “lucky underwear.” He finished second. The spokesperson said “We have noted some specific feedback…and we have confirmed we have appropriate measures in place to protect athlete privacy during the process of selecting images for the broadcast.”  In other words they are going to keep doing it, but will have a privacy officer in the truck to decide which shot shows too much crotch. They will still have all the crotch shots in the can, however, and I bet they won’t destroy the offending images. A better statement from IAAF would have been, “What a stupid idea. the person who thought this up, and the person who approved it have both been fired. Sorry. Let’s all have some falafel.”

So, other than rotten weather, nothing much is happening in Happy Meadows. We keep hitting heat records every day, and it doesn’t rain. What is with a high of 98 degrees in October? As I suppose you all know, Mark Twain was famous for saying that “Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” We now have many intelligent people telling us that we can do plenty about it, so how about it, y’all? If anything of interest happens around here I will be sure to let you know. Be well, be safe, and try to stay cool and hydrated. So long from Happy Meadows.