Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Care Packages

While the Democratic National Committee says it supports our troops, they have an odd way of doing so. They have a political ad which shows some of our men experiencing an IED attack. If you think the ad is in bad taste, an affront to our troops and their families, and doesn't show support for our troops, there is something you can do about it.

There are 381 380 soldier's waiting adoption. The terms are simple. Won't you adopt one today?

Chili: No Beans, No Meat

I like chili, a lot. I like made with meat so it has been absent from diet since I started keeping kosher. I made this a day or so ago and surprisingly, it reminded me of chili.

1 cup Red Inca quinoa
1 can Rotel(fresh chilies and tomatoes would even be better, 1/2 cup combined)
Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Prepare the quinoa as directed. Add the Rotel or chopped tomatoes and chilies. Top with the cheese. Makes about 4 servings

The texture of the quinoa makes this dish seem like chili. The quinoa also is a very good and tasty source of protein. It tastes much better than soy products. This is the first time I've used quinoa and when it was cooking, my stomach was rumbling and I kept checking the pot to see if was finished. The aromas did not disappoint. I can't wait to try white quinoa with dried cranberries.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


During my conversion to Judaism, I reflected upon many things. It was a big decision, after all for a good portion of my life I defined myself as a Christian. In the months leading up to my river mikveh, there was one period I remember well. Every time I went out to take photographs, I saw crosses. In my Katrina wrecked world, there was debris everywhere and that was hardly surprising. But the images made me really reflect on my beliefs. I talked to Rabbi Noah Farkas, my guide, about this. He asked what the crosses symbolized to me. I brought up the movie The Life of Brian and even though I hadn't watched the movie in years, the last scene always haunted me. See the focus was always on one person who suffered the cruel death of crucifixion, Brian. All the tens of thousands of others, well they didn't seem to matter so much. The image of the cross had become for the symbol of all the Jews since Roman times who had been murdered just because they were Jews.

Shmuley Boteach in his column Jesus and the Romans states that something I've come to believe for the longest time: Christians aren't Christians, they are Paulists.

He asks many good questions. His summation asks many of them:

The gospels relate that Jesus famously proclaimed, "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

In my view, this is an incredible statement. Would Jesus really endorse the greed of the Roman emperor by endorsing his right to exact cruel and unjust tribute as he enslaved peoples throughout the world? Would Jesus really have made himself party to the Roman occupation by directly endorsing the Romans' right to invade and occupy Judea and mercilessly slaughter the patriotic Jews who battled the occupation?

Surely a man as great as Jesus would be on the side of the victims rather than of their oppressors, and would never have advocated blindly accepting Roman rule.

IT IS for this reason that we have to rethink Jesus' mission and what he was trying to accomplish. I have written many articles arguing that it is time for the world Jewish community to reclaim the Jewish Jesus by understanding his original mission and his great love for his people before his story was later edited by Pauline writers and before he was made into an enemy of the Jews and a friend of the Romans.

Jewish tradition delights in children asking questions. Pesach is a good example of this. The youngest child asks the Four Questions. Each of us is to seek are own answers. The Torah portion B'midbar tells of the start of the 40 years in desert. Why did we have to stay in the desert for 40 years? It was so we could unshackle ourselves from a slave mentality. Slaves do not ask questions. Slaves do not cry out against injustice. Those years in the desert were not a punishment. They were a cleansing time. They got us back to our tradition which Abraham instilled. Abraham sought mercy for the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. He argued and pleaded with HaShem. This tradition teaches us not to be blinded but to ask the questions and to fight for justice. This tradition teaches us that we must speak out against brutality in our midst. We cannot be silent when the Romans of our times: the Chavezs, the Mugabes, the Kim Jong Ils, the oppressive Chinese government, Hezbollah, Hamas, and others around the world exist.

Monday, April 28, 2008


The reports of shortages of matzah were exaggerated. Pesach ended sundown yesterday. You have boxes and boxes of matzah left. What to do with them?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Surviving Gas Prices

Yesterday morning, the gas price at the station around the corner was $3.43/gallon. Yesterday afternoon, it was $3.55/gallon. Some stations have even stopped bothering to show the prices on signs because the prices seem to change on an hourly basis. I don't know about you, but I don't think most gas stations are buying gas on an hourly basis. I think they just look at the futures prices and go by that and not what they are actually paying to fill the underground tanks.

However that may be, the higher prices are something to which all of us will need to adjust. The higher price of gas and diesel will drive up manufacturing costs and shipping costs. Each of us who drive can do something basic to help conserve gas and thereby drive the price of gas down or help keep it from increasing at such an alarming rate: drive 55mph.

Last Thursday, I filled up my car. It took 13 gallons. I drove to New Orleans and back. My daily round trip commute is 22 miles. The trip meter shows as of yesterday afternoon, I've driven 379 miles since my fill up. I still have enough gas to last until Tuesday. That is based on my experience of driving 60mph. By driving 55mph, I may not have to gas up again until Wednesday.

By reducing the speed I drove from 65mph to 60mph and now to 55mph, instead of having to fill up every 7 days, it will now be 10-11 days. Instead of having to spend $40 to $50 four times a month, it will now be 2 to 3 times a month. This does two things, if each of us tries it. First, our pocket books won't suffer such a big hit. Second, driving slower helps conserve gas. If enough people change their driving habits, it will decrease demand and hopefully drive prices down or keep them from reaching ever higher prices.

It helps that I drive a compact car but even those who drive gas guzzling SUVs and full-sized pick-up trucks, notoriously bad for gas mileage, can save themselves chunks of change.

A few years ago, diesel fuel prices were cheaper than gas prices. People started buying diesel trucks and now diesel prices are $0.50 higher than gas prices. That new reality is reflected in the prices we see at the grocery store.

If I could afford one, I would consider a scooter like a Vespa. This one can go up to 75mph while getting 75mpg. I could use it on the interstate but I think I would go the back route. I think I save the money from the Economic Stimulus Package and buy one of these babies next year when I receive my tax refund.

I think it would look pretty good for traveling the beach. I would use my car for picking up groceries.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cool Landings

WC-130J's make up the Air Force Hurricane Hunters. It is fun to watch f the Hurricane Hunters and other C-130's taking off and landing at Kessler Air Force Base. I've been to Kessler's open house and it is fun to be able to board the Hurricane Hunters. They are huge planes. I never thought C-130's would be able to take off and land on air craft carriers. I was wrong:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Shiny, Sparkly Things!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Found one at IMAO that explains Carter's fascination with Hamas:


Whether right or wrong, you are judged by the way you dress and the company you keep. Based on the things you like and dislike, others will form perceptions about you. Jimmy Carter is either a doddering old fool or a hopeless tool. From his book where the title blares out Israel is an apartheid state to his coddling and cuddling to the vicious, mad-dog leaders of Hamas: It is evident to me that Carter is a dangerous, doddering, senile, fool and tool. But he is not alone. The UN falls into that category. In 1974, it legitimized the murders of civilians in terror attacks. It gave the PLO carte blanche to continue to seek out and murder Israeli citizens and Palestinians who truly sought peaceful co-existence with Israel. Just two years after Israeli athletes were slaughtered at the 1972 Olympics, after numerous plane hijackings, and other heinous actions and violations of international law and human rights, the UN gave Palestinians permanent observer status.

In 1974, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was granted observer status by resolution 3237 (XXIX). The resolution, inter alia , invited the PLO to participate in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly in the capacity of observer and invited the PLO to participate in the sessions and the work of all international conferences convened under the auspices of the General Assembly in the capacity of observer. The resolution also considered that the PLO is entitled to participate as an observer in the sessions and the work of all international conferences convened under the auspices of other organs of the United Nations.

This action was a slap in the face to everyone, including Palestinians. It effectively said it was okay for supposed combatants to seek and murder civilians. And the justification and legitimization of the murder of civilians continues to this day. The UN has now been joined by the European Union and sad to say, many major church groups in the United States.

And those who so blithely held up signs stating "We are Hezbollah" in protest of Israel's actions in Lebanon in 2006 support vicious murderers. Some claim that groups such as Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hezbollah are "charity organizations". They focus on the groups acts of charity while ignoring despicable acts of murder and intimidation.

In 1956, the world saw what these "charity groups" are capable of:

If we look at Iraq, this all makes perfect sense through the lens of the Battle of Algiers. The daily homicide bombers against civilians is how the terrorists control the population. It's how they tell the Iraqis that they must not cooperate with the Americans.

The terrorists cannot offer a better life, this everyone knows. They cannot offer medical services, dental services, freedom of speech, nor education. They cannot offer a society where banks and stock markets function properly, where contracts are honored, a society where you are are safe to walk the streets, a society where women are not treated like cattle.

No, all the jihadists offer is mutilation and death. And they count on this to frighten the homefront, and ultimately intimidate civilization into complete submission.

The intimidation, the suppression of women, the chaos, the murders of opponents are being played out in Gaza and the West Bank. Hamas and Fatah(the new PLO) are drawn from the same cloth. Neither can provide the structure that is needed to improve the lives of ordinary Palestinian civilians. All they do is pocket the billions in foreign aid or use the aid to procure weapons. Those weapons are not just aimed at Israelis. They are also used against Palestinians who are seen to have collaborated with Israelis, Christians, or anyone else who gets in their way.

Supporting blood-thirsty terrorists will not bring peace. Legitimizing terror will not bring peace. Ignoring facts on the ground will not bring peace. Carter calls Israel the apartheid state. But he ignores the Judenrein goal of Fatah and Hamas. The Palestinians could have had their own state 60 years ago. They choose a campaign of terror and are still employing it today. You hear cries that the Palestinians were driven off their land during Israel's magnificent fight to become a state in 1948.

Seldom do you hear about Jews who were forced from their ancestral homes. In 1929, long before the existence of Israel, the Jews of Hebron were forced from their homes. In 1929. the Arabs wanted Jewish blood. Today, they still want it. The difference between now and then is that this thirst has now been given legitimacy.

Just two weeks ago, Abbas, the supposed seeker of peace with Israel, choose the highest Palestinian honors to two suicide bombers. He revoked the decision after much outcry but it is telling that this "peace partner" of Israel wanted to honor blood-thirsty murderers.

Why is there such clamor against Israel? Why is Israel always signaled out as the cause of the world's ills?

Why do people across the world support murderers and thugs while ignoring basic facts?

When Hamas brutally gained control over Hamas, there were some brave Palestinians that tried to protest Hamas peacefully. Their peaceful protests were met with the guns of Hamas.

Palestinian men, women and children, poured into the streets of Gaza City on Monday, determined to make a statement on the third anniversary of the Yasser Arafat's death. Precisely what statement they wished to make remains a matter of some debate. Was it love for the late Arafat, founder of Hamas rival Fatah, or a yearning for a return to the pre-Hamas days? Whatever the marchers meant to say, Hamas leaders read the crowd, estimated at about 200,000, as a threat to their iron-fisted grip on Gaza. Hamas gunmen opened fire with live bullets on the sea of demonstrators, killing seven, including a 14-year-old boy. Then they set out to round up Fatah leaders who organized the ill-fated march.

It is ironic or perhaps poetic justice that the supporters of the murderous Arafat were themselves mowed down by the murderous thugs of Hamas. By giving legitimacy to terrorism, a situation has been created where there can be no peace. Supporting terrorists does not help those Palestinians who just want to live their lives. It just makes it almost impossible to have a true and lasting peace. A case in point is the Oslo Peace Accords.

Palestinians and Israelis were making real inroads to having a lasting peace and living side by side as neighbors. Arafat couldn't have that and so a new intifada was begun and it hasn't stopped.

The wages of terrorism are the destruction of society. To read further how terrorism and support of "charity groups" undermine basic freedoms, read more about Algiers. What was played out in 1956, is continuing to happen in the West Bank and Gaza. And it is what the terrorists in Iraq are trying to accomplish.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Cooking With Matzo

I over did it on buying matzo for Pesach. And I have to say this years matzo has been the best. It may be the fact it was from Jerusalem. I would highly recommend Yehuda Matzos. As stated, I bought plenty to last through the eight days of Pesach. I got the idea for the following from

I started by making my own tomato sauce. It makes enough for 6 matzo pizzas.

1 can tomato paste
Garlic powder

To the tomato paste, using the can it came in, add two cans of water slowly. Stir each time water is added. When finished, the tomato sauce should have a thicker consistency than spaghetti sauce. Add herbs and spices to taste.

For the first matzo pizzas I made(2), I used the following:

Coarsely chopped onions

Preheat oven to 375. Spread the tomato sauce on the matzos. Next, add the other ingredients. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Eat and enjoy.

The second set I made are my favorite. The following ingredients were used:

1 can spinach, drained
Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Place the tomato sauce on the matzos. Next, add the spinach(make sure it is well-drained). Cover with the cheese. Bake at 375.

I'm taking two of the spinach/cheese ones for lunch today. They are good!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Turning Point

It is done! I had taken today off to finish the kitchen for Pesach. But circumstances have me traveling to Metarie to pick up the last of my Pesach items. Metarie is a suburb of New Orleans and has Kosher Cajun. They were going to deliver but I wanted to pick up a few more items I hadn't ordered.

Cleaning the stove and oven is always a major task. I had finished the cabinets, the refrigerator, etc on previous days, but I always wait until the last possible moment to do the stove and oven. It is done! I have one final check to do before I leave this morning. Everything is ready!!

To celebrate, I want to share this video I saw over at Seraphic Secret. Joy, joy, joy:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Aspect Ratios!

I'm going to have to try to use the formula these engineers used to find the aspect ratio of my kitties.

Also, the corporal cuddling works! Thank goodness for engineers who take the effort to explain cats. It's about time someone did.

Happy Tax Day!

Marshall Ramsey of the Clarion-Ledger has done it again:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Pesach Edition

Esser Agaroth is hosting Haveil Havalim - 162: The Pesach Edition.

This Pesach is very special to me. Last year, I cleaned my home and turned my kitchen for Pesach. I even had the second Seder(we had a community first Seder). The burden seemed incredible at the time. This year, the work is no less than last year. I even have the extra work of preparing my home for an out of town guest. But the work seems so much lighter and easier this year.

Maybe it is because I knew what to expect this year. But I don't think that is the reason. This is my first Pesach since my conversion mikvah on 17th of Sivan in 5767.

Last year, at this time, I was a bit resentful of all that needed to be done. I was also having doubts about my upcoming conversion. I mean, come on, I had to clear my cabinets of corn, rice, and other products?

Even before Pesach last year, I was having doubts about my decision to convert. One Shabbat I decided I wouldn't light the candles, I wouldn't say Kiddush, I wouldn't say hamotzi and I would treat Shabbat as any other day. I found myself bereft. I felt I had robbed myself of something special and fundamental to my being.

I had denied myself as Heschel beautifully states in The Sabbath:

When all the work is brought to a standstill, the candles are lit. Just as creation began with the word, "Let there be light!" so does the celebration of creation begin with the kindling of lights. It is the woman who ushers in the joy and sets up the most exquisite symbol, light, to dominate the atmosphere of the home.

And the world becomes a place of rest. An hour arrives like a guide, and raises our minds above accustomed thoughts. People assemble to welcome the wonder of the seventh day, while the Sabbath sends out its presence over the fields, into our homes, into our hearts. It is a moment of resurrection of the dormant spirit in our souls.

At this time last year, I was doubtful. As the time came closer to my conversion, relationships between family and friends changed. Some family members were resentful and others joyful. Friends generally supportive. Most asked questions. One family member would not ask questions. There are still times when this family member will walk out of a room if I am present.

I cannot erase the pain this family member feels. I can only hope that time will heal it. It does no good to try to discuss it. This family member will not discuss it under any circumstance. When the issue came up, my rabbi advised to let time take its course. It will be resolved when the family member is ready.

This Pesach, I feel free. Doubts are gone. The peace of Shabbat lingers for days after. The yoke of the mitzvot is light.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hurricane Essentials

Before the hurricanes of 2004 Hurricane Katrina, I was lackadaisical about preparing for hurricanes. Like many others, I would buy food and water when a threat was imminent. Because of all the hurricanes that had hit in Florida in 2004, I started preparing a head of time. At the start of the hurricane season, I would buy extra canned goods and water to have on hand. After my experience with Hurricane Katrina, my list has been expanded and refined. Here are some of the items that proved to be critical in the wake of Hurricane Katrina:

Food-5-7 days supply and don't forget about your pets. Also, a hand can-opener is essential.

Water-5-7 days, also fill up your bathtub and other containers. This can be used for cleaning, pets, flushing the toilet, etc

Money!!!-It will be a cash economy after a hurricane

Gas!-Fill all of your cars up and don't go sight-seeing after the hurricane

Medicine-make sure all of your prescriptions are filled and have a first aid kit

Flashlights-there are many that are now available which do not use batteries

Radio-The ones I have have three power options: batteries, wind-up, or solar

Candles and oil lamps

Lighters and matches

TV-a small one that can run on batteries or plug into your car

Cell phone-be prepared that it may not work at all immediately after a hurricane.

A basic plug-in phone is also essential. Cordless phones, etc will not work.

Hand sanitizer-if water is working, chances are it will be contaminated

Bleach-can be used to purify water, to wash clothes and dishes(with no electricity, there will be no hot water), to put in garbage containers when refrigerators have to be emptied, etc

Bug spray

Hair mousse-this will keep gnats, mosquitoes, etc out of your hair

Propane camp stove or grill(Charcoal grills need up to three bags a day for cooking. If power is out a week or more, that is a lot of charcoal to store.)

Basic set of tools-Saw, hammers, pry bar, an ax, a chainsaw, etc


Rope-Very useful for making clothes line! I ended up using packaging twine to make a clothes line because I didn't have rope

Save plastic grocery bags. There are many uses for them

Many recommend generators. Alas, for many on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, they proved ineffective. The biggest reason: No gas!!! Some had to travel 400 miles to Memphis just to get gas. I would recommend a solar-powered or a propane generator.

Keep in mind, these recommendations are for those, like me, who do not have to evacuate. I did go to my sister's for Hurricane Katrina to be with my family. I took 3 days food, essential papers, photographs, 3 days clothing, etc.

Most hurricane preparedness guides recommend 3-5 days supply of food and water. Based on my experiences with Katrina, I would recommend more. Even though water, ice, and food were trucked in to the Mississippi Gulf Coast 3 days after Katrina, the problems with available gas, blocked roads, and long lines of people, make it prudent to have more supplies on hand. And even though I recommend 5-7 days of food and water, I actually have a three week supply. Even after power is restored, grocery and supply stores will not have very much to offer. It took almost a month for the grocery stores to be able to keep a steady supply.

Hurricane Katrina tore away all the trappings of civilization. In an instant, the Mississippi Gulf Coast was thrown back to the time of its earliest settlers, 1699. We take for granted that when we flip a switch, we'll have light. We take for granted that when we turn the tap on, we'll have clean running water. We take for granted that when we flush the toilet, it will not be a hazard elsewhere. We take for granted that roads will be unencumbered. We take for granted when we go to a store, food, water, cleaning supplies, and medicine will be at hand. We take for granted that available gas is just down the road. We take for granted that emergency officials will be able to meet all of our needs. Hurricane Katrina proved that you have to rely on yourself and that you must help out your neighbor.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Something Like a Plague'

This week's Torah portion is M'Tzora. It starts with how someone with a skin infliction is to be purified. Then it goes into 'Something like a plague has appeared upon my house'. The priest is instructed to go into the house and if there are greenish or reddish streaks appear to go deep into the wall, the house is to be closed up for seven days.

What is to be done with a house or a building that is infected with mold? This is a question that still plagues many along the Mississippi Gulf Coast 2 1/2 years after Hurricane Katrina. Even after this amount of time, volunteers, such as the Jewish students from State University of New York who were here two weeks ago, are still helping homeowners tear down mold-infested sheetrock. Sometimes, the house or building needs to be torn down because the mold is so bad.

The Torah portion recommends the same thing. It also states that a person who enters a house or building is impure until evening. The person must wash his clothing.

Now, when I read this portion, certain images come to mind. My sister was hired as part of a crew to clean mold at a military base. She and the others had to dress in decontamination suits. They used chemicals such as bleach to spray the infested buildings. At the end of the day, the suits were taken off and they took showers. After a few days, the rooms that were sprayed were inspected. If any mold was still present, the section would be cut out. If the mold persisted, the building would eventually be torn down.

This scenario has been enacted thousands of times since Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi. It is 'something like a plague'. There were days, weeks, and months after Hurricane Katrina when the smell of the mold and mildew permeated everything. The miles and miles of debris exacerbated the problem.

It was very hard to live in these conditions. Even after showers were taken, everything still felt unclean. Walking outside to get fresh air was a misnomer. The very air was leaden with the stench of rotting food, trash, dead animals, smoke from burning debris, and the ever present odor of mold and mildew. It was months before the air smelled clean once again. It took almost a year before I could walk into certain buildings and not detect the hint of mold and mildew. I never could picture what was meant by 'something like a plague'. Now I know.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

When the Stomach is Empty

Many despotic and tyrannical governments such as Chavez in Venezuela rely on their power by providing free or cheap food to the poor. The same pattern appears in the Middle East. No thought is given to free and democratic society. The only thought is to maintain power and the privileges thereof. And as long as a balance is maintained, rulers such as Mubarak and others have no fear of their peoples clamouring for democracy. As long as the belly is full, the populace can be controlled. But what happens when the government can no longer provide the cheap bread that is so necessary to those who live in squalor because their government does nothing to help raise people from poverty? You get what is happening in Egypt.

There has been little in the media about the riots and strikes occurring in Egypt. Most attention is focused on the demonstrations occurring around the Olympic Torch. Those demonstrations are pertinent to what is going on Egypt: Where ever tyrants rule, people must speak up. China is one of the world's most prolific human rights abusers and should not have been allowed to host the Olympics. The Chinese crackdown on Tibet is echoing across the world and it should. At least the Tibetans are receiving the attention the Burmese monks did not. And the riots and strikes in Egypt should garner as much attention. The Egyptian people live under the threat of police abuse and people were generally willing to live under this repression as long as the stomach was full.

The Sandmonkey has been posting about the riots and strikes. In his post, We Have Come to the Day, he makes the following observation:

Thirdly, and most importantly, allow yourselves to enjoy those brief moments of joy before the get crushed, as they're going to. If this spreads, then the regime will spare no expense to squash it, especially with the visible absence of the western media and their coverage. Without international cover, this won;t survive, and the government will fuckin air bomb the demonstrators if they truly became a threat to the regime. The point isn't the overthrow of the government, not yet. It's a warning shot, letting them know that they can't get away with this shit much longer, that the corruption must stop, that political liberties must be respected and that the mismanagement of the economy can not continue. That the people won't just bend over and take it anymore. That they better change or this might breed the revolution you so rightly fear. But that won;t happen today, or next week, so please, quit your whining, worrying and bitching about the protesters, and start fearing for their lives. Those people have almost nothing and are risking what little they have for a chance for a better life. Nobody asked you to act like them, nobody asked you to support them, but at least try to respect them. They earned that much!

The New York Times had this:

But what has turned the demands of individual workers into a potential mass movement, officials and political analysts said, has been inflation of food prices, mostly bread and cooking oil. The rising cost of wheat, coupled with widespread corruption in the production and distribution of subsidized bread in Egypt, has prompted the president here to order the government to resolve the problem.

That, however, has done little to calm public outrage, or lower bread prices.

On Adly Street, a broad thoroughfare in downtown Cairo on Sunday, many more stores than usual were shuttered, according to street vendors and residents. A sandstorm and midday rain also may have contributed to keeping people off the streets.

“People are staying at home today,” said Ashraf, a clerk in a luggage store who was afraid to give his last name for fear of arrest. He said he kept his children home from school, and dressed in all black, as a sign of support for the protest. “Because of the prices, because we can’t get food,” he said explaining the reason for the strike.
Belal Fadl, a script writer and satirist in Cairo, said that Egypt was going through a very confusing time, and that the government could no longer rely on an politically apathetic population. The problems, he said, are now too widespread and too close to home, nearly everybody’s home.

“People in Egypt don’t care about democracy and the transfer of power,” he said. “They don’t believe in it because they didn’t grow up with it in the first place. This is unfortunately the case.

“Their problem is limited to their ability to survive, and if that is threatened then they will stand up.”

When the stomach is empty, people will revolt. It happened during the French Revolution and it is beginning to happen in Egypt. It seems that the Egyptian government can no longer hide its abuses by whipping up public opinion against Israel. It can no longer hide the fact that those living in Gaza, live much better than a majority of Egyptians. It can no longer hide its abysmal running of the government. The people who live in the slums of Egypt can no longer afford the bread the government used to provide at low cost. It can no longer hide the depth of corruption of the political elite who live in unfathomable wealth while those who live in the slums of Egypt go hunger.

And because of technology such as cell phones and the internet, the Egyptian government can no longer hide its brutal tactics against the people of Egypt.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Daddy Daycare!

As usual Israelis have come up with another innovative solution: What to do with a husband who is underfoot? The husbands in the video commute from Israel to places around the world. But wives all over can appreciate the solution: Daddy Daycare!

H/T: The Muqata

Adventures in Cooking

My curiosity was piqued when Ocean Guyposted about Top Chef and Iron Chef America. I've been watching them. Iron Chef is very interesting because of some of the ingredients used in the challenges. This past week, the secret ingredient was mangoes. I've been wanting to cook something different for Shabbat and mangoes were very far from my mind until I watched that show.

Mangoes are very sweet and I would have thought they would not stand up to long cooking times or strong fish. By watching the show, I learned this was not the case and wanted to use them. I didn't follow any of the recipes used by either chef but made up my own. It turned out to be a sort of sweet and sour gumbo. My son loves it.

As usual, when I'm trying something without a recipe, I didn't write down the portions and relied on taste alone.

1 onion, chopped(not finely)
2 mangoes, thick slices
2 cans of salmon
Ginger salad dressing
Teriyaki sauce
Ginger powder
Curry powder

I sauted the onions in butter until slightly browned. The ginger salad dressing was added next. The mangoes were then added and sauted. Then the salmon was added. The other ingredients were added to taste. Water was then added and the heat was reduced to low and covered for about an hour. It was then transferred to my crockpot and set to warm. I cooked two cups of rice to serve with it.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Let's Pretend

Some people have a tendency to gloss over the fact Jews have had a continuous presence in Israel for over 3,000 years. Until 2,000 years ago, this land had been called Israel/Judah. The Romans sought to destroy any memory of Israel and changed the name of Israel to Palestine, after the most bloody enemies of Israel, the Philistines. It didn't work. For more than 2,000 years, the focus of we Jews, in our thoughts and prayers, has been Jerusalem and Israel. It is part of our being.

Images of Israel, Jerusalem, and a bimah at a synagogue awakened my Jewish soul. When I was younger, I ignored those promptings. I took the easy road back then. It was just easier to ignore the promptings of my heart. But as the years passed, I could no longer ignore those promptings and it was the images of Israel which led me to take my place with my ancestors.

The history and ties of us Jews to the Land of Israel cannot be denied. It would be like trying to suppress your body's effort to breath. And yet others will try to say we do not have any right to the Land of Israel. That we usurped the Palestinians who lived there previously. And those who say this tend not to have any knowledge of the long history of Jews in Israel.

Elder of Ziyon has a series of posts regarding Jews in Palestine in the mid 1800's.

Ignoring history doesn't do anyone good. The Romans tried to sever our ties to the Land through the Diaspora and by destroying the Second Temple. Like the Babylonians before, they didn't succeed.

And ignoring the history between the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the 1920's to the establishment of Israel in 1948 doesn't do anyone good either. Why is it that the only refugee group to have it's own UN department are the Palestinians? During this same period, India and Pakistan were formed. There were 14 million refugees when those two countries were established. It would seem that those refugees would have more of a need for a special UN organization than the 400,000-600,000 estimated Palestinian refugees. And why are the Palestinian refugees the only group whose descendants granted refugee status? And why has the UN almost completely ignored the estimated 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab and North African countries from the same period?

Solomonia, in his post Congress Does the Right Thing links to an interesting article about Palestinian refugees and Jewish refugees. It is called The Palestinian Refugee Issue: Rhetoric vs. Reality. I've used the same excerpt as Solomonia because it is the heart of the issue:

The sixty-year-old Palestinian refugee issue has little connection with reality. It has become solely a bargaining chip used by Arabs and Palestinians in peace talks with Israel and, as such, is a distraction from the real issues of terrorism and boundaries. Indeed, continuing to call Palestinians refugees is a misnomer. They no longer live in tents or temporary quarters. In addition, the Palestinian refugee issue is unique. Since 1920 all other major refugee crises involving the exchange of religious or ethnic populations, while creating hardships, were dealt with in a single generation. Meanwhile, issues such as the "right of return" and compensation never were adequately resolved and were largely forgotten. The same pattern evolved for Jews who fled Middle Eastern and North African countries, even though their number was some 50 percent larger than Palestinian refugees and the difference in individual assets lost was even greater...

The Palestinians have been used by Middle Eastern despots to focus attention away from their repressive regimes. The Palestinians are used by many to bludgeon Israel as the world's most horrific violator of human rights while ignoring the blatant atrocities committed elsewhere.

Let's keep pretending the issue is the plight of the Palestinians when in reality it is the existence of the Jewish State of Israel.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A note to My Newest Neighbors

Hello guys!!! Waving at ya!!! Y'all seem really nice. However, do you really have to argue about your problems outside? I mean, I don't want to know that you are having marital problems that are analogous to a recent governor of New York!


The Little Things

Long-time readers of my blog know of my support for Soldier's Angels - Project VALOUR-IT. I've participated in the annual fund drives since they first began in 2005. Back in February, I received a packet from Project VALOUR-IT. I read through all the material and was happy about the new efforts being taken to generate more support. The happiness turned to perplexity.

One of the tie-ins was about those soldiers who were in Iraq or Afghanistan when Hurricane Katrina struck. The men and women in our Armed Services faithfully served our country while Hurricane Katrina was demolishing their hometowns. But there was something odd about this section. It only mentioned those from New Orleans.

I've come to expect from news media that Mississippi's Hurricane Katrina story is usually included as an after-thought and then given the euphemism of the 'Gulf Coast'. However, I would expect some acknowledgement from Soldier's Angels.

See, at the time Hurricane Katrina struck Mississippi, 3,200 of our National Guard were deployed in Iraq and 300 in Afghanistan. And these men and women continued their mission while having fears of what was happening to their families while Hurricane Katrina was on her rampage of destruction through Mississippi. And yet the Soldier's Angels packet only mentions those military men and women from New Orleans and Louisiana when referencing Hurricane Katrina.

I'm reasonably sure Soldier's Angels didn't mean to slight those men and women from Mississippi who steadfastly kept their posts while their families back in Mississippi were digging out of the rubble. Like many who write about Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi's story is just a sideshow. But to us in Mississippi, it is an over-riding concern. Especially to the families of soldiers like National Guard 1st Lt. Robert Oneto-Sikorski.

DIAMONDHEAD, Miss. –- Everybody has a Katrina story in the cities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland. Most people are homeless, or at least forced into trailers or relatives' homes. They are frustrated by the endless red tape and anguished about an uncertain future in a region where recovery is measured by tons of debris moved, number of houses demolished and businesses back in business.

They are tired of FEMA trailers, tired of the bureaucracy, tired of the devastation, tired from worrying about money, their jobs and their children.

Elaine Oneto, who also lost her house, has a different perspective, wrought from another tragedy, one that, in her mind, has obliterated all the impact of the hurricane.

Her youngest son, National Guard 1st Lt. Robert Oneto-Sikorski, was killed Monday while on foot patrol near Al Haswah, an area west of Baghdad.

He leaves behind three children, ages 6, 8 and 11. Before his deployment in Iraq, the Hancock High School and University of South Alabama graduate worked as a mechanical engineer at the Northrop Grumman shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss.

To the person who wrote the Soldier's Angels packet, it may have seemed like a little thing not to acknowledge the Mississippi military men and women who continued to serve even as their families were struggling to put their lives back together after Hurricane Katrina. It may have seemed like a little thing to send those packets to those in Mississippi without acknowledging the impact of Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi. But those little things matter to me.

PS: I should add that I'm committed to Soldier's Angels Project VALOUR-IT. In the past two months, I've made inroads with a major defense contractor located along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I was informed a donation has been budgeted for Project VALOUR-IT and that they were going to send it in for the Navy-Coast Guard team! Also, some employees of other defense contractors are interested in participating in the next fund drive. I just have a chip on my shoulder when it comes to Mississippi's Hurricane Katrina story. Here's another Mississippi Soldier's Angel: 'Hop on my wings for a while, bud. We'll carry you for a little while til you're ready to go back.'