Monday, March 31, 2014

We Stood, We Walked, We Made Our Point

One of the reporters who covered last week's silent flash mob protest wrote:
Organizer Susan Schwaidelson Siegfried placed an initial, cryptic call to action through her personal blog on Monday night, inviting anyone in the Twin Cities who wanted to get involved to email her for more information. Although participants were initially instructed that the media would not be contacted until a few hours before the event, so as not to alert the restaurant, Schwaidelson Siegfried and co-organizer Margie Newman broke their media ban early, contacting City Pages for an interview on Wednesday morning.
Rob Callahan for the Star Tribune Mobile. 

Wow! I'm cryptic! What a thrill! What a total rush! Wish it was true. For the record, I'd like to know who notified the restaurant. Anyone wanna venture a guess since it wasn't either Margie or me????

The so-called media ban was because it was supposed to be a spontaneous flash mob. If you've ever seen a video of one, random people bump into each other and start playing Beethoven or dancing The Nutcracker or some other thing which is clearly anything but random. Still, people love it. Granted we weren't striking up Ode To Joy in front of Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit, but we did want to seem, at least, to be spontaneous. Leave it to the press to make some SOP thing a big mystery. The bigger mystery, by the way, is why the above article was pulled from the main web site and relocated to the Strib's mobile site. Thankfully, the Star Tribune kept Jeff Wheeler's fabulous photographs...the ones that made us look like a total class act. 

Photo by Nick Kozel of City Pages
So we get to the corner of 23rd and University NE. We do not park in their lot; we park on the street. We pin yellow stars, pink, red, and black triangles on each others' coats. We hand out slips of paper that will answer any question without us talking. We pick up our boxes and valises and I quickly review the plan: walk in small groups, maintain silence, and do not block the restaurant's entrance. We take our first walk down the block and there are the bully boys in red t-shirts with big, bulging muscles who look menacingly at this ragtag line of deportee re-enactors. We ignore them and keep walking. We get to the end of the block, turn and face the street, and line up though we are waiting for a bus....or a cattle car. 

Photo by Jeff Wheeler
of the Star Tribune
Traffic slows down. People give us the thumbs up and honk. They wave. All but two show support. I won't even mention what the other two yelled out the window. We faced the street for about 10 minutes, then, in small groups, we walked to the other end of the block, turned, and walked back. 

In the middle of the walking part, the tow truck showed up. And the bully boys were pointing at this car and that car. They were going to tow the car of one of the journalists...but he quickly pointed out THEY told him where to park. So they focused on another car...only that one belonged to a restaurant patron who quickly came out to stop them. 

Photo by Jeff Wheeler
of the Star Tribune
We walked from about 7:15 until 7:30; then Margie and I announced we had made our point and it was time to stop. That's when several reporters came over and talked to us. KSTP-Channel 5, what Ziggy used to refer to as The Mr. Bill News since every story began with "Oooh Nooooo!" in the fashion of "if it bleeds, it leads," had a video guy there, but footage never showed up. I guess walking up and down isn't exciting enough. 

Thursday, the strangest thing happened.I got an email from Sophia Muender of SpiegelONLINE  (as in Der Spiegel) asking if she could interview me. I agreed; we arranged a time for her to call from Hamburg. We talked for about a half-hour. She asked some good questions; I did have to explain what a tow truck was, but that was the only language issue. 

The article appeared on Friday. I could watch the WP Blog-o-Meter spinning with hits from Germany. The WP Facebook page was also getting huge traffic. But it was the list of comments that blew me, and Margie, too, right out of the water. They were wonderful. They were supportive and thankful. There were private messages, too, pointing out that the original party, had it been held in Germany, would've been illegal. Take a moment to go there and read them. They are amazing. 

And on Sunday, we were picked up in La Sopitas in Mexico

Although not everyone was on board with our decision to walk in front of Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit, I am, without a doubt, positive it was the right thing to do. Yes, there will be meetings and discussions, and hopefully these will include the restaurateur, Mario Pierzchalski, and the participants, but our silent presence on that corner was eloquent and visceral at the same time. We left the site knowing we had made an impact. 

And judging by the size of the tow truck and the number of bully boys standing around, one of those impacts had to be in Mr. Pierzchalski's wallet. After all, he paid for all that security, dontcha know? 

Turns out there was another demonstration on Saturday night, by a more politically organized group called the Minneapolis Anti-Fascist Solidarity Action. They weren't silent. They had bull horns, speeches, and a chant: 
No Nazis! No KKK! No fascists USA! 
The speeches were about the working class enclave of Nord'East and how those people...the ones in the restaurant... are racists and against freedom, unions, jobs and stuff like that. It was, judging by the video, very passionate.

And kind of misrepresenting reality. The gist of their comments centered on removing that segment of the population, but in truth, they are the ones who come off as anti-free speech. There was an edge in their rhetoric that was the complete opposite of where we were. The bullhorns serve as a way to whip the crowd into some kind of frenzy...but this is Minnesota and we don't do frenzy very well. Frankly, I couldn't follow their stream of logic.

But that's me. I came up with the silent flash mob idea so that our silence would speak for the victims. The freedoms we treasure as Americans are the very freedoms denied the victims of the Holocaust, both civilian and military alike. I wanted to focus on preserving that which is guaranteed in the Constitution. In that moment, we needed to celebrate the opportunity for free speech....not to preach how others do not have the right to talk. It's a tough line and not easily explained and I'm certain I'm bungling it, but at the end of the day, what we have is worth preserving even if it means some people are going to have tasteless Nazi dinner parties.

We were a small crowd. We had no bull horns, no chants, no rhetoric. Our little silent flash mob was practical and functional. People all over the world read about it...and wrote to us to share their support, citing the silence again and again as the most powerful way to deliver the message. 

And I am more than okay with that. 

We did good. Real good. Margie and I are still kvelling. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you haven't seen this in a while, take a moment to listen to
the ACLU speech from Aaron Sorkin's THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT.
It will knock your socks off. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sitting Down Is Not An Option

UPDATE: Our silent flash mob deportation reenactment went off without a hitch. We had a good sized crowd and some good press coverage. 

Minneapolis Star Tribune - Photo Gallery - Jefferson Wheeler did a great job on the photos. 
Bring Me The News - also did a very nice piece.

More about this in next week's blog!

America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours." 
"ACLU speech" from The American President by Aaron Sorkin

This week's blog is not about free speech. It's not about whether or not the Nazi re-enactors had the right to have a party in a restaurant on a night the venue was closed. This isn't even about whether or not decorating the Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit with swastikas and Nazi bunting is appropriate. This is about how...or even if... one responds when that event is made public.

On Monday night, January 20th, a group of WWII re-enactors gathered for their 6th annual holiday party. These guys said they were guys who played Nazis when there was a need to have Nazis. They gathered to celebrate their shared love of history by wearing their Nazi officer uniforms at a German restaurant that had been decked out with Nazi regalia. One might think those attending such a festive occasion would want to remember the evening with a few snaps, but alas.  restaurant staffer felt compelled to sneak a few pictures with his smartphone camera even though he'd been warned that no pictures were permitted. 

The pictures, as they appeared in CITY PAGES are, admittedly, not great, but good enough to be really scary. Although the participants likened what they did to a Star Trek convention where people dress up as both good guys and bad guys, I cannot help but think Nazi SS does not qualify for the  best fantasy costume category. Still....does there need to be a response?


There are a number of responses going on. Most are discussions about why so many people (not just Jews) were totally offended by the event. The organizer, a fellow named Scott Steben issued a slightly odd apology:
Scott Steben had said earlier that the Jan. 20 dinner was a Christmas party and an exercise for period actors. But in an apology reported by the Star Tribune on Wednesday, Steben said his group understands that some items displayed at the dinner "have made people feel uncomfortable." He said, "That was not our intent." 
"We are a historical re-enactment and professional actor society dedicated to promoting understanding of World War II. In no way are we or any of our members affiliated with groups that promote the subjugation of anyone."     
                               from The Associated Press report of the event - March 19th, 2014   

This group seems not to have an official name. There is no Nazi Actor's Equity or Screen Nazi Guild. This appears to be (according to them, anyway) a bunch of guys who play the bad guys in film and other art forms. They say it's like playing the Indians in cowboys and Indians when you're a kid. It would seem they like to take their work home with them, and see nothing wrong with going out in public dressed as Nazis officers. Did they think there will be no visceral reaction? 

Well, being it's a private party and cameras were banned, the answer must have been yes, because there was no expectation that word of this event would get out.  But in this day of instant media, that's just not the way of the world. It escaped the walls of Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit in living color and did a bunch of spins around the planet. 

Setting aside the part about free speech, the actions of the re-enactors have set off a firestorm of disgust, horror, and anger. And it's not all Jewish. Veterans' groups are incensed that anyone in the US would celebrate Nazi anything. GLBT groups have come out against the event as an attempt to deny or denigrate their existence and their progress in society. And Jewish groups argue that an event like this, no matter how benign it seems, is a public endorsement of anti-Semitism. Whatever the intent was, the perception was not mainstream positive. Perception is everything, and everything is open to interpretation.

Is there an appropriate response to the participants as well as the owner of the restaurant that hosts the annual dinner? 

There have been lots of responses: community leader meetings, stuff on the op ed pages of local newspapers. Lots of people are talking about it, and there's lots of stuff on Facebook, but there has yet to be a public gathering. 

Having spent my formative teen years standing on Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in front of the UN with a variety of signs, as well as planning some of those events, I am compelled by my own history to do something. Not doing something is unnatural to me. Someone must stand up to represent those who no longer have a voice. There needs to be a public presence on their behalf that says, "We do not forget those who perished at the hands of the real SS officers." 

As abhorrent as that party was, as obscene as glorification of the SS and the Nazi party may be to many of us, as Americans we must also defend their right to have such an event. This is the hard part of free speech. But that does not mean we are absolved from taking a stand against what their free speech advocates or, perhaps, glorifies. If we do not physically stand up and make our presence known, are we failing those who perished at the hands of the Nazis?

I believe that we are. I believe by not physically showing up we are helping 6,000,000+ men, women, and children to disappear into the mists of history. Our physical presence is a concise reminder that we remember what happened to them, that they are always in our consciousness. When we stand up for them, literally, we are preserving their very existence. 

I am not sitting this one out. A bunch of us aren't sitting this one out. If you're in the Twin Cities and want to stand up with us, send me an email. 

Stay tuned, folks. I'll keep you all posted. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Silence isn't always silent.
Sometimes, it speaks louder than anyone could imagine. 
It's all about context.....and perception.

Monday, March 17, 2014

If Not Now.....

So this plane went up in the air, flew around for a while, said "goodnight" to Malaysian air traffic control, then disappeared. Sorta. Seems it made a couple of unscheduled turns, pinged a satellite a few times, then disappeared. 
the search routes

In a nutshell, that's about all we really know about Malaysia flight 370. So far, anyway.

What I knew about Malaysia 370 was scary enough for me. I put one of my travelers on the MH red-eye to Beijing...and could not remember which day. The flight took off after midnight which, when I'm advising travelers, I am always very careful to say something like..."the flight takes off at 12:05 a.m.....that's the middle of the night between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, so you have to be at the airport late Tuesday night to make that flight.  Now, let's double your last meeting Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning?" I cannot tell you the number of times there's been a big "uh oh! Wednesday morning!" followed by a date adjustment. So I spent part of the first weekend banging my head against the wall wondering what night I booked that fight. Thankfully, I did not; my traveler flew in the wee hours of Thursday morning. 

It's not the first time I've waited for the passenger manifest to be published. A friend from my college days was on the American Airlines flight 11 out of Boston on 9/11.  I had two clients originally booked on Air France 447 from Rio to Paris on June 1, 2009, only to change them a few days prior to return to the States instead. All of us in the industry have moments when we rack our brains to remember if we put someone on a particular flight. It comes with the job.

We live in a dangerous world. People hijack planes and fly them into buildings. People lob missiles at schoolyards. People set off car bombs in market places. People gun down people exiting houses of worship. People drive their cars into crowds on the sidewalk. And kids shoot up schools. The places that should be safe are not. And that is reality.

How scared are we supposed to be? Do we not go out into pubic places? Do we not travel on mass transit? Do we stop flying? Do we home school our kids rather than risk sending them into a place with lots of other kids thereby making it a target for a crazy person? 

Should we make each tragedy our own? Local tv stations look for anyone with a connection to whatever happened...the cousin of the hairdresser who was a friend of the brother-in-law of the woman who was a victim. Anything that will make whatever happened seem more personal. But does that do us any favors? Or does that just make us roll our eyes and think, "if it bleeds it leads so who cares?"

Once upon a time, I might have laughed at those questions, but not so much now. I think about what is safe and what is not every time I book a trans-oceanic flight. I have close friends in Israel....that's a worry on its own plane. What if that boatload of arms had reached Gaza? Another dear friend works in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia....and I worry about his safety all the time. I worry about the senior son playing at festivals and in some pretty tough neighborhoods. 

What is safe now may not be safe tomorrow. 

The US cannot police the world any more than it can police the country. If we were to curtail our foreign misadventures, would that make us more safe....or would it put countless others at risk? And is it our job to ride off to save the world? What if the world doesn't want to be saved according to our vision of how the world should be? Is there a moral imperative, a moral obligation, or does that kind of talk just mask the banality of our own colonial ambitions? 

"Guarding" Crimea naval base
In the last week, we've listened to John McCain rattle his saber at Vlad the Invader while the President is putting economic sanctions onto the table. What outcome does Senator McCain envision if we put so much as a single boot on the ground in Ukraine? Surely he does not believe the US would be greeted with open arms. We have millions of our own citizens living in almost 3rd world conditions and he wants to open another front? Give me a break.

I have no answers, only more and more questions. Some of them are not pretty. Others are probably naïve. But I cannot believe for one New York minute that I'm the only person asking them. Hillel is said to have asked the best questions of it appears in Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Fathers):
1:14. He would also say: If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? 
These are not abstract questions any more. In fact, they cut to the heart of our national dilemma: do we have a responsibility to We, the People first, to make sure we clean our own house? Mired in greed and corruption, we are hardly a beacon to the world. Is the obligation to the rest of the world military or humanitarian? And if we are to act, is there a moment for which we wait....or do we, as a nation, act as quickly as possible?

And in the end, the final question must be....what makes us safer...safest? 

As for MH370....I think it landed someplace....but that's just me. There are so many islands out there where a runway could've been smoothed without anyone being any the wiser. Somehow, ditching in the ocean just doesn't make sense. Right now, there is nothing to do but wait. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Older folks, even blind ones, enjoy getting birthday cards. 
It's a just the idea that someone thought about them not just on the day, but ahead.
If you know someone who will turn 93 on Friday, a birthday card would be nice.

Monday, March 10, 2014

We Are All Vashti

Illuminated Book of Esther ~ Ferrara, Italy, circa 1615
Well, it's that time again...Purim is a week away and between the hamantashen baking and the usual opining, I am one busy person.

This year, Megillat Esther, strikes a particular chord for me. The story of Queen Esther is not just about how a nice Jewish girl from Shushan became queen of Persia or about saving Jews from genocide, or even about freedom or redemption. It’s about all those things. There isn’t a person on the planet who can’t find something to take away from that story.

But here’s the thing: I'm not so sure any of it happened the way the book says. It kinda reads more like a novella than a historical account, but who knows? Maybe there's a poppy seed of truth in there someplace…and for me, that would be a bonus.

Looking at a text at least 2000 years old requires two things: 1) the understanding that unless you're reading it in some ancient language, you're reading a translation, and 2) your understanding of the characters is tempered by that translation as well as the time in which you live. 

There is no way to know what the intent of the author was since you’re probably not reading what was originally written. It was the last book to make it into the canon we call Tanakh in the 1st century C.E., and it’s the only book not to have been found at all at Qumran in what is commonly called The Dead Sea Scrolls. If you’re not reading a Jewish copy of the Bible, you may very well be reading the retelling of the story as found in the Septuagint, the first comprehensive translation of the Bible…into Greek. If you’re reading a translation of the Latin version of the Bible, you’re probably getting some additional information that did not appear at all in the original, which most Hebrew scholars think probably made its appearance around the 4th -3rd century B.C.E. And one should not forget that nowhere in Esther does the word G-d appear.

Confused yet? Wait. It gets better.

The characters are total cardboard; they’re a bunch of archetypes. The king is usually portrayed as a dimwit, Mordechai as a smart guy, Vashti as evil, and Esther as obedience and feminine intelligence. The little we do know about the real history tells us that Ahashverus is probably Xerxes I who ruled Persia from 485–465 B.C.E. and this guy was no slouch. But he is in this story.

So here’s the text I want everyone to look at:

1:10 On the seventh day, when the king's heart was merry with wine, he ordered Mehuman, Bizzetha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains who ministered in the presence of King Ahasuerus.

1:11 To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the royal crown, to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was of comely appearance.

1:12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's behest which was [brought] by the hand of the chamberlains, and the king became very wroth, and his anger burnt within him.

Truth be told, Vashti is my favorite Biblical woman. She said no.  I want to believe her reasons were 21st century rational: she wasn't gonna dance in front of a bunch of strangers. She was the queen. She had to command the respect of the other women in the palace. She was a woman of stature. And most of all, she was a woman of valor. In a time when women didn't say no, she said no and she paid the price.

[An odd side note: some scholars make a point of pointing out the first line of the book does not call Ahasverus “king,” but from the very first mention, it calls Vashti “the queen.” Is it possible he came to the throne by marrying her as some scholars speculate? Well, probably not….but that is how his father secured his place on the Persian throne…by marrying Atossa,  the daughter of Cyrus the Great, one of the most beloved rulers ever. Even the Jews like Cyrus… so the answer to that question is no, since he is the son of Darius and Atossa, making him Cyrus’s grandson. Anyway….I digress.]

Josephus (37 – c. 100 C.E), the guy who is the closest thing we have to an on-the-scene reporter, says of Vasti: 
But she, out of regard to the laws of the Persians, which forbid the wives to be seen by strangers, did not go to the king; and though he repeatedly sent the eunuchs to her, she nevertheless continued to refuse to come, until the king was so much angered that he broke up the banquet, rose up, and called for the Seven Persians who were responsible for the interpretation of the laws, and accused his wife, saying that he had been insulted by her because although she had repeatedly been called by him to his banquet, she had not obeyed him once.
So maybe saying "no" to a blatant attempt to humiliate is not such a newfangled idea. Vashti said no. And Ahashverus’s ultimate regret in doing away with his queen opens the door to Esther…and Esther’s own defiance by showing up at court unbidden…which set the resolution of the story in motion.

All over this country there are a whole lotta wannabe Ahashveruses telling women they don't have the right to say no. They’re saying women don’t have the right to control what happens to their own bodies. They’re telling women they have to be breeders at the whim of men…husbands or not. They are taking the position that women’s reproductive healthcare is not to be readily available to all women. Texas has now forced the closure of 19 women's clinics, leaving just 24 clinics to serve 24 million people contained in a state of 268,581 square miles. 

Women need to channel both Vashti and Esther. We need to rise up against that attempt to push us back into another century. We need to use our ballots. We need to use our voices. And most of all, we need to come together as a single voice, pro-choice/pro-life/Jewish/Christian/Muslim/Hindu/Buddhist/ Wiccan/whatever to advocate for ourselves. Clearly, no one else is going to do it.  If We, the Women of The United States continue to send these yahoos back to Congress and the state legislatures, we have no one to blame but ourselves. 

What are we telling our daughters, our granddaughters, our great-granddaughters....and on and on and on?

Women of The United States, we are all Vashti. And we need to say NO very loud and clear.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Shalach manot is the opposite of Halloween. 
Feel free to leave an anonymous basket of goodies for a friend. 

Bonus ~ if you want to know what I think happened to Vashti, click here.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Vladimir the Great and Other Delusions of Grandeur

Back in the Dark Ages, when I thought Ziggy's name was Siegfried Siegfried (no kidding, I did) I used to enjoy listening to him explain stuff. One of my favorites was the three hour explanation of how cows got white faces. I was very impressed. His dad was a big animal vet and I thought he learned this from his father.....and not, as I would find out soon enough, from the opening of James Michener's CENTENNIAL. He explained other how sugar beets were processed, why some batteries died sooner than others, that computers only understand 1s and 0s....something I still don't quite grok..., and how any guy who was cutting you off on the freeway or was giving a girl the hubba-hubba was really compensating for a general lack of size in the...ahem....manhood department. It's true, he assured me, these guys were all suffering from small manhood and that's why they had this macho fixation. 

Tsar Vlad  - 2008
So it was no surprise when first macho-man shirtless Putin pictures starting showing up, Ziggy held up the picture in the newspaper and said, "This guy must have the smallest dick on the planet." Yes, gentle readers, I did a spit take with the coffee. He went on to explain that Putin had delusions of Tsarist grandeur and he should not be under-estimated at all. I countered that he was more like a cross between Lenin and Stalin, and Ziggy waved that away with a deft motion. "Nope. He views himself as Vladimir the Great. He believes he will reunite the all Russias, not the Soviet Union, ...and he will rule."

At the time, I thought that was a bit odd, but never one to argue with Ziggy when he's on a prophetic roll, I filed the idea away in the "useless information that might come in handy" category.

Well, seems like Ziggy is not alone in his assessment of Putin. Angela Merkel said it rather succinctly today:
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is reported to have become “really annoyed” about Russian President Vladimir Putin and has questioned whether he “was still in touch with reality.”
The German mass circulation Bild newspaper wrote on Monday that during a telephone conversation she held with US President Barack Obama to discuss the growing crisis in Ukraine she complained that Mr Putin was “living in another world.”                           
reported from Berlin by Tony Paterson for The Telegraph 
[Note: This same conversation was also reported in the NY Times on March 2, 2014] 
It's pretty clear from reports coming out of the Crimea that there is a rift between what the people of the Crimea want, what the Ukrainians want, and what the Russians want. And it's equally clear from stuff Putin has said in the past that he believes his is a manifest destiny kinda thing, where he restores the Eurasian Russia to its former glory. Of course, there are some former Eurasian Russians who might take issue with that assessment. 

For brevity's sake, Eurasian Russia is the result of Tsarist expansion between 1533 and 1896. Ivan IV, aka Ivan the Terrible, ruled from 1547 until 1584, making him a contemporary of Elizabeth I of England....just to give you a little context, succeeded in conquering the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, turning Russia into a multi-ethnic state spanning Europe and Asia to the tune of 1,562,500 square miles. Do you think for one Moscow minute that Feckless Leader Putin will settle for anything less?

One of the interesting things about this, is that the guy has no sons; there is no dynasty to be set on a new quasi-imperial throne, à la North Korea. So where is Putin going with this?

I'm not so certain anyone knows. Angela M. might be spot on when she says he's not on the same planet as us mere mortals. He's already played the strong man shell game with a Russian version of musical not-so-fairly-elected offices as played with Dmitri Medvedev. 

Now, taking that into account, shall we add John "There's Never Been A War I Didn't Like" McCain into the mix? While he insists there should be no military option on the table, he did say things like pull out of the G8 Summit, and the government should invoke the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law and Accountability as a way to sanction Putin for human rights abuse. Like those are going to make a dent. Still, McCain insists the President's plans are worthless even though they sound pretty much like the same stuff McCain's touting.  Which makes about as much sense as John McCain ever does. 

In other words, there's not to much to be done right now other than to boycott the Sochi G8 meeting in June...if it even takes place. Chancellor Merkel and the other European heads of state need to decide amongst themselves what action they will take because they are the ones who will have the greatest impact. Keep your eye on the Chancellor. This is the voice of reason in the whirlwind. She is the one who will wield the greatest influence.

Meanwhile, for the record, this is not a reason to continue the high level of manpower and material we currently are holding in the armed forces. Au contraire, mes amis!  This is the time to figure out how the next wars are to be fought. I do not think for one Moscow minute that this one will actually be fought in the Crimea at all. It will be fought in the markets, in the commodity exchanges, in the board rooms, and ultimately in the European Union. The show of force in the Crimea is just that....a show. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you bake hamataschen for shalach manot on Sunday, ship on Monday 
and it should reach the recipients in plenty of time for Purim!