Monday, August 25, 2014

That Time of Year

Seems that about once a year, usually around this time. I run outta steam. If I were Ziggy, this would be a "No intro today" kinda entry, and then there would be a joke....or even the Superman how-to-tell-a-joke kinda thing. 

This past week has been another week of changes, neither all good nor all bad, but something somewhere in the middle. A new rhythm is developing over at Chez Wifely, and it will take some getting used to. Various medical support personnel are beginning to make appearances....the visiting nurse, the PT lady, the bath guy.....and I am grateful for that support. FIL seems more relaxed now that the daily stair climb is over.  More and more, his age is catching up with him, and as  much as he claims he's ready whenever, it's pretty clear he's not.  The speech is a little slurred, the thoughts are getting caught somewhere between the brain and the mouth and not turning into words as quickly as he wants. He gets frustrated, and there is nothing I can do to fix this. He's laughing a bit more, though,...but sleeping more.

And I am sleeping less. Between worrying about FIL and the heart-wrenching news of the week, it's hard to close my eyes and not feel sad. It must be the summer heat. People are just behaving badly world-wide. I read the paper and I wonder how stupid the masses must be to participate in this moral degradation... much less believe what they read even in the New York Times. What's wrong with just telling the truth every once in a while:
Charlie Rose of CBS interviews Khalid Meshaal of Hamas 

Hamas' charter calls for destruction of Israel and the elimination of Jews. Citizens of the State of Israel disagree with that assessment. By the way, not all Israelis are Jews, and not all Jews are Zionists. 

A cop stopped a couple of kids walking down the street. There was some kind of exchange. The cop shot one of the kids. Details to follow.

Senator McCain meeting with Syrian rebels.
The circle is around the man thought to be

 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadithe head of ISIS 

McCain attempts to influence foreign policy. He doesn't always do enough homework. His intentions may be good and sincere, but sometimes, he does more harm than good

These are three true statements. They are by no means meant to completely define or delineate the issue involved, yet each one is precise enough to at least identify a specific issue. Why can't journalists just say stuff like this without the spin and the slant and the baloney attached? Don't get me started on this nonsense!

Therefore, this is where I am going to stop for tonight. I am tired. My brains are running like hamsters on a wheel. There are so many topics on which I would like to rant, yet I cannot pick just one. 

So let's call it a week. Next week, I should be back in fine fettle and form. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
For the record, GE may use some foreign made parts, 
but their fridges are pretty much all made in the US.
This should be a HUGE selling point for them. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Long Day's Journey...

Dr. Michael Baden's diagram
I cannot stop thinking about the autopsy diagram that was released today. This wasn't close range; this was a guy shooting at someone from a distance. And I can't stop wondering what this cop was thinking as he fired at a clearly unarmed person. This was not Trayvon Martin struggling on the ground with cop-wannabe George Zimmerman. There was no struggle for a gun that precipitated an accidental shooting at that moment. This was someone pointing, aiming, and shooting directly at someone else. How much rage, anger, and fear was pumping through this guy's system when he, a peace officer, emptied his service revolver into this kid? 

Of course, this is the heat of August, prime riot time, when the tempers soar like the mercury in a thermometer. Heat, humidity, stupidity, and swat teams are fissionable ingredients in a chain reaction. It's not like the cops didn't have other "situations" from which they could learn to gauge what happens when stuff like this goes down. But they either weren't paying attention, or they wanted to play with all their new Iraq-leftover para-military toys.

Must we be like all the other kids and use our water cannon on civilians? Hey, Missouri! Are you trying to out-Tahrir Tahrir? Sure looks that way from the video tape.

Face it, there is a pervasive gun culture out there, and if you're not quite sure about that, then why was the cop behaving like one of the James Gang instead of Marshall Dillon? We have created a perception monster that is morphing from fantasy to reality with the help of video-games' I'm-more-macho-than-my-Kevlar-shirt-shoot-first mentality that permeates the air like tear gas. 

That cop shot that kid and all hell broke loose. Surprise! It's a racial thing and everyone in America knows this...even the good ol' folks in Missouri...who are insisting "this is not a race issue."  Yes, it is a human issue, but one cannot dismiss the aspect of race from this conversation.

And in not dismissing the aspect of race in this conversation, maybe someone will finally stand up and say in some official capacity that race is still an issue in this country. The despicable behavior of the House of Representatives for the last 6 years should be proof enough that race is still an issue in this country.

We are heading into the presidential election cycle. You better be damn well prepared for race, racism, sex, sexism, and plenty o' homophobia being issues in this country. 

But right now, at this moment, I have other things on my mind.

The natural end of life has begun its leisurely descent into this house. There is no illness, no cataclysmic event, only the slow, relatively peaceful "wind-down" (or so my father-in-law calls it) of nine+ decades of living. His body is tired. He's achy. He has the tiny appetite of an old guy....which really does mean two bites of whatever and a giant bowl of ice cream. The stairs have now gotten the better of him, and we've moved the senior son's childhood captain's bed into what had been once the living room, then Ziggy's study, and now, a bedroom. I hung lined drapes in the two open arches, and even installed (yes, I used power tools) hold-backs so they're not in the way during the day. I've brought down the Bose wave radio and the assorted accouterments he likes having around.  The coat closet beside the living room now has his shirts and polar-fleece jacket collection. We're getting a health aide to assist with bathing et al for he is a modest man and is not comfortable with the idea of me doing this. Meanwhile, he remains fiercely independent and insists he doesn't want anyone hanging around here all day.

At 93, FIL's still pretty sharp, enjoys a good laugh, but he's napping more and more. He's in relatively good shape, the pacemaker having helped his quality of life tremendously, but he's slowing down perceptibly now. He's okay with the process moving at a natural pace, and I am trying to be okay with him being okay with it.  I encourage him to listen to MPR* more and he makes jokes about forgetting things...only I know that really bothers him a lot when he can't remember the word for lemonade which he loves. I know he's looking forward to being a great-grandfather (yes....that would mean I am going to be a grandmother) and says he will hang out until he sees that baby...but then all bets are off.  

So for now, my job is to continue making sure he's okay, that he gets all the yogurt and ice cream he wants, and that he's engaged in something mentally kitchen updating. You see, I told him he's supervisor-in-charge. He liked that idea. He told me to make all the decisions and he'll supervise the workmen. More likely, he'll get their life stories and repeat them all to me at dinner. 

And I'm okay with that. 

Wifely Person' Tip o'the Week
Being born is fatal; we all die eventually.
No one gets out alive. 

*Minnesota Public Radio - home of The Prairie Home Companion and all things newsworthy.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Kurdish Katch-22

Just the other day, I received the following email:
I don’t actually read your blog, but here’s a good topic if you’re willing to take a break from Hamas and Israel.
from the NY Times: U.S. Jets and Drones Attack Militants in Iraq, Hoping to Stop Advance
So we dropped some more bombs in Iraq last night.. the article itself isn’t anything you haven’t heard on the radio already. The Times picks comments make me sad though – very split between doing nothing and doing more.  Do we let the IS run amuck in the region and keep killing everyone or start in with our forces again?  There’s no real good answer here.
My correspondent is correct, of course. There is no real good answer here. A whole lotta new questions, but not one comes with an answer. 

Caught in the middle of the Middle East, and with much too much exposure in this game of drones, the Kurds are getting it from all sides. They are not their own masters. There never was a single country called Kurdistan…it started with a bunch of small principalities, grew into an amalgam of emirates usually under the “influence” of a caliph-type overlord, and eventually a few bigger states. But endless war took its toll, and by the end of the 16th century, the country was divided up and taken over by the Safavids (Persians) and the Ottomans (Turkey.) Now, that area straddles Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Armenia. Despite their regional, religious, and cultural differences, the Kurds considered themselves Kurds and dreamed of being in charge of their own land. 

The jihadists fight under the banner of ISIS/ISIL:The Islamic State of Syria and Iraq / The Islamic State of Syria, Iraq, and the Levant. The group goes after the smaller, more diverse ethnic populations with a convert-or-die position. One group, the Yezidi, are clinging to the top of a mountain trying to escape. Some who remained in hiding below have been airlifted out, but the ones on the mountain are dying from hunger, thirst, and exposure.

While the attention of the world was focused on other battles in the Middle East, ISIS/ISIL were marking the doors of non-Sunnis and targeting them for death. There is substantial photographic evidence of crucifixions, beheadings, point- blank executions, and other barbaric practices that are impossible to fathom in the 21st century.

My mind keeps cycling back to gas chambers. And ovens. And mass graves. And silence. The world was very silent when news of the Final Solution emerged from Germany. There was no outcry protesting the murder of Jews at the beginning…or the middle, for that matter…except from other Jews. In America, we have  louder voice, but not loud enough to get President Roosevelt to let the passengers of the St. Louis disembark in the United States. On June 6th, 1939, the St. Louis sailed back to Germany.

Martin Niemöller, a Lutheran pastor and outspoken foe of Hitler, is best remembered for a little poem he wrote. That poem has morphed into a thousand memes, but the original is quite succinct and sufficient:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. 
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Folks, I get the part about not getting in the middle of a civil war. I get the part about Muslim v. Muslim violence is a whole ‘nother bag of crazy. And I get the part about not getting in the middle of another Middle East debacle. I get all that and I pretty much agree with the “no boots on the ground” thinking. But how do we sit here in silence and let the Kurds die the same way the world let us die? How do we not get involved? We are damned if we do and damned if we don't.

My correspondent was spot on when he said, “There’s no good answer here.” There isn’t. As the governments try to navigate the morass, the one thing we can do is NOT be silent. 

6,000,000 Jews died because the world was silent when people were needed to stand up to genocide. Now, it’s our turn to stand up to be counted in the quest to get the would-be victims out of harm’s way. 

NEVER AGAIN applies to everybody.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If your neighbor refuses to stand up to genocide, make sure you do enough standing up for three people. A little extra never hurt. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

When History Is In The Balance

Had this great weekend planned: my college friend Wendy was here for a family wedding, so we had an exciting Saturday planned....until FIL had a little episode and I spent a less-than-thrilling Saturday with the ambulance corps and the ER folks at St. Joe's. Wendy is the ultimate good sport and I am thankful she was supportive, kind, and full of funny stories to tell. She also delivered the best line of the weekend when, upon arrival at Chez Wifely, she spied good ol' John Deere in the garage and cried, "Oh my God! It's the tractor!" That just tickled me to pieces! 

Now, if all goes according to plan, I'm springing FIL tomorrow afternoon......

Meanwhile, back in the real world: for those of you who understand the vagaries of the Jewish lunar calendar, tonight happens to be the exact 4th anniversary of the blog. The very first one, WELCOME TO MY WORLD was written on Erev Tisha b'Av, and tonight is Erev Tisha b'Av.  At that time, it was the Haredi, the ultra-orthodox, who were tearing the country apart. This time, it's the world at large. 

There is a little piece floating about the net these days by a fellow named Yashiko Sagamori which may or may not be a pseudonym but regardless of who or what he is, I think is a brilliant questionnaire for any one claiming sovereignty over anything. When confronted about restoring Palestine to its former glory, express interest in that storied past. Here are 12 very serious questions you want to ask:

1.    When was it founded and by whom?
2.    What were its borders?
3.    What was its capital?
4.    What were its major cities?
5.    What constituted the basis of its economy?
6.    What was its form of government?
7.    Can you name at least one Palestinian leader before Arafat?
8.    Was Palestine ever recognized by a country whose existence, at that time or now, leaves no room for interpretation?
9.    What was the language of the country of Palestine ?
10. What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine ?
11. What was the name of its currency? Choose any date in history and tell what was the approximate exchange rate of the Palestinian monetary unit against the US dollar, German mark, GB pound, Japanese yen, or Chinese yuan on that date.
12. And, finally, since there is no such country today, what caused its demise and when did it occur?

The same set of questions can be asked about any country, including Israel, and if you know history, you know the First and Second Kingdoms meet the criteria.

The point is that history must be addressed alongside the hopes and dreams of a state to be created as Palestine. And that state must be that is a brand new entity in the truest sense of the word.

Sitting here on Erev Tisha b’Av wishing I was sitting in Jerusalem…or Herzliya for that matter, I am so saddened by the growing hate and venom in the streets of London, Paris, Antwerp, Hamburg, and now, New York City. The most cosmopolitan cities of the world….festooned with banners of hate and destruction. Calling for the destruction of Israel and the death of Jews, there is no way to say this is anti-Zionist; let’s just call it what it is: anti-Semitic hate speech.

Israel is not perfect and there are actions by the IDF which could have been better planned or executed and no, they are not off the hook, but you cannot fault Israel or the IDF for defending the people of Israel. ALL the people of Israel. That includes the enemy combatants who find themselves being treated in Israeli hospitals. It includes the injured from Syria who are being treated secretly in field hospitals near the northern border. No one asks for an identity card or the politics of their families….they are provided with the best possible medical care.

When the King of Saudi Arabia issues a statement that says, in part,
This [international] community, which has observed silently what is happening in the whole region, was indifferent to what is happening as if what is happening is not its concern…. It is shameful and disgraceful that these terrorists are doing this in the name of religion, killing the people whose killing Allah has forbidden, and mutilating their bodies and feeling proud in publishing this….They have distorted the image of Islam with its purity and humanity and smeared it with all sorts of bad qualities by their actions, injustice and crimes.

you have to wonder how much weight his words carry.  He called what’s happening in Gaza a crime against humanity, and he pretty much lays the blame on Hamas. But at least he stood up and said something.

When we sit on the floor to read the Book of Lamentations, it is as if we all sit on the side of the road watching the destruction of Jerusalem. We do this every year lest we forget that we have lost Jerusalem before this, and now there are those who would see us lose this, our chiefest jewel, once again. And this is what Hamas just hasn’t figured out: this is our home. We built it, once, twice, three time's a charm, and we will defend it, whether we wear the uniform of the IDF, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, or maybe even a long skirt and a tichel.

It’s just that simple.

Wifely Person’s Tip o’the Week

Looking for something fun to do? Go see DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE on the Centennial Showboat. It’s so worth the price of a ticket!