Today is Not the Day

My good friend “Cornelius” is a fisherman par excellence. His loves are God, fishing, and “Gertrude”, his wife (what order that list is in I do not know).  Cornelius knows the Horseshoe Beach area of flats like the back of his hand. His ability to catch fish is truly amazing. He is renowned for his skills upon the water. And I’ve always liked taking fishing trips with him – he lets me drive his truck towing his pontoon boat from Jonesville to Horseshoe Beach.

Recently, however, Cornelius has not been able to get away from his job. Two weeks ago he called to tell me that he finally got a break; that the following week we’d be able to go fishing. And from the time that he told me, I looked forward to our fishing trip on the Gulf.

When I arrived at his house at 6:00 am on the appointed day, I immediately noticed (Geez, I’d have to be blind not to notice) that he did not have attached to his truck his pontoon boat, but rather a small aluminum bass boat. His boat was in the shop being reupholstered he told me, so he borrowed his son’s boat.

Last Wednesday was a picture perfect day: breeze light and variable, not a cloud in the sky. Cornelius wore a t-shirt, shorts, flip-flops and a fisherman’s floppy hat. I wore both a long sleeve and short sleeve cotton shirts, full length denim jeans, leather shoes and a long billed ball cap, all meant to protect me from the sun.

As we moved out of the channel into the open water, I felt a distinct difference – the pontoon boat cut through the water while the bass boat did not. The slight chop was compounded by the speed at which Cornelius drove the boat. We were often airborne after hitting a wave, and we’d land with a solid bang, only to repeat the process again and again. As I looked to the stern, all I could think of was “Apocalypse Now”; Cornelius looking every bit the Viet Nam soldier maniacally cackling with delight at every wave we hit, and every body slam we absorbed. At some point my hat flew off my head, and was quickly out of sight and lost. I started by sitting on the floor, but after many hard jolts, I chose to stand with my knees bent and try to ride the waves like a horse. I avoided the body slams but it really tired me out.

When finally we stopped to fish, I took the bow platform while Cornelius remained at the stern platform. Although there was a chair on the platform, I did not think that I could effectively cast my line while seated. As I cast out the jigged line, for some unknown reason I followed – a header right into the water.

That I was not expecting. I uprighted myself and broke the water, further from the boat than I hoped to be. Cornelius told me to hand him an end of the rod, which was still in my hand, and he’d pull me in. I got him the eye end and he pulled – and the two part rod separated. He tossed it aside and reached out to grab my hand. I tried to reach his but I couldn’t seem to touch it. I tried swimming to the boat – I know how to swim, having learned how at about age nine; water did not frighten me. (The last time I actually swam, though, was in 2000. I hate getting water in my ears!) I was not making any headway.

I went under but kicked myself back above. DON’T PANIC I told myself. That was a sure way to drown. Just keep calm, keep my head above the water and I will be okay. I thought I’d try the “dead mans float”. That was an easy way to remain alive. I could not, however, bring the rest of my body to the surface. It weighed too much, the cotton clothing absorbing water like a sponge. I should have kicked off my shoes, but I didn’t want to lose them. I couldn’t take off my jeans without losing my shoes, and I could’t take off my shirts without temporarily disabling my arms – and they were the only things keeping my head above water.

Cornelius threw out a life jacket to me, but I missed catching it and it quickly disappeared. I bobbed under again. Man, I was getting tired. As the boat and I drifted further apart I became heartened. Good, I thought, now Cornelius would not be afraid to get the motor started and drive the boat right to me. He was afraid because he thought that if he turned toward the motor he would lose sight of me.

Cornelius decided to go for it and he turned to start the motor. I went under but fought my way above the surface again. “Today is not the day that I am going to die” I told myself. In the light chop, the aluminum boat was not so easy to control. Cornelius did not want to run me over. He was able to get the boat close enough, however, that I was able to finally grab hold of the side. Cornelius grabbed my arms and kept saying: “You’re ok. You’re not going anywhere.”  Then I thought: why isn’t he pulling me into the boat? He must have read my mind because he said “you’ll have to move to the back of the boat.” Dang, I was already exhausted. All I could do was hang there and huff and puff like a locomotive. Hanging there wasn’t going to get me into the boat, so I started the hand by hand maneuver to the gunwale at the stern. I made it around to the gunwale and tried to pull myself up, but I just couldn’t do it. Cornelius said “there is a step on the motor. Stand on that. I could not bring my feet up high enough to reach the step. By default, I got a knee on the step and tried to lift myself into the boat. Cornelius got a hold of my waistband and between the two of us I flopped into the boat.

Cornelius asked me if I wanted to head in. “Hell no” I said “we came out here to fish, and that is what we are going to do.” I caught exactly one trout, while Cornelius landed at least a half dozen. I don’t know how he does it. We are casting the same bait, and we are at the same location. He’s got to be doing something different (and underhanded!), I just can’t figure out what it is.  While fishing, we saw some sea turtles, some skates/rays, and a small shark.

Retrospection: Why wasn’t I wearing a life preserver? Cornelius, who has been fishing these waters for years, repeatedly told me that the flats are so shallow, one can be two miles out and walk all the way to shore. I can say with certainty, however, that there is a least one spot on these flats that is deeper than I am tall. Will I wear one in the future? No, I just won’t wear anything long and cotton, and instead wear nylon shorts and protect my skin by slathering myself with sun block SPF 500.

When I got home, my wife asked me what I was thinking during the experience: Did I see my life flash before my eyes? No I did not. Did I pray for deliverance? No, I did not, although as soon as I hit the deck I thanked God for letting me live. The only three thoughts that I had were DON’T PANIC, keep those arms and legs moving and my head above water, and today is not the day to die.

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One of Us is Deaf, Dumb and Blind

One of Us is Deaf, Dumb and Blind.

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One of Us is Deaf, Dumb and Blind

I have two very special friends who I very much like and respect. For purposes of just this article, I’ll call them “Nick” and “Missy” (because those are their real names). They are both intelligent, well-educated, very nice people, and I treasure our friendships.
We are all about the same age, same race, grew up in similar neighborhoods, went to similar schools, and had similar family structures.
I am at a total loss, however, to explain how we see the world so differently. And by “differently”, I mean “polar opposites”! I shall use the entity labeled Barack Husein Obama as an example.
We all hear the words uttered by the entity, behold the actions performed by the entity, yet we could not be more different as to our opinions of the entity. And I sit, scratch my head, and ask myself “didn’t they just hear what the entity said? Didn’t they see what the entity just did? How, then, could they possibly hold a positive opinion of the entity?” I just don’t at all understand. I am sure that they ask themselves how I could possibly hold a negative opinion of the entity labeled Obama.
It is not that we don’t communicate. We most emphatically do. And we just don’t talk past each other like two ships in the night. We respond to each others points. We have lively debates. Yet at the end of it all, none of us has changed our opinions. I can’t figure it out.
What say, ya’ll?

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I’m Back

Hey there devoted and dear readers of this blog. It has been a great while since I have posted here. Many, I fear, believed me to be dead, deceased, expired, transferred to that great blogpost in the sky. Nothing can be further from the truth. In reality, the explanation is simple – I am (sometimes) lazy. I’d rather read than write.

Okay, so I’ve returned. To say …. what?  Nothing really, I am merely diverting my attention from what I really should be doing – drafting documents for work. Why can’t I stay focused on my job at hand? Perhaps I suffer from ADHD?! That’s it – I’m a victim of a condition over which I have no control; ergo I am not responsible for my inactions. HAHA. Maybe I can actually obtain government financial assistance. Not that receiving a dime would in any way help or ameliorate the situation. It would just make me feel better. And that is the most important criteria today – feelings. Not your feelings, mind you, only mine. Because, truly, who gives a damn about you. You are a member of the 1% whilst I am a member of the 99%. Actually, the butt end of that 99% which means that 98% are still better off than I. And that hurts my feelings so America – give me money so that you can feel better about yourselves. That way we all win.

Am I making any sense? Because if you can understand what I am saying, then you have serious problems. I am pretty much just free versing and running off at the keyboard, typing about anything that pops into my head. All to avoid doing what I am supposed to be doing. Okay, okay here I go.

No wait. I’m still not ready. If you don’t know, I’ve lost my last two trials outright and they both got county jail time. The trial before those two I got a partial victory (jury came back with a lesser included misdemeanor rather than a felony), but my guy got county jail time also. I hate losing. Maybe I should just retire.

After a successful summer harvest of apples, loquats, mulberries and figs, this fall has brought in a successful crop of citrus: oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and kumquats. Most (but not all) of the citrus trees we planted some years ago finally bore fruit. Why, we even got some persimmons. Now that all the trees have been in the ground for a few years, we expect dividends to come from the pear, plum, peach, cherry, and nectarine trees. We have written off the pomegranate trees. Those suckers will never produce. We inadvertently fried our guava tree which was unfortunate as it was loaded with guavas. We are planting mango, mulberry and avocado trees in a location where they will not be fried. Also, our coffee trees are still small enough to remain in their pots. The banana tree DID produce a load of bananas, but we gave them too much time to ripen and by the time I got to them they were already rotten. Next year we will take them earlier.  Blueberry and blackberry bushes are all looking good. We should have an even stronger harvest of berries this summer.

I’ve stall enough. I’ve got to go.

P.S. America, if you do want to send money, let me know and I can provide you an address. And I do accept credit cards.

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The “N” – Word: A Confession

OK, let me get it out now. Nigger. The “N”-word is nigger. The word is the rage of talk radio right now because the National Football League is planning to penalize any utterance of the word “nigger” (or permutations – e.g. “nigga”) with a fifteen yard loss. The discussions surrounding this NFL kerfuffle are extremely amusing: Should the penalty be assessed if an “African – American” (which I shall discuss herein as well) utters the word?  Or is it only when white players utter it? Is the prohibition only applied to on-field banter? Or does it include off-field, i.e. sideline, locker room) as well? What about Polynesian players?

I find the entire issue humorous because it is about a WORD! Not an action. A word that can be answered by ignoring it, laughing at it, or (unfortunately) aggressively responding to it. One can even win a trial by uttering it. I said “nigger” in a trial and lived to tell about it. I need to provide some background before relating the story.

I am a white attorney. At the time that this trial occurred, I was married to a black (which I shall discuss herein as well) female. One of our favorite television to watch was Russell Simmons Def Comedy Jam. It was emceed by the hysterical, but foul-mouthed, Martin Lawrence. One of Martin’s mannerisms was to call every black performer and black audience member “my nigga”. It was the first time that I had ever been exposed to this phenomena. (My father-in-law, for instance, did not say “my nigga” when seeing his other sons-in-law). I found it quite strange because I never heard anybody else use their pejorative with such glee. I did not see Jews, for instance, greet each other in temple with “my Kike” or “my Jew-boy”. Mexicans with “my wet-back“. Italians with “my wop“. Puerto Ricans with “my spic“. But there it was, in living color and on national TV, “my nigga”.

My client – a middle aged black male. His charged offense – aggravated assault with a firearm. The alleged victims – two black male teenagers. The judge – a white Jewish male (who is now, BTW, an appellate judge). The Assistant State Attorney – a black female. The jury – I’m a little fuzzy on this, but there were at least two black jurors. The allegations were that my client, without provocation, accosted and threatened these two yutes (oops), youths, with a gun. My client told me that these two youths were harassing his white wife. Both the client and his wife said that he confronted the two teenagers, but that he has unarmed.

The case proceeded, the witnesses told their versions of the facts (except for my client who chose to remain silent), and now it was time for closing argument. How could I explain why two fit, healthy male teenagers would flee from a middle aged man? Why not just stand and beat his ass? The solution I came upon is the following: [My client] came charging down the sidewalk like a madman, yelling insanely, arms flailing over his head. One of those kids turned to the other and said “That is one crazy nigger. Lets get out of here!” You would have though I dropped a bomb in the courtroom (which, figuratively, I did). The Assistant State Attorney shot to her feet, screeching “OBJECTION”!!! The judge shot ramrod straight in his chair and barked “In my chambers”. We retreated back to his chambers where I was reamed a new asshole. Fortunately, that was all. After the lambasting we returned to the courtroom where I continued my closing. I merely asked the jury to return a verdict of simple assault. After the judge read the instructions, the jury retired to the jury room to deliberate.

Far from tanking my case and enflaming the black members of the jury, they were perhaps the only people in the courtroom who were nonplussed. The jury quickly returned with a verdict – Guilty of the lesser included charge of assault. I won. My client won. The Assistant State Attorney to this day probably believes that I am a racist. She was never able to grasp the nuance in which I used “nigger”. The fact that I, a white man, uttered the word is enough to satisfy her “chip on the shoulder” attitude that I am a racist.

So ends the confession, but I do want to also address the matter of “African American”. For many years of the twentieth century, the use of “colored people” was a step up from the word “negroes”. In the sixties (my formative years), the youths of that population clamored for the use of “black”. “Black Power” and “Black is Beautiful” reverberated across the land. I internalized that, and I have called people black, without rancor or malice. 

Race-baiter Jesse Jackson was not satisfied, however. The white mans acceptance and comfort level with the word “black” meant it was time to change the language. “Black” people were now insulted by the use of “black” because it ignored the fact that there were a wide range of hues. “People of color” was the new descriptor because it was inclusive. “People of color” only lasted a short while for two reasons: First, it is unwieldy. Second, it harkened back to the rejected term “colored people”. This did not dissuade Jackson, however. He hit upon “African-Americans”. Brilliant! This identification is easy to use, salves white guilt, and decisively separates the black Americans out of America. Now black people have a reason to feel grieved – they are not a part of America. Jackson’s concoction, while brilliant on its face, is actually stupid and insulting. First, the phrase is descriptive of nothing. there are many white Africans. It is a lie. Black Americans have virtually nothing in common with their African ancestors but their skin color. A Black American thrown to Africa would be booking the next plane back to the United States.

Black Americans are Americans first, no matter where their ancestors came from. They are as varied in likes, interests, and opinions as every other American. My ex-wife is smart, super-tidy, family oriented, and liberal. And black. My present wife is brilliant, funny, and conservative. And black. I loved my first wife, and I love my present wife. And I’m white. The best thing is, all of us saw past the color of our skin and focused instead on the content of our character.              

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The Last Constitutional Saviors

Liberal Hollywood loves the idea: A general (i.e. a military appointee) takes it upon himself to unseat a tyrannical ruler and deliver the power of governance back to the elected representatives of the people. “Gladiator” won the Best Picture award at the 73rd Academy Award ceremony.

The World loves the idea: Generals of the Egyptian army took it upon themselves to unseat an elected tyrannical ruler, Mohamed Morsi, and the other members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and return the power of governance back to the people. New elections are forthcoming.

The United States president, before taking office, takes an oath swearing to defend the Constitution. Obama; by refusing to include Congress in the governance, by refusing to comply with and follow lawfully enacted legislation, by refusing to comply with the decisions of the courts, has failed his sworn responsibility. The United States congressional electees (i.e. Senate and House of Representatives), before taking office, each take an oath to defend the Constitution. Congressmen (and women); by refusing to hold the President accountable, have failed their sworn responsibility. Federal judges, before taking office, each take an oath to defend the Constitution. The courts; by declaring the Affordable Care Act constitutional and finding spying activities without a warrant constitutional, have failed their sworn responsibilities. United States servicemen (and women) (i.e. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, Coast Guard), before enlisting, must take an oath to defend the Constitution. Where are they today?

Please, generals, uphold your oath, place Obama, Biden and Holder under arrest, hold them for trial for treason, and for death by firing squad that each so richly deserve. Deliver the power of governance back to the people and their elected representatives, and, specifically, the office of President to the next in constitutional line, the Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner. Hopefully he will lead this country back to the constitutional mandate on which this nation is founded.     

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One of Marriage’s Little Joys (or a Nit in the Heavenly Balm)

Physical health is, probably, the single most important matter to every single person alive (Fernando the exception).  We are almost daily battered and bombarded with stories about threats to our health and the extreme likelihood of some type of global pandemic, e.g. bird flu, viruses. Our nations largest pharmacy chains, CVS and Walgreens, constantly advertise flu shots.

Now I am not denigrating or making light of any of these messages (okay, maybe a little bit!). To protect myself I use the antimicrobial hand wipes on the shopping cart handles that Publix provides in the foyer of the store. In fact, I wish that gas stations provided these hand wipes at the location of the gas pumps. (Do you really want to pick up a pump handle right after the previous customer sneezed into his hand immediately before he picked the handle up??)

My wife is very devoted to disease avoidance. She truly believes that cleanliness is next to Godliness. The nit in the proverbial ointment is our differing opinions on how much antimicrobial soft soap is needed to be applied to one’s hands to ensure the best efficacy of the soap on the microbes?

I am of the opinion that only a little dab is sufficient, so long as it is enough that, upon physical machinations, ones hands have been in contact with the soap. My wife, on the other hand, pours a lot of soap into her hands so that, upon the physical machinations, her hands are clearly and distinctly slimed with the soap.

I tried to Google and find an answer. What I found from the world’s foremost authority, the World Health Organization, is typical bureaucratic blather that did not answer the question. (read page 96). So I can’t claim rightiness. Darn.

So how about it, People! How much antimicrobial soft soap is needed to be applied to one’s hands to ensure the best efficacy of the soap on the microbes?

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The Last Time

Human beings celebrate the “firsts” in life. The Birthday is the annual celebration of our first day of life, the Anniversary a celebration of our first day of wedded bliss. We all remember with utmost clarity each of our children’s first step. Rarely, however, do we remember the “last” time that we did something. Oh sure, we probably remember the last time that we saw a loved one before that person passed away. I am fascinated, however, by the cessation of the sublime, everyday activities in life. When my son put away his Hot Wheels cars into his toy chest, did either of us know that that would be the last time that we would play “smash-em-up” on the floor? After watching the videotape of Disney’s “The Rescuers” for the 500th time, did either of us know that that would be the last time that we ever again watch that movie? Pedaling our bikes home from the park, did either of us know that that would be the last time that we played in that park? And, if we had known these were the last times, would we have altered our lives by participating in that activity a little longer? Doing it again the next day?   

Life is like a flowing river; sometimes just placidly meandering and other times in a mighty rush. No matter the velocity, however, none of us can ever travel back up the river. I only wish that I would have better savored and remembered many of the beautiful spots along the way.

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Phil Has Spoken: Now it’s My Turn

Phil Robertson, patriarch of “Duck Dynasty“, has given his opinion of homosexuality in the pages of “GQ“. Now, solely for the possibility that I may someday be a public persona and that, therefore, my opinion on this subject will need to be known, I offer the following words.

Before starting, however, I wish to differentiate between “homosexuality” and “homosexuals”. “Homosexuality” are the acts of sexuality performed with members of like gender, while “homosexuals” are those people engaged in the acts of sexuality with members of their own gender. This distinction if of critical importance.

I am a conservative Jew. As I understand the teaching of my faith, “homosexuality” is not an approved behavior. (I don’t know enough to declare it to be a sin because I do know that Jews do not share Christians views of Heaven and Hell). Therefore, I do not approve of homosexuality either. I consider it a character flaw. However, gluttony, envy, selfishness and bigotry are also character flaws as well. It is safe to say that every single person (me included) are beset by numerous character flaws. Character flaws, I suppose, have varying values; i.e. there are serious flaws, and there are less serious flaws. For example, a flaw that permits a person to kill another person without any provocation is a SERIOUS flaw, whilst a flaw that permits a person to card a five on a hole that took him seven shots to hole out is a flaw that is not very serious. On my grading scale, homosexuality score right there with the golf score mis-counter.

The matter of marriage is a battle that need not be waged. Marriage is a religious rite. My shul would never allow homosexuals to wed (and if it did, I would change to a different shul that did not allow such a marriage). However, there are religions that allow homosexuals to wed, and I’m fine with that. If I were to be invited to such a wedding at such a church, I’d be honored to be invited. One things that I am sure of is that the government must not be involved in the matter of marriage. If it is to be involved at all, it must be limited to partnerships. And partnerships must be guided by universal rule of partnership. As part of those universal rules, a partnership can be comprised of two or more persons joining toward a common enterprise. If three men and five women want to become a partnership, then the government must allow it. (And, of course, if there is a religious order that would permit a marriage of three men and five women, then I would have no problem with that!)

I agree with Phil that homosexuality makes no common sense to me. A life form’s highest calling is to reproduce. Persons of any sexual orientation that engage in acts of homosexuality cannot reproduce. If homosexuals engage in acts sexuality with members of the opposite gender so that reproduction occurs, that is fine. All of this leads to the closing sentiment – HOMOSEXUALS may (or may not) be wonderful human beings. Homosexuality, however, is a behavior that is cowardly, selfish, and illogical.

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Addictions

I have always been fascinated by addictions. Mainly because I think that addictions are an overt demonstration of personal character flaws; personal weaknesses. How hard can in be to walk away from something that is destructive? Difficult but not impossible I have discovered.  

Tref. I grew up in a non-kosher household. I remember eating cheeseburgers, bacon, shrimp, clams, oysters and pork ribs. My favorites were scallops and lobster tails. When I divorced, I chose to go in a new direction. Part of it was to adhere closer to my Judaism. As I saw it, to be Jewish was to  obey the rules. Now I’m only human, so I knew that I’d be unable to do most of them, but I’d do the best that I could.  I believed that I could stick to the Kosher laws. And, really, its been easy (my brother maintains that I have only made it to “kosher-style” because, for instance, although I don’t combine dairy and meat, I buy my meat from Publix instead of a kosher shop). Beef ribs taste better than pork ribs; turkey bacon and beef bacon are better than pork bacon; and lobsters are the cockroaches of the ocean – ugh!

Fat foods. I’ve already humble-bragged in previous posts about modifying my diet. All I’m adding here is that eating junk IS destructive. Keeping that in mind makes sticking to your plan easy.

Finger-nail biting. I’ve chewed on my finger nails for as long as I can remember. I don’t chew the skin, but sometimes just chewing nails can draw blood. Frankly, it is disgusting. I’ve tried several times as an adult to quit. Well, I’m glad to relate that I have finally been successful in my battle. I let my nails grow long so I can scratch my wife’s back. Best thing is I use a nail clipper to clip my nails.

P.S. I also beat my coke addiction. I refuse to consume ANY soda.  

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