Sunday, December 11, 2016

Ending Yom Kippur....

Top of the evening everyone...

Given that Hannukah is about to be upon us, I thought it high time to write about the way I calculate the ending to Yom Kippur.

Some background is in order.  First of all, the local va'ad in Toronto insists on using the strictest method of calculation possible, which is 72 minutes from the time of candle-lighting.  As well, I have seen methods that just require an hour from candle-lighting.  This was what most communities in New York did.

When I was at my pulpit in New York, my cantor insisted on fasting on Yom Kippur, despite being diabetic.  As well, he refused to use his CPAP machine.  Every year, we argued about it, and every year he did what he was going to do.

Upon reflection, it occurred to me that he was likely not the only person in the room fasting when he should not have been, when Jewish law would have told him that he should not.  On the one hand, this is good.  Rabbis everywhere want these basic observances of Jewish law to be so ingrained that it is hard to put them down even when we should.  On the other hand, there are times we should.

Shabbat and holidays can all end when there are three stars in the sky.  Many years back, someone wrote an article showing that three stars are always visible 25 minutes past sundown.  Candle-lighting is 18 minutes before sundown.  Thus, 43 minutes after candle-lighting is an acceptable time to end Shabbat and holidays.  That is when I shoot to get to the ending rituals.

What Jewish law requires, it requires.  When it comes to something like fasting, it is unreasonable for Jewish law to require even a minute more than it already does, especially since setting those times already involves a necessary stringency.  And that is for those who should fast.  When we get into the realm of those who should not fast, but do so anyway, I believe it obligatory to end as quickly as possible, absent stringencies, for the sake of their health.

Have a good evening everyone.


Category IV....

That is what it says on my military ID card.  It refers to my category in the Geneva Conventions.  I am not a combatant.  It means that in a war, the other side is not allowed to target me in any way.  If captured, I do not become a POW.  I become a detainee.  The difference is significant.  A detainee is allowed to continue with his/her assigned tasking.  Failure to support that requires releasing a detainee to go home.

In September 2001, my infantry battalion did an exercise with the Royal Marines.  One morning, they crept up on our perimeter, "killed" the guards, and then overran our camp.  I woke with a Royal Marine yelling "whar's yer weapon?"  I said "chaplain."  He turned and shot someone else.

I have every confidence that if the US ever gets into armed conflict with the British, my status will be respected and protected.

The challenge is that I do not expect us to get into a war with the British.  This is a good thing.  However, the folks with whom we get into armed conflict now have no respect whatsoever for such convention.  It is in that light that I have started working on my tan belt with the Marine Corps.  I have learned a couple of things while doing it.

The first is that I have most of the moves down at this point.

The second is that the Marines with whom I am working are half my age.  Maybe starting this at age 47 was not the brightest idea I have ever had.  Ouch.  It is the weekend right now.  I must tell you that I am happy about that.  My ribs are no longer tender.

On a separate, but related note, my dad took my brother and me to the range last night.  Dad can shoot.  My brother did okay as well.  With me...well...there is clear reason that chaplains do not carry.  My dad kept telling me to keep the muzzle up.  I finally said that there is a pill for that.

Have a good one everybody.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

To Good to Be True...

Top of the evening to all.

First of all, thank you to GS and to EKB for pointing out the spelling mistake in the title.  The mistake is intentional.

Why did I write such a mistake?  It is because of a headline I saw on MSNBC.

"Is Flynn to cozy with Putin to be national security advisor?"  There is an egregious error in that title. It has left me wondering: in order for Flynn to be the national security advisor, must he cozy with Putin?  Do you think they will have tea together while watching TV on the sofa?

I am willing to bet that the headline is supposed to be "Is Flynn too cozy with Putin to be national security advisor?"

The big 'O' is clearly missing a piece.

Have a good night, and to General Flynn and Mr. Putin, well, never mind.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

I Think I Saw Air Force 1...

Top of the evening to all...

I was at Andrews Air Force Base today.  That is where the President takes off and lands when traveling.

I had to get from one side of the base to the other after lunch.  So I started driving the perimeter road. It is impossible to go straight across, due to the fact that there is a big runway in the middle.

As I was getting ready to make the left turn that goes past the runway, there were several cars in front of me.  I could not figure out why no one was turning.  Cars lined up and lined up.  Apparently, there was an Airman holding up traffic.

We waited.  We waited some more.  More than two dozen cars had lined up behind me.  Then I saw it.

A big, beautiful 747 took off, winging gracefully towards the sky.  On its side was the American flag, as well as "United States of America."  It was clearly one of the 747's erroneously called Air Force 1. Why do I say that it is erroneously called that?  First of all, there are two of this aircraft.  Second, and far more importantly, it is only a plane.  It does not become Air Force 1 until the President is aboard.  As the White House is appropriately reluctant to announce the President's travel schedule, it could have been just a practice flight.  It turns out that he was headed to Florida.  I think I saw Air Force 1 today.

That was totally cool.

Have a good night.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The War on Cars...

Hi all...

Those of us who live in Toronto hear constantly about the so-called 'War on Cars.'  We are led to believe that cyclists want nothing more than the elimination of cars from the road.  It is nonsense.  We merely want to ride safely.  I suspect that cars want nothing more than that as well.  Sometimes, cyclists are dimwits.  There have been several I have wanted to run down.

Today, I was riding south on Bathurst St coming to my corner.  There was a car ahead of me signalling to turn onto my street.  He clearly saw me coming, and held off on making his turn until he knew exactly where I was.  I held my left hand up to signal my own turn.  He saw that, and realized that we were both going the same way.

He made the turn extra wide, giving me plenty of space to make my turn, or to avoid hitting me if he had misread.  We both made the turn safely.  He pulled into one of the parking lots to pick someone up.  I pulled up next to him.

Me: I want to thank you for making an extra effort not to kill me.
Him: I want to thank you for being responsible.  When you signalled your turn, I knew what you were going to do.

We shook hands.  I went home for lunch.

It can be that way.

Have a good evening everyone.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Throwing My Kippah into the Ring...

Top of the evening everyone...

Some of you may remember that I finally ran for President four years ago.  I was not pleased with President Obama.  Mitt Romney was less than impressive.  I wrote an entry about it.  Here it is: I Have a Problem.

It is now four years later.  We are all witness to the political spectacle that is this year's Presidential election.   Please allow me to add a couple of thoughts.

Donald Trump...oy.  Had you asked me, or anyone else for that matter, a year ago, I would have said that he did not stand a snowball's chance in hell of getting the nomination.  I also said then that he was saying things that needed to be discussed.  His utter lack of filter was putting serious concerns on the table.

That was then.  This is now.  Jennifer is absolutely right in her blog entry of this week about locker room talk.  My friends, please allow me to speak of men's locker rooms.  Whatever Jennifer has said is correct.  However, she simply does not have the experience of being in the men's locker room.  I do.

The men's locker room is not particularly noisy.  People tend to be quiet.  If there is a conversation, it is between two people, or maybe among three people.  It is not across the room.  As well, the general level of class that I have seen is more or less appropriate to daily society.  I flatly reject the insult of locker room talk in justifying Trump's statements.  Gentlemen, to be a gentleman is to be a gentleman at all times and in all places.  This includes the locker room.  A male President of the United States is always a gentleman.

That brings us to Secretary Clinton.  She is smart.  She is competent.  In theory, I could vote for her.  I have two problems.  One is mine, and it is not a political problem.  This e-mail 'scandal' is important.  For the record, she is not a criminal.  To call her that is horrendous.  However, the e-mail 'scandal' presents a question of leadership.  I have two .mil e-mail accounts.  'Mil' is short for 'military.'  All federal employees in the US are required by law to use government e-mail for all government business.  Having been on the receiving end of a tongue-lashing for violating that rule, I take umbrage at her getting away with it.  It is far worse when one realizes that her security clearance is far higher than mine.

That being said, a friend pointed out that there was no malice.  Folks, let it go.

The other issue is not so much a Secretary Clinton issue.  It is the minions that she brings with her.  During the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, protestors burned two flags outside the convention centre.  The two flags were the US flag and Israel's flag.  I absolutely support and defend the right to burn the flag.  Under no circumstances will I keep company with those who do so.  As people who would burn those two flags gain influence in the Democratic party, I cannot vote with that party anymore.

And so, I formally announce my candidacy for the Office of the President of the United States of America.  My platform is this: I am not the other two.

Unlike last time, I am hoping for actual votes.  If you believe in me, please tell a friend.  If you do not, I understand, and still like you.

BR - if you are reading my blog these days, please note that I will nominate you for AG.

Have a good evening everyone.


Monday, September 12, 2016

I Forgot to Give This a Title...

Top of the evening everyone...

For those of you who have not been out east, you should go.  We just got back from Prince Edward Island.  If you are familiar with the "Anne of Green Gables" books, they were all written out there.  L. M. Montgomery is buried in Cavendish.  We explored the cemetery.

I am forced to confess that PEI has the absolute best ice cream I have ever had.  I do not do dairy so well, but decided to risk it because of the reputation.  I think that my daughter found meaning in life at Cows ice cream.

I took the boys bicycle riding up and down the eastern shoreline.  There were all sorts of birds, including one comparatively small bird that walked up and down the red dunes.

We had a fair amount of debate as to how to get to PEI.  There is the bridge and the ferry.  We all very much wanted to take the ferry, because, you know, we believe in ferries.  We ended up doing both.

I went in up to my knees in the water up near Cavendish.  I was not going to be that far north and not get my feet wet.

We rented a cottage at Cavendish.  With cottages, we have front porches.  You talk to your neighbours.  I found it interesting that the men all wanted to sell everything and move out to PEI.  It seems so much calmer than life in all of the places from which we hail.

We also went to the potato museum.  PEI grows a lot of potatoes.  They fry quite well.

I am being stepped on, so I think I should help with the groceries.

Good night everyone.