A Funky Hanukkah Video

This year Hanukkah starts tomorrow night.  Normally Hanukkah and Christmas fall closer together; I don’t remember Hanukkah coming this early before.  That means the Jewish calendar is due for a leap month.

Anyway, a few years back my son-in-law introduced me to Matisyahu, because he knew I’m a reggae fan.  Who would have thought the next hot reggae singer would be a Hasidic Jew from new York, instead of a Rastafarian from Jamaica?  Now Matisyahu has come out with a Hanukkah song that celebrates the holiday for the same reason I do.  The song is called “Miracle,” but he’s not talking about the story of the Temple oil lasting for eight days – he’s referring to how the Jews defeated their enemies, though the odds were stacked against them.  In this video he has a dream featuring the original Matisyahu (Mattathias?), Antiochus Epiphanes, the Nutcracker, some hockey players and even an Abominable Snowman, all on ice.  Have fun!

Back in Kentucky

Yesterday we were on the road, driving home from Portal, GA to Lexington, KY.  This time the trip took eleven hours, instead of twelve, because the only traffic jam we encountered near Atlanta was a short one in Henry County; for Atlanta itself I drove through the city, instead of around it like I did last time.  There were two other traffic snarls on the way, but thank goodness, they were brief, too.  One was right at the Georgia-Tennessee border, and involved cars and trucks going into Chattanooga; no, I don’t know what causes a traffic jam in Chattanooga on a Sunday afternoon.  The other was in Corbin, KY, and was caused by an accident involving a horse trailer; that’s Kentucky for you!

The only other adventure on the way was that it got really cold in the northernmost part of Tennessee, enough to chill the car’s engine.  I am developing a dislike for the stretch of I-75 between Knoxville and the Kentucky border.  I usually drive on it at night when going north, it’s remote and poorly lit, and the weather there seems to be worse than in surrounding areas.  Last night I didn’t have to deal with rain and fog, like I did when I drove there last December, but I still had to go at 80 MPH to keep up with everybody — not a healthy speed to maintain.  Thus, Leive and I were both relieved when we reached the Kentucky welcome station, though we still had two more hours of driving ahead of us.

Near the end of the trip, Leive made an interesting observation.  We did not talk about our parrot, Brin-Brin, once during this trip, but we talked a lot about our new grandchild, who Leive calls the Apo.  Does this mean that Brin-Brin has been a child substitute, since we got him in July 2007?

Anyway, we’re home now, so let’s see what the week will bring.

Lexi’s First Thanksgiving

As you know from the last few messages, Leive and I are currently in Portal, Georgia, with Lindy, Adam and Lexi.  We didn’t have room in their house to fix a proper Thanksgiving dinner, and they didn’t have the ingredients to cook it, either, so we did what they normally do, and celebrated it with their friends from church.  Remember the building I showed with a mural on it, that called Portal “The Turpentine City?”  We went to the building next to it, a meeting hall named Bear Creek Ranch.  It was a typical potluck, with most folks bringing traditional Thanksgiving fare.  For our contribution, Leive whipped up a dish of pancit (Philippine noodles), which is always popular.

First, here is Bear Creek Ranch, right in the heart of beautiful downtown Portal.

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Next, some pre-requisite pictures of the one Leive calls Apo (grandchild, pronounced ah-poo), in the arms of Leive and Lindy.

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Leive’s favorite decoration was this elk head trophy.  I told her we have elks like that back in Kentucky, though not in Lexington.

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Here is how our table looked before we claimed our seats.

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We’ve said the blessing, now it’s time to get in the chow line!  Adam is visible on the far left.

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I will finish with some pictures of the table spread.  First, the turkey and stuffing, of course.

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Next, some mashed potatoes, ham, sweet potatoes and gravy.

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Leive’s pancit is right behind the salad in this picture.

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After the salad came cranberry relish, cranberry sauce, deviled eggs and rolls.

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And don’t forget the desserts, especially pumpkin pie!  We had to put them on a separate table.  I got a piece of pecan pie, because that is a common treat in states of the Deep South like Georgia, but not in Kentucky.

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I hope that your holiday weekend was as pleasant as ours!

Who Just Saved Western Civilization?

Wow! Iran’s nuclear weapons program was disabled by the most ingenious computer virus I have ever heard of.  Read how the virus did it; this is truly amazing. If such a worm appeared in a science fiction or spy story, would you believe it?

Mystery Surrounds Cyber Missile That Crippled Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Ambitions

I guess this means Doomsday has been postponed for the time being.  Remember how it seemed bad when the Russians got the atomic bomb?  Then when the Chinese got the bomb, it seemed worse, because the Chinese were willing to sacrifice millions of their own people to defeat the West?  And when India and Pakistan got the bomb, it seemed even worse than that, because we figured it wouldn’t take much to incite them to use it?  We had a war scare between India and Pakistan in 2002 or 2003, for instance.  At the time, Larry the Cable Guy predicted that on his next visit to a 7-11 store, he would see a two-headed guy named Sanjay at the cash register, and a three-armed guy named Mohammed cleaning the hot dog rack, and he would tell them, “You should have stuck to Slurpees!”

Most recently, we have been scared about Iran and North Korea getting the bomb, because they have said openly who the intended targets are, and they aren’t afraid of nuclear annihilation.  In the bad old days of the Cold War, Nikita Khrushchev frightened the West by saying, “We will bury you,” but because he did not believe in an afterlife, he would not try to take out New York City if it meant we would retaliate by destroying Moscow.  By contrast, today’s terrorists value dying more than living, and are in a hurry to go from this world to the next one.  Whereas the MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) doctrine kept the United States and the Soviet Union from using nuclear weapons on each other, MAD won’t work against those who are truly mad.

Of course the Iranians will keep trying try to get the bomb, maybe by buying it from North Korea.  We just have a reprieve for now.  A future apocalypse is still possible, it just won’t be happening right away, so enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend instead.

The above article said that a virus as sophisticated as Stuxnet (the one that infected the Iranian computers) would have required 10,000 man-hours of programming—a whole nation’s worth of geeks, so the reporters don’t think Israel is responsible.  Too many scientists would be needed; currently the main suspects are the United States, Germany or Russia.  Oh, I don’t know about that.  When it comes to intellectuals per capita, Israel is second to none, and Iran’s threat gives the Jewish state a very good reason to act, especially if it doesn’t look like we’ll do anything.  Finally, don’t forget Israel’s secret weapon since 1948; no second chance.  The Israelis know more than anyone else how small they are, and how big their opponents are by comparison; if Israel ever lost a battle or war, it would be all over, so they always make sure they do it right the first time.

I Used to Call Today “Cold Turkey Day”

When I was a kid, I was off from school on the day after Thanksgiving, and there were usually some fun cartoons on TV.  Mind you, this was before Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network were invented, so cartoons at any time besides Saturday morning were worthy of attention.

Now I’m getting confused, because there are now several official names for the day after Thanksgiving.  The most popular name is Black Friday, because merchants are hoping today’s shopping will finally put them in the black.  Then today I learned from Bing.com that this is Native American Heritage Day.  Apparently a California congressman felt that the Indians deserved equal time, because their tribes and cultures did not do so well after they attended the 1621 Thanksgiving in Plymouth, MA, so in 2008 he got today declared “Native American Heritage Day.”  I don’t know how it is celebrated though, so maybe I’ll ask my brother about that.  Maybe I’ll start by playing the songs I have from R. Carlos Nakai in my music collection.

Finally, I’ve heard some folks call this “Buy Nothing Day,” BND for short.  I can agree with the sentiment because I hate crowds in the stores, and at other times have expressed the feeling that too many people see holidays as just an excuse to shop and take a day off from work, regardless of what we’re supposed to be observing.  If I go out today, it will be to prospect for my Pre-Paid Legal business, not to shop.  And I was turned off to post-Thanksgiving shopping forever when some people were killed by it (see my message from November 29, 2008).

On the other hand, most of the ads I have seen on the Internet for Buy Nothing Day come from people who don’t like capitalism in general.  Instead of talking about losing the original meaning of Thanksgiving, Christmas or whatever, they are doing this to protest American consumerism; they say we are acting too much like pigs, compared with the rest of the world.  Those aren’t my sentiments.  I don’t really want to hurt any merchants today, and the rest of the world would probably act just as piggy, if they could.  For example, recently I heard P. J. O’Rourke claim that nothing we do in the West will stop global warming, as long as a billion Chinese want to drive Buicks.

On the other hand, there is a new website called ShopNothing.com, which is set up to sell you nothing in four packages:  Nothing Basic ($4.99), Nothing Essential ($9.95), Nothing Deluxe ($19.95), or if you really want to splurge, Nothing Premium ($99).  Each item comes with a picture of what you get–nothing.  The advertising pitch is that you’ll feel better spending your money on nothing than you will if you blow it on a gift you will never use.  Which goes to show what I’ve been saying all along; you can sell anything with the right advertisement.  Even nothing.

And I used to think The Nothing Book was a silly idea, LOL.  Next time I’ll probably post pictures from this year’s Thanksgiving dinner.  See you later!

Happy Thanksgiving 2010!

We plan to eat with some friends of Lindy, Adam and Lexi this afternoon.  Nothing new to report since yesterday, so just enjoy the holiday and thank the good Lord for it.  See you when you’re finishing off the leftovers!

p.s., Here’s how Google sees Thanksgiving this year. On their homepage, if you put your cursor over each food item, a larger picture appears with a link to the recipe.

Reporting From the Turpentine City

Today Leive and I are not in Kentucky but in the little bitty town of Portal, GA, where the main event every year is a turpentine festival, staged with a parade in October.

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We left Lexington yesterday around 10:30 AM, and thanks to very heavy traffic in the Atlanta area, arrived in Portal a little more than twelve hours later.  But then, I only got through Atlanta quickly in 2006, and that was on a Sunday morning.  Anyway, we are visiting our daughter Lindy, her husband Adam, and our eight-month-old granddaughter Lexi.  This is the first time we saw Lexi in person, and I feel we should have come sooner, because her other grandparents have seen her twice already!

Lexi was asleep when we arrived, but she took to us right away this morning.  As Lindy said, she hasn’t yet learned to be afraid of anybody.  I should mention that in photos she looks like a redhead, but her hair is more blonde in real life.  Here are some pictures of Leive being held, by Lindy, Leive and myself.  In the picture where I’ve got her, she’s chewing on the cord to my camera case, as babies are inclined to do.

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Overall Lexi was a good kid, not crying much except at bedtime.  It probably was because she was the center of attention all day.  In the afternoon we went shopping to get a few groceries for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving dinner, and some early Christmas presents for Lexi.  The bib which says “Who needs Santa when I have Grandma” sums up our feelings perfectly.

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Long-time readers will know this isn’t our first visit to Portal; I believe it’s our sixth since 2007.  For dinner we all went to a Chinese place that we discovered last year, and thoroughly enjoyed.  I’ll finish today’s report by posting a video I recorded at home, of Lexi bouncing in her chair while watching her favorite kiddie show on TV.  Happy Thanksgiving in advance!

Obama, God of Destruction

President Obama has just come back from India, but already Newsweek Magazine has offended Indians, by showing him in the same pose as the Hindu god Shiva. The artist is trying to defend Obama the same way that Newsweek defended Jimmy Carter, by claiming the presidency has gotten too big for one man.  Thus, the picture is just meant to show him doing a juggling act.  But by having him do it while standing on one foot, that is too much like the statues where Shiva dances while destroying the world.

Last year a Newsweek editor claimed that Obama is “sort of God,” and this magazine cover tells me the thought is still in the back of his mind.  Note how they call him “God of All Things.”  But do they really mean to show him as a god of destruction?  Conservatives will find it appropriate.  Also, it means that those interested in end-time prophecy can stop wondering about whether Obama is the Antichrist.  According to the prophecy timeline most follow, the first three and a half years (the “Lesser Tribulation”) of the Antichrist’s reign are supposed to look like good times, yes?  Well, the two years since Obama got elected have been anything but that.

Last month I read a story which suggested that the Mayan calendar may be 50-60 years off.  Guess we won’t have to worry about 2012 after all; this magazine cover is the latest sign of it.

Sources:

Newsweek Depiction of Obama as Lord Shiva Upsets Some Indian-Americans

Latest Newsweek cover: Obama is the god of all things

The Penobscot Expedition

This morning I read about a naval battle during the American Revolution that has been forgotten by nearly everybody, because it was a disaster for the Patriots.  No wonder John Paul Jones is the only American hero we hear about on the high seas at this point.  Naturally this deserves a paragraph in Chapter 2 of my North American history series, which will read as follows:

Meanwhile in the north, superior British discipline led to a naval battle so embarrassing for the Patriots that they refused to talk about it afterwards, to the point that few people have even heard of the battle.  In the summer of 1779 the British sent an expedition of three ships and 700 men to Maine; the plan was to detatch Maine from Massachusetts by starting a loyalist colony there, and calling it New Ireland.  They landed at the mouth of the Penobscot River and built a fort; when the Patriots heard about it, they sent their own expedition to get rid of the fort.  The Patriots had forty-two ships (eighteen warships plus transports, the largest fleet assembled by the Americans during the war), more than a thousand militiamen, and six cannon, which should have been enough to do the job.  They landed and captured the nearest heights, half a mile from the fort, but suffered a hundred casualties in the landing, so the local commander decided to bombard the fort from a distance instead of attacking it by frontal assault.  Now the Americans were paralyzed by a communications breakdown; the general refused to attack the fort until the admiral took out the British ships, while the admiral refused to attack the ships until the general caused a diversion by attacking the fort!  The British, on the other hand, were able to get reinforcements from New York, and build higher walls around their fort.  In the end, those reinforcements decided the battle.  Ten British ships attacked the American fleet, trapping it in the Penobscot River; all but one of the American ships were destroyed or scuttled between the fort and an upstream settlement (present-day Bangor).  With its support gone, the Patriot army fled overland to Boston, losing nearly all its food and ammunition on the way.  The final score for the Penobscot expedition:  25 British killed and 34 British wounded, while 474 Americans were killed, wounded, captured or missing.  The Patriot in charge of the artillery, Paul Revere of midnight riding fame, was accused of disobedience and cowardice, courtmartialed, dismissed from the militia, and later exonerated.  Maine stayed in British hands until the 1783 Treaty of Paris.

Source:  The Worst US Naval Disaster You’re Never Heard Of