Sugarloaf Crafts Festival

I love this time of year when the weather gets nice and we can do more outdoor activities. 


Today, we took the opportunity to go to the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival. 


There were so many vendors with artistic works in metal, glass, art, jewelry, leather, photography, pottery, and more. 


Everyone seemed to be looking for those one-of-a-kind special pieces.


I did manage to find a very special colorful menorah, which I had my eye on since last year, and which I was glad that I waited for because the artisan made it even better and more beautiful than before. 


Again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and most things were an easy pass on, but some things definitely caught my eye and attention. 


The photo here was one of them where the artist was selling pots, and he set up this plastic chicken–as if the chicken was set and ready to go into the oven. 


Creativity can definitely get weird, but everyone likes a standout. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumethal)

U.S. Shuts Eyes To Syria and Ukraine

stop

While we are willing to take in some refugees (true to “our values”), we are not willing to enforce “red lines” and stop the killing in Syria’s almost 6-year murderous civil war. 


Incredibly, there are 500,000 killed (including 50,000 children) and another 2,000,000 wounded in the fighting already


Also, there are 6,000,000 internally displaced and another 4,800,000 refugees outside Syria causing a humanitarian crisis and destabilizing the region. 


Dictator Bashar Al Assad and most importantly, Russia seem unstoppable. 


Russia does not play by the West’s rules–they make the rules!


While we threaten to cut off diplomatic talks, Russia continues the heaviest bombing of the war with 1,900 bombs on Aleppo in the last week alone.


The UN cries foul with empty threats of war crimes on the atrocities being committed, but again no one is willing to stop Russia.


Moreover, Russia brings in yet more advanced weaponry and warns the U.S. not to try to stop them in Syria (sound familiar to the 2014 blitzkrieg in Crimea/Ukraine?). 


Again, we are unwilling to stop the bombardment of almost 300,000 civilians in Aleppo with aid convoys, hospitals, schools, and bakeries all grotesquely now being fair game.


Last week, I watched 60 Minutes on CBS about our nuclear bomber fleet, and the rising threat of nuclear war with Russia.


What was particularly scary is that U.S. military strategists are now concerned that the U.S. is “sociologically weaker” than our opponents.


In particular, they worry that as Russia continues to threaten first use of nukes to meet their strategic aims with “an evolved willingness to employ nuclear weapons in the course of a conflict,” they are counting on the U.S. to back down from any engagement or retaliation, because we would be so afraid of escalating with Russia, let alone using first. 


In other words, Russia does not consider the U.S. nuclear deterrent to be credible anymore–we are viewed as chicken and pushovers and Russia could simply “shock the Western powers into de-escalating.”


First Ukraine and now Syria, what country is safe from the “Great Bear”–will the Balkans be next or perhaps somewhere even more deadly to a broken NATO and a farce of a UN. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Did G-d Create The World?

Globe 1
So we met the Rabbi at Starbucks for a coffee and conversation. 



We talked about such a wide variety of topics–the Ten Commandments, the laws of Shabbat, driverless cars and smartphones, women’s minyan (prayer services), and even LGBT.



Not sure how this came up, but at one point the Rabbi turns to us and asks, “Why did G-d create the world?”



Taken a little off guard by this very big question, I blurted out, “To get to the other side!”



I thought he was going to fall off his chair, and then we all laughed. 



But then we started to discuss some of the traditional answers like G-d out his infinite love created us with a spark of himself.



In very mortal terms, I guess maybe it’s not so fun to be G-d (omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent) but be alone in the universe.



By creating us, His children, he gave the gift of life, learning, and growth for us to emulate the Divine. 



What about all the terrible suffering?



Perhaps just part of our tests, trials, and tribulations to ultimately grow our souls. 



Still it’s a tough world. 



I wonder maybe “to get to the other side”–for us to get to Heaven–isn’t such a bad answer after all (even if it comes from the chicken crossing the road joke). 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

“Chickenshit”?

Chicken
Wow, what type of politician calls the Prime Minister of Israel, our “Major Strategic Partner,” with an “unshakable bond,” a “Chickensh*t”?



Yes, it’s in the Washington Examiner today. 



Forget about being completely rude and disrespectful–how utterly impolitic!



Sinking to new political lows globally with our friends and allies–while the ratings sink (and sink) to new lows for these politicians. 



Imagine, Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu defends his nation by putting real boots on the ground in Hamas-run Gaza for the 50-days of fighting rocket barrages and terror tunnels, and builds apartments in Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel–Sorry, that is not Chickensh*t.



While domestically, we have been seen as in full global retreat abandoning our bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, carpet bombing from the air in Syria and not punishing chemical weapons use (remember the “red line“), leaving key portions of Ukraine in the hands of Russia, seeking to forge WMD-losing deals with the devils in Iran, and watching the situation deteriorate as we “Pivot East” to Asia, and as we all know, much more. 



– Finanically–we can’t balance a budget,

– Ebola Epidemic–we can’t put together a sensible quarantine policy (while the States fill the void)

Imigration–we can’t muster a realistic bill

Veterans–the scandal of not caring for our veterans is still scathing.



And the list goes on, virtually without end. 



Horrible name-calling and snubbing leaders on the world stage, let alone of our best allies and friends, is not only politically immature, but morally disgraceful–but psychological projection is a very real possibility.



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Walk Like A Chicken

Chicken Eyes

So I’ve been reading about the use of virtual technology for the military veterans as a way to help the healing process of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


But this was something different yesterday in downtown D.C….


Using virtual reality to “See Life Through A Chicken’s Eyes”–complements of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). 


So I go up and ask the attendant what this is all about. 


She says, “You can take the virtual reality tour and walk around a field as a chicken!”


She goes on, “Only we’re having some trouble with the technology, so can you come back in 20 minutes?”


Uh, okay, but 2 things:


1. Yes, I do believe in ethical treatment for everyone (including animals), and no one should suffer where we can (and should) prevent it. 


2. I did just have some chicken (only Kosher, of course!) to eat just last week (and it was pretty good), and while I am curious to see the virutal reality, I can’t make it back here in 20 minutes, but thank you!


Lesson: Treat all life compassionately, but I don’t have to walk around as a chicken to see that! 😉

Most Novel Bingo

I fondly remember when I was a kid going occassionally with my mom to the local synagogue to help the elderly with their weekly bingo game. 

It was fun to see the old people getting together, having a good time, and competing for the prize, usually some token tchochkes.

As a little kid, of course, even though I wasn’t playing, I usually walked away with a big Hersey’s chocolate bar–and that itself was enough to make me want to come back again and again. 

A couple of weeks ago though, I come to find out, there are other exciting versions of the game out there…

The Wall Street Journal (22 October 2012) described quite a novel version of the game called either chicken-poop bingo or cow-chip bingo. 

Not to gross anyone out, it is what is sounds like. 

The winning numbers are drawn not by the turning the game cage and having a ball with the winning numbers on it fall down the chute, but rather by where the chicken or cow does it’s business. 

Some have barked about this being cruel to animals to use them in this way or that people manipulate the animals to go on certain squares by planting feed, or that when the dung drops on multiple squares, then the winner is the one with the greatest volume–enjoy measuring that! 

This version of the game wins butt-down for the most novel way to play bingo, but for me, I still would rather accompany my mom to help the old people like I did as a kid and walk away with that great big cholocate bar. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to B.K. Dewey)