At the Pearly Gates

19 Jul

A Dane and a Swede both died at the same time.  They found themselves side-by-side winging their way to Heaven.

The Dane looked at the Swede and said “I hope you know that St. Peter – the Guardian of the Pearly Gates* – is Danish.”

The Swede scoffed “Dat’s silly. Especially coming from a Dane. I don’ believe you. Dat’s ridiculous.” The Dane gave him a knowing smile and said “just wait.”

Suddenly the two landed on a cloud — right in front of a large ornate podium. Behind it was a massive figure with long beard and flowing robes. It was St. Peter. “Welcome to Heaven” he bellowed. “Before you can enter Heaven, I am required to ask you a religious question.” St. Peter turned to the Dane and said “in the parable of the loaves and the fishes, how many did Jesus feed?” 

The Dane scratched his chin, looked up and said “five thousand.”  St.  Peter smiled and said – “go on in.”  And the Pearly Gates parted.

St. Peter looked at the Swede.  “You’re Swedish, aren’t you?” 

The Swede puffed out his chest, put his hands on his hips and said “Yep.  Dat I am!” 

St. Peter nodded.  “Okay – in the parable of the loaves and the fishes. . . .what were the names of those who were fed?” 

*Actually referenced in Revelations 21:21

Yoga Toes

16 Jul

Here’s a public service announcement. 

I have arthritis in my feet. It can be painful. I’ve tried to eliminate gluten (see post of 8/13/13), I avoid red meat, sugar and go easy on the dairy (all known “triggers” for arthritis and other things).  The diet helps.  But recently I read about “Yoga Toes.” And the therapeutic benefits they can offer your feet.  Soooooo. . . . . I bought some Yoga Toes through Amazon.   I put them on when I get in bed and just leave them on. In the middle of the night, I usually kick them off.  You know what? Shhhhhhhh. . . .my feet are feeling better

Yoga Toes are ergonomic toe stretchers — that force the toes to expand to more natural positions (instead of being smooshed together in a pair of shoes).  They are made from a BPH free gel.  They are touted to help remediate bunions, hammer toes, foot pain and other foot issues.  You can put your Yoga Toes in the freezer (which I’ve done) to “ice” painful feet/toes.  It feels good.  I’m gonna keep my Yoga Toes.  And use them regularly.  If you have foot pain, let me say this — there’s no downside to Yoga Toes.  They just might help.  You can get a look at Amazon’s offering (and product reviews) at  www.amazon.com  – just enter “yoga toes”

A Bad Influence. . . .

12 Jul

On Friday night, Donna and I went to see the Steve Miller Band at Ravinia.  Oh my socks and shoes.  What a show!  Steve Miller was born in Milwaukee in 1943 and he still warbles like he did in his 1970’s classics.  And he plays a rock solid lead guitar.  Everything I ever dreamed of.

Steve’s family moved to Dallas when he was 7 years old.  He got his big start in music at the age of 12 – when he put a 3 piece band together and started doing gigs.  Wearing a suit and sunglasses.  On Friday nights, his mother would have to drive him to his gig.  And then pick him up.  In 1965, Steve moved from Texas to Chicago to play the Blues.  And he did.  Big time.  But a year or two later, he headed to San Francisco where he formed his iconic band.  And the rest as they say – is history.    

In my post of April 20, 2012 (“Martin O-18“), I suggested that I might well have had a different career path.  While Steve Miller was wowing the crowd with a high decibel version of “Fly Like an Eagle,” I leaned over to Donna and said “He is a very bad influence on me.”  I gave her a toothy smile.   Blinked a few times.  Sensing at once what I was referring to, she turned slowly – and gave me “that look” – and said “don’t quit the day job, Elvis.”  Sigh. . . . . 

Bill Cosby

9 Jul

Years ago, I used to live across from the Old Mister Kelly’s off of Rush Street in Chicago.  Kitty corner from Papa Milano’s.  My apartment was a 2 story walk up dump in the old Newberry Apartments at State and Oak in Chicago.  One cockroach per square foot of space (or was it two?).  Plus some resident mice.  I remember then hearing that Bill Cosby was an occasional visitor at the Playboy Mansion a few blocks north of where I lived. Frankly, everyone around knew this.  And the word on the street about him was scandalous.  Mister Cosby demanded and was provided whatever he wanted.  If you get my drift. . . . 

I remember hearing this same buzz years later.  Maybe someone should talk to Hugh Hefner. Or what’s left of him. . . .

Brothers

5 Jul

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.  It is like the precious ointment upon the head . . . . and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion . . . .”  Psalm 133

I have a hundred brothers.  They are scattered to the four winds.  They are my fraternity brothers from Augustana College.  Members of the Gamma Alpha Beta – GAB – fraternity.  I wasn’t destined for college (see post of October 13, 2013).  My future was to work after high school.  Frankly, it’s a fluke that I even applied (after graduation) and got in to college.  And came to know my brothers. 

Last weekend, we had a reunion of brothers from the GAB fraternity.  Donna and other wives attended.  It started Friday night and went to Sunday afternoon.  What a slice.   I am truly grateful for the opportunity of meeting, knowing and loving the men who are my brothers.  There are amazing memories and stories (many of which are gladly remembered — and a few that won’t be repeated).  I remember one dark night when my entire pledge class was corralled by police and taken off to jail.  One astute pledge escaped by pulling himself up onto a fire escape.  Me.   :)

The GAB’s won the Homecoming Sing with the ballad I sang to Lauren every night when she was little — “Oh Shenendoah.”   It was that song I picked for the Father-Daughter dance at her wedding (see post of August 14, 2011).  We both had tears in our eyes as the music played.  One brother – my roommate of 3 years – Colonel “Ox” – has been a glue that helped gather up about a hundred GAB’s on our mailing list.  And we chatter like old women in our emails.  Yet we all contribute in our own way.  It’s interesting how when you meet old friends, you kinda pick up where you left off.  It’s as if time stood still and you’re back being 19 years old again.  In my brain, I’m still 19.  Now if only my body would cooperate . . . . .        

Lawrence of Arabia

2 Jul

Having visited Wadi Rum in Jordan (enduring a sandstorm), Donna and I put Lawrence of Arabia at the top of our Netflix list.  And we watched.  All 3 hours and 36 minutes.  Wow!  Hard to believe the movie was filmed in 1962.   The cast was a “who’s who” of Hollywood:  Anthony Quayle, Alec Guinness, Claude Rains, Jose Ferrer, Jack Hawkins — and introducing Omar Sharif and Peter O’Toole.  The story is historically accurate though it doesn’t tell all of it.

Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935) was a British archeologist, army officer and diplomat.  He is best known for his liaison role during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in World War I and the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks (1916-18).  He was born out of wedlock to Sir Thomas Chapman and Sarah Junner – a governess.  Chapman left his first wife and family to live with Sarah under the name “Mr. & Mrs. Lawrence.”  And had 5 sons.     

The movie begins with Lawrence’s motorcycle accident – trying to avoid two bicyclists (which is what happened).  And then forwards to Lawrence as a soldier working in the Army’s Cairo office during the First World War.  What you don’t learn is that Lawrence was an archeologist who in 1909 spent 3 months in Syria mapping Crusader castles.  From 1910 to 1914, he spent a great deal of time in the Middle East — on digs and learning Arabic.  His language skills made him a natural to send to Cairo (in the Intelligence Unit) when the War began.  Because of his fluency and keen knowledge of the area, he was tasked to liase with the Arabs.   And he did — in the manner that legends – and movies – are made. 

After the War, he returned to London.  He basked in but then shunned the publicity.  In 1922, he tried to enlist in the Royal Air Force under the name John Hume Ross.  But his true identity was discovered.  He then changed his name to T.E. Shaw.  He ended his formal military career in 1928 after a 3 year posting at a remote base in India.  He did, however, continue an enlistment with the RAF until 1935. 

Lawrence authored two books on his experiences:  Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926) and Revolt in the Desert (1927).  Both are on my “to read” list.  If you want some armchair adventure, get the movie.  It’s fascinating.  And the music is stirring.  Director David Lean blacks out the screen for the beginning, middle and end while the music plays.  There’s nothing wrong with your television. . . .           

 

Israel

28 Jun

For me, a high point of our trip was the visit to Israel – and our stay in Jerusalem at the David Citadel Hotel which overlooks old Jerusalem. So much to see and do that Donna and I concluded one could not experience (if not “see”) everything in less than a week or ten days. We floated in the Dead Sea, visited Masada, collected water from the Jordan River and wound our way through the security of the West Bank into Bethlehem.  And of course there was Jerusalem . . . .

We learned a bit of Israel that you don’t read about in the news. The population of Israel is about 7 million. Of that 21% is Arab and 4% Christian.  The Jews and Arabs (who are Israeli) apparently get along okay even though most of the Arabs are related to the Palestinian contingent in the Occupied Territories (there is no “Palestine”).  Arabs are allowed – but not required – to serve in the Israeli army.   The “Palestinians” (who were led by Yassir Arafat – an Egyptian) are not regarded favorably by any of the Middle Eastern countries.  Hamas (Palestinian’s military wing) is committed to the destruction of Israel and inflicts its senseless violence.  On Israel.  And on its own people.  The Palestinians have had numerous opportunities to resolve the issues with Israelis but either stupidity or stubbornness get in the way.  The issues could have been resolved years ago.  But as one of our cruise ship lecturers said, “Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”   

An internal concern of most Israelis is the Haredim (ultra-orthodox) community which numbers 11% of the population.  The men refuse to work given their perceived religious obligation to study the Torah.  They also refuse to serve in the Army.  Unlike Quakers and pacifists in America, Haredim will not even serve as medics. Because they refuse to work, they and their families live off the dole.  More than half of the Haredim live below the poverty line.  Thus there are the obvious political pressures from outside of Israel.  But there are political tensions from within as well.      

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