The Wedding Ring

[An update from March 10, 2013]   I find things.  As a kid I found Indian artifacts and detritus on Civil War battlefields (see post of 2/12/12).  Today, I find wallets, money, cell phones and jewelry (see post of 8/1/12).  Just by being observant. 

In January 2013, I was at O’Hare Field with my family.  Terminal 3 American Airlines.  Standing in front of a self-service check-in thingee.  Going through the ritual.  And I looked down.  There was a circular object on the floor.  At first it looked like a small bare key ring.   My gaze sharpened.  I bend down and picked it up.  It was a wedding ring.   A man’s wedding ring.  I looked around then squinted at the inside.  There was an inscription – a date in 2002 and the name “Rosa.”  I raised my voice inquiringly to those nearby — “Rosa”?   The only looks I got were the curious — not the that’s me or someone I know look.   I padded over to one of the AA stations (no. 39 as I recall) and I told the woman behind the counter that I’d found a wedding ring and that the inscription said “Rosa.”  I asked if she could make an announcement.  And she did.  Inside the entire terminal.  “Anyone losing an item that relates to Rosa please report to station thirty-nine.”   Now I had to catch a plane so I gave the woman my card and a few details on the ring and went on my way.   Ring in my left pocket.  As we walked, I heard the announcement a second – then third – time. 

Since reporting the find, I heard nothing.  I called the TSA and AA Lost & Found stations.  Gave them the details.   American Airlines posted the find on Facebook – and it generated over 600,000 “hits.”  Yet – no response. 

I kept the ring on my desk at home.  Waiting.  In the bowl where I keep “found” money – and things.  I wanted to get a call.   I could envision Rosa standing there, arms akimbo, asking her hubby “where did you leave your wedding ring” and the poor soul is going “duhhh I dunno.”  [Update – the ring remained on my desk for several years.  It has now – regrettably – been deaccessed and the funds donated to a charity].  Sorry Rosa. . . . .

Facials for Men

I wouldn’t think of having a facial. I’m a man. Grrrrr. . . . Snort snort. But I will confess. . . . I had one a few years ago.

I’m still in the dark as to how or why this happened but one Christmas, Lauren and Donna presented me with an envelope. Inside was a coupon for a facial. I remember looking up and saying something like “I can’t have a facial. I’m a man.” Grrrrr. . . . Snort snort. But the two of them looked at each other and giggled.  They must have thought that it would be a stitch to see my reaction. Or maybe they thought my face was in serious need of help. Either way, I agreed. And had a facial.

So I went into this spa place and I’m sitting there. With a bunch of women.  Yes – of course I was self conscious. But I’m a man . . . . Grrrrr . . . . Sn . . .   Anyway. . . .they called my name “MISTER PETERSEN” loud enough for guys in the sporting goods shop next door to hear.  I was led into this darkened room and the female “therapist” smilingly had me place my head over a steam thingee. Then she put a towel over my head and told me to “be still.” Hoookayyy. . . . I was “still” for a while.   When she came back, she had me lay back and started squeezing heaven knows what out of my cheeks, nose and forehead. Then she wrapped my face in a towel that smelled of something unmanly. After an hour or so, there was a freezing cold towel and I was done. I puffed out my chest and strutted out of the room, through the waiting room and out the door. And exhaled.

I’m sure I’ll never have another facial though I can say without a blink “Yeah – I’ve had a facial. Wasn’t bad. . . ” Grrrrrr. . . . Snort snort. . . .

Did you ever use a bad word?

Did you ever use a racial, religious, ethnic, body shaming, gender or other epithet when you were in 3d grade? 8th? 12th?  Did you ever call someone a “name”?  Or use such a term in a joke?  Or while talking with others?  If you say “no” – I’m not sure I would believe you.   Either way, it leads to the vexing question of whether a man or woman should be judged by the worst thing they ever said (or did) when they were a child? Or teenager?  Yet that seems to be the demand of some self-righteous souls who are quick to condemn others for things that happened in their adolescence.  

As time goes on, and the maturation process continues, we learn.  I am not the “boy ” I was when I was 16.   I’m probably guilty of using bad words when I was 9 years old.  Or 18.  You want to see what happened to me when I used a slur when I was 12 years old?  Read my post of July 30, 2017.  But the child of then is not the “me” of today.   Yet the current demand for adolescent accountability begs two serious questions:  what if at the time (50 years ago), such commentary was viewed differently.   Is it appropriate to judge people for words and deeds in the past by the selective moral compass of today?  Then there is the question of whether there should be forgiveness for words or deeds done in one’s adolescence — when one’s current life is exemplary — and does not reflect the “bad words” spoken in ages past.  We forgive criminals when they get out of prison.  Christians seem to forgive Saint Paul for once being Saul of Tarsus.  Why not forgive those who use bad words in adolescence?  How about forgiving those older folks who are contrite and repentant about stupid comments?  Is there a difference between an “offense” and “insensitivity”?      

I have grown up.  As just maybe you have too.  While you and I said and did stupid things when were were 12 years old – or 18 – we are not the same person today.  This notion of maturation is even Biblical (I Corinthians 13:11):   When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  So tell me — should your son or daughter be condemned forever and denied occupation — because of some ill-chosen words spoken or acts of stupidity when they were in grade school, high school or college?  How about an ill-tempered word in adulthood?  If you believe they – and others – should be condemned, then you – who are without sin – pick up the first rock.   And let ’em have it. . . . .  

Zarfs

Do you believe in conservation?  Do you want to save our planet?  Of course you do.  Think about small steps.  A “zarf” is one of those coffee cup sleeves that baristas slide up the cup to keep your pinkies from getting too hot. Every “take out” coffee cup has a zarf. Heaven help the coffee shop that doesn’t use one. Plaintiff’s lawyers will crawl out of their holes to sue. . . . .

Think of the “take out” coffee that is consumed.  And the zarfs, cups and tops that are bought, used and tossed. Into the trash. Think of all those trees. And the energy to produce millions (billions?) of zarfs.

Some years ago, I got a cup of coffee at Hannah’s Bretzel and carried it to my office. I finished and tossed the cup into the garbage.  I looked down.  And reached into the garbage, fished out the cup and slid off the zarf. And put it the bag I carry around. The next morning when I stopped for coffee, I pulled out my zarf and handed it to the chap behind the counter. He looked at it.   I said “I’m recycling the sleeve.” He smiled, went “ahhhh” and reused it. When I got up to my office and finished the coffee, I slid off the zarf and put it back in my bag.

Would you believe that zarfs can last for months? Three months translates to a hundred zarfs spared.  Reused.  I’m not sure if this makes any difference in the world but I’d bet if each of America’s 150 million coffee drinkers recycled one zarf once each month, the tree population — and the earth — would collectively breathe a sigh of relief.

The Talmud – Part II

Unlike Rabbi Steinsaltz’s compendium, the Talmud is more than just a single book. It is volume upon volume. More than 6,200 pages consisting of at least 63 “tractates” (or treatises). It is not authored by one or two people. It has been penned by hundreds of hands and collective minds.  The Talmud is divided into two parts: the Mishnah (circa 200 A.D.) which is a discussion of the oral Torah; and the Gemara (500 A.D. to present) which delves into a wide variety of social and cultural issues.

Originally, Jewish scholarship was passed down from generation to generation in oral narration.  Then – with the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D., there was a move to memorialize this oral tradition.  And so it began.  The Talmud is written in Hebrew script but the language is Aramaic — the language of Jesus.  Arguably the Talmud is no longer open for further edits.  However it continues to be open to discussion, commentary and footnote.  Thus, in a way, the Talmud will never be completed.

What are the topics discussed?  Apart from the social and cultural matters referenced in my previous post, the Torah plays a large role.  For example, when the Commandment says “Remember the Sabbath Day to make it holy,” just what does “Remember” mean?  That admonition (along with so many others in the Old Testament) has prompted extensive discussion and debate about the meaning of certain words, statements and commands.   

I may never become a Talmudic scholar but I am glad I took the time to read Rabbi Steinsaltz’s book.  And further investigate this important chapter of our Judeo-Christian heritage.       

The Talmud

I am a Christian. But since Jesus was Jewish, I thought it would be good to learn more about Christianity’s Judaic heritage. I’ve read the Torah, the Tanakh and the rest of the Bible cover-to-cover (more than once) but I’ve never dug into the Talmud.  Soooo. . . . .

A few months ago, I drove passed a store that offered a large selection of Judaica.  It was the book section that enticed me to stop.  I asked the gentleman at the counter for the best book (I confessed to being an Episcopalian) to learn about the Talmud.  He nodded and handed me The Essential Talmud by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.  All I can say is – “wow.”  The book was captivating.  And hard to put down. 

While the Tanakh (Old Testament) is the cornerstone of Judaism, the Talmud is the pillar — the most important book in Jewish culture.  The Talmud is an assemblage of commentary, questions and answers – about the Torah, the Tanakh, culture, social order and. . . . . everything.  The Talmud invites questions.  None of which is considered inappropriate.  Questions about the Torah are encouraged.  Discussed.  Debated.  Resolved.  And discussed again.  One is not supposed to just read the Talmud – but to study it.  And to become a scholar of the Talmud.  This is quite unlike Islam which mandates that questions about the Quran are haram (forbidden). 

Rabbi Steinsaltz’s book includes chapters on the Sabbath, Marriage, Divorce, Civil and Criminal Law, Dietary Laws, Ethics, the Law, Prayer, Scholarship, Women, and on.  And on.  It was a truly enlightening read.  If you are interested and would like a copy of the book – let me know.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Why wildfires have gotten worse

He ruffles feathers (including my own) but Mr. Trump’s comment that the State of California’s forest policies share responsibility for the horrific forest fires in the state — may be on target. 

I have posted occasionally on the TED Talks that I watch while having lunch. I just finished my chicken avocado sandwich while watching a TED Talk bearing the title above – “Why Wildfires have gotten Worse” by Dr. Paul Hessburg http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_hessburg_why_wildfires_have_gotten_worse_and_what_we_can_do_about_it#t-839042 . .             

Dr. Hessburg is a forest ecologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Forest Service. He has a doctorate in Forest Pathology from Oregon State University and he is an Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington. Dr. Hessburg’s mantra is that “unless we change . . . our forest and fire management habits . . . we will lose many more beloved forests. . . . ”  

On November 9th, the New York Times had an article titled “Why Does California Have So Many Wildfires.”  The answer – according to the Times is fourfold:  climate change; people (who start fires); fire suppression policies; and the Santa Ana winds.  Dr. Hessburg’s 14 minute video is an excellent primer which tracks in part the NYT article.  So why is the situation worse today?   If you wish to learn, invest 14 minutes and watch his presentation.