Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sid's Granddaughter's Thoughts, A Harvey Sage Story and "Bike Music"

Bike Music

Some young people still drive around with their car windows open and with the speakers on their radios booming out the latest rock or hip-hop hits.  They love their music, but they also want to share it with others.  That’s why they play it so loudly.  I have a small, but loud radio attached to the basket on my bicycle.  Occasionally, passers-by turn their heads and nod as I bike past them, acknowledging the classical music coming out of my radio.  

A friend recently asked me why I don’t get rid of the radio, strap an Ipod or M-3 player onto my arm, plug in the earbuds and listen to all of the music I want without blasting it out for others to hear.  That certainly would be simpler.  But it also would be more private.  Those kids in their cars blasting out hip-hop may actually make some social connections with those hearing the music.  Perhaps that’s what they really are looking for. Otherwise they would roll their windows up.  They aren’t looking for privacy.  Same thing goes for the radio on my basket.  I like when people ask me about it.  If I had an Ipod strapped to my arm with a wire running to my ear, they wouldn’t even notice me. And that would lessen my connections with the real world, or, as I am beginning to fear, are Ipods and their cousins actually becoming that real world, a more private world where we all will lead isolated but electronically self-sufficient existences?  

Hey kids, keep those radios on real loud and those windows rolled down.  I’m with you.
Jack Lippman


Sid’s Granddaughter Writes Too

You’ve occasionally read contributions on this blog from Sid Bolotin.  Well, his granddaughter is a pretty good writer too.  Here’s a piece from her blog, “Five Four and a Quarter.”  Of course, the “Zaydee” she refers to is our own Sid.  (Printed with her grandmother's permission.)  I apologize for the appearance of the italicized memoir included in her posting;  it did not reproduce readily onto

I recently read a blog post on The Rest Is Still Unwritten about the blogger's relationship with his grandmother. The two had been close his whole life and were connected by the stories they shared. It really got me thinking about my relationship with my own grandparents and particularly my relationship with Zaydee, my paternal grandfather. Similar to this grandmother-grandson duo, I've always felt extremely close and connected to Zaydee. As he tells everyone he introduces to me, I would fall asleep on his bare chest as an infant when no one else could get me to stop crying. Twenty-three years later, we have a relationship different from any other I've ever seen between granddaughter and grandfather. We call each other just to say hi and chat. We constantly nag each other when we're together--He jokingly yells at me when I eat "his" food, he tells me I will give all the old men at his retirement community a heart attack when I walk around in my bathing suit, and he always pretends to take me up on my offer to pay the dinner bill. I tell him when he's looking exceptionally hairy, I always side with Bubbie when the two of them are arguing, and I let him know how pathetic it is that he uses his computer multiple times a day and still types with just his two fore fingers. The relationship we share is more of a friendship than a formal one based on "respect for your elders" -- although I still won't friend him on Facebook until he gets rid of his pseudonym virtual identity. However, I truly do respect Zaydee with all my heart. I marvel at his accomplishments and I give him --and everyone else in his generation-- so much credit for accepting the evolving world and putting the time and energy into learning our technologies and ways of life that are so different from when he was in his mid twenties. But above everything else, I respect Zaydee for his writing.
Over the past few years, Zaydee has written many short stories. Some are true accounts of his life and some are fictional. While most of his written creations are simply shared and enjoyed between family and friends, Zaydee has submitted some to newspapers and writing contests, making him a published author. He writes each story on a pad of paper and then transfers it to the digital world, putting a lot of time and energy into those two pointer fingers of his as he brings his thoughts to life one letter at a time. I read and keep each story that Zaydee writes. Although I thoroughly enjoy them all, my favorites are the true accounts that teach me a little bit about my Zaydee and about my family. One of these, titled "I Remember," is Zaydee's account of being 17 and asking my Bubbie out on a date for the first time. Zaydee's detailed recollection of this night many, many years ago and his ability to express himself in writing truly take my breath away. "I remember a spur-of-the-moment decision that I made on a warm night in August 1950. It was not a major decision…just a small one, the kind we make hundreds of times each day," the story beings. Although it is a mere 583 words, I can vividly hear James Garner's voice narrate the occurrence similar to how he tells the story of young love that stood the test of time in The Notebook.
Another one of Zaydee's short stories, Coming Full Circle, is one that brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. This story relives a family trip to the beach we took a few years ago:

One day we all gathered on the nearby beach where we had spent many summer days
during the 33 years we lived in the neighboring town of Marblehead. As is typical of New
England’s rocky coastline, the north end of the beach provides a monstrous outcropping
of building-sized boulders that jut into the ocean. When my sons were toddlers and
adolescents, I had taken them to many such beaches to fish, swim, and hunt sea
creatures in the tidal pools.

And, during prior family gatherings, I had participated with my sons as they repeated the
process with my grandchildren. No big deal when you're 50. Or 60. But what about 74?
After helping to set up the chairs, blankets, and umbrella, the “men” of the clan walked
to the rocks with the fishing rods that they had brought from home, some mussels
collected from the beach, and the purchased clams, squid, and herring to hopefully tempt the Striped Bass that populate these waters in the summer. 

As my sons scampered with their sons up and across the seaweed-encrusted rocks with their fishing gear, I cautiously eyed the slime, barnacles, and jagged surfaces.

“Should I, or shouldn’t I?” I muttered to myself. My machismo responded first. “Go ahead. You can do it.” To which my arthritic knees screeched, “Are you crazy? We’re in trouble on stairs, even  with railings. You strain our balance and support when you’re on inclines because your eyes have lost depth-perception; besides, you left your glasses back at the blanket.”

So, I bowed to the voices of discretion, and, shouting down my manly valor, called out
to my 49-year-old, number-2 son. "Scott, I need help.  I’m not steady enough to climb up.”

Scott stopped taking pictures of the others getting set up along the rocks at the water's edge, and bounded down the rocks to reach his hand out to me. As I squinted up at him, I thought I saw a flicker of somber sadness flash across his face. Scott, who shares our family love of dark humor; lovingly calls me “old man” and often jokes, “You’re on your way to becoming just a photograph, Dad.”

I felt a twinge of sadness, too. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was the bounding hero
reaching out to rescue him? Gripping my hand, he began to pull me up the rocks. As he guided my climb by pointing  out where I should place my feet, he offered encouragement. “Hold my hand, Dad. Step on that flat rock over there, Dad. Don’t step on that seaweed, Dad. It’s slippery.” His cautionary chatter ignited my twinge into a full-blown flashback. 

Back, back, I went, back 45 fast-flying years, to the days when I had introduced my sons to adventures offered by ocean rocks. Back when Scott was a toddler holding onto my hand as I
uttered the same warnings to him and his brothers. "Hold my hand, son. Step over there, boys. Watch the seaweed." Me, solid and safe. Me, young and strong.
I was awakened from my reverie by Scott’s hoarse whisper, “It all comes full circle,
doesn’t it, Dad?”

There are many things that will always remind me of Zaydee --spiritual Rafiki from The Lion King. My T-shirts and magnets that he airbrush painted. Distant memories of spending summers in Boston's North Shore, riding bikes and being at the beach. Countless family photos and home videos. But Zaydee's stories are something extra special. They are a tangible piece of him, of his thoughts and memories that make him who he is. They are immortal and in a way they will allow part of him to live forever, too.
There is no doubt that Zaydee and I will share many more memories and experiences over our lives together and his stories are something that I will hold onto and cherish forever. They depict who Zaydee is as a person, but they also form a little bit of my own identity and show who I am: I'm a Bolotin. The granddaughter of a writer, a believer, a thinker, and a doer. So keep on writing, Old Man.


Belated Passover Story

Here’s a humorous Passover tale from the pen of Harvey Sage.  It’s about three weeks late, but enjoy it. 

By Harvey Sage

Joseph came running. He was sweating and out of breath. Miriam dropped the towel which she’d been using to dry clay dishes and asked “Joseph, my husband, what ever is the matter? At your age you shouldn’t be exerting yourself so. Remember what Dr. Abramowitz said.”

“Doctor, shmocter. I just heard the news, Pharaoh is freeing us Jews.”

She screamed with delight. “That’s’ wonderful. No more making bricks for you. No more doing Egyptian laundry for me. How’d this all happen?”

“When Moses repeatedly went to the Pharaoh to ask that he let us go, the Pharaoh told him no. Then God sent plagues upon Egypt – frogs, locusts, gnats, boils and such. Pharaoh was stiffed necked and still refused to obey God and let His people free. Finally, you remember, all the first born of the Egyptians were killed earlier this evening. That was the tenth plague and it cured Pharaoh of his obstinacy. At least for the moment.”

“For the moment? What’s that to mean, dear husband?”

Joseph took a deep breath to calm down. “Moses told us to get ready to leave after midnight. Any one who wants to go, Jew or non-Jew is welcome. We’re to prepare with roasted lamb, bitter herbs, and unleavened bread.”

“Unleavened bread?”

“Yes. Moses calls it matzo. We are to bake a small portion of it quickly along with the roasted lamb. There will be no time for the bread to rise. That’s why the matzo will be flat. Not only that,, we are to take a large portion of the matzo dough with us to bake and eat on our journey. “

Miriam was excited. She hurried to gather her few possessions as Joseph helped with the meal. Within an hour he and Miriam stood, dressed and ready to go. They ate hastily and gathered their stuff, including a large sphere of unleavened matzo dough. Outside they joined other families of Jews and non-Jews alike who were to make this exodus. Some people had been given gold and silver and other treasures by their Egyptian neighbors as parting gifts. Joseph gazed all around him. There must have been a million people!  They followed Moses who was following a large white pillar of cloud.  

Soon they began climbing up a path. Miriam had been talking to some of the women, comparing matzo characteristics. Some had egg matzo. Some salted. Miriam’s was plain, unsalted made with flour and water. As they neared the rise Miriam’s foot hit a rock and she slipped.

She dropped her belongings including the round mound of matzo dough. As she watched it roll down the hill Miriam was heartbroken. Her friends and neighbors consoled her as she cried. It was the first matzo bawl.


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Additional new material will continue to be posted on until the Presidential election.  New material will resume being added to the other three “drek” sites after November of 2012.

Jack Lippman
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Speed Through Airport Security Like a Pro plus a Conservative Health Insurance Plan

The Conservative Affordable Health Care Solution

We will have, sooner or later, a better health care payment system than we now have in this country.  Presently, the sum of all doctors’, hospitals’ and other providers’ charges (as more or less regulated by what insurers, Medicare and Medicaid will pay) is far in excess of what individuals and these payers actually pay because of uninsured recipients of health care who just cannot or prefer not to pay their bills.  This results in the charges for everybody being increased to cover the cost of these unpaid bills.

                                                                      Are they paying, or are you?

The “mandate” provision in the Affordable Care Act will relieve most Americans from thereby paying for the care received by “freeloaders” in the present system. Some will still choose, however, to remain uninsured and pay a penalty to IRS for the privilege of doing so, but most studies indicate the “mandate” will basically solve the problem.  Most will purchase health insurance, including the healthy as well as the sick.  This is what happened in Massachusetts when then-Governor Romney introduced such a plan.

If the “mandate” is struck down by the Supreme Court, and insurers are still forced to provide health insurance on a “guaranteed issue” basis regardless of medical histories, the insurance market will disappear in a whirlpool of rising premiums and companies dropping out caused by insurance being purchased by those about to incur significant health care expenses.  If the “guaranteed issue” part of the Act is eliminated along with the mandate, however, we will be back to square one insofar as this part of the law is concerned, leaving many Americans without health insurance.

Solving the health care problem through the use of private insurers requires the continued existence of the mandate, pressuring uninsureds to purchase coverage.  That is the conservative approach which will result in more people being insured than at present without dismantling our existing system of health insurance.  If this conservative approach, preserving the insurance industry, is not allowed to go into effect, the alternative is for the government to go into the health insurance business, establishing a “single payer” system, as in Medicare, which is almost universally approved by senior citizens.  Canada and most industrialized countries have taken this approach.  

It is odd that opponents of Obama Care, as they call it, are fighting a conservative health care solution, the alternative to which is a radical one to which they would be far more opposed.  So, if our Supreme Court, with its five to four conservative majority, rules the mandate to be unconstitutional, they may be opening the door to a far more radical solution to the problem of paying for health care.  Are they wise enough to discern this and declare the mandate to be constitutional? 
Jack Lippman


How to Speed Through Airport Security

(As told by Michael Chertoff, former chief of Homeland Security, to Brendan Greeley in the April 16 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek)

It starts before you get to the airport. Get your liquids in a clear, quart-size bag. I keep a cache of travel-size toothpaste and shaving cream in a sandwich-size baggie; I’ll reuse it on about a half-dozen trips before it wears out. Put the baggie on top of everything in your carry-on. The people who have the hardest time are the ones opening up their bags in line to find their liquids. That wastes precious time. I put my laptop and Kindle in an accessible pocket outside my carry-on. 

Next, take your ID out of your wallet and put it in a breast pocket with the boarding pass. 

I almost always wear a sports jacket when traveling. Why do I do that? Pockets! Take all of your small electronics and put them in jacket pockets, along with change, keys, and your wallet. When you get to the line, you just take your jacket off and put it in the tray. That’s the main trick: Instead of unloading my pants pockets in the line, I prepack my jacket. In the airport, after you show your documents, put your license back in your pocket—you don’t want to lose it. 

At the bag screening, the shoes go off first—I always wear loafers. Then I put my jacket in a tray behind the shoes, and my liquids on top of the jacket. The laptop goes in the next tray, then my carry-on follows. I sequence it that way so I can reverse the unpacking process at the other end. You put your shoes and your jacket on, then your hands are free to grab the liquids and the laptop, and the bag’s right there. I don’t use the benches. I’m dressed within a few seconds. I’ll chitchat with the screeners, if they have time. Occasionally people will come up to me, and they always ask why I can’t get out of going through the line. I tell them because we’re all in the same boat. Or on the same plane. 


(This piece is obviously directed at male travelers.  For women, I suppose the alternative is to wear a blazer or coat and load up its pockets as Chertoff does with his sports jacket.)


Something to think about:  Do you think the number of tornadoes striking the country over the past year is the result of climate change, or is it just a passing blip on the timeline of such storms over the years. What are your thoughts about this?    

Most readers of this blog are alerted by Email every time a new posting appears.  If you wish to be added to that Email list, just let me know by contacting me at  

Also, be aware that is now available on your mobile devices in a modified, easy-to-read, format.

Our family of web sites includes:  -  -  -   
Check all of them out, find out what “drek” really means and feel free to submit your thoughts and articles for publication on these sites, which, while still “under construction,” already contain some interesting content.
Additional new material will continue to be posted on until the Presidential election.  New material will resume being added to the other three “drek” sites after November of 2012.

Jack Lippman
                                                    * * *   * * *   * * *
To send this posting to a friend, or enemy for that matter, whom you think might be interested in it, just click on the envelope with the arrow on the "Comments" line directly below.

All About the Supreme Court plus a Quote

High Court Deliberates In a few months, the Supreme Court will come up with a decision regarding abortion rights.   Right now, they are dige...