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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired for two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.
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.
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 jackspotpourri.com.
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
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 storyrelives 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
of building-sized boulders that jut into the ocean. When my sons were
adolescents, I had taken them to many such beaches to fish, swim, and hunt
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
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
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
So, I bowed to the voices of discretion, and, shouting down my manly valor,
to my 49-year-old, number-2 son. "Scott, I need help. I’m not steady enough to climb
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
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
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
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
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
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.”
“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
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.
Most readers of this blog are alerted
by Email every time a new posting appears. If you wish to be
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Also, be aware that www.Jackspotpourri.com
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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 www.politicaldrek.com until the
Presidential election. New
material will resume being added to the other three “drek” sites after
November of 2012.
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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.
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.
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?
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 Riart1@aol.com.
Also, be aware that www.Jackspotpourri.com
is now available on your mobile devices in a modified, easy-to-read, format.
Our family of web sites includes: www.computerdrek.com - www.politicaldrek.com - www.sportsdrek.com - www.healthdrek.com. 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 www.politicaldrek.com until the
Presidential election. New material will
resume being added to the other three “drek” sites after November of 2012.
* * * * * *
* * *
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.