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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 in Florida for over 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.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Greece, Something from Sid and a Duck Story

Austerity in Greece

Just got back from a European sojourn which included a few days in Greece.  I couldn’t visit there without an awareness of the economic travails that country is experiencing.  The people, as I see it however, are not standing in line to adopt an acceptance of austerity.  (Perhaps they follow this blog.) Note the picture taken in an Athens sidewalk café, and these are not just visiting tourists.  (This is very similar to pictures I took, but were unable to post on the blog.)

As I saw it, their economic crisis seems to manifest itself primarily with “Ten Euro Crisis Menu” signs in front of restaurants and tee shirts spelling out “F - - k the Crisis.”  Unemployment is high and some people are certainly suffering but there seems to be a dividing line between the realities of the monetary and financial world and the attitude of the people in the street who always manage to make the best of what they have, including their expensive and unhealthy smoking problem.  They will survive the current economic malaise, if lung cancer doesn't get them first.
Jack Lippman 


Sid's Corner

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time in a far away village called Konotop lived a man named Avrum. Southwest about 200 miles in a similar village called Chudnov lived a maiden named Pessel.

To my knowledge they did not discover each other until they met in a section of Boston, MA called Dorchester to which they had each separately emigrated in the 1920’s.

Dorchester MA probably in the 1930s or 1940s.

Like Romeo and Juliet they fell madly in love, married, and birthed a son, Shamai (Shahm-eye). As dictated by the times and circumstances they lived in a small apartment…well under 1000 square feet…with Avrum working as a professional photographer. Life was a struggle, but good as the two lovers raised their beloved son midst the loving support of their friends, parents, and relatives who had also settled in the area around Boston. Life was sweet.

In those days émigrés strived to become American; there were no dual language offerings. If one was to be an American, English had to be mastered. And so Pessel and Avrum became citizens as Albert and Pauline, claimed their favorite song as “What Is This Thing Called Love”, lived day to day with their hopes and dreams focused on their beloved son…and their emerging life in their newly adopted country.

Then out of the blue as Rabbi Harold Kushner so eloquently explores in his 1978 book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”, disaster struck the family in 1935 with the untimely death of Albert at twenty-seven leaving his young bride, Pauline, as a single mom with a twenty-two-month old son.

In those days there were no grief councilors so Pauline entered into a lifetime of grieving as she determinedly raised her son as a single mother in a age when such was not the norm. She strived to strike a balance between devotion to her son and making a new life for herself. For her and her son the fairy tale morphed into her version of a Greek tragedy.

Or was her ensuing life and that of Shamai’s not a tragedy but just simply the normal course of events for human life? 
A friend of mine often opines that life is a joyous journey full of problems whilst Buddhism’s first noble truth offers: 

To live means to suffer, because the human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression. Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness, life in its totality is imperfect and incomplete, because our world is subject to impermanence. This means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too.

And in the Old Testament, Ecclesiastics’ author provides us with what some consider a rather pessimistic view of existence that includes: "Death is to be going home to be with God and have no more hardships. Therefore, people should be glad for them. And to cry at birth because it is the beginning of life and hardship." .

All of humankind’s history is filled with the truths embodied in the above statements and so poignantly struck home with recent events such as Sandy Hook, the Boston Marathon bombings, and the Cleveland ten-year imprisonment of three young women.

The aforementioned Rabbi Kushner is only one of a myriad of examiners of the “why” of all this that have attempted to offer any semblance of an answer to humankind’s ageless question.

And then there’s my favorite, bestest philosopher who’s convinced me that we are all simply living in a cosmic version of a Woody Allen movie. 

“And what of Shamai and his mother?” you ask. Well unlike the Greek Oedipus Rex, Shamai did not kill his father and marry his mother. She never recovered from the emotional effects of her sudden loss but did live long enough to see her son grow into manhood, marry, and have children of his own. And Shamai? Well as of this writing he survived the emotional dumping ground of his growing-up years and is an octogenarian patriarch of his own dynasty of children and grandchildren going through their own version of life’s joyous journey filled with problems.



By Harvo1@comcast.net for his grand daughters Brooke and Madison

A duck named Dolly was in need of a mate

She didn’t want the run of the mill, one who’d just join in a date

To the Princess Mother she came, telling Her of her woe

The Queen gave advice, telling her how to go

“We have a problem Princess Mother.”

“What’s the problem Hawkeye?” asked the Queen of Jungle Central. Hawkeye was a general scout who soared over the landscape, allowing his keen vision to keep track of things. Princess Mother used him like the Creator used angels.

“Dolly is very unhappy. I saw her this morning by the water’s edge. She was alone and lonely.” Ever since Hawkeye had joined the Jungle Central community he had become a loving and caring member who showed kindness and concern for other animals, some of whom he used to hunt for food. No more! Like other Jungle Central beings he was a vegan.

“Thanks for looking after her Hawkeye. You’re a good and loyal citizen. If you see Dolly tell her to come to me.”
“Yes Princess Mother. Always a pleasure to serve.”

Later on Dolly waddled up and spoke to Princess. “Yes Mother, I am sad. I am lonely. I need a mate.”
“So, what’s the problem? You’re young, pretty and have a fine set of feathers and pedicured webbed feet. In Jungle Central you are considered a beauty. Many male ducks would be overjoyed to be feathering their nest with you.”
“But Princess Mother. I just don’t want to get entangled in any old web. I want an ideal superb duck.”
“A life’s companion, right?”
“Someone who’ll stay with me to help raise the ducklings. Someone who will help me build and maintain our nest. Someone who can talk to me and share ideas. A first class egg!”
“I take it that most ducks you’ve met are bland and lackluster.”
“How true. They cluck in small sentences. They have few original thoughts. Oh Princess Mother, what am I to do?”

The Queen of Jungle Central thought for a moment and then said “Why don’t you set up a test? Go down to the big pond today and walk around. When male ducks waddle up to you to talk, start quacking. This will upset most of them and they will waddle away. Those are the ducks who don’t seek long lasting relationships. But there will be a duck who will quack back. He’s the one.”
Dolly was overjoyed and she waddled off to do the Queen’s bidding. True to the Queen’s predications, that very day when Dolly quacked her way around the park most male ducks shied away from her. All except one tall and handsome drake. As he approached Dolly’s heart beat rapidly. She swooned as he came over and began quacking back.

And so it was, Dolly’s dream mate appeared and they waddled off to live happily ever after. All of Jungle Central proclaimed gleefully “Dolly got her quacker.”
Harvey Sage



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